As marketing is ever more reliant on the latest technology, how do you ensure this powerhouse duo are working outside silos to achieve the same business goals?
In this digital B2B marketing landscape, the simple fact is that marketing and technology are stablemates and, as far as we can tell, will be forever. Technology helps marketers get closer to their customer, understand their needs and desires and interact and engage with them. Armed with insights into customer behavior, preferences and buying trends, we can design a marketing strategy that achieves competitive advantage.
As Daniel Newman writing for Forbes argues, marketing without technology is not marketing at all: “In the future, marketers will be sought for their knowledge of the tech space, as much as they are sought for their knowledge of PR and promotion.” He goes on: “If marketing is really about designing and delivering customer experiences, which it is, software is the building block for customer-centric marketing strategies.”
The inherent challenges
And yet, very few marketers are trained in technology or code. If marketing is inextricably digital, it becomes clear why defining the role of marketing is becoming an increasing dilemma for many B2B companies as the martech stack grows year over year. The traditional silos of marketing and the IT department look increasingly outdated.
CMOs have been spending more on technology than CIOs for the past seven years or more. In 2022, marketing budgets increased to 9.5% of overall company revenue, up from 6.4% in 2021 [Gartner 2022 CMO Spend and Strategy Survey]. The same study found that marketing technology was identified as a capability gap by 22% of CMOs. Forrester estimates that more than 20% of marketing budgets is used for technology, and one third of marketing organizations already have a dedicated technology team.
While the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) might understand the business’s ideal customers and their pain points, the Chief Information Officer (CIO) recognizes the capabilities and limitations of technology and how to scale it efficiently and cost-effectively. IT is no longer stuck in the back room managing the company’s hardware and software but is front and center of growth, purchasing and managing software-as-a-service (Saas) cloud-based platforms. How do you unite these roles as a forward-thinking partnership to lead your business through today’s digital landscape?
How do you achieve alignment between marketing and IT?
Bring the teams together
Your marketing team is based on creating premier customer experiences and guiding every touchpoint on the buyer journey – but do they understand the capabilities of the martech they have, are they using it as effectively as they could?
Your tech team is focused on optimizing technology and efficiency and reducing cost throughout the business – but are they implementing it in a way that aligns with marketing’s desired outcomes?
Encouraging collaboration between marketing and IT in order to synchronize communication and technology roadmaps means they can map out the route together and find common ground that takes into account the needs and objectives of both organizations. Regular scheduled meetings between the CMO and CIO or CTO will help to align teams and break down the silos that can stall or halt a project. It should be a clear, open discussion where each feels free to share ideas so they can agree on strategy and project priorities. Each should try and present ideas within a framework that will get the other excited – each should avoid using acronyms and jargon. Ideally, sales would get an invitation to the party too – with these three teams aligned you can really start to move the needle on your business objectives.
Work with IT to establish single view of customer
As B2B marketing seeks to deliver a consistent omni-channel experience for buyers, it’s essential to segment and meet the customer where they are on the buyer journey. Single view of customer (SVoC) is enabled by using the right platform, deploying the right data governance protocols to maintain data quality, leveraging automation where possible and by integrating with your other data assets like your CRM. When purchasing the software, IT may have a different set of criteria, but you can use their focus on data security, integration, reliability, and control to help make the right decision for your business.
Look for existing gaps and opportunities in your martech stack
It may be that you already have all the cloud-based technology you need, you just need to understand its capabilities and use it more effectively. Few marketers have the time or resources to undergo in-depth training and simply ‘learn on the job’. The CMO should use the skills of the CIO and their team to help with integration and understand how any new tech fits in with the existing stack.
Driving innovation – together
With cross-department collaboration, businesses can better drive innovation. “Those companies with a history of successful breakthrough innovation have established processes that integrate marketing and technology functions,” a research paper Aligning Marketing and Technology to Drive Innovation found. “They … participate in idea generation processes that marry marketing pull and technology push…”
Some of the innovative and agile companies in the study set the same goals and metrics for both departments and have dedicated resources to avoid borrowing staff from each other. Teams are made up of groups of both IT and marketing people where cross-functional teams are trained together on the same technology. Success, in this case, is built on the departments not viewing themselves or their goals as separate at all.
IT ‘completes’ Marketing
To be customer-centric, any enterprising organization needs to align its IT strategy with its marketing goals. Marketers in particular need IT perhaps more than the other way around. Without the right processes and technology, marketers can’t deliver the personalized customer experiences they need to. Without marketing, IT is in danger of working in a tech silo, never matching tools and objectives with what is required to deliver seamless, hyper-targeted messaging.