As much as I hate to admit it, online marketers with engineering backgrounds often have a significant advantage over non-engineering marketers. They are simply much more capable of “getting stuff done.” The rest of us waste a lot of time and creative energy figuring how to get the obvious stuff done.
Not only are engineering marketers more capable of getting the essentials done, they can use their reserve of time and creative energy to be scrappy about building marketing experiments. And of course the experiments they build on their own can be much more interesting than us non-engineers.
One way I have worked around my engineering deficiencies has been to hire the skills onto the marketing team. For example, in my last long-term VP Marketing role I hired a front-end designer/engineer to design and code landing pages and a dedicated DBA to build reports and run ad hoc queries.
Tools are Leveling the Playing Field
Fortunately the playing field has begun to level in recent years so that non-engineering marketers can be much less dependent on engineering help. For example, I now use KISSmetrics to build my own reports and run ad hoc queries. And because it is so easy, I spend a lot more time digging into things like event-to-goal correlations. This helps me know the events I should be promoting to website visitors in a given lifecycle stage. In the past, I was just seeking visibility into the marketing campaigns and landing pages that were and weren’t working. KISSmetrics allows me to get much deeper and identify additional levers to improve results.
I’m also no longer dependent on front-end design and development help. Not only can I build extremely effective landing pages with Unbounce, I can also very easily set up and manage A/B tests. This takes me beyond the stuff I even bothered asking for in the past. For A/B testing landing pages, I previously had to replicate every ad to point to different landing pages. It doubled the amount of time it took to set up any new ad campaign. Now with Unbounce it is all automatic.
Even more empowering, I can actually manage all the content and design updates for our entire website using Optimizely. This proved to be very useful a few months ago when Qualaroo lacked a front-end developer. Despite limited HTML skills and no design talent, I was able to make all the necessary changes and still keep the key design templates that were custom created by a talented designer. Finally, Optimizely made it a no brainer to retain the old version and run it as an A/B test.
I’m very excited about the range of tools that will emerge over the next few years to further empower marketers. Eventually I see a time where an individual marketer will have the ability to identify and control all of the most powerful levers for driving growth, even from deep within their website.
An important step that is also taking place is automation of the marketing programs that work. All of this will continue to free up more time for creative marketers to build marketing experiments that truly push the envelope on results.