What is a technical marketer?
Much like the definition of competitive intelligence, the definition of a technical marketer seems to depend on who you ask.
This new position, which has risen in prominence mostly within the last five years, can be boiled down into two types of technical marketers, with each of them playing very different roles.
And while content describing a technical marketer’s role tends to focus on a marketer who knows how to sell technical products, the job descriptions posted by companies for technical marketer roles fit into two distinct categories: one that matches the Google results for “technical marketer” and one that is focused on conversion optimization.
How did this happen?
To be honest, we’re not sure, but instead of trying to figure out the origin of this phrase, we want to highlight the two very different roles a technical marketer can play in an organization and the necessary skills for each.
If you’re selling complex products to complex buyers, having either type of technical marketer on your team can help skyrocket your growth – but in two very different ways and at two very different stages of a company’s development.
The two types of technical marketers
We weren’t joking when we said there are two very distinct types of job postings for technical marketers.
Some look like this:
And others look like this:
There are a few similarities between the two because every technical marketing position combines product knowledge, data analytics, and marketing to provide technical insights into a product throughout the funnel.
But the two main ways to go about combining these skills and delivering technical insights differ dramatically and require different backgrounds and necessary skills.
- Conversion // Ops Technical Marketers tend to have engineering or mathematical backgrounds and focus on
- Running multivariate tests
- Tracking ROI from different channels
- Fixing technical issues
- Running SQL Queries
- Rolling up their sleeves and executing tasks
- Content Technical Marketers usually have product or technical backgrounds and focus on
- Guiding buyers through technical product knowledge
- Educating users about various technical features
- Publishing thought leadership and becoming a voice for the company
- Developing messaging that resonates with technical buyers
Each type of technical marketer brings a unique set of values to your organization but has very different skill sets.
Traditionally, if you look at Google search results, technical marketing most often fits the second definition here, focused more on crafting compelling messages that resonate with technical buyers. But over time, employers’ definition of a technical marketer has shifted to mean someone who has the technical skills to solve in-the-weeds problems that marketing comes across when designing landing pages or learning about how a campaign performed.
Here, we’ll explore the skill sets for both types of technical marketers and how to hire for the role.
Conversion Rate Technical Marketers
Conversion rate technical marketers focus on executing the in-the-weeds tweaks and analysis across marketing. We believe this definition rose out of unawareness of the true definition of a traditional technical marketer, but sounded good because, well, the role is...technical.
This role might also be seen in the wild as other titles like "Marketing Ops", CRO Manager,” “Lifecycle Marketing Specialist,” or, sometimes even “Growth Marketer” (which we all know has the loosest of definitions).
Here are the skills and goals of a conversion rate technical marketer (marketing ops) and when you should hire one.
- Data analytics
- Campaign management
- Conversion rate optimization
- SQL & Tableau
- Increase conversion throughout the funnel
HOW & WHEN TO HIRE
Our first suggestion would be to stop calling this role a technical marketer so we can stop confusing everyone. It’s important to name a company’s roles to target the people it’s looking to attract, and this is just plain confusing. This role is really a marketing operations role or a conversion optimization position rather than a technical marketer.
Other ways to hire for this role include talking to your engineering or product team about analytics folks they may know. You may also want to make the position less about marketing and more about data to ensure you’re attracting truly data-driven folks and not just people who can stare at dashboards and make educated guesses.
You should hire for this type of technical marketer when you begin seriously ramping up your advertising-, email- and landing page-based campaigns so you’ll have someone who can really crunch the numbers. Don’t hire this person if you’re sending out five emails and get 1000 visitors to your site a month. It’s a waste of time for both parties.
Content Creation Technical Marketers
Will the real technical marketers please stand up?
And, while we don’t mean to offend those who may have the title and aren’t in fact technical marketers, we are here to clear things up once and for all.
The OG technical marketer is focused on crafting compelling, educational product journeys for complex, technical buyers. They usually have a long history of working in the industry and become evangelists for the company and products.
- Technical knowledge of the industry, verticals and product
- Ability to craft articles, blog posts and presentations
- Collaboration on how-tos, videos and user guides
- Public speaking in small and large settings
- Evangelize for the product and company
- Educate buyers about features
- Explain complex issues to complex buyers
HOW & WHEN TO HIRE
If you’re selling a technical product, whether it’s cloud technology, hardware or other complex products, having a real technical marketer on your team, who knows how technical buyers like to communicate, can guide all of your larger marketing efforts.
With experience developing white papers, hosting webinars and standing on the trade show floor, technical marketers understand technical buyers because they’ve enveloped themselves in the world of the buyer – they may have even come from it themselves.
Technical marketers are often hand-selected evangelists, so don’t be afraid to hire a recruiter or reach out directly to a candidate who you think is the perfect fit.
However, your candidate doesn’t need to be overly educated and experienced if you find the right personality, someone who understands the industry and has the passion and drive to dig deeper and really grasp the layered complexities.
The most important trait in a real technical marketer is the ability to communicate.
What technical marketing role do you need?
If you’re marketing complex products like CDN, DNS, cloud hosting and other technical products to sophisticated buyers, having a traditional technical marketer who can create the kind of content your buyer will want to read is key.
And if you’re looking for someone who can roll up their sleeves and run analytics and campaigns...well, please don’t call them a technical marketer.