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5 things martech leaders wish their teams knew

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5 things martech leaders wish their teams knew


There’s something we don’t often talk about in martech: the growing disconnect between martech leaders and practitioners. Many practitioners, the ones managing technology day-to-day, are working overtime to deliver projects and keep the marketing lights on. When this hard work goes unappreciated, these subject-matter-experts move on to another company – hard to blame them. But is this the whole story?

Martech leaders agree that martech professionals and marketing operations are the unsung heroes of the marketing department. But in speaking with them, we learn that the problem of underappreciation doesn’t fully rest on the shoulders of marketing leadership. The issue is multi-faceted, and when asked the question “What are key things you wish martech teams knew?” the responses are quite insightful.

While you may not hear these points out loud or in one-on-one meetings, it’s important to understand the perspective of martech leaders and how they think the problem should be addressed. Here are five key things martech leaders wish you knew.


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1. The perception of the martech team has to be shaped, and it starts with you

The team that owns martech (typically marketing operations) has not always had the best reputation. Other teams have thought of them as the “order-takers” or the “button-pushers,” or even the IT of marketing, another obstacle they have to overcome. While many practitioners complain about this and jump from role to role, hoping the next company will be a different story, they often overlook the proactive steps they can take to change this perception.

Where to start? Start by making sure your current projects are tied to the business’s top priorities. If they aren’t, reprioritize, or find ways to link them indirectly if you must.

Make sure the projects you are working on are top priorities for the business. If not, find out how to link them, at least indirectly. Also, emphasize the downsides or negative impact if these projects are not put in place.

Find an opportunity to show off: most martech professionals may hide behind their technology, but this is the opposite of shaping perception. Put together a quarterly business review, schedule a presentation or start a biweekly newsletter highlighting all the great results martech generates.

2. Understand the dangers of opportunity cost

Here’s an interesting analogy: pretend there is a mix of bills spread across the field, in increments of 100s, 20s, fives, and ones. With limited time, which bills do you go after first?

Unfortunately, many martech teams spend their time working on projects worth fives and ones versus those worth 100s. This example brings stark reality to the meaning of opportunity cost: spending time on something with little value at the expense of pursuing something with higher value.

Nick Bonfiglio, founder and CEO of Syncari, says it like this: “Focus on quality over quantity every time.” To his team of martech operators, he says, “you can test programs that generate engagement, but what I want you to really focus on is initiatives that drive qualified opportunities. Spend your time on projects that will create opportunities with an above 25% close rate minimum.”

Does that mean his team never experiments? Never tries anything new? Quite the opposite, the Syncari team reserves time for innovation. The key difference is they are judicious about the majority of their project work.

3. Translate martech success to business outcomes

Here is another problem that plagues martech teams everywhere: doing great work that their stakeholders don’t understand. Years ago, I spent an entire month migrating a lead routing system from a decentralized model to a single, centralized workflow. After sharing this accomplishment with the larger team, I was met with many blank stares.

What was I missing? I needed to explain how the project would impact their work and the business at large in simple terms. Once I shared how the new lead routing cut their campaign management time by 25% and virtually eliminated all of the lead management errors they were experiencing, they sat up much straighter and appreciated the work being done.

“Figure out what your work will unlock for stakeholders,” says Jessica Kao, director at F5 Networks. “This is what I tell my team: If you are building something or implementing a new tool, communicate how it will translate to more leads, meetings, pipeline and revenue. We might be doing the right things, but being able to tie it back to the business reason is the key to success within an organization.”

Like Jessica says, take a look at your work and explain how it will impact the business. Explain how investments in data will turn into better targeting and better personalization. Articulate how investing in a new platform will improve productivity by 20%. Translate martech work into business results, and you will be on the right track to martech success.

4. Team structure isn’t as important as vision, goals and accountability

Should you organize your team into a revenue ops team or keep sales ops and marketing ops separate? While there are varying benefits for each organization, the truth is that any structure you choose will fall apart without an overarching vision for sales and marketing success.

Here is the truth: at micro-startups, sales and marketing are naturally connected because the entire team is only a handful of members. At the enterprise level, there is a high volume of projects requiring specialization that may not need input from other groups as frequently as with smaller organizations, though alignment is always critical.

You don’t have to be in revenue operations to help sales. “I want my teams to know that it is important to empathize with sales,” says Thao Ngo, SVP of marketing at Allocadia. “Sales is laser-focused on their current deals and don’t have the time to read all of our marketing material. Make it easy for them: summarize key points, consolidate all resources for them in one place, and identify ways for them to hit their targets.”

So what principles should guide us when so many different structures can work? Leaders should set the organization’s vision and goals that are shared widely and operationalized in everything. For example, revenue goals should be set by both sales and marketing, approved by top leadership and broken down into sub-goals that each team commits to. Customer experience goals should be the same way – sales can look at referrals or upsells, while marketing may set CSAT or NPS goals.

Read next: More on marketing operations from Darrell Alfonso

5. If you are constantly drowning in work, stand up and look around

What’s a common refrain from martech and marketing operations teams? That there is way too much work to do in too little time. How do martech leaders respond to this?

“It’s true that martech teams are busy,” says a top executive at a mid-sized SAAS enterprise. “But to be honest, everyone in high-growth organizations has too much to do. Effective teams will carefully weigh the different initiatives in front of them and focus their energy on where they can get the most return on their money and time.”

Unfortunately, while it is true that marketing operations teams everywhere could use more resources, many are spending time on low-value tasks.

My recent LinkedIn post on the importance of prioritizing high-value tasks at the expense of low-value tasks was met with general agreement, but there were one too many comments, such as:

“Well, what if my low-value projects turn into high-project later on?” and “It’s not all about the numbers, you know.”

To that, I can only sadly shake my head – any effective leader knows that low-value projects don’t magically turn into high-value projects, and those that do were not scoped and appraised correctly. It’s hard to truly look at your work, evaluate projects’ impact, and make hard decisions to determine what you will and won’t do. Making smart tradeoffs is an effective leader’s mark, especially in martech.


About The Author

Darrell is an award-winning marketer and Martech professional. He was named one of the top Martech Marketers to Follow in 2020, won the Fearless Marketer award in 2018, is a 2X Marketo Champion, and is a certified Salesforce Administrator. He has consulted for several Fortune 500 companies including General Electric and Abbott Laboratories and currently leads marketing operations at Amazon Web Services where he helps empower hundreds of marketers to build world-class customer experiences. Darrell is a frequent speaker at martech events, and regularly posts thought leadership content on Linkedin and Twitter.



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SEO Recap: ChatGPT – Moz

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SEO Recap: ChatGPT - Moz

The author’s views are entirely his or her own (excluding the unlikely event of hypnosis) and may not always reflect the views of Moz.

We’re back with another SEO recap with Tom Capper! As you’ve probably noticed, ChatGPT has taken the search world by storm. But does GPT-3 mean the end of SEO as we know it, or are there ways to incorporate the AI model into our daily work?

Tom tries to tackle this question by demonstrating how he plans to use ChatGPT, along with other natural language processing systems, in his own work.

Be sure to check out the commentary on ChatGPT from our other Moz subject matter experts, Dr. Pete Meyers and Miriam Ellis:

Video Transcription

Hello, I’m Tom Capper from Moz, and today I want to talk about how I’m going to use ChatGPT and NLP, natural language processing apps in general in my day-to-day SEO tasks. This has been a big topic recently. I’ve seen a lot of people tweeting about this. Some people saying SEO is dead. This is the beginning of the end. As always, I think that’s maybe a bit too dramatic, but there are some big ways that this can be useful and that this will affect SEOs in their industry I think.

The first question I want to ask is, “Can we use this instead of Google? Are people going to start using NLP-powered assistants instead of search engines in a big way?”

So just being meta here, I asked ChatGPT to write a song about Google’s search results being ruined by an influx of AI content. This is obviously something that Google themselves is really concerned about, right? They talked about it with the helpful content update. Now I think the fact that we can be concerned about AI content ruining search results suggests there might be some problem with an AI-powered search engine, right?

No, AI powered is maybe the wrong term because, obviously, Google themselves are at some degree AI powered, but I mean pure, AI-written results. So for example, I stole this from a tweet and I’ve credited the account below, but if you ask it, “What is the fastest marine mammal,” the fastest marine mammal is the peregrine falcon. That is not a mammal.

Then it mentions the sailfish, which is not a mammal, and marlin, which is not a mammal. This is a particularly bad result. Whereas if I google this, great, that is an example of a fast mammal. We’re at least on the right track. Similarly, if I’m looking for a specific article on a specific web page, I’ve searched Atlantic article about the declining quality of search results, and even though clearly, if you look at the other information that it surfaces, clearly this has consumed some kind of selection of web pages, it’s refusing to acknowledge that here.

Whereas obviously, if I google that, very easy. I can find what I’m looking for straightaway. So yeah, maybe I’m not going to just replace Google with ChatGPT just yet. What about writing copy though? What about I’m fed up of having to manually write blog posts about content that I want to rank for or that I think my audience want to hear about?

So I’m just going to outsource it to a robot. Well, here’s an example. “Write a blog post about the future of NLP in SEO.” Now, at first glance, this looks okay. But actually, when you look a little bit closer, it’s a bluff. It’s vapid. It doesn’t really use any concrete examples.

It doesn’t really read the room. It doesn’t talk about sort of how our industry might be affected more broadly. It just uses some quick tactical examples. It’s not the worst article you could find. I’m sure if you pulled a teenager off the street who knew nothing about this and asked them to write about it, they would probably produce something worse than this.

But on the other hand, if you saw an article on the Moz blog or on another industry credible source, you’d expect something better than this. So yeah, I don’t think that we’re going to be using ChatGPT as our copywriter right away, but there may be some nuance, which I’ll get to in just a bit. What about writing descriptions though?

I thought this was pretty good. “Write a meta description for my Moz blog post about SEO predictions in 2023.” Now I could do a lot better with the query here. I could tell it what my post is going to be about for starters so that it could write a more specific description. But this is already quite good. It’s the right length for a meta description. It covers the bases.

It’s inviting people to click. It makes it sound exciting. This is pretty good. Now you’d obviously want a human to review these for the factual issues we talked about before. But I think a human plus the AI is going to be more effective here than just the human or at least more time efficient. So that’s a potential use case.

What about ideating copy? So I said that the pure ChatGPT written blog post wasn’t great. But one thing I could do is get it to give me a list of subtopics or subheadings that I might want to include in my own post. So here, although it is not the best blog post in the world, it has covered some topics that I might not have thought about.

So I might want to include those in my own post. So instead of asking it “write a blog post about the future of NLP in SEO,” I could say, “Write a bullet point list of ways NLP might affect SEO.” Then I could steal some of those, if I hadn’t thought of them myself, as potential topics that my own ideation had missed. Similarly you could use that as a copywriter’s brief or something like that, again in addition to human participation.

My favorite use case so far though is coding. So personally, I’m not a developer by trade, but often, like many SEOs, I have to interact with SQL, with JavaScript, with Excel, and these kinds of things. That often results in a lot of googling from first principles for someone less experienced in those areas.

Even experienced coders often find themselves falling back to Stack Overflow and this kind of thing. So here’s an example. “Write an SQL query that extracts all the rows from table2 where column A also exists as a row in table1.” So that’s quite complex. I’ve not really made an effort to make that query very easy to understand, but the result is actually pretty good.

It’s a working piece of SQL with an explanation below. This is much quicker than me figuring this out from first principles, and I can take that myself and work it into something good. So again, this is AI plus human rather than just AI or just human being the most effective. I could get a lot of value out of this, and I definitely will. I think in the future, rather than starting by going to Stack Overflow or googling something where I hope to see a Stack Overflow result, I think I would start just by asking here and then work from there.

That’s all. So that’s how I think I’m going to be using ChatGPT in my day-to-day SEO tasks. I’d love to hear what you’ve got planned. Let me know. Thanks.

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What Is a White Paper? [FAQs]

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What Is a White Paper? [FAQs]

The definition of a whitepaper varies heavily from industry to industry, which can be a little confusing for marketers looking to create one for their business.

The old-school definition comes from politics, where it means a legislative document explaining and supporting a particular political solution.

(more…)

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HubSpot to cut around 7% of workforce by end of Q1

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HubSpot to cut around 7% of workforce by end of Q1

This afternoon, HubSpot announced it would be making cuts in its workforce during Q1 2023. In a Securities and Exchange Commission filing it put the scale of the cuts at 7%. This would mean losing around 500 employees from its workforce of over 7,000.

The reasons cited were a downward trend in business and a “faster deceleration” than expected following positive growth during the pandemic.

Layoffs follow swift growth. Indeed, the layoffs need to be seen against the background of very rapid growth at the company. The size of the workforce at HubSpot grew over 40% between the end of 2020 and today.

In 2022 it announced a major expansion of its international presence with new operations in Spain and the Netherlands and a plan to expand its Canadian presence in 2023.

Why we care. The current cool down in the martech space, and in tech generally, does need to be seen in the context of startling leaps forward made under pandemic conditions. As the importance of digital marketing and the digital environment in general grew at an unprecedented rate, vendors saw opportunities for growth.

The world is re-adjusting. We may not be seeing a bubble burst, but we are seeing a bubble undergoing some slight but predictable deflation.


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About the author

Kim Davis

Kim Davis is the Editorial Director of MarTech. Born in London, but a New Yorker for over two decades, Kim started covering enterprise software ten years ago. His experience encompasses SaaS for the enterprise, digital- ad data-driven urban planning, and applications of SaaS, digital technology, and data in the marketing space.

He first wrote about marketing technology as editor of Haymarket’s The Hub, a dedicated marketing tech website, which subsequently became a channel on the established direct marketing brand DMN. Kim joined DMN proper in 2016, as a senior editor, becoming Executive Editor, then Editor-in-Chief a position he held until January 2020.

Prior to working in tech journalism, Kim was Associate Editor at a New York Times hyper-local news site, The Local: East Village, and has previously worked as an editor of an academic publication, and as a music journalist. He has written hundreds of New York restaurant reviews for a personal blog, and has been an occasional guest contributor to Eater.

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