Summit Insider: Travis Wright on Marketing Technology Stacks, CMTOs, Awesomeization and Reinvention

Earlier today, we introduced this year’s Summit Insiders. Summit Insiders is a collection of marketing experts whom we’ve invited to join us on the ground at Summit to share their insights, observations and experience via social media, blogging and other digital outlets. We sat down with Travis Wright, one of our Insiders to talk about marketing, reinvention (the theme of this year’s Summit) and more. Here’s what Travis had to say:


Throughout your career you’ve had a great deal of diverse experience. How do you think this has helped you continuously reinvent yourself?
Reinvention is critical in this space. When I started in the mid-90s, I was selling yellow page ads with GTE, which later became Verizon. I learned early on that most businesses didn’t “get” the Internet yet. So, if you were in Kansas City and were a plumber, you’d better register or something similar. SEO was something I figured out intuitively before Google was even invented. I’ve always made a point of figuring out what is coming next and positioning myself in that sweet spot.

Then paid search came along with and Overture, and I needed to gain a grasp on this for my clients. So I kept learning and optimizing my knowledgebase. Social media came along in the early 2000s, and I even did a few marketing experiments on Friendster! Remember them? Then mobile marketing came along and now we have marketing technology stacks.

So, the theme of my reinvention is always looking forward, understanding where the market is heading, and gaining the necessary knowledge and skill sets to be effective in both the current landscape and the next frontier of marketing.

How do you see the digital marketing industry evolving in the next five years?
This is something that I’ve spent a wealth of time thinking about what’s coming in the next 3-5 year. In 2012, Gartner said, “The CMO is going to have larger budgets than I.T. moving forward in 2017.” Thus, I think the buzz phrase for 2015 and beyond is the “Marketing Technology Stack”. Some companies are getting it now, but I believe it will become more mainstream in the next 2-3 years.

If you’ve seen the Marketing Technology Landscape by Scott Brinker, you know that this is a crowded space. One that is inevitably confusing for many old-school marketers. So, I’ve positioned my company MediaThinkLabs as a Chief Marketing Technology Officer and consult with businesses on how they should arrange their marketing stack. What does the perfect marketing stack look like for your brand or your industry? This is what brand marketers should be considering today.

To start off any marketing stack, you should use some tag management solution – whatever you choose, you need to have a system in place to manage, deploy, and benefit from all of your marketing tags. It’s just too time consuming to place tags on 1000s of pages manually, and quite frankly there is no need to do that with enterprise level tools available.

Aside from the tag management subcategory of the marketing middleware category, you have infrastructure needs, marketing backbone platforms, marketing operations, marketing experiences, Internet, and cloud-based technologies to consider.

Being an enterprise marketer these days can be tough and confusing!

What skills do you think are going to be imperative for digital marketers to have in the future?
You have to become more data-driven. Gone are the days of fluff marketing. If you don’t know the numbers, and have metrics and analytics behind your efforts, then someone who does will soon be replacing you. This should frighten you into action. If not, enjoy retirement.

What is the best career advice you’ve received?
Never stop learning. In this industry, if I had stopped learning after college, I’d now be obsolete. In fact, I’d be as obsolete as that rotary home phone with the long cord that my mom would use to talk around the house. If you don’t continue learning in this marketing space… you are a rotary phone.

What’s one of the most common digital marketing challenges that you’re seeing from companies that you’re working with?
Optimizing optimization, or as I like to joke, “Awesomeization.” Getting a grasp on all of the data and metrics. How do you manage, own, collect, and act on all of your online, offline, and offsite data sources? What does it all mean? How can you learn more about your customers? How can you create context-aware content based on the visitors who come to your site? If you understand the marketing technology space, the answers are clear. If you do not… then you may need some help.

More about Travis Wright
Travis is a Venture Catalyst, Keynote Speaker, CMTO, Stand-Up Comic, Marketing Technology Entrepreneur, Data & Analytics Geek, Tech Journalist, and Growth Hacker. The former Global Social Media Strategist at Symantec, Wright has strategized marketing for hundreds of B2B & B2C business websites, from start-ups and mid-size businesses to Fortune 50 companies. With his consulting company, MediaThinkLabs, Wright travels throughout the country assisting company executives plan, optimize, integrate and execute successful digital media strategies. Wright’s tech podcast, Social Brands and Influencers, is hosted weekly on Technorati.

His blog is You can find him on Twitter @teedubya.