“What Do IT People Need To Know About Marketing?”

“What Do IT People Need To Know About Marketing?”

Robbin Steif of LunaMetrics asked this question on the Web Analytics Forum: “What do IT people need to know about marketing?” Only one person has replied. So Robbin emailed me to give me a kick 🙂

I saw the post and I didn’t reply (guilty!) because I thought she was asking Information Technology (IT) folks to respond. I’m mistaken. Robbin wants to hear what all of us wish IT knew about marketing. So here goes. I’ll limit myself to one wish.

Situation: IT folks think Marketing’s job is to get people to buy what the company has to sell. That is, Marketers pitch to get sales.

Wish: I wish IT understood better that there is a process that leads to the pitch. Marketers listen to the market’s needs and analyze what they hear. Marketers want IT to help them do that analysis faster, with less effort, and more punch!

This isn’t a “beat up on IT” rant. IT doesn’t understand Marketing but neither do R&D, Accounting and Manufacturing. This also isn’t a “beat up on Marketing” rant. We have a gap that’s an understandable outcome of traditional functional organization silos. But let’s put history aside and move forward. Efficient and effective Web analysis demands an ongoing and closer partnership between Marketing and IT.

What’s at the root of IT not “getting it” about Marketing? What’s caused the gap? Here’s my take:

  1. IT has not had the opportunity to know that Marketing’s “pitch” is the outcome of analysis:
    • Analysis into the wants and needs of prospective customers.
    • Analysis into how our company’s core competencies can be used to meet these prospects’ wants and needs. Uniquely. Better than our competition.


  2. Once Marketers uncover an unmet want or unsolved problem, Marketers excitedly move to constructing the pitch.
    • The pitch is crafted to communicate to customers. And yes, Marketers deliver their messages with enthusiasm! To gain attention!


  3. Unfortunately, all IT (and other non-marketers in the company) sees is the end product, the pitch. Thus, the widespread misconception that “pitching” is the most significant part of a Marketer’s job is understandable.
  4. And because the IT folks may not be part of the target audience, they probably don’t understand Marketing’s communication. Sure, IT’s eyes might glaze over or they give you a blank stare when they hear the pitch, but we shouldn’t expect the pitch to be compelling to them if they aren’t part of the Marketer’s target audience.

In summary, the marketing analysis process has been invisible to IT folks. Now, because of Web analytics, IT has to be exposed to this process, because they help the new Web analytics-enabled process work. If they understand the Marketing analysis process, IT can help Marketers uncover their nuggets of insight faster, create better market offerings and more effectively beat the competition.

Wishing for change without suggesting solutions isn’t very helpful. I’ve sat in the DMZ between IT and Marketing many times, having been a part of each camp at one time or another. So here’s my suggestion on how to close the gap. My suggest is directed … to Marketing, because your skillset is perfect for this.

Try this: Market “marketing” to IT.

  1. Set up a persuasion project that will have your IT partner walking in your shoes, seeing through your eyes by the end of the journey. Your goal is not to have IT able to do your marketing job but to open their eyes so that they appreciate that Marketing isn’t just about “pitching” and “getting people to buy”. Convert your IT support partner into a collaborator.
  • How should you start trying to convince them?
    • Analyze specifically how and when your IT partner could benefit from understanding a bit more about marketing. Consider asking your IT partner…

    Have you ever had to persuade the senior management team to support your project? Didn’t you do some analysis before you “pitched”? Well, that’s marketing, just internally.

    Have you ever had to compete for a budget increase against your peers? That’s marketing also. You’re competing internally for your share of our internal budget dollars. Marketers compete externally for the attention of prospective customers and a share of their wallets.

  • If your IT collaborator comes through for you, reward them by recognizing their contribution in a meaningful way. Nothing feeds success like success.


OK…over to you! What are your thoughts? Any other ideas?

Give us your 0.02. Comments below are welcome. Do send Robbin your thoughts or “wish list” by replying to her Web Analytics Forum post or her blogpost*.

June Li


* Destination page no longer exists

By |2018-07-25T12:56:06-04:00August 20th, 2006|6 Comments


  1. Anonymous August 25, 2006 at 5:19 am - Reply

    Hi June, Robbin pointed me at your posting. I’d responded privately to her from the IT viewpoint. And, to a large degreee, pandering to the sterotypes. 🙂
    But seeing as you’ve asked the question publicly it’s only fair to continue the discussion the same way.

    To gist of what I wrote was that IT sees Marketing act in a behaviour style that is anathema to how IT works. Again – pandering to sterotypes! 🙂

    Very much IMHO, part of the misunderstanding and distrust comes from Marketing appearing to be unaccountable for their failures. Where failure == $$$$.

    How is Marketing success or failure measured?

    IT is subject to SLA’s, Uptimes, Five Nine’s and more. Generally very tightly defined success or failure measurements. And generally punished pretty severely when things go wrong. All done in a climate where every last dollar spent can be bregrudged. Deliver everything, but no budget to do so.

    A personal experience: Marketing spent 100K on a website that most of our clients couldn’t access. It was taken down 4 weeks later.
    I was unable to convince the same company to spend 15K on a backup solution. Thrice. For a period of about 14 months there were no backups at all.

    The proposal to get a backup unit had to justify a 3 year ROI, multiple quotes, a complete business plan. The web site was “Gee that’d be a good idea!”.

    No I’m not bitter and twisted anymore. 🙂

    Now at the end of the day we all have the same goal – help the organisation succeed in it’s goals.
    So the final question I’d propose: IT is support. What can IT do *specifically* to help Marketing achieve their goals?

    – Steve

    PS “Talk in English and not Tech” is not possible. Sorry. 😛

  2. June Li August 25, 2006 at 9:21 am - Reply

    Hi Steve,
    I think it is good to have this discussion publically, painful though it may be 🙂 … so thank you for posting!

    In my original post, I was trying to focus on the frontline Marketing/IT relationship in the ‘analytics’ context.

    I understand your frustration though. I too have seen many examples of the IT and Marketing accountability dicotomy that you describe vividly. I think that if we stray from the original question, we could have salvos lobbed back and forth that wouldn’t be constructive.

    Your case of being rejected for $15K backup brings another situation to mind. A Web analytics reseller recently told me a recognizable company was launching a multi-million dollar website redesign but rejected a $15K web analytics application investment. The company hasn’t a Web analytics capability.

    When Marketing isn’t held accountabl e for the measuring their projects or for their lack of results, is this now still a “Marketing problem”…or is a problem that rests at the top of the house, at the business unit manager or the CEO?

  3. LunaMetrics Blog August 25, 2006 at 10:19 am - Reply

    Joseph Carrabis made a wonderful point to me about this topic. He said, basically, marketing is about dreams of what we could be and IT is about reality of what we have to spend.


  4. June Li August 25, 2006 at 4:37 pm - Reply

    Great observation!

    “A dream is just a dream. A goal is a dream with a plan and a deadline.”
    – Harvey Mackay, author of “Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive”

    …and effective plans have measurable targets. 🙂

    Understand the history…so let’s change it!

  5. Anonymous August 25, 2006 at 6:36 pm - Reply

    Ah. Big Evil Grin. 15K for a web analytics solution? I’m facing a near identical issue at work.

    Trouble is, it never is “just” a 15K license.

    * 15K software license (this is in your currency, rest is in AUD)
    * Server to run it on? ~ 10-15K
    * Firewall changes to allow access to webservers? ~1K
    * Ongoing’s with server and basic maintenance? Tricky this one: Could be anywhere from 500 a month to 20K a month. I’ve seen both tossed around for similar. This is sysadmin time and other incidentals. Including rack/floor space, power and such.
    * Backups – may depend on infrastructure. ~0.5-3K a month
    * You may be charged by an outsourcer on a per Gb of storage basis. That can get really expensive really fast for logs.
    * Long term archival. I believe the USA has SOX to worry about? 7 year storage or similar?? Unsure of CA. ~ 1-3K per month

    And that’s just the base system and infrastructure.
    You could add another 10-30K in peoples time to plan and manage all the above to get a working system in place.

    So for a 15K license, you are now talking ~20K a month. With a kick off of around 30K (project + up front licensing).

    I haven’t even started on the staffing costs of having staff to use the tool. Assuming you need to bring them in as well.

    So lets look at what we now have. Keeping in mind that the numbers I’ve used are educated WAG’s, based on building many such proposals and reviewing others. If anything I’m probably being overly optimistic to be so cheap. 🙂

    Over 3 years we’re looking at a total cost of around 750K.

    Which means? To successfully bring in an analytics solution we need to demonstrate that we will be able to achieve savings or benefits of *at least* 750K over 3 years. If you can’t do that in cold hard numbers with facts to back them up, then the proposal will *never* fly.

    Now I’m not for a moment suggesting I can make such a demonstration, but the way we’re approaching this at work is over multiple years. Gradually build up a very basic capability. Start to show that this can offer value and gradually ramp up from there. We’re hoping that in 3-5 years, if not better, we can demonstrate a real value in having a full scale analytics system.
    But to start? No server: basic PC’s. No software: Open Source and a seriously dated copy of webtrends. You could almost call this early phase a skunkworks project. Just getting the logs to be able to do analysis on a monthly basis is difficult.

    But we’re also trying to educate a culture that believes “hits” to be the be all and end all of analytics.

    Apologies if I’ve been stating the obvious.

    Now if yourself and Robbin have ideas on how I can demonstrate that 750K value? I would so love to hear them. 🙂

    – Steve

    PS Apologies for the length,this was going to be a quick reply, Honestly! 🙂

  6. June Li August 28, 2006 at 10:11 am - Reply

    Hi Steve,
    Once again thanks for sharing the complications and pain points of getting a software license approved, installed and maintained.

    I agree that for most organizations who are ‘counting hits’, a $750K investment over 3 years for Web analytics is a no-go for a starting point.

    Depending on the organization, a demonstration project might be a first step to moving the organization away from being happy just counting hits. Whoever’s running the project should make sure that measurement is an organization goal and management sponsorship is present, else they’re probably wasting their time. Don’t even start!

    What’s a demonstration project? It depends on the organization but one possibility might be to select one microsite and one campaign, set clear realistic goals, and use a monthly hosted analytics service for a 6 month project. Ask for about $15-30K budget, including analytical and tagging support. This project should include an explicit assessment of next steps and future goals.

    Of course, even for a demonstration project, information technology and legal departments have to be consulted and involved BEFORE engaging in ANY discussion with management. One needs to consider firewalls, privacy, etc. plus possible considerations for content management systems.


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