Marketing IT StaffingMarketing & Technology Staffing

In 2016, the American Staffing Association estimated there are roughly 20,000 Staffing Agencies in the United States. We believe there is somewhere between 22,000 and 25,000 with less than 500 firms specializing in both marketing and information technology staffing combined.

Historically, marketing people hire marketing people and technology people hire technology people. With the convergence of the marketing and information technology departments, there is a fundamental shakeup happening when it comes to identifying and selecting staffing resources, and the question of who really makes the marketing technology staffing decisions.

Who draws the Marketing IT Staffing Red Line?
All the news outlets, blogs, and industry analysts point to marketing departments across the country generating the need for brand awareness and the need for speed to be competitive. Yes, it is true that marketing departments have the budgets, but are they really the ones drawing the red line of vetting the new staff of marketing technologists?

We are seeing technology departments leaning more towards a ‘mentoring’ role in the staffing decisions to fulfill marketing technology needs. We see this in mid-large scale organizations. This could be because of the ‘do more with less’ (yes, I said it) where IT simply does not have the resources or money, or perhaps it as a position of delegation. Nonetheless, IT is maintaining a level of distance.

Larger organizations have already initiated the transformation to the ‘CMO-CTO’ office. Even though lines have been established and are still currently being fleshed out, marketing IT staffing decisions appear to be leaning more to the marketing side. In smaller organizations, the red line appears to have been collaboratively drawn on longer-term projects and/or cloud specific solutions – with limited or no technical support from IT.

Regardless of the organization, we are seeing consistency that both departments maintain key roles in the decision process when a marketing technology engagement is fully outsourced. An exception to this are special short-term marketing IT projects. In most cases, it’s marketing driven and IT has little or no involvement identifying and sectioning the appropriate resource.

Shouldn’t it be the Marketing IT Staffing Grey Line?
Overall, the resource pool with both Marketing and Technology skill sets are currently limited. Both sides are making ground at a steady pace in understanding the inverse skill sets. From the technical side, we see this in UX design, Mobile Application Development, and Analytic Integration – primarily because these types of projects require a fair level of marketing knowledge in order to compete. From the marketing side, we see it with the Social Media Integration, Campaign Management, and Content Management – primarily because the software platforms warrant a level of technology knowledge in order execute.

While this crossover is currently transitioning, marketing and technology remain separate and distinct when it comes to marketing IT staffing. The marketing and IT staffing red line remains red with a hint of grey forming in favor of marketing.

Over the next few years, we will begin to see dual competencies in both, non-technical marketing strategy and positioning coupled with technical level integration capabilities. The challenge will remain for some time to properly identify, select, manage and retain the right marketing technology resource for the need, regardless of contract, contract-hire, or dire-hire positions.

CMO-CIO Why the realtionship?The CMO-CIO relationship is evolutionary.

The push for marketing and information technology to collaborate has been apparent for the last 5 years.

Corporate branding and planning strategies have progressed to a full suite of digital marketing capabilities.

Companies began with a corporate website presence followed by search engine optimization (SEO) and analytics. Then, the wave of social media hit. Word-of-mouth marketing (WOMM) emerged and the digital marketing portfolio expanded adding digital media, community management, campaign /reputation management and analytics. Mobile devices evolved. As a result, multi-tiered digital application management was born. New brand entry points needed to be crafted and tracked for ROI performance and growth.

In contrast, you have Information Technology (IT). This group of experts is the traditional owners of cost justification, technology consolidation, and optimization. IT is now a valuable stakeholder in marketing adding the trends of governance, risk, and compliance (GRC) coupled with ‘bring your own device (BYOD)’ and cloud-computing trend.

The CMO-CIO crossover creates an organizational marketing and technology strategy that only makes sense in this evolving digital era.

The real question is, “How do you provide a team with a background in marketing and information technology that will foster cooperation and growth for the benefit of your organization?” The Answer: Asparian.

What will IT ask Marketing?  About that Digital Marketing ApplicationWhat will IT ask Marketing? … about that Digital Marketing App

Before marketing signs on the dotted line for that shiny new app, whatever it may be, IT will have some questions. While these are not all encompassing and skip the typical digital marketing software SLAs in general, marketing is pretty much guaranteed these questions from IT, in one form or another.

Can we build it?
Digital marketing applications are popping up daily and most are grouped by similar functionality. Hot areas have been in content management, analytics and reporting. Currently, large software vendors are pushing for standardization on single platforms. Depending on the application and its purpose, IT may already have an in-house standardized solution. Sometimes the needed workflow and functionality is already within other in-house applications, requiring little or no additional development saving time and money. Then again, the new question would be, “when do you need it?”

Is it in the Cloud?

There are three locations to consider: In the cloud, in-house as a standalone, or both (hybrid). All three locations require different IT strategies and open the door to the follow-on questions addressing marketing and technology integration:

– Who will support it?
– What are the security/compliance risks?

With the increasing adoption of the cloud, more and more marketing departments have taken the plunge. Today’s primary challenge with digital marketing cloud applications is integration and data management.

Measuring ROI?
With the pressure of marketing to show a return on investment, it is imperative to provide access to the right performance data metrics. For IT, this is another integration question. Almost all applications provide some form of reporting and data export. Several cloud based marketing applications provide reporting within the interface and the flexibility to customize reports. Integrating data (especially in real-time) to an external application is entirely different. IT will be quick to ask the ‘what’ questions:

– What is the Application Language? (PHP,.NET, J2E)
– What is the Database? (SQL, MySQL, Oracle, DB2)
– What APIs are supplied?
– Is the Application well documented?
– What Data Export file types are supported? (XML,JSON, TEXT, CSV)

Are we at risk?
On May 30, 2013, was hacked. Drupal is one of the most popular open source Content Management Systems supporting over 7M websites used by both marketing and IT. Hackers exploited a third party application and gained access to Reports state that is ‘unsure’ of what was stolen, but data including usernames, email addresses, and hashed passwords ‘could have been’ exposed.

What data is being collected? Is it secure? Who has access to that data? What are the processes, standards, and procedures for managing that data? How is it being backed up? Often times these questions may be overlooked, usually by those with rather limited internal resources. Facebook ‘Like’s’ and Foursquare’s ‘Check ins’ are one thing, but when multiple pieces of data are being pulled from multiple access points to a centralized marketing platform, this becomes a risk. IT will want to know.

Whose budget?
The questions of money and resources always appear when marketing applications are involved. On one hand, marketing needs tools to identify, track and capitalize new revenues for the organization. On the other hand, these applications are technology based and require integration, development, and technology expertise.

Forming a collaborative marketing and IT strategy is critical to help answer many questions and avoid conflicts, such as, ‘whose budget does it come from’. Depending on the organization, this may be as simple as an ‘IT chargeback’ to marketing.

Marketing’s best approach for that ‘new digital marketing application’ is to identify a strategic roadmap with IT, work collaboratively in agreement, and jointly fill in the gaps between people, processes, and technology. Taking a holistic approach will solidify and enhance the benefits of your new digital marketing application. And when it doubt, reach out!

Marketing Automation Integration

Expectations were high for a complete end-to-end Marketing Automation solution. Breathing life into your new creation could be a challenge. Applying marketing automation to the sales process means implementing one or more applications, such as, Marketo™, Eloqua™, Salesforce™, HubSpot™, ERP systems or others. But wait! Now you have to bolt them together to create a seamless conversion from top-of-funnel leads to qualified prospects to customers, and it’s still “an inarticulate mass of tissues” (Young Frankenstein). Why?

Integrationmarketing Automation Asparian
Marketing Automation is more than implementing a single application. We’ve learned how potential drop-offs occur as conversion events enter the funnel and get lost in the transition as they attempt to make their way to the sales team. Closing the loop requires a level of technology sometimes overlooked. Integration is the key to the metamorphosis of your marketing automation eco-system.

The answer lies in anticipating that your automation toolset, a lead generating / lead nurturing system, requires integration with one or more existing or future CRM, e-mail system, call center management, ERP, analytics, or even BI solution. Hopefully, you have an internal or outsourced talent pool that can link the chain of silos together from leads to customers. If not, it’s time to build a qualified staff.

A number of integration strategies exist. Ultimately, stitching your application process together allows for two approaches that may impact the level of security depending on your choice.

In Series using Peer-to-Peer API’s

–  Link each application silo in series using the intrinsic API tools whereby each communicates relevant information from one application to another.
–  Regretfully, each of the multiple silos is a potential point of a data breach, plus providing unfettered access to the entire stream of increasingly valuable conversion data. Typically, this approach may be of greater risk, but may also be less costly in the short run.

 In Parallel and Centrally Managed

–  Through the implementation of a centrally managed parallel design, the multiple applications are isolated from each other, yet the stream of increasingly qualified leads still flows.
–  Managing multiple and disparate API connections in a centralized architecture is safer. So, if an illegal data breach occurs in one application, it can’t transverse down the funnel to any other application.

Whatever your decision, a talented and dedicated marketing technology team should be an intricate part of your total marketing automation solution. After all, someone needs to keep those parts bolted together!

5 Steps to B2B Lead NurturingDrop a random stack of leads on your sales team and weeks later you may find them having gone round and round before closing a single deal. On the other hand, your marketing team could hand off hot qualified and prioritized leads ready to close. Implementing a marketing automation program will generate, nurture and qualify leads from multiple sources by leveraging technology rather than human resources. This approach becomes efficient and manageable. Converting marketing qualified leads (MQL) into sales qualified leads (SQL) becomes a cost effective process by managing the basic blocking and tackling of lead development and allowing the sales team to maximize its areas of expertise and close business.

Here are five fundamental steps to creating a superbly successful lead nurturing and conversion strategy.

Evaluate Your Online Lead Resources
Lead generation and nurturing starts with online resources, such as, websites, email campaigns, social media (e.g., facebook, twitter, LinkedIn, etc.). Many marketers take this opportunity to dust off their dingy online presence. Websites are updated, facebook, twitter, LinkedIn profile pages are polished, interactive tools are implemented, email campaigns are coordinated with blog posts and much more. Leave no stone unturned as you create a strong foundation for successful automated lead nurturing and sales conversion.

Engage the Customer
Leverage your brand by engaging the customer at the level they expect. Go deep into nurturing a prospective customer. White papers, blogs, fun contests, webinars, industry links, events, all provide your leads with the understanding that you are the source, the portal, for your industry space. And if you are the thought leader, why would they want to buy from anyone else?

Scoring Leads
Predictive lead scoring significantly advances the data mining connected to your brand. Collecting and scoring direct and indirect data points gives you the basis to prioritize leads according to a predefined metrics. Direct actions are based on names, titles, emails, phone numbers, company names, websites, budgets, and timeframes. Indirect or behavioral profiles capture the interaction they’ve had with your brand, for example, a website entry and exit page, did they download your most recent white paper, have they connected via LinkedIn, are they friending your Facebook or Twitter, are they reading your blogs and posting across your social media landscape? Direct data works in conjunction with indirect data. Indirect or behavioral actions provide the highest scoring values.

Turning Prospects into Opportunities
Prospects are leads who have already been qualified, but have not purchased for reasons, such as, time, budget, or priorities. They should be tracked and nurtured differently because they no longer need introductions to your brand. Prospects should be kept abreast of latest industry space developments, insights and methodologies to keep them connected. Helping them understand your capabilities and influence as thought leaders and innovators will assure that your brand will be selected when the opportunity is right. Meanwhile, the automated nurturing process keeps your relationship active and relevant. Instead of managing prospects, your valuable sales team is reserved to close SQL business.

Moving Leads from MQL to SQL
We all agree that each time a lead engages with a brand through online resources it becomes more valuable. Now we can build an ecosystem to track and manage that process. The cost of managing an incremental lead is nearly free compared to having your inside team do the work. Scoring leads moves us from giving the sales team a simple random stack of names or emails to presenting a prioritized and qualified hot list. Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL) become Sales Qualified Leads (SQL) based on a lead or prospect achieving a predefined level of interaction by those who touched your brand.

Now that we know the necessary steps it begs the question, who on your team is prepared to take ownership? Does the marketing team enjoy the internal technical resources, or will implementing and executing this strategy require outsourcing to an experienced consulting group able to accelerate the process? The choice is yours, but time is running out. Certainly, your competition is moving forward. Are you?

Are we Digital or Direct Marketers?Years ago a website was considered an online brochure. Many then asked, “How can I monetize my site?” and then banner and other advertizing strategies boomed. Soon websites morphed into a Web 2.0 platform as a funnel for social media conversation and an ability to “touch the brand”. Finally, has come the blending of all efforts. A combination of creative, media, monetization and extending the online process into sales conversion is now being rolled under one umbrella, called Marketing Automation.

The question today is, are we who influence online and social considered digital marketers, or are we direct marketers converting online conversations and leads into sales? The answer is actually both. It’s no longer the creative or media strengths of a website and related digital platforms, social media, emails, social networks, and analytics. Today it’s turning digital marketing into direct marketing by intelligently building online sales processes that drive and support online or offline sales. Inevitably digital marketing is converting conversations into customers. These conversion events leverage an ever greater degree of social, behavioral, online efforts and a lesser amount of time and cost required from engaging the live inside or outside sales teams.

Today we face an intrinsic challenge. With the flurry of marketing automation platforms comes recognition that many marketers have bitten the apple. They find themselves initially looking at a static investment with little ROI because of the complexity of integration between all stakeholders, including marketing, sales and the information technology teams. These systems touch all aspects of the digital footprint. Question: Who today is prepared to begin the process of building specific emails that guide and nurture leads through an educational course? Guiding and scoring leads is all consuming for the brand or related agency. It’s a never ending, living gantlet that changes and adapts on a week by week or month by month basis. The net effect is that brands and agencies will require an increase in content producing and monitoring services with data results at the core. Even to the point of either organically growing or outsourcing marketing technology.

What we now have is the ultimate purpose of digital media and marketing. To drive traffic, conversation, analytics, interaction, and conversion is the key. Conversion is direct marketing and is required to be measured as such. How much is saved, are costs dropping, is revenue increasing? What is my cost per lead? Is it now less expensive using automation then my inside sales team doing the initial heavy lifting? By putting together comprehensive strategies and strengthen the marketing automation process the answer should be, Yes.

Evolution of Social Media - AsparianEvolution of Social Media

Surely it’s a Fad…don’t call me Shirley!
The thought that somehow MySpace, chat rooms, forums or blogs had any significant value was thought perplexing. Many considered these online communities something for kids to play with instead of watching television. What changed the perspective were the sheer numbers of new media and online growth and demographics.

Economy…bust and boom
Many ad agencies and brands began experimenting and discovering the potential monetization and conversion possibilities. At the time of the national economic downturn, brands began pushing for greater exposure at a lower cost. Brands began encouraging ad agencies to take a portion of their marketing budget and move away from traditional media, such as, television, radio, and print, to what appeared to be a targeted form of media, where the media cost was essentially free, but did require management.

Many national brands took the plunge into online new media. Digital advertising, word-of-mouth marketing, and social media strategic approaches grew in short order to dominate the new approach in marketing. It wasn’t only managing campaigns and communities, but tracking the analytics and measurements to gauge conversion and true Return on Investment (ROI).

National and SMB Brands
Online new media became the great equalizer. Social Media allowed small or medium businesses the same access to conversations as large national brands. Going viral was no longer a matter of wealth, but a matter of creativity and relevance. Brands began to understand that communities like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn were driving billions of people. Capturing a fraction of these communities, or being able to tap into unique conversations would have tremendous value to a brand, product or service. Becoming known as the source of significant and relevant information was of great value.

It’s not a matter of spreading your logo to millions of people, it’s about exchanging conversations and advice within communities and communicating with influencers who will spread the word about your brand. Conversations, curating content, sharing significant information has become the basis of a successful social media strategy.

Marketing Technology
Now becomes the time to take the next step and integrate knowledge and awareness into processes, procedures, and manufacturing strategies. Capturing the online information, analytics, statistical relevancy, and converting this information, big data, into decisions has become the realm of the marketing technologist. It’s time to release the I.T. department from having to create and manage these new highly technical responsibilities. Marketing requires speed and form, while I.T. typically requires function, planning and time. Marketing technology advances social media by enabling a means to get the message out in a fast, yet functional approach while taking ownership of these combined silos. It also allows a medium for I.T. to share information with a kindred spirit that can translate tech talk into the marketing language of revenue generation. For those brands looking to accelerate the process, value added consulting teams are available to fill the role of a marketing technologist and help guide your company to a new level of success.