As the managing director of a marketing automation (MA) agency, I like to keep my eyes on trends or developments that might become trends. Recently, three such developments have caught my attention.
1. Companies are increasingly using multiple software platforms.
Many of the marketing departments at Fortune 500 companies are using different marketing automation (MA) software platforms (e.g. Marketo, Eloqua, HubSpot) for different capabilities—for example, one platform for inbound and another for salesforce automation.
Mid-sized companies are also realizing the possible advantages of using multiple platforms. While they rarely using more than one MA platform, they often rely on a combination of MA software; email marketing software (e.g., MailChimp, iContact); customer relationship management software (e.g., SalesForce, Oracle); and social-media management software (e.g., HootSuite, Sprout Social).
Mixes of various software types can also be found in the largest corporations. The reality is that the different types of software aren’t that well-defined, and companies of all sizes are paying less attention to software categories and focusing more on finding the best tool for a specific task, even if it means using multiple software packages.
2. The use of multiple platforms has created interoperability problems.
The problem of using multiple platforms (in addition to the extra cost) is that they don’t automatically work together. It takes IT planning and support to integrate multiple software packages, using tools such as application programming interfaces and information tagging systems.
The advantages of “cherrypicking” the right software for a certain job can easily be offset by inefficiencies due to a lack of interoperability. Missed communications, rekeying data, reformatting, and wasting time looking for documents are all signs of poor integration.
3. A new position—“marketing technologist”—is emerging.
The Harvard Business Journal reported on this trend in a recent article, “The Rise of the Chief Marketing Technologist.” As the article points out, the increased importance of IT to marketing—and the resulting rise in marketing IT spending—has made it necessary to have a senior-level position filled by a person who understands the strategies and realities of both marketing and IT.
The titles of this role can vary, but the job description is essentially this:
- Aligning marketing technology (e.g., MA) with business goals.
- Facilitating communication and cooperation between marketing and IT.
- Helping to select technology solutions and providers.
- Managing implementation of new technologies and IT improvements.
- Providing ongoing support for marketing technology, always with the marketing vision in mind.
Large companies are actively developing people to fill this role, selecting marketing people with an inclination toward IT to receive formal IT training, and vice versa. But most mid-sized companies often aren’t financially able to provide this cross-training.
As a result, the mid-sized company is struggling with:
- Keeping up with important (and ever-evolving) developments in marketing technology.
- Sorting through thousands of possible IT solutions and vendors to make the best choices for achieving business goals.
- Handling the necessary technical details of relationships with vendors (e.g., code and data integration).
- Creating a vision for how to best use technology with which they have no expertise.
The rise in the need for marketing technologists at mid-sized firms also means the agencies that service them need to make sure they’re working at the intersection of marketing and IT.
These are just three recent developments that have caught my eye—what are you seeing out there that you think is changing B2B marketing?
Image courtesy of Sean MacEntee, Creative Commons.