Stacks on Stacks on Stacks: Where Marketing Technology Needs to Go in 2015

We’re coming to the point when we ritually reflect on the past year—figuring out what we did right, what we did wrong, and what we need to do differently. Unfortunately, the reality is that companies have produced a lot of bad content in 2014, and a lot of marketing technologies didn’t deliver on their promise of better ROI.

It’s tough being a marketer today. You’re expected to be relevant, cool, and analytical to win over a global audience of fickle consumers. Fittingly, those who can conquer all three skills are called unicorns. As we head toward 2015, however, marketers who understand the tools at their disposal and create meaningful content don’t have to be anomalies.

Why is marketing underperforming?

First, let’s address the problem. The majority of non-unicorn marketers are playing a dangerous zero-sum game. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, the average attention span of a human is now less than that of a goldfish—eight seconds, to be exact. Empowered by their shiny new marketing technologies, marketers are now producing hundreds of millions of emails, ads, and tweets on a daily basis, which, in my opinion, are only contributing to the attention deficit.

As Contently VP of Content Sam Slaughter aptly describes it: “Marketers are shouting into a hurricane.” So how can they get back on track?

Identifying the three vital marketing stacks

In 2015, developing three different types of stacks is going to be crucial for marketers who want to break through the noise and drive real business results.

The first is a technology stack, which is basically a club sandwich of software integration and customization that marketers and developers tinker with to create more logical and measurable campaigns—and lots of them. But even if you have all the necessary technologies, they still don’t play together well enough to quickly run a full campaign end to end. The fluidity needed to take a campaign from just a concept to the point where you’re calculating its final attribution of lifetime value (or even just brand lift) is simply not there yet, nor will it be in 2015. That’s why you need your other stacks optimized to bridge the gap.

The next key stack is the talent stack, which most marketers would agree could use a little bolstering. Specialists such as industry journalists, graphic designers, videographers, and website developers who can produce quality content at scale are almost as hard to find as that unicorn marketer.

Lastly, marketers need a professional services stack to help manage the madness. A unicorn can only be in one place at a time, so running world-class marketing programs at scale requires small vendor teams from agencies and consultancies that can fill in project management and knowledge gaps.

Optimize the stacks and win the battle

1. A smarter technology stack should help you reach a hyper-targeted audience by leveraging original content, distributing to your most effective channels, and measuring how your content is performing. Contently relies on a number of tools, including our own content technology platform, WordPress, MailChimp, Marketo, Salesforce, and a few smaller technologies to reach a targeted audience of 150,000 marketing pros.

2. A diversified talent stack should consist of full-time marketers (including creatives) and part-time freelancers who are all committed to your company’s content strategy. This talent stack should be able to compete with the biggest media publishers to create content quickly and win the battle for your audience’s attention.

3. A dedicated professional services stack should go that extra mile to ensure your most important marketing programs are running effectively. Though these experienced project managers, account managers, and consultants may come with a heftier price tag, the value they generate and the time they save you and your team will make the expense well worth it.

Final thoughts

In 2015, only relying on marketing technology just isn’t going to cut it, no matter how many articles or sales people tell you otherwise. To earn and retain customers long-term, you’ll need to start building a fantasy team to power your stacks. You don’t necessarily need a bunch of unicorns, but you do need a strong roster of engineers, marketers, and creatives working together in concert. Do that well, and you’ll produce ROI figures that will leave everyone looking at you like you just sprouted wings.


Image by Kyle Fewell

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