27/03/2017 Events

Girls in MarTech: why women need to take a leap of faith into Marketing Technology

By Maartje van Oeveren (read the original article on Dutch Cowboys).

A recent survey by Microsoft shows that the number of women pursuing technical and data-driven skills dropped in the past year. In mathematics, physics, chemistry and computer science, the percentage of women interested in – and performing highly in these areas, has consistently fallen below the European average.

See the event in photos here

Why MarTech?

The Marketing Technology industry continues to grow: as a hybrid of two industries which have traditionally seen a gender imbalance – a question arises: are female marketers increasingly technical, or are there just more men in the field?

To set the scene, and hopefully to better understand it, the first ever Girls in MarTech event was hosted on Tuesday 21st March by Relay42 and SheSharp, to refresh perceptions and garner new interest. The hall was packed with 130 women – and a few men, all interested in marketing technology. They received a varied introduction to this dynamic industry, from development and programmatic marketing,  to content strategy and design. What did we learn from their stories?

Always ask why

Senior Engineer Alexandra Vargas from Colombia summed up her "Hitchhiker’s Guide to Development” with some tips for women who envision a career in the field. It is important to always ask ‘why?’. Do you want to simply be a translator of ideas, or do you want to contribute real value? Alexandra’s first few months in her role were tough: this was her first job in MarTech, working with an entirely different product, and living in a new country.

Always raising her hand, thinking critically and asking questions when she was unsure opened a world of experience and knowledge she’d otherwise have missed.

Patience was also important. With a developer’s desire to build beautiful things, the exploration of the product’s technical opportunities was Alexandra’s for the taking. But beware – and be sure to balance technology and business. Developers are often busy with their art, whilst the organisation is left wondering about the added value – she warns.


Play with language

Marketing and technology have their own languages and abbreviations. Consider CPC USP, DMP, CTO – and all the rest. But try to speak in plain language even if everyone knows what these acronyms mean, says Alexandra. Make sure you’re on the same wavelength and understand each other 100%.

Then find a common way to share stories and use cases to make your point.

This challenge was shared by Kalina Dancheva and Alex Durham, who work on the marketing team at Relay42: how do you communicate a Data Management Platform (DMP)? It starts with visuals; graphic representations which they themselves liked, but which they realised weren’t really reaching their customers. “Too nerdy” as it turned out.

They decided to simplify everything. No blah-blah stories and buzzwords, but playful, smart and out-of-the-box images, design work and language. Finally, perhaps obvious, but a crucial factor to remind ourselves: enjoy your work. Put your ego aside, and work with your team for shared success and fun.

People-based marketing

Liz van der Veen and Lotje van der Kooij are both programmatic marketing managers at KLM. Lotje has a technical background and studied Industrial Design Engineering at TU Delft, and Liz studied Communication Science at the University of Amsterdam. They see several developments in the field Martech. First; think from the customer’s perspective. Where do you draw the line with delivering ads to people? Make sure you’re not bombarding your customers with marketing messages. And of course, be where your customers are. When we buy, we use various devices, and act differently depending on the channel of choice. Make sure you know how to reach those you’re speaking to, and stay relevant. This is where a DMP helps.  

Innovate, automate and push the boundaries

"Aim for the moon," Liz and Lotje say. Even though if it’s technically not possible yet, make big plans and start executing them by starting small and scaling up. To innovate, you need to learn by doing, and have big ambitions. Try to automate as much as possible but don’t let the human side of marketing out of your sight, the ladies from KLM remind us. Paradoxically, tech is a tool to finally allow better customer interaction. Finally, push the boundaries. Make sure you are well informed about the latest trends, so you can apply them to your own context where relevant.

Take the risk and jump

Maybe, women are beginning to tip the scales when it comes to the world of technology – and via MarTech. If the enthusiasm for this explosive sector at the Girls in MarTech event was anything to go by, those leading the conversation might be starting to change. 

The last message for all women on stage was unanimous: take the risk and jump. Whether you’re at a crossroads in your career path, moving from Colombia to the Netherlands, or doing something technical when you’re supposed to be a creative. Go discover, and dare to take the plunge. 

Check out the SheSharp meet-up group >> 

Learn more about Relay42 >> 

Watch the Girls in MarTech event video here: