The marketing team has changed dramatically in recent years, and this evolution is predicted to continue at a significant rate.
In business, change is inevitable and necessary, but historically slow and costly. The astonishing rate at which technology is changing the way we interact with customers is now putting pressure on businesses to evolve at a much faster rate than ever before.
How the marketing team took on technology
The two key catalysts in recent years that have necessitated the transformation of the traditional marketing team are both intrinsically linked to technology.
The first is the meteoric rise of the internet. There is no doubt that it has revolutionised the way we do business. It has become so ingrained in our everyday lives that it’s hard to remember our lives without it. In reality, the commercial internet is relatively new; up to the start of this century most web pages were just rudimentary lists of links and information.
Online ownership used to sit with the IT department. Their interests involved stability, security and process; often employing systems to underpin the site that were as agile as the Titanic.
Advancements in analytics, tracking and testing drew marketers closer to online activity. As websites evolved to become major profit centres, and the main source of leads for businesses, the part that marketers played in the management of content and user experience grew.
These changes also meant that CMOs needed a strong grasp over all things tech – digital was becoming a fundamental part of any marketing strategy. In turn, they started to claw back control from the IT team. Today, rather than handing online requirements to the CTO to implement, the CMO surrounds themselves with tech-savvy marketers to take projects from end-to-end.
Specialist not generalist
The second catalyst is The Age of the Customer. The demand for personal, contextual interaction with brands, on whichever device or channel the customer wants to use, means that generic, one-size-fits-all marketing is simply unacceptable.
In the quest to make customer experience relevant across every touchpoint, the respective area of marketing has become a speciality. Email marketing and lead nurturing requires different skills to event planning. SEO is a completely separate discipline to product marketing. Marketers can no longer be a jack-of-all-trades; they need to be the master of one.
This in itself can be problematic. As the needs of the customer and the business changes, and new roles are added to the marketing team to support the transition, silos can unwittingly be created. Putting the customer first means creating, and maintaining, a seamless experience across all channels. A fully integrated marketing team is the only way to achieve this, and we can see from the report that more companies are making the move to merge their on- and off-line teams.
How the marketing team took on revenue
In previous years, marketers would be (jokingly?) regarded as the ‘arts and crafts’ team; responsible for creating whatever the commercial team asked for. Now, in modern businesses, the CMO is the one responsible for facilitating growth and sales, and marketing forms the largest part of the strategy to deliver this. The old perceptions are changing as the tangible impact that marketing has on results is proven across businesses worldwide.
The key focus of the modern marketing team is revenue generation. They must know the customer inside and out, and be able to react quickly to changing circumstances. Each should interact with, and influence, every department in the organisation. They must break down inter-departmental silos and encourage other business areas to relinquish their grip on data and processes. The customer, and all of their data, now sits with the marketing team.
Analysts join the marketing team
This has led to one of the biggest transformations to today’s marketing teams – the inclusion of data management, analysis and storytelling. Having access to big data is essential – that’s a given. The challenge for marketers lies with determining what to do with it all. Successful organisations are investing in people who can not only analyse and dissect the data, but who can also present it in forms that their marketers can swiftly act upon. A recent report by TFM corroborates this by showing that these disciplines represent high levels of growth in importance for larger organisations.
There is no doubt that varied, specialist skills are needed to output the myriad marketing needs of brands in 2017. For smaller businesses, and ad-hoc projects for larger enterprises, agencies and consultancies definitely still have their place.
Marketing is a completely different landscape now compared to 10, even 5, years ago; and, as the consumer, media and technology landscapes evolve further over the next decade, marketers and agencies will continue to create new roles to address these changes. The fragmentation of consumer touchpoints is already difficult to manage and will only get more complicated. No individual has the capacity, or skill set, to focus simultaneously on high-level marketing strategy and consumer-facing executional details.