Do marketers practice what they preach when it comes to tech?
A view from Daniel Nolan

Do marketers practice what they preach when it comes to tech?

Restrictions on tech uptake make preaching impracticable. Here are some of the top obstacles we find ourselves up against, by Daniel Nolan, managing director of digital marketing agency theEword.

Marketers are often the first to champion the early adoption of new technologies such as apps or other software. As such, our industry is one of those many others turn to for insight – which we’re more than willing to offer. However, when it comes to equipping ourselves with the latest tools, we’re sometimes guilty of self-neglect.

Every day, marketers are inundated with ads and emails offering free trials of new programs, but more often than not, they find a place in the recycle bin before you can say "unsubscribe". But are we missing a trick by not taking the techies up on their offers?

Earlier this year LinkedIn found marketers who work in technology are most likely to work with technology, and that they’re usually further along in their adoption of marketing tools. This makes sense.

However, most of us aren’t marketing from within the tech sector and our set-up can be very different to those who are – if working in an agency, for example, we’re marketers of whatever sector our clients operate in. There can, therefore, be certain restrictions on tech uptake, which make preaching less practicable.

Other than simply being unable to see the wood for the trees and choose from the huge range of options out there, here are some of the top obstacles we find ourselves up against.

1.  We can’t afford it

Of course, it would be brilliant to have unlimited access to all the latest tools to make our lives easier and our output slicker, but the fact is we’ve all got our budgets to work within and all-singing, all-dancing programmes bring with them hefty licence fees.

Also, if you're working in an agency and considering the use of a new gadget or gizmo for a specific client’s benefit, you need to operate in accordance with their budget, too. Often, it’s a case of reducing the expense as much as possible but in a way that will have the least impact on deliverables.

On the other hand, while whizz-bang technology does have its obvious advantages, there’s something to be said of the old-fashioned methods as in certain circumstances, they can be the best. If you’re conducting market research, for example, and it’s qualitative data you’re after, speaking face-to-face with respondents by capturing data at conferences or seminars can be much more valuable than elaborately engineered online polls, where confidence in the sincerity of answers can be jeopardised/sacrificed/called into question.

2. We don’t have the time

Marketers are notoriously time-poor. The ever-evolving nature of the industry means that marketing professionals are busier than ever, and so staying on top of trends, juggling projects and working to tight deadlines is a never-ending battle.

As a result, downloading that new programme or app can remain at the bottom of our to-do lists for a good few weeks. But we could be shooting ourselves in the foot, as many of these tools are being developed by savvy businesses that recognise this, and their products could therefore help ease the pressure on us stressed-out lot.

Just think what life-savers programmes such as HubSpot, Trello and Zapier are – but I can guarantee many of us took our time getting round to using them.

3. We’re stuck in our ways

As much as we like to think we’re at the cutting edge of tech, the reality is that marketers can be sceptical of using new tools and often stick to the ones they know best. Again, we may be doing ourselves no favours and could do with giving ourselves a shake-up from time to time.

For example, we recently polled marketing professionals to find out which tools they simply can’t live without and, surprisingly, Sprout Social came above Hootsuite – despite the latter being the more advanced social media management programme.

Other aspects keeping our heels in the ground include the practical issue of integrating new systems into existing ones and, if you’re a large enterprise, getting approvals throughout the organisation.

While some of these stumbling blocks are clearly unavoidable, as an industry, we probably could do with taking some of our own advice and finding the time and effort to give that free trial a go or download that app everyone’s talking about. Otherwise, we risk not using the best tool for the job and getting left behind in the techies’ trail.