By Scott Brinker published July 6, 2014

Why Your Content Marketing Team Needs a Marketing Technologist

metal hand-spark-human hand-ccoContent marketing is evolving quickly.

First, it’s growing in scale. As quality content proves to be one of the most effective assets in modern marketing, organizations are developing a near limitless appetite for producing it. As brands truly become publishers, the size of content marketing teams and the volume of work for which they’re responsible are expanding rapidly.

Second, it’s becoming much more sophisticated. Nurturing programs use marketing automation and website personalization technologies to algorithmically target and sequence content — and the configuration of those software applications becomes a part of the storytelling arc. At the same time, content is becoming more interactive. It’s going beyond passively consumed articles and videos into app-like experiences that respond to user behaviors and input.

Third, it’s facing ever-greater competition. As more and more companies engage in content marketing, the noise in search and social channels continues to grow. It is a cacophony, and rising above it — to make your content stand out from the crowd — requires greater cleverness and creativity. It’s not about who’s the loudest, but who’s the smartest.

A common thread that spans these challenges: technology. Managing a large content marketing team at scale, implementing more sophisticated content-driven experiences, and inventing novel ways to break through the noise are all aspects of content marketing that can be aided by technology.

So does this mean that every content marketer needs to become a technologist, too? 

The marketing technologist

Last year, Joe Pulizzi wrote an article, 12 Essential Roles to the Future of Content Marketing. These roles included chief content officer, managing editor, director of audience, and influencer relations. He also included a role that was very different than the others: chief technologist.

You might think that sounds like one too many chefs in the kitchen. But as Joe said, “Don’t think of [these] as new job titles, per se, but rather as the core competencies that need to be accounted for across the enterprise.”

The chief technologist role is an example of a new kind of hybrid professional known as a marketing technologist. Marketing technologists can be either tech-savvy marketers or marketing-savvy IT people. They can be either self-taught power users and hackers or formally trained computer scientists and IT managers. But they share an intuitive appreciation for how software works and are passionate about applying that knowledge in the service of brilliant marketing and remarkable customer experiences.

Marketing technologists are adept at configuring and operating the many different varieties of software that are entwined in marketing today. They often serve as the bridge between non-technical marketers — who need to harness these software-driven capabilities in their work — and the providers of that software: software vendors, digital agencies and IT departments.

Of course, not every marketer needs to become a marketing technologist. But having one on your team dramatically improves the leverage that the rest of the marketing department is able to achieve with technology.

This is increasingly true for content marketing.

Back-office to front-office

How exactly can marketing technologists affect content marketing outcomes?

First, as marketing departments turn into full-blown publishing units, they require new processes and systems to scale efficiently. A marketing technologist can help configure and operate basic publishing infrastructure, such as WordPress or other content management systems, digital asset management, project management and workflow tools, and more specialized content marketing management software such as Curata, Kapost, NewsCred, and Skyword.

Second, marketing technologists can help with orchestrating the delivery and tracking of content marketing programs through marketing automation platforms and more personalized customer experience management website platforms.

They can make sure that tracking codes are properly in place for all of the different channels through which content is being promoted. They can configure A/B testing and optimization services. They can set up and adjust analytics software, pull raw data into a spreadsheet for lightweight data-science analysis, and run ad-hoc queries on customer databases. They can debug technical issues such as duplicate CRM records and email deliverability.

In many ways, marketing technologists manage the plumbing through which the water of content marketing flows. And while the content itself ultimately gets top billing in winning customers — as it should — you don’t want the plumbing to get backed up.

But increasingly, the marketing technologist role is working with software for more than just smooth back-office marketing operations. A new generation of content is now emerging that does more than present content for visitors to passively read or watch. Content can now be delivered in interactive formats, such as with Ceros and Uberflip. It can be integrated into marketing apps that engage visitors with choices in a wizard-like fashion, evaluators, quizzes, calculators, and more.

Creating these interactive content assets — experiential content — often requires new kinds of software to be added to marketing’s growing technology stack. To tap the full potential of these platforms, it often helps to have a basic understanding of computer programming to be able to easily assemble the rules and logic by which you want your content-driven marketing app to behave.

Developing such experiential content is ideal work for marketing technologists. And in partnership with other marketers who are developing the content within these new app-like experiences, they can forge the kinds of creative campaigns that break through the competitive noise.

Looking for extra guidance on understanding and using content marketing technology? Get helpful tips in CMI’s eBook: Building the Perfect Content Marketing Mix: Internal Processes and Content Marketing Strategy Tactics.

Author: Scott Brinker

Scott Brinker is the co-founder and CTO of ion interactive, a leading provider of post-click marketing software and services. He also writes a blog on marketing technology management, Chief Marketing Technologist. Follow him on Twitter via @chiefmartec.

Other posts by Scott Brinker

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  • Junaid Zia

    Good Article

  • Pawan Deshpande

    Scott, Pawan from Curata here.

    I absolutely agree with you on the need for a marketing technologist (even based on our own internal marketing organization). But it’s an extremely though role to fill.

    You are really looking for someone who both is technically proficient, and also knows marketing & marketing systems. In order to be technically proficient (or rather excellent and beyond proficient), you need to not only understand how the web works, but how to build applications for it.

    Coming from a software engineering background, I think most strong engineers would not find a marketing technologist role interesting as compared to a pure software engineering role.

    On the other hand, a marketer who is technically adept, lacks computer science concepts such as database schema design, and object oriented modeling which are necessary to perform more advanced operations in Marketing Automation and Salesforce.

    Then there’s always the overpriced marketing technologist consultants, who are okay for short projects but often too pricey for the long haul. Even worse is that the more hands that your marketing technology passes through the more you are susceptible to “spaghetti code”.

    • jakedimare

      Scott, as always, couldn’t agree more.

      Pawan, I have a quick suggestion: Consider looking for a smart person who has been a project manager for a solid digital marketing agency with 10 years of experience and they will have all the skills you are looking for at a sustainable price point. The other great thing is they will be thrilled to be given a new role that fully utilizes the incredible balance of experience they’ve picked up over their career.

      • Pawan Deshpande

        Thanks for the suggestion, Jake. That makes sense. Sounds like a good fit both in terms of prior experience, and a motivating next step in their career path.

      • Scott Brinker

        Thanks for the great question, Pawan — and the great answer, Jake! I agree that for the majority of “marketing technologist” tasks, you don’t need a high-priced specialist. You just need someone with the interest and the aptitude for learning how to operate marketing systems as a power user.

  • Jitendra Padmashali

    Yes its good to do publish our content in our site and update all time, So here I find good article for that , Thnak’s for posting.

  • Vijayalakshmi J Hiremath

    Hi, check Leadsquared,

  • Peter Odryna

    Scott, great article and right on point. At SocialEars we work with a lot of different types of marketing agencies to help them improve their content marketing efforts. Since we provide real-time marketing analytics, especially those that have social engagement programs, we’re finding that this same role of marketing technologist that you talk about needs to understand the analytics as well.

    After all, we manage what we measure.

    These analytics have become increasingly sophisticated because of the myriad of channels available today. The result is that when the marketing technologist role is filled well, the content marketing is far more effective.