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The rise of technology in marketing

Those responsible for marketing are part of a massive digital transformation that has the potential for slow adopters to be left behind in the digital scramble for supremacy.


Unlikely as it may once have been, marketing is now becoming one of the most technology-dependent functions in business.

At the centre of this digital transformation in business is the emergence of a new executive: the chief marketing technologist (CMT). The CMT is part strategist, part creative director, and part technology leader.

This executive position may reflect what is happening in large corporate organisations. However, there is little doubt those responsible for marketing in SMEs in Australia are increasingly making technology decisions for their organisations.

No matter whether you're responsible for corporate marketing or marketing for a small or medium-sized business, your roles and responsibilities can no longer be one-dimensional.

The pure creative marketer of the past simply can’t exist anymore. They must wear many hats to be valuable to the organisation, including spearheading a digital transformation strategy. 

At its core, marketing’s objective is to raise awareness to increase business. This hasn’t changed, however the execution of this objective has.

What is evolving is a marketer who requires skills in business development, digital media, and IT, and an executive that supports the salesforce by developing a marketing strategy that maximises their effectiveness and efforts.

This transformation of the marketing role is necessary as consumers spend more time on their mobiles, tablets and laptops. The digital transformation challenges for every person responsible for marketing brands is to connect with customers through all these devices in real time and create campaigns that work across social media, advertising and e-commerce.

More monumental changes 

The marketing function’s role as a revenue driver will grow substantially as it assumes responsibility for customer engagement and experience. Social media marketing, mobile transactions, and the ‘Internet of Things’ will be the technologies most central to shaping the future of marketing.


According to The Economist’s report The rise of the marketer, more than 80% of marketing executives surveyed said they need to restructure marketing to better support the business. Around 29% believe the need for change is urgent.

According to the report, digital transformation in marketing will occur in six key ways:

The proportion of companies where marketing is viewed as a cost centre will dwindle, and the number where it’s seen as a driver of revenue will grow. In three to five years survey respondents say approximately four of five organisations will classify the marketing function as a revenue driver.

Customer experience is increasingly seen as a key to competitive advantage in every industry. Slightly more than one-third of marketers polled say they are responsible for managing the customer experience today. However, over the three to five years, 75% of marketers say they will be responsible for the end-to-end experience over the customer’s lifetime.

A marketer’s greatest achievement is an engaged customer. And because an engaged customer keeps coming back, engagement is most often defined as sales and repeat sales. More than 60% of  marketers polled say engagement is manifested in customer renewals, retention and repeat purchases.

Adding in the 15% who see engagement in terms of impact on revenue, 78% of marketers see it as occurring in the middle or later stages of the classic funnel. This refers to the customer’s journey from awareness, when the customer first learns about the product or service to interest, desire and purchase. Often a fifth stage, advocacy, is added.

Only 22% view engagement in terms of love for a brand – still important but part of marketing’s legacy skill set.

Marketers are aggressively seeking new skills – especially those who believe change is urgent and have a digital transformation marketing strategy. Nearly 40% of marketers want new blood in the two areas of digital engagement and marketing operations and technology.

A close third, and not significantly different, is skills in the area of strategy and planning. Meanwhile, marketers are tinkering with organisational structures to foster agility, increase cross-functional co-operation and help the organisation to scale.

Technology investment plans by marketers illustrate both the dominance and fragmentation of digital channels. Three of the four most widely cited investments are aimed at reaching customers through different channels: via social networks, on mobile devices and email. The fourth, analytics, is needed to knit together data from multiple channels into a coherent and actionable portrait of the consumer.

Real-time personalised mobile and the ‘Internet of Things’, where ubiquitous, embedded devices with unique IP addresses constantly convey real-time data. These two will revolutionise marketing by 2020 and will be integral to the digital transformation process. Almost the same proportion cites the power of real-time, personalised mobile communications as the trend seen to have the biggest impact.

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Emerging trends in digital transformation

1. A broader view of customer experience: A positive customer experience across all touchpoints is increasingly seen as a company’s most valuable asset. More than any other function, marketing is responsible for marketing it – across the customer life cycle and across channels, from initial awareness through loyalty and advocacy.

2. Metrics for revenue and engagement: Effectiveness trumps efficiency, especially in a time of rapid change. Metrics will become broader and more comprehensive, focusing on top-line revenue and overall engagement more than efficiency and brand awareness.

3. The talent hunt: Yes, there is a real need for tech-savvy marketers. But this is not enough in itself. You need people with the ability to grasp and manage the detail in data, technology and marketing operations, combined with the view of the strategic big picture. Creativity is still important, especially B2C, but it is a legacy skill and no longer a focus of demand.

4. The ecosystem in the future: Marketing technology is proliferating through the cloud to the point where almost all companies – even the smallest ones – use multiple systems operating within an overall marketing operating system. 

Despite expectations of consolidation around a few dominant enterprise suppliers, marketers believe that the number of systems in their companies will grow.

Voyage of discovery

The survey shows marketers are struggling to catch up while expectations and capabilities race ahead. But it’s considered a nice problem to have. As capabilities multiply, all marketers will definitely benefit. Modern marketing is like a voyage of discovery and, like a new explorer, if you want to be successful you need to build on the knowledge.

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