Interview with ChiefMartec’s Scott Brinker on marketing technology

Interviews | Marketing   |   
Published January 21, 2016   |   

Can you tell us a little bit about your career path, and what lead you to become a marketing technologist? 

Honestly, serendipity.

I started my career as a software engineer, programming multi-player games. After that, for a number of years, I was the head of technology for a web development company, and I built websites for companies like Citrix, Siemens, and Yahoo. That was where I discovered the intersection between the worlds of technology, IT, and marketing.

Interview with Scott Brinker

It was fascinating, because, as a web development company, we were hired by a marketing team. However, it was my responsibility to explain the requirements of the marketing team to the IT department.

Since both the technology and marketing teams had different ideas and concerns, they also communicated in an entirely different language.  Nonetheless, to accomplish their goals, they had to collaborate and work together.
It was very exciting, and it was what inspired me to start the blog.

What are the biggest challenges to the adoption of marketing technology?

That’s a great question!

Very often, you hear people say, “Integrating CRM tools that work well together is the biggest barrier.” It’s challenging, sure, but it can be overcome, especially if you have a marketing technologist in your team. Nowadays, most tools have APIs, which makes integrating them quite easy.

The bigger problem is that most companies don’t know how to implement efficiently the marketing technologies they purchase and end up using only about 10% of what they have to offer.

Hence, the greater question becomes – how can companies leverage and implement these technologies, to have a real impact on customer experiences, something I call the organizational capital. 

There are many debates in the marketing world on the subject that marketers aren’t equipped with technology skills. What are your views?

Constructing a prototype of marketing technologists is difficult. The good thing is that more and more hybrid marketers are rising, and from various backgrounds.  A hybrid marketer has a mix of data science, programming, business and marketing skills.

Ten years back, people with tech skills would just sit in a room and code. Today, they apply their skills in countless different ways and make tremendous contributions to the growth of a company.

Glenn Goww recently told me that CMOs will probably spend more money on technology than CIOs. Why do you think so?

That’s a confusing statistic because it varies from one business to another. If you are a communications company, you would have a different budget from a retailer.

The budget for marketing technology is allocated either by the IT department or by the marketing department.  Since IT infrastructure has become less expensive because of cloud computing, companies are now investing a lot more money in CRM, marketing automation, websites, etc.

Companies get data from various data sources such as mobile, website analytics, customer transactions, etc. How can marketers learn more about their customers from multiple data sources, and how can they deal with data silos?

Many companies find it difficult to turn data into usable insights.

Even though nobody likes the word silo, the insights we learn from our websites, and the feedback we get from social media is incredibly valuable.

There are a lot of softwares that help us deal with data silos, but there is no plug and play solution that would help us get insights from the flood of data that comes from various sources.

It still requires a lot of work and still at best just a way informing some of our decisions. But it doesn’t give us an easy answer.

I read your article Big testing will be bigger than Big Data. Can you explain what you mean by big testing?

It is hard to find interesting correlations from raw data.

Big testing is just three things:
1)      Focus on testing big ideas. For instance, it’s not about which headline is better, but it’s about understanding which offer resonates to which audience.
2)      Testing should be done by a big team, and it is not done by one or two testing gurus. The entire marketing department whether they are in social media, or email or web analytics, whatever their specialty is they need to think how they can run small experiments to their functions.
3)      Marketing executives should develop a culture of big testing in their organization.

Today, technology companies like Google, Facebook, Amazon provide ultra-personalized offers to their customers. But a bank or a hotel is unable to do that, despite having a wealth of data.

How can traditional companies get a 360-degree view of their customer?

Some years ago, most businesses had a 20-degree view of their customers. Today, they can get at least a 180-degree view of their customer, which is a huge improvement! Nonetheless, they are a long way from a 360-degree view, mostly because even though big data naturally implies a large amount data, it’s far from complete. There always remain some factors not captured in data, that influence customers in ways not represented in our models.

For example, a customer’s buying decision is strongly influenced by his/her spouse, friends, family members, etc.  We don’t have visibility into these factors that personally influence a customer. It is hard to extrapolate everything about a customer from massive streams of data.

How can companies use internal data (transactional data, customer log data, etc.) and external data (data from social media) to deliver a personalized offer to their customer?

Many companies are doing that now.

Many marketing technology companies help retail and hospitality companies combine their internal data, and data from third sources to know more about their customers.

When Oracle acquired Blue Kai, Oracle made it their mission to connect what had traditionally been third party data with the first party data response.