What should be the balance between data and creative people? How can you make a success of your martech investment? Experts gave their views to Amy Rogers and Dr Emma Slade.

WARC recently published the latest edition of our annual report on the martech industry, in association with BDO (download the full report here), in which we partnered with the University of Bristol to conduct some qualitative research into perceptions and uses of martech by a group of UK-based marketers and consultants.

The following is part 3 of a three-part mini-series, showcasing the highlights of this research, conducted by Lecturer in Marketing, Dr Emma Slade.

Part 3 focuses on the data skills needed for success with martech, and the factors perceived as critical for success by our respondents.

What should you look for when hiring?

The role data plays in informing the insights that creative people can use is only going to increase, so investment in tech will need to be complemented with investment in people who can make it work. But views differ on how much weight should be given to data skills,

These can can often be overlooked in the traditional interview process, says Mark Wainwright, Associate Director, Teneo, because it’s set up in such a way that people with creative skills tend to flourish.

But both are needed to be successful, he argues: “it tends to be true that people who are data-led don’t always see the same things that somebody who’s a planner, or a strategist sees. Both sides are equally as important.”

Others, however, would tip the balance towards data – 80:20 suggests Simon Kingsnorth, Chief Marketing Officer, City Relay. “You can have the nicest piece of marketing in the world but send it to the wrong person and it’s a complete waste of time, whereas if you send something average to the right person, there’s a much, much stronger chance of that working out,” he argues. “So for me, the data and analytics skills are more important than the creative.”

Steve Dawson, CEO, Ratio Creative, agrees but takes a more nuanced view. Data skills are important in getting the right message to the right audience in order to be effective, he acknowledges, “but if strategic skills are lacking, it’s efficiency over effectiveness and that only works for short-term success”.

The critical success factors for marketing technology

In line with the above, it’s crucial to recruit people who know what they’re doing – and then build in training for the people in the organisation to ensure continuity, so that “you don’t have to start from basics every time someone leaves the organisation,” Dawson advises.

It’s also essential to know what the platform is trying to achieve, adds Kingsnorth “Is it improving your communications? It is improving your data speed or quality? Is it able to drive KPIs? Is it enabling you to reduce your workload? Is it enabling you to demonstrate clear ROI and is it safe and secure?”

Related to that is the why? “For martech to be successful, you need to ask why this technology?” says Danyl Bosomworth, Director of Marketing Innovation, The Home Agency. “How will it change the company in terms of how it serves the consumer? You need to know why you’re doing it, rather than upgrading functions as if it’s just an IT hit.”

And in a world of constant innovation, it’s important to slow down enough to assess whether the technology is doing what you expect and whether you are really applying the things you have learned.

“It’s super, super important to do an audit, have a road map, understand that it’s a journey, it’s a phased approach,” says Alina Jingan, MarTech Practice Lead, MRM//McCann.

“And be realistic about what these tech additions can achieve.”

Read the first two parts of this mini -series on martech investment: How to secure investment for marketing technology and Where agencies fit into MarTech conversations. Subscribers can download the full report, and a sample is available here