No matter which way you look at it, the world is now run by the guys that control the tech. Google. Facebook. Apple. Amazon. And that’s not to mention the upstarts like taxi app Uber, rent-your-room website Airbnb and messaging platform WhatsApp. These are real companies worth many billions.
We’re currently going through a ‘third industrial revolution’ – think about cloud computing, big data, the internet of things. How we engage with the world is increasingly mediated by technology. This trend is most obviously seen in the world of marketing, which now requires a whole set of new skills. Knowledge of systems, platforms and social media is more important than knowing how to print a leaflet or book a Yellow Pages ad.
The most successful modern marketing combines the skillsets of the marketing director and the IT director – what’s becoming known as a ‘marketing technologist’. Gartner analyst Laura McLellan recently predicted that by 2017, chief marketing officers will spend more on IT than their counterpart chief information officers.
But how can you take advantage of the marketing technology tricks which will keep you one step ahead?
Truly understand your audience
We’ll assume that you’re already quite active on social media – that you’re tweeting, posting and have a set of followers. But how much about them do you really know?
A great tool for Twitter is Followerwonk, which lets you learn more about your followers with useful nuggets such as their identity, location and tweeting habits. This allows you to find any patterns and tailor your tweets accordingly. But perhaps its most interesting feature is that you can compare the followers of competitors to identify new audiences to engage with.
Many people use Google Analytics, which undoubtedly gives you a good macro view of your web site visits. But given each one of those numbers and graphs represents a real person, how do you find the human behind the stats?
Analytics software Kissmetrics aims to solve this problem. It puts a face to the figures by tracking who visits your site and – as soon as you have some identifying data – lets you see them as individuals. Kissmetrics is able to backdate its analysis, so you can see so if someone visits your site five times before signing up.
This means that instead of having anonymous macro stats, you start to get a more qualitative picture of your web site traffic, providing texture and colour to an often impersonal picture.
Take out the legwork
But even if you know the profile and social media habits of your audience, how do you effectively communicate with them without creating an admin headache?
I face exactly this problem and use a tool called Buffer to post all my Twitter activity – it can also be used to manage Facebook and LinkedIn – for both my personal account and for my company, Techdept.
Buffer works by reviewing your followers and then scheduling your tweets for when they are most likely to be read. So when the urge takes hold, you create your tweets and Buffer publishes them throughout the week. An in-app analytics feature shows your top tweets and it even suggests new posts to share based on your past activity. Simples.
There is a great Chrome browser plugin that lets you share a web page directly into Buffer, so if you read a great article you can share it in a couple of clicks, adding it to your ‘queue’ with a comment. Their mobile app is also really slick, especially if posting to multiple accounts.
When managing multiple feeds and message threads from your social media accounts, I recommend Hootsuite. This is an easy way to see what’s happening across all your social accounts really simply, using a tab and column system to let you flip between accounts and different streams of information.
For Techdept, I check this twice a day – at 9am and 5pm – and can easily respond to any tweets in one dashboard. I also set up columns of search terms, such as blog titles that I have written, when I want to see if they have been shared and by whom.
Treat failure like a scientist
Modern marketers need to change how they see ‘success’ and ‘failure’. For too many people failure is the end of the road but a good marketing technologist will view failure in the same way that a scientist does. In a scientific experiment, a failed hypothesis means that you go back to the drawing board with data on what you know doesn’t work – it helps guide the next experiment.
With this in mind you should invest in some simple – and now cost effective – tools to add some science to your web design.
At Techdept, we have recently bought a Tobii Eye X Developer Kit, with which we test early web designs before they go to our clients. It fits on top of a screen and tracks eye movements as you look at that screen, so you can see how people actually look at a design before you write a single line of code. This lets you ‘fail fast’ in the design process – ditching ideas that just don’t work.
And when a web site goes live, it’s important to build knowledge on how people truly engage with it – do they click on the things you want them to click on? How far do they scroll? We use a tool called Crazy Egg – heat mapping software which lets you see this information in detail, in a simple visual way.
With these tools and ways of approaching your marketing, you can stay one step ahead in this dynamic digital world – becoming your very own marketing technologist. Remember – the geeks have inherited the earth.