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June 12, 2024

David Randolph

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Senior Vice President of Strategy

Two tips for building a technology-empowered marketing department

The role of Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) has always been a challenging gig. But perhaps the newest and most daunting hurdle facing CMOs in 2024 is building a team that can master the latest marketing technology.

Essential marketing technologies can rarely be put on autopilot. Each tool needs a steady hand from a highly skilled and experienced pilot.

Number One: When should I bring something in-house instead of outsourcing?

CMOs drive not only the corporate marketing vision but also the operational ecosystem, which includes both internal and external resources. Cost-saving is the most common reason for bringing a marketing function in-house. But beware of the law of unintended consequences.

To help make the decision, a classic cost/benefit analysis can be a huge help…

  • What does my organization expect to get out of a marketing-tech solution?

  • Do I know enough about the situation to ensure I’m building the right solution?

  • How difficult (and costly) is the internal domain expertise to support this tech over the near term and years into the future?

The hidden challenge with bringing something in-house is that you’re not only accountable, you’re also solely responsible. Top to bottom. When a key team member inevitably leaves, you must keep the plates spinning while you interview, hire, and onboard a replacement. You’re now in the recruiting and training business to support a niche technology and process. Is the DIY route the best use of your finite resources and mental focus?

What if you instead shift the substantial staffing and training conundrum over to a credentialed outside firm that specializes in this area of expertise? A benefit of hiring an outside team comes from their expertise in solving many of the challenges you will soon face. They’ve been there before, many times, facing a variety of scenarios.

While you might initially envision up to a 50% savings attempting something in-house, what is the likelihood that it will take twice as long to deploy, and encounter multiple fits and starts along the way?

Most often, an expert outside team can much more quickly boost marketing effectiveness, which can be an overwhelmingly more valuable outcome than putting success at risk in the pursuit of initial cost-savings.

To paraphrase an old business adage, there’s never enough money to do something right the first time, but there’s always enough money to call in the experts a second time.

Number Two: How can I ensure my extended team maximizes martech solutions?

A wise CMO once said, “The more tech and data we accumulate, the clumsier we get.”

She was referring to the preponderance of disparate systems and how data from all of those platforms had afflicted her company with analysis paralysis. She continued. “The problem is that not everything important can be directly measured. And not everything that can be directly measured is important.”

Solving this challenge often requires a total shift in mindset across the entire marketing team.

The goal is to determine which data is needed to guide your staff in making educated marketing decisions. The distinction between correlation and causality should be top of mind. Reports and dashboards filled with data are not the goal. We know this but it helps to reset our mindset.

For your business, there is a target audience. That target audience must be persuaded to pay attention to your company’s marketing, become inspired to research, and ultimately be persuaded to take action. Basic stuff. But it’s easy to lose sight of how different the marketing must be to trigger all of those stages.

Many marketers continue to describe the loosely-measurable areas of marketing as “branding” and the click-trackable areas of marketing as “direct response” (or “performance”).

It’s easy to understand why. We can see the clicks in our reporting dashboards.

Martech data is most useful when it fits into the scientific method. We start with a hypothesis (a marketing idea we think will be successful). Then we determine how to build a marketing program as an experiment with an accompanying measurement plan to provide you and your team with a pass/fail readout.

If you are unsure of the effectiveness of a marketing channel, but one that is not easy to directly track, the gold standard approach is the control/cut or control/heavy-up. You add or take away the experimental channel as a single variable to one specific segment of your test group and compare the business outcome to the control segments.

The best advice is to challenge your internal and external team to be clever marketers who can develop bright ideas that appeal strongly to your target audience. Leveraging modern technology to automate how we track success/failure comes second.

Here are a few thought-starters:

  1. Build an audience-segmented content plan for your website, blog and social media.

  2. Determine through research what your target audience segments want to hear from your company.

  3. Produce content to bring your target to your site—quality over quantity.

  4. Prioritize content that will move your target down the buyer journey by offering a unique and valuable perspective.

And always remember… not everything we can measure with click data is important. But our most important marketing work is attempting to drive clicks to our website. Not being able to market down to an individual user level shouldn’t prevent us from doing smart marketing. We can look for other technology or data to help us determine if our idea is working.

Ready to build out your martech stack? From AI tools to headless CMSs, Alloy’s technical experts implement solutions that give marketing departments greater efficiency, security and scale. Set up a consultation with one of our experts today.