Expert Interview with Douglas Karr on Marketing Technology

Nodiv knows marketing technology quite like Douglas Karr. Working on it from the very beginning, he's worked on every level of the industry, and with every technology you can think of, and he covers it all on Marketing Technology Blog. He took a moment to talk about marketing technology with us, and how anyone can get better use out of it.

What made you first interested in marketing technology?

When the Internet was taking hold in the commercial world, I was blessed to be working as an Industrial Electrician for a newspaper that was heavily invested in its technologies - they were the first newspapers to go online. We started by wiring up equipment, collecting production data in databases, and developing reports on our productivity so that we could troubleshoot downtime and improve efficiency. At the time, the costs in hardware, software and database technologies were dropping and database marketing followed similar traits - organizing data and finding opportunities for direct marketing. I moved to Denver and worked for one of the first large database marketing firms in the country.

There's been an absolute explosion in marketing technology since the turn of the century, and it just keeps growing. What are some good ways for businesses to stay on top of what's out there?

Explosion is a great word, and it's impossible to stay on top of an explosion. While the explosion in technology has occurred, thankfully the costs of entry continue to decline. That makes working with a marketing technology expert worth the return on investment. Too many times I watch as very large corporations make terrible purchasing decisions on enormous software platforms that are never implemented. Finding a vendor agnostic professional can help you find the right technology that's tailored to your business, your budget, and your resources. That requires more than purchasing an industry report - it requires preparation and strategy prior to the purchase. I liken it to an operation. The doctor isn't worried about what tools he's going to operate with until he fully understands the patient and the problem that he's trying to correct.

Are there any marketing technologies out there you think are underused, or could be used more effectively?

By far, email is the most abused and underused of technologies. Outside of publications, I'm at a loss why any company invests in a 'batch and blast' solution anymore. Robust marketing automation solutions make lifecycle, event-triggered and drip marketing simple to se tup and measure. And those marketing automation solutions are often less expensive with many more features! Ditch your email provider and move to a marketing automation system, begin paying attention to where, how and when your prospects move through the buying cycle and how and why your customers stay and spend more. Then develop email and content marketing strategies around those events - providing them the touch they want when they want it.

What do you wish all businesses knew about marketing technology?

Marketing technology is not unlike a tool in your toolbox. It doesn't make sense to just buy a tool you don't need or buy the best tools out there if you're never going to use them. It also doesn't make sense to make a decision on the cost of a marketing technology; you must evaluate the technology for the difference in revenue it's going to drive to your company. I watch companies fail over and over and over with cheap solutions that don't work. I watch other companies throw away a huge budget on expensive solutions that don't deliver.

What are some of the more subtle benefits of marketing technology that businesses might overlook?

Marketing online is a momentum game where you build authority and trust with your audience, and then turn your audience into a community where they drive business results on your behalf. There are long-term benefits to content marketing, social media marketing and search marketing that continue to increase in return over years - not quarters, months or campaigns. Companies are under such incredible pressure to show a return on investment with every decision that they often don't realize the long-term impact of their efforts. I started my blog over a decade ago and it took almost five years before it grew to a point of launching a business around it. It took another five years before revenues grew to a point of that business solely focused on that industry.

What are some emerging marketing technologies that have you particularly excited?

The technologies that harness, curate, and communicate user stories are the most exciting to me. We're kidding ourselves in this industry with the term 'influencers' and 'engagement' metrics. Influencers typically are just folks with large audiences. And 'engagement' doesn't often lead to actual dollars spent. But the ability to effectively collect, capture, publish and promote the stories of your clients and customers is going to have a huge impact. From mobile applications, to curation systems, to publishing technologies - the sharing of relatable stories effectively is what truly emotionally connects with the prospect.

Where do you see marketing technology heading in the near future?

I look forward to continued open source solutions and software as a service solutions that companies will be able to adopt, own, integrate and adapt to their own environments so that they can drive their messaging efficiently and effectively to the people that need to hear it. That will result in less concerns about privacy because consumers can trust their data is being fully utilized to improve the experience. That will result in less noise from batch and blast mass mediums and more targeted, personalized and quality conversations directly with the prospects and customers that count.

If you'd like the latest from Doug, you can find it at Marketing Tech Blog's Google+ page.