Conquering Barriers to Activation: The Strategic Chief Marketing Technologist

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The Evolution of a Strategic Marketing Technologist

Many of the marketing automation gurus who gained their reputations two decades ago have matured into strategic thinkers who understand the capabilities and limitations of technology. In a B2B marketing world that is increasingly relying on tech to reach customers efficiently, having someone on hand who understands the ins and outs of martech is essential.

Enter the strategic marketing technologist. 

While many B2B teams understand the importance of the marketing technologist’s role, one barrier to activation is that leaders of cross-functional planning teams don’t include the strategic marketing technologist in planning discussions. This puts planning teams in an ivory tower, away from the realities of what it takes to fully implement a martech stack. 

Without someone at the table to apply tech tools strategically, your organization will not fully realize the value of your technology investment, no matter how shiny the tech. The greater your marketing and sales tech investment, the more critical it is that you involve a strategic marketing technologist in all aspects of cross-functional planning.  

The Role of the Strategic or Chief Marketing Technologist

Digital marketing is marketing — and even in a post-pandemic world, that’s not going to change. Today’s B2B marketing strategies are likely to be fully executed online. To do that, your team needs a suite of tech tools: marketing automation systems, data analytics, robust CRMs, and more. In theory, these tools allow you to do more with less, reaching dozens of leads with the press of a button. 

But — and there is a but — someone needs to know how, when, and where to press the buttons that maximize results. And they need to know how to get results in the first place!

That “someone” is a marketing technologist (MT) — a role that can help you bridge the gap between IT and marketing. As online marketing manager Bailey Caldwell describes it, “A marketing technologist is a role that combines information technology (IT) with marketing skills to create a better process for ensuring marketing strategies are in line with a company’s overarching goal.” 

Your marketing technologist should actively work between teams and departments to build and implement a holistic martech strategy. Over 90% of companies have a chief marketing technologist (CMT). But we’d wager that far fewer are using their CMT effectively. When that’s not happening, you’re not getting the most out of your technologist or your martech stack.

 How to Incorporate strategic marketing technologists in planning

Take some cues from agile marketing strategies to effectively integrate your strategic marketing technologist into your planning processes. 

  1. Build operational independence into your martech stack. The fundamental issue with operations that involve both IT and marketing is time. IT works in 12-month cycles. Marketing might be working on 12-day or 12-week strategies. Your marketing team is more nimble — and your MT more empowered to drive strategy — when your team can use martech without relying on IT. 
  2. Give your marketing technologist control over strategy. The MT isn’t just an advisor. They’re the person who should be behind your strategies for how and when tech is used — the button-pusher, if you will. Give your MT full control over digital marketing strategy and build the expectation that the MT will participate in all planning and strategy sessions.
  3. Try big-room planning sessions. When working with small, cross-functional teams, you need an effective way to drive strategy across teams and across the organization. Big-room planning is a way to bring groups together, and positioning your MT as an expert facilitator means martech strategy comes first.

The Strategic Marketing Technologist is Key to Your Company Growth

Respondents to Gartner’s 2020 Marketing Technology Survey report utilizing “just 58% of their stack’s full breadth of capabilities.” Gartner provides a solution: “Sustained transformation requires breaking down marketing and operational silos to preempt future roadblocks.”

The marketing technologist is a silo breaker. They are the go-between, the strategy driver, and the person who makes sure your company’s martech is fully integrated and utilized.

The result? More sales-qualified leads, data-driven strategy, seamless cross-functional collaboration, and increased ROI visibility. All the more reason to not delay fully resourcing your strategic marketing technologist sooner rather than later.