The Rise of the Technical Marketer
Marketers today from leading organizations like Cars.com are embracing their existing customer data to unleash their MarTech investments and grow their business even faster.
April 26, 2023
Marketers have evolved from data-curious to fully embracing a deep understanding of their customer data. This trend stood out to us when we went to the 2023 Activate Conference, an annual event hosted by Iterable, a leading communications platform. Countless conversations highlighted how far marketing teams have come to embrace a deep, technical understanding of their customer data. Equipped with these insights, they are now working right alongside their data teams to streamline getting it into the tools and platforms like Iterable to deliver better, more personalized campaigns.
This is a new generation of data-driven marketing teams, and with modern MarTech, they’re moving faster than ever before.
Modern MarTech is Supercharged by Customer Data
If you're in or around marketing technology, you've probably seen Scott Brinker's MarTech map highlighting the thousands of marketing technology platforms available today. Each logo on the map represents a company working to enable marketers to move faster and create more personalized customer experiences. There have never been so many solutions available - let alone anywhere near as high quality as we see today.
While each of the available MarTech platforms offers varying capabilities with vastly different user experiences, they are almost all entirely reliant on one fundamental ingredient to operate at their fullest potential: customer data.
MarTech without customer data is like a ship without an ocean - motionless, aimless, and ultimately doomed to fail.
Marketing Data Stack Leader
With the right data available in modern MarTech, marketing teams today can leverage advanced capabilities and AI-powered features to unlock the hyper-personalized experiences expected by consumers. Does Spotify Wrapped ring a bell?
Cars.com: Driving Personalized Experiences with Data
At Activate, we heard first-hand how marketing teams unlock the full potential of modern MarTech. Alex Holt, Vice President of Audience Strategy & Activation at [Cars.com} (https://hightouch.com/blog/cars.com), gave a behind-the-scenes look into how the marketing team at Cars accesses and activates any data point to Iterable to drive personalized marketing experiences.
Cars leverages Hightouch to populate Iterable with personal data like first name, activity data like recent shopping behaviors, and data created by their data science teams like propensity scores. This deep customer data enables the marketing team at Cars to hyper-personalize every consumer touchpoint. In a matter of five weeks, by implementing the proper workflows, technologies, and culture, his team was able to drastically reduce the time and resources it took to go from campaign idea to activation.
Alex’s marketing team works hand-in-hand with their data counterparts. They set a clear goal for the data team: store best-in-class customer data in a single, accessible place. The data team was free to decide how to gather, model, and store customer data in their data warehouse (Redshift), while the marketing team was able to leverage Hightouch to activate data, audiences and experiments out to their many marketing platforms like Iterable.
Fundamentally, by allowing the data team to centralize data in the warehouse and marketing teams to activate directly from it, Cars created a “Composable Customer Data Platform (CDP)”. Legacy Customer Data Platforms like Segment and Tealium require marketers to collect data in a predefined way through external systems, rather than partnering with their internal data teams to transform their warehouse to an actionable store of data. The marketers at Cars have built a collaborative relationship with their data teams and have fundamentally transformed their workflows based on their ability to easily turn their customer data into actions in Iterable.
Marketers are Evolving to be Data-First
The reaction from the rest of the attendees at Activate to the Cars.com success story blew me away. Directly after the session, I saw a marketer literally drag their data counterpart to our booth to see how they could replace their manual pipelines that sync data from Snowflake to Iterable. This marketer left me with one of my favorite quotes from the conference: "The data team has bigger things to worry about [than syncing data out of my warehouse], and I just want to go fast".
This was just one example of many marketers who spoke to us after the session, eager to see how they could move to get customer data and audiences from their warehouse quickly into Iterable to drive their own personalization use-cases. These many discussions highlighted how today's marketing teams are more informed about where and how their data flows to each marketing destination.
Other Activate Sessions to Watch
These sessions further confirm how quickly marketing teams are embracing a better understanding of their data to drive business outcomes:
- Fahad Zahid, Head of Brand and Digital Marketing for the PGA of America, shared how his marketing teams leverage their data to directly influence PGA's marketing strategy to move off-course golfers to green grass facilities.
- Robert Schroko, VP of CRM, Audience Data Strategy, and Analytics at A+E Networks, unpacked how incremental conversion data enables his team to run cross-channel experiments, expand their email program, triple their send volume, and build alliances with cross-functional teams to scale impact.
The Road Ahead
Everything about the marketing landscape is changing quickly: AI, privacy regulations, emerging technologies like the cloud data warehouse, rising customer expectations, and so much more. Each of these changes brings new challenges for marketers to overcome. After seeing the incredible innovation and resilience on display at Activate, I'm more confident than ever that marketers will keep pace.
By embracing an understanding of their customer data, working collaboratively with data team counterparts, and ensuring that their organization is enabled with modern marketing platforms like Hightouch and Iterable, marketers will put themselves and their organizations in a position to thrive as we head into the many changes that tomorrow brings.