I like to joke that, at Carnegie Mellon’s business school, every subject was boiled down to an equation, even marketing. It’s not that far from the truth: given the marketing tools that I’m using today, it’s absolutely critical for marketers to be both creative and quantitative. There’s marketing automation, CRM, web analytics, external campaigns, social media, SEM, and the mountain of resulting data and analytics available from each of these tools.
From ROIs and CTRs to web analytics and funnel ratios, marketing leadership requires a deep level of expertise with Microsoft Excel as much or more than Word and PowerPoint. Yes, marketers spend a lot of time writing copy, creating collateral and sales tools, and building presentations. But at every level of marketing, more and more attention is being paid to the numbers and the trends, not just the catchy tagline or the snazzy graphics. A/B testing is becoming (or should be) a standard step in every marketing campaign, and that goes well beyond just changing colors or subject lines. As marketing automation software makes it easier to segment lists and blast multiple versions of a campaign, interpreting the resulting data is becoming as important as creating the actual campaign copy.
I just read this great post at Chief Marketing Technologist that looks at marketing as a technology-driven discipline. As a marketer currently pitching analytics software directly to marketing executives, this couldn’t be more on-target. While we definitely need to be careful of over-promising the ease-of-use to those marketers who are not very quant-focused or tech-savvy, it’s the marketers who have some level of technical, analytical proficiency who are going to succeed. Why? Because they are going to quickly understand what’s working, what’s not, why, and what to do next – and have the data to back it up.
If you’re a marketer with only the soft/fluffy skills, your days are numbered (or at least your career advancement opportunities are severely limited). Learn HTML or PHP. Take an advanced Excel course. Become a power-user of your Salesforce, Marketo, ExactTarget, Webtrends, Omniture, or other marketing software tools – especially the reporting and analytics capabilities.
Bottom line: The faster you can get the answer to your manager’s questions with hard data (who do we target? with what? when? what worked? what didn’t? why? where is this new traffic from? how did they find us?), the better you can position yourself as the one who knows what to do next!