Throughout the month, we've explored 2014 trends in a number of inbound marketing disciplines, including content, sales, web development, design and consulting. Today, we conclude our series by speaking with the brains who interpret clients' data: technologists. Here, Kuno Creative Technology Director Dan Stasiewski and Technologist Dan Romanski explore the evolving responsibilities, marketing tools and strategic approach clients are asking for in 2014.
Dan S: The technologist is very much a hybrid position, melding an outstanding knowledge of marketing technologies with creative content and solutions. Think of it as the business intelligence aspect of digital marketing, where we employ business systems in innovative ways our clients can benefit from. Initially, the marketing technologist focused on SEO and online advertising, but now we're seeing more automated marketing technologies, like HubSpot, Salesforce and Marketo, that clients are willing to use but don't know how. That's where a technologist steps in. We direct a client's marketing strategy by guiding them through the right system to realize their goals.
Dan R: I've been finding myself face-to-face with clients now more than ever. As a technologist, creative strategy often blooms from our knowledge of marketing tools and their technical capabilities. I'm approached on a daily basis to offer my insight on why certain aspects of a project may or may not work. It's a big change from the "behind-the-scenes techy" I was last year. Involvement is now a necessity.
Dan R: I predict a larger focus on content personalization in the coming months. The marketing technologist will be asked how to incorporate smart content into a client's website or online presence. Therefore, the technologist will play a larger, more collaborative role in devising the overall strategy among our design, development and content departments.
Dan S: I agree. Personalized content and the technology used to disseminate it are truly married, even more so in 2014. Technologists and content creators will have to work together in new, innovative ways. Think of it like this: The creative departments build targeted materials, and the technologists ensure the right people see the right content at the right time. No matter the expectation, the proper application of content and technology is integral to a successful strategy.
Additionally, I think more businesses will start investing their resources in marketing software. The boom is here, and it hasn't really stopped. Business leaders realize the need for automated marketing systems now, just like they knew they needed SEO 10 years ago. Consequently, this will create an environment where marketing technology is readily available, but few will know how to utilize it to its full extent. In order to leverage their investment, clients will have to rely on increasingly sophisticated strategies to deliver their personalized experience. It's the technologist's job to coordinate these strategies.
Dan R: I show them the data. Marketing updates and reports are constantly changing the way we approach our projects, and the analytics reflect those changes. People react to what they see, so by showing our clients the hard numbers we maintain a transparency that would be counterproductive to deny. Every company is different, and every customer of that company is different. We make it a priority to tailor our strategy to benefit the company as a whole, and we do this by interpreting the data.
Dan S: Software, SEO and even best practices are subject to change. It's our job to fully understand these changing trends, and then articulate them to our clients. It's unreasonable to expect high-ranking search results by using outdated SEO practices like old-school backlinking and keyword-stuffing. Sure, it might have worked for some at that time, but due to the rapid evolution of online content and search, new arrivals to an established keyword have to earn their position in new, unfamiliar ways via inbound. This is another example of how content and technology work together. Based on the data, we can test content to appropriately address a company's customer persona.
Dan S: We rely on staying informed from established marketing outlets, like Moz.com, for insights into trends. However, I think the most important thing a technologist can do in addition to staying informed is to keep an eye on your data. By watching the data and asking yourself why certain content works better than others, you easily infer behavioral trends relative to your client.
It's important to remember that what works for some brands doesn't necessarily work for another, especially if they're in separate verticals, like technology and healthcare. Technologists can reference sets of data from both verticals to see what analytical trends they have in common, or what strategy suit them best, respectively.
Dan R: In terms of adhering to trends, marketers should try to integrate older strategies with newer trends. It's not about dismissing older tactics, but rather refitting the best strategies into the system you're building with your client.
Dan R: Flexibility. It might seem commonplace to mention flexibility as a necessity, but as a technologist, it couldn't be more important. Due to the invariability of digital marketing, adapting to change with an open mind is a valuable asset to your client and your strategy.
Dan S: I believe a strong foundation in flexibility, or agile development, is fundamental to the technologist role. Marketing will always be creative and unstructured. Agile development allows the technologist to understand how marketing technologies will evolve and how your use of that technology will evolve with it. If you can't change, you can't overcome roadblocks. Stay ahead of the algorithms, stay ahead of the software updates, and you'll be better equipped to guide your team's potential.
Thanks to all of those at Kuno Creative who shared their insight into the future of inbound marketing in this series. And thank you, the reader, for absorbing it all.
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