I’ve been working in the conversion optimization space for over seven years. (My company offers a software platform for creating and testing app-like, conversion-oriented landing pages and microsites.)
While I am continually amazed by the innovative tactical ideas that people working in conversion optimization invent, regular readers of my column may note that I tend not to talk about them here. Instead, I gravitate toward broader concepts, such as agile marketing and developing a culture of testing (or both).
Because over the past seven years, with the benefit of seeing hundreds of companies engage in conversion optimization programs, I’ve come to believe that these broader concepts have greater impact on marketing’s performance than any one tactic, however brilliant it may be.
Marketing is changing around us, and to truly master it, we must change the structure and culture of our marketing teams.
I know that’s not easy. Change is hard for us humans. And that’s unfortunate, because the rate of technological change is far outpacing our ability to keep up. The larger our organization is, the more difficult this challenge becomes.
This is why I believe that one of the most important responsibilities of business leaders today is to decide which changes to prioritize. In particular, we want to focus on embracing the changes that give us the highest return on our efforts.
Certainly, agile marketing is one of those. By changing how we manage change, we give ourselves a boost in dealing with all the other changes rushing our way. (Apologies if that sounds a little like a fortune cookie. But, it’s true.)
Today, I want to share with you one other change at that level. A change, if you embrace it, which can dramatically alter the other kinds of changes your marketing team will be able to embrace.
The Marketing Technologist
The concept is straightforward: marketing needs to have technical talent embedded in its team.
Let’s face it: a tremendous amount of marketing is now dependent on technology. And the deftness by which marketing wields that technology has a material effect on its performance. It’s not sufficient for marketing to simply outsource all technology-related activities to the IT department or a third-party vendor — the bandwidth is too narrow, and too much can be lost in translation.
To be effective in this environment, marketing must be tech-savvy enough to incorporate technology into its strategy and tactics. This requires someone on the marketing team to have that technical depth — and to be specifically focused on applying it in the service of the marketing mission.
There are many variations on this idea — growth hackers, creative technologists, even Chief Digital Officers. But my preferred label for this hybrid is “marketing technologist.” A marketing technologist is a marketer who understands technology and a technologist who is passionate about marketing.
It’s important to note that marketing technologists are not a replacement for the IT department. And they shouldn’t operate outside the governance of IT policy. Their role is more like a “power user” of marketing technology. They may influence IT policy, on marketing’s behalf, but they do so as informed citizens of the company’s technology ecosystem.
The Marketing Technologist & Conversion Optimization
So how does this relate to conversion optimization?
Conversion optimization is a classic example of 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. Once you have an idea for a controlled experiment to run, you need to implement an A/B test to execute it.
It’s not rocket science, but these technical tweaks can confound non-technical marketers. And the delays associated with hunting down a technician somewhere in the IT department or at your agency can drag down the velocity of your campaign.
On the other hand, a marketing team with a marketing technologist can effortlessly glide through these requirements, perfectly in sync with the marketing team’s driving idea. This accelerates the time from concept-to-market of these tests, thereby increasing marketing’s willingness to engage in more experiments.
Of course, marketing technologists can do much more than this. But helping to empower conversion optimization — if you dream it, we can code it — is a great example of the kind of capability that marketing technologists can offer.
If you’d like to learn more about marketing technologists, I recently gave a keynote presentation at the Gilbane Conference on this very subject. Here’s an annotated version of my slide deck:
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.