Marketing, as We Know It, Is Dead
Recently, I’ve had the honor of talking with multiple marketing leaders in Silicon Valley. As a millennial, I like to take these opportunities and try to learn about where the tech industry has come from and where it’s going. I make it a point to ask a simple question: “How has marketing evolved in the past five to ten years, and where do you see it going in the near future?”
Most of the time, they give accounts of how their teams would operate, recounting stories of inviting customers into the office to analyze how they interact with their software by physically watching them from over their shoulders. I hear stories of whole divisions building features that no one ever asked for, and product pivots catalyzed by one customer who spoke the loudest, and consequently, why these changes should have never happened.
Listening to these stories, I quickly realize how far marketing has come in the last decade. We’ve exited the Mad Men era of flashy ads, jingles, and copy with a growing hunger for user data. We’ve then fumbled our way through painful user testing and HPPO, or Highest Paid Person’s Opinion-style development of behemoth software, locked behind Fortune 500 firewalls. Finally, we emerged into what could be considered the promised land, a world where cloud technologies allow software vendors to get live time user data, behavioral analytics, and infinite opportunities for split testing new features.
When Data Shot the Hippo
I wish I could have been a fly on the wall when the first data-driven marketers took aim at over-opinionated executives who demanded change based on unsupported opinions. The shock of this blow must have reverberated through the entire company. It was moments like these that forecasted and solidified the death of marketing as we know it.
Marketing is no longer design, it’s no longer messaging, it’s no longer SEO, or social, or branding. It’s data — and the rock stars of modern marketing are the ones who can find and interpret that data.
Then Comes the Growth Hacker
The simple truth is that after 5 years, growth hacking is still bullshit. The transition from Mad Men to data scientists has left many marketers in a state of career turmoil. Growth hacking came on the scene as a way to pivot an irrelevant title into something that could add value to an organization in a SaaS-centric world. The dance worked, until one day it didn’t.
The problem with the growth hacker is that its direct counterpart is the hacker, aka developer. Naturally, as growth hackers request changes, they meet technical pushback. Unable to validate their change requests, most growth hackers look more like hacks.
The Next Generation Emerges
With growth hacking going the way of the dinosaur, organizations are finding that there is still a need for someone focused on re
venue growth. Equipped with the latest data gathering, interpretation, and discovery tools, data scientists have moved into the marketing department, and they are here to stay.
As SaaS products take center stage, organizations are prioritizing user testing, behavioral analytics, marketing automation, and lead nurturing.
The responsibility of decreasing user churn, diagnosing UX issues, and feature development migrated over to marketing departments. Marketing is now responsible for finding new users, identifying how users are using the product, and finding ways to build user habits.
To accomplish this, they turn to data-centric platforms like Hubspot and Marketo, that allow them to track everything from where a lead came from to how engaged they are in the product and the exact moment when sales should reach out to them, partnered with data visualization tools like Looker.
What is the Future of Marketing?
The future of marketing now lies in the hands of the data scientist, and with that comes a whole new way of doing things. The best companies will be the ones with the best data and marketers will focus heavily on optimizing data sources.
Simply put, the race for the purest source of data is on.