Marketing’s Technical Liberation

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Product and engineering teams are inseparable and at the core of most startups. One degree removed, sales and customer support teams ply the voice of the customer to influence product and eng. Of the five teams in a startup, marketing teams tend to have the least influence because traditional product marketers must influence others to enact change.

Marketing works with product and engineering to update branding and communication within the product. Marketing collaborates with sales to refine the product positioning. Marketing relies on engineering to provide analysis for marketing spend efficiency, customer segmentation and user engagement. Marketing teams with customer support to ensure service reinforces the company’s brand. In each case, marketing is working through others.

Sometimes, marketing speaks directly to customers through channels like blogs, events, paid advertising and public relations. Nevertheless, marketers mostly influence other teams to enact change.

But that’s changing. We’re in the midst of marketing’s technical liberation when technology enables marketing teams to act directly, immediately and effectively. Technology is abstracting away many of the interactions between marketing and the other teams in a startup. This trend increases the influence and effectiveness of startup marketing teams.

Mobile is the most immediate catalyst for this change. Marketers optimizing organic traffic through SEO are entirely dependent on engineering time to change the structure of the site or of the page. On the other hand, the iOS and Android store landing pages can be updated by a marketer with just a few clicks.

Website optimization tools like Optimizely and Monetate among others enable marketers to test and refine pages through a point-and-click UI. A handful of startups are bringing these ideas to mobile applications as well.

Marketing automation tools like Sailthru create dynamic segments of users on the fly to improve email response rates. Infer sifts through customer databases and uses machine learning to reduce churn and increase upsell.

Dynamic creative optimization on Facebook and Google exchanges enable marketers to update ads dynamically. Tag management systems, both web and mobile, create simple tools for prioritizing ad networks.

Looker and others enable marketers to sift through marketing and engagement data without needing the help of a data scientist or engineer.

These technologies and others enable marketing to speak directly with the customer, change, test and tune. By empowering marketing teams with the data to make decisions and the tools to optimize their efforts, startups' marketing efficiency will see dramatic growth.

Aug 8, 2013

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