I remember when marketing departments were a team of media buyers and designers; now it’s much more about data science and automation. I’ve played a small part in that transition, starting in 1987 when I brought desktop publishing to local advertising in Maine. After my first web project in 1993, I managed some of the earliest banner ad and search marketing campaigns, co-founded 2 dot-coms, helped the State of Maryland fight spam, developed social media strategies for clients like Celestial Seasonings and launched one of the first apps on Capitol Hill.
By that time, we all had begun to broadcast personal data about our identities, preferences and whereabouts continually from our pockets, thanks to smart phones. Privacy advocates were alarmed, but billions accessed the increasingly relevant information anyway.
Privacy is important, but relevance is essential: the best and only defense against our very serious 21st century problem of information overload. The novelty of 500 million search results at a time had finally worn off, and relevance had always been my battle cry in my decades-old personal vendetta against spam and junk mail.
At the turn of the last century, the average American encountered about 12 marketing messages a day. Now it’s well over a thousand, so relevant information is more important than ever, and a global economy demands that information processing be automated.
I learned about bots in 2016 when interviewing a guest on my radio show, The Marketing GPS Challenge Hour and became more interested in marketing automation. Soon, martech (short for “marketing technology”--my field finally got a name) was what I was building, speaking and evangelizing on as I found technologies to harness relevant, actionable information from the every-rising tide of data.
The purpose of all of this is to deepen relationships. Wait, am I about to use “computers” and “relationships” in the same sentence? Yes, computers, the great information sorters, are best at sifting through data. If we get computers to do a better job handling the excess and the mundane, humans become more freed up to address what’s meaningful, and it’s what’s meaningful--things you actually care about--that builds relationships.
In fact, marketing has come full-circle from pre-industrial days when you bought goods and services based on who you knew. Then transportation brought globalization, and, in the last couple decades since those first banner ads, the Internet has now made relationship marketing possible again, on a global scale. Marketing automation is the key to streamlining, saving time and labor and empowering those relationships.
Call me a relationship “martech-er.”
Tom McClintock is the owner and founder of Relationship Martech.