We had the pleasure of interviewing marketing technologist and industry veteran, Teri Ross. Teri has seen the role of the marketer evolve over the last twenty years. In the digital age, effective marketers fill a role that is a cross between the traditional Chief Marketing Officer and Chief Technology Officer. This new role, which Gartner defines as the Chief Marketing Technology Officer (CMTO), leverages strategy, technology, marketing and analytical expertise to help companies exploit and leverage the vast amounts of customer and market data towards the goal of measuring and managing results. During our discussion with Teri, a CMTO, we delve into some misconceptions that arise within marketing—often stemming from a lack of supporting technology and analytics; yet, this also requires a new mindset and skillset for a company’s marketing organization.

When companies approach their digital marketing or even social strategy, they have multiple misconceptions including: 1) how to measure ROI, 2) how to approach analytics, 3) what is personalization, 4) what social media is, and 5) how to prioritize social media within one’s organization.

1. Data Apples ≠ Data Oranges
Companies are measuring ‘some’ data and have analytics in place. However, they make mistakes by collecting the wrong data, inconsistent data, or irrelevant data. For instance, Ross worked with a multi-billion dollar corporation on an SEO initiative. The company comprised of 36 brands, which were aggregated into one management dashboard. However, each brand or division measured its KPIs differently. The inconsistencies across brands had stemmed from differing methodologies, KPI definitions, and reporting tools. Thus, it was impossible for Ms. Ross, or anyone in the company for that matter, to compare or combine the metrics because it would have been comparing ‘apples to oranges’. So, bottom line, consistent and clearly defined metrics are the underpinnings to any marketing activities. Without this foundation, all insights are invalid.

2. Capture, Track, Analyze…
Once defined metrics are clear across the organization, analytics need to offer insights for data driven decision-making. Ross explains, “marketers should view their analytics as the blueprints or a flight plan of their marketing strategy. Analytics provide valuable real-time information as to which marketing strategies are working, and which should be abandoned.“ Marketers often measure the wrong things, just “look” at the data, or measure past indicators versus looking at leading and forward-looking metrics. This can often be attributed to not just what they measure but also their inability to measure it. Hence, along with a company’s measurement strategy—whether it is a startup or Fortune 500, it must have the RIGHT marketing automation tools, analytics, and other technology in order to capture information that they can use to effectively make actionable, data-driven decisions.

Companies that use their analytics for data-driven marketing intelligence and decision-making are now market leaders. They use their analytics for testing creative or messaging rather than just creating campaigns without real understanding of performance. By measuring and testing creative or other components of a campaign, they can have forward-looking performance indicators.

3. Solve Problems, Don’t Sell
Beyond traditional sources of customer interaction data, social media has become a key component of marketing that cannot be ignored. Yet, many marketers do not understand what social media is or how to effectively use it. Ross says, “social media isn’t about selling; it’s about solving problems.” Marketers often don’t understand that it is not a place in which to brag, but a place in which to solve problems for customers and prospects. Additionally, many companies also erroneously feel that they have to have a presence in all of the major social networks. Companies need to use the appropriate social marketing channel for their target audience—be it Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or other channels to share meaningful content that tells a compelling story. Ultimately, “sharing relevant information to targeted end users on targeted marketing channels and groups is the key to effective social media marketing,” says Ross. These meaningful interactions also must be captured and tracked. Yet, this needs to be part of the marketing strategy by focusing not necessarily on the number of followers but perhaps engagement metrics such as shares or comments depending upon what actually aligns with business objectives.

4. Make it Important, and Support It
Additionally, social media is often undervalued within an organization. This is reflected in the allocation of resources toward social media. Often times, low-level resources such as interns, part-time hires or even family members are charged with the responsibility to manage a company’s social media presence. Due to the lack of experience or skill, there are grammatical errors, a lack of voice, and even typos within posts, resulting in compromised performance. Thus, companies need to take social media seriously by placing quality talent and resources behind it.

5. Just for YOU
Once companies have determined their goals, metrics, and tools to measure data, they can take their marketing practices a step further using segmentation and personalization. Ross explains “one size does not fit all; the trend is personalization and user experience.” Using CRM data and social media insights, companies can personalize and target their campaigns based on segment. For example, ecommerce companies can identify certain segments or map their CRM data to product recommendations and offer specific products as upsell opportunities during checkout. This could be based on products that where shared or liked on Facebook or perhaps as simple as using a recommendation engine leveraging internal data. This could ultimately improve their average order size and ultimately overall revenue. Thus, marketers can iterate campaigns and tailor them to be more relevant to a particular audience.

Overall, the issues are defining business objectives and ensuring that your data regardless of the source is clean, consistent, and aligned across channels and even departments. Before adding levels of sophistication around engaging in social media, scaling marketing, or leveraging analytics, companies must start with the fundamentals; the RIGHT data matters. This is new to many marketers who have placed more emphasis on creative. Thus, the new mindset around data-driven marketing requires new    skill sets and ways of managing. Ross finally highlights that “marketing is now going to have quotas just like sales reps.” They are going to be seen as revenue drivers because the results of their spend are measurable. Marketers will need technical skills and be able to interpret web analytics as well as develop strategies around the various platforms. These individuals are not just creative but are creative, innovative and technical. Ultimately, the new marketing organization will be driven by data.

 (image sources: http://yourcmto.com )