Is Your Team Ready for Marketing Technology and Automation? An Interview with Integrate's CMO Scott Vaughan

Websites and social campaigns are just the tip of the technology iceberg. Scott Vaughan, chief marketing officer of Integrate, talked with us about the behind-the-scenes tech evolution sweeping through the marketing world.


The term "tech stack" used to be reserved for web developers and IT folks. But, increasingly, marketers need to build their own marketing stack, too – one that operationalizes and scales the ability to create and serve customers, and measures the effectiveness of marketing investments.

To shed some light on all these changes, we talked to Scott Vaughan, CMO of Integrate, as part of our Creative Team of the Future Project. Integrate is a cloud-based marketing technology platform. The company automates the entire prospect acquisition process for B2B marketers and B2C brand direct marketers. He gave us some big-picture insights that can help you start building your company's marketing technology blueprint.


Scott Vaughan

How is technology changing the marketing and creative industries?

There is a radical change and transformation that's happening. It really starts with the ability to quickly get customer and prospect information and feedback, and use this data to serve or improve their experience. Marketing executives expect it and today's always-on, always-connected customers demand it. We can develop the best creative, the best message or what we believe is the best website, but if we can't measure or understand what is and is not working, our marketing careers will be severely limited.

What role does data play in all of this?

Capturing and using both online and offline data gives us a better real-time understanding of our customers and prospects. Who are our best customers? How can we best communicate? Can we personalize messaging on the platforms they use most?

We can't maximize the impact of our brand or creative if we don't have the data and technology to do it. In most cases, we have legacy systems and outdated processes that don't provide the necessary information to capitalize on customer and prospect data for a better experience and improved results.

Get started by picking one area you want to improve and work with your marketing and tech colleagues to determine how to apply technology, people and processes behind it. Many marketers are seeing success by focusing on areas that impact their customer, such as specific pages of their website or personalized email communications.

It's that customer focus that's driving so much of marketing's increased business and customer value. The thread that runs through all of this is the data that's created that we can use and act on.

How can CMOS and CIOs support these changes?

At high-performing organizations, it's not about the CIO versus the CMO but rather working collaboratively, starting with agreeing on the most important initiatives and metrics. Marketers need to take the time to understand the use and application of technology. Tech pros need to commit to being students of marketing processes and how they impact customers and business results. The common deliverable is a "dashboard" that includes the data and metrics that measures and communicates success and critical areas of where and how to improve.

Who have you seen deploying marketing technology really well?

DocuSign. It's a very fast-growing, cloud-based electronic signature company. It's a way to automate the whole validation of signatures for major contracts and agreements. We use it here at Integrate. They're very smart about using technology and an integrated marketing stack to support their dynamic business goals.

For example, they connected their marketing automation platform directly to their customer relationship management (CRM) system. The sales process is connected to the marketing process. Marketing has a process for discovering and nurturing prospects and then passing them along through the CRM to sales. They've really done a nice job of layering all that connectivity, using data to make smarter decisions.

What's the best way to start exploring marketing technology and automation?

The key is to crawl, walk, run. Start small, test, tweak and then repeat. This approach starts with an organized "blueprint." The idea is to take an inventory of all your current marketing technologies and processes. What do I have? Where are my bottlenecks and gaps? Where can I apply technology or change processes to achieve my goals?

It can be massively overwhelming. Start by educating yourself. Go to the websites of the major providers – Oracle, Salesforce, IBM, Adobe, for example – and tap into many educational materials on marketing technology and best practices. They give a pretty big picture of what needs to happen, what the future looks like and practical ideas and best practices you can put to work.

You can take it a step further. Set a meeting with marketing technology providers – not to buy but to learn. Vendors might send you white papers or invite you to a webinar. Go to conferences and local events where other marketers are sharing their ideas. Follow thought leaders in the space on social media. You're not going to get it all in one place. You're going to have to create your own blueprint.

Is your organization using marketing technology to better understand and serve customers? What's working or not? Share your experience with marketing technology in a comment below.

To learn more about the Creative Team of the Future, download The Creative Group's new report, Innovation in the House: Creativity Lessons From Five Top In-House Creative Teams.