Creative thinking that delivers results

04 Jan

Can technology solve all of marketing’s challenges?

Category: Digital marketing
Marketing analytics, marketing technology, marketing automation

No question strikes equal amounts of fear and confusion in marketers than this one. Marketing technology has grown by leaps and bounds over the past 5 years, ushering in a new era where big data, marketing automation and analytics have all combined to add a new dimension to the role of a marketer.

Some have stated that marketing technology will forever change the face of marketing, requiring marketers acquire a whole new skillset in order to succeed. They believe analytical skills will become more important than creative and business skills in defining a successful marketing professional - if they haven’t already.

The role of technology in marketing

It’s easy to see why technology and analytics would play a more important role for marketers going forward. Tight budgets and a highly competitive market have forced marketers to validate their decisions and campaigns in more concrete ways than was ever required before.             

But is there a danger in an overreliance on data and analysis for marketers? I’d argue yes! Like many other aspects of our society, the beauty of data is in its ability to help people make better, more informed decisions. But not all decisions lend themselves to data analysis.

Indeed, data captures past behaviours for the most part and thus is more capable of predicting future behaviour as opposed to anticipating it. Putting aside predictive modeling (a topic for a future post), historic data can help predict future trends, especially if those trends are based on a related past event or activity!

Making sense of marketing technology

What does all this mean? It is my contention that marketing technology – data, analytics, automation and modeling should all be tools used in making and assessing marketing decisions, and the corresponding successes and failures in a marketing campaign. But they should NOT be the be all and end all of this analysis!

Too often I see marketers and other business people relying on data and other objective measures at the expense of more subjective elements. Common sense, logic, deduction and even one’s gut instincts are important components in effective decision making that should not be ignored or cast aside as we move towards more objective measures.

Right Brain, Left Brain

More and more marketing departments and agencies should be looking to marry the two – combine a focus on data analytics with a logical and common sense check that evaluates and proves the validity of marketing decisions.

A big part of the challenge with effectively achieving both perspectives is the inherent conflicts between right brain (creative) versus left brain (analytical) thinkers. But is this really a limitation?

The only solution is for all marketing departments to embrace the need for both a creative and analytical mindset within their groups, and that both must work in complete harmony for marketers and marketing campaigns to truly succeed.

Is this possible? History suggests this could prove challenging given the many conflicts IT groups have waged with marketing over the years. Nowadays however, more and more business people are grasping that a failure to marry technology with other business areas (like marketing) puts these companies at a distinct disadvantage versus those that are able to get this right!

Time will tell us if technology and marketing can ‘live happily ever after’. I’m betting on the fact this will be an inevitable and necessary evolution!