As a marketer, every day you’re seeing technology take over your life, enhance your work and threaten to render you obsolete. At FutureM, an event experience that brings marketing and media trendsetters together to debate cutting-edge developments that will define the future of marketing this week in Boston, I ask: How should you handle it?
Get your head out of the sand - technology just leaped over you
If you're nervous about how technology is changing the marketing and communications world, you should be. Every CRM system offers measurable capabilities that most of us could never have matched in the past and definitely can’t match today. In addition, each of the major players provides a wealth of webinars and other resources that help make in-house marketers as good as –- or sometimes better than –- their agency counterparts.
We’ve been here before
Twenty-six years ago Adobe launched Pagemaker for Mac, and two years later for Windows. Many of today's creative directors, content strategists and senior designers got their start in desktop publishing, boosted by tools that Apple and Adobe created faster than most people could learn them.
Yet initially pundits forecast the death of the designer and writer. Agencies knew that wouldn't happen. They mastered the tools and produced designs, content, video and interactive properties that the untrained could never match. Instead of killing professions, new technologies fueled our industry with the power to create what had never been imagined.
Then came search…and technology to make us obsolete
Search offered consumers a more active role in the content they saw, and in turn content providers and editors became increasingly focused on producing content that matches search criteria -- and avoiding content that doesn't.
For most people, the shift seems to work: we get more of what we like, and less of what we don't like, and that feels good. As marketers, we strive to reproduce this feel-good experience with our target audiences. Give them what they like, and they will give us good grades according to whatever metrics we set: usually some sort of conversion.
This can be tough in a fragmented media landscape where our audiences use search to seek relevant information in a googol of Web sites and media sources (not quite that many, but sometimes it seems like it). Marketing automation tools allow us to give them the appropriate marketing content based on their search, and offer easy ways to:
· Target direct marketing at the right people (or person) at the right time
· Manage promotions and discounts
· Manage subscriptions
· Manage marketing across social media and social marketing
· Dive deeply into audience acquisition costs
· Provide our clients with ROI per campaign, product, customer…and all other marketing analytics that human beings once earned good money to perform through surveys and analyses.
There's even automation around designing and building campaigns. Need a mobile site? Google can create it at the push of a button. Need a new display advertising campaign? Push a button in your AdWords account and eight new ads appear -- right-sized, well-designed, and likely well-messaged.
What's left for humans to do? First, take your head out of the sand. Ignoring reality never helped anyone keep a job. Second, I suggest the following rules when it comes to marketing automation.
Marketing automation rules
While most of us might not think that marketing automation should rule our world, we can benefit from a few rules of engagement. Here are our top five:
1. Stop resisting. Regularly explore what’s new and how it might contribute to your business and, more importantly, your clients’ marketing goals.
2. Understand the technology. If a client mentions a new technology (Marketo, Wordstream, HubSpot, or Silverpop, for example) you should know it and be able to speak to its relevance and effectiveness for that client. Otherwise, you’re not doing your job.
3. Use the technology. Manage a campaign for yourself using new technology. If you specialize in direct marketing, use HubSpot and Marketo, if only to understand how they work. If you manage social media campaigns, you should understand Radian6 and Meltwater Buzz, among others. If you help your clients advertise, then you’d better offer a keen understanding of Google AdWords and the technologies that have sprung up around AdWords.
4. Figure out how your role is changing. For example, AdWords and search have made a huge impact on media planning and advertising. But managing an AdWords campaign, getting the right clicks and keeping your quality score high (among many considerations), isn’t easy. Master this and doors will open.
5. Understand what the technology is NOT doing. Supposing you master AdWords and gain Google Qualification or Certification. Now, when you have the AdWords discussion with your client, you can talk about “what happens after prospects click on your ad… looks like you might need to work on your messaging, your Web site, and your promotions.”
The human role will never disappear. Mastering new technology will ensure that you can remain relevant with clients and comfortable with your new marketing partner: the machine.