In the days of Don Draper, the most successful marketers used catchy and creative copy to complement visually striking imagery with the hope of reaching their target audience.  These messages would be drafted on typewriters and communicated through channels such as direct mail, print advertising, TV commercials and radio spots; greatest hits from a forgotten age.

There’s no doubt that creativity is still an important ingredient in the modern marketing mix…but is our attention still in the same place?  As consumers today, our time is divided between the screens at our desk and the screens in the palm of our hand, leaving little to no remnant inventory in our memory banks for traditional marketing methods to stick.  With the decline of these channels comes the rise of new technology driven alternatives.  Lots of them.  The only question is which should you choose?

Don Draper Marketing Mad Men

The biggest challenge facing marketers today is in determining what channel is best suited for their business goals.  Rather than guess, the Digital Marketing Engineer, a new breed of marketer born out of necessity, just looks at the numbers.  The application of data to measure and optimize the performance of creative campaigns is more prevalent today than ever before.  That’s mostly due to a growing number of technology solutions that help marketers understand and act on those data driven insights.  One of those solutions is Percolate, a growing content marketing software startup, which recently published a report titled “Defining the Modern CMO.”

In it, they describe the three traits that characterize the modern CMO.

1) The modern CMO has a nuanced understanding of their customer across all channels, and understands that the customer interacts with the brand physically and digitally.

2) The modern CMO knows that the future of digital is mobile.

3) The modern CMO is a technology purchaser and power-user.

When we think of the modern Digital Marketing Engineer, and someone who fits the Percolate mold, the first person that comes to mind is Mitch Wainer, CMO of Digital Ocean.  On November 18, 2014, the Techstars alum was able to #givefirst, sparing thirty minutes to chat with us and discuss the evolving landscape of modern marketing.

Here’s a little on what he had to say:  

Mitch Wainer Marketing Engineer

Mitch Wainer, Chief Marketing Officer of Digital Ocean

How do you classify or define a digital marketer?

It’s a different definition than it was five years ago, and I think that’s because the digital marketing scene and topics of conversation around it have really evolved.  When you were running ad campaigns in the early 2000s, the space wasn’t as saturated as it is today, so you could get huge wins through traditional forms of online marketing like Google Adwords and banner advertising. Even popup ads were working.

Over time, those channels have become more saturated and competitive, so digital marketers are always looking for new channels and ad platforms to leverage.  It’s important for a digital marketer to constantly expand their skill set so they can evolve as they explore and find new channel opportunities.


What has changed in the past five years?

Today, email marketing, automation and retargeting are all hugely popular parts in successful digital marketing strategies.  I think that in 2014, a digital marketer is in a better position to leverage word-of-mouth and other organic opportunities for growth.  Especially if you work for a tech company, and even more so if that company is driven by product development.

A true digital marketer is able to identify new areas of opportunity as the marketing landscape continues to evolve and change to stay competitive in different industries.  Digital marketing blurs the line between product engineering and actual marketing, and the digital marketer is relying, more than ever, on engineering support to optimize and enhance every part of the marketing funnel.


It’s clear that the marketing landscape has changed in the past few years, but on a smaller scale, how have your personal role and responsibilities changed during your time with Digital Ocean?

When I started, I literally did everything marketing related.  It was a small team, and everything was super hands-on, so I was designing our website, making copy tweaks, setting up ad campaigns, coding landing pages and doing everything possible to create a growth engine and momentum around our product.

When we graduated Techstars in August 2012, we had about 500 customers.  By January 2013, we grew 4X, to 2,000 paying customers.  As of November 2014, we have over 190,000.

We always had a heavy focus on content, but beforehand I was doing most of the writing myself. Now we have a team of writers who do everything from our blog content to tutorials on server configurations.  That gives me more time to focus on acquiring new users, hitting growth targets and our long term strategy.  It’s also allowed me to take a step back and let the people i’ve hired over the past year or two have more responsibility and leadership.


What are the most important skills a modern marketer can learn?

I think that learning to use podcasts, blog posts and other types of content marketing to drive awareness and educate customers is a really important skill to have.  I always try to stay informed about what’s happening in the space and learn from other people who are continuously testing and iterating.  Testing different hypotheses and using data to drive decision-making is really important.

I’m a big believer in doing, and learning by doing.  I like to get into the weeds, execute, and learn from my failures and what I did wrong.  Adjust, improve, and continue to get better every day.  Agile marketing.


What would a Product Hunt list of your favorite marketing tools look like?

Well I read GrowthHackers every day and make sure the members of my team do as well.  As for some actual tools or programs we use at Digital Ocean, here’s a list of some of my favorites:


It was recently announced that Digital Ocean is the 3rd largest cloud-hosting server in the world.  How do you use your specific tech skill-set to out-perform your competition?

It’s all about execution.  Trying to ship faster and become more efficient day in and day out.

To learn more
about how Mitch and the Digital Ocean team got where they are today, you can watch their Startup Story video created by Techstars, follow @MitchWainer and @DigitalOcean on Twitter, or visit their blog.

Thanks for reading the blog, and don’t hesitate to contact us if you have a question about how WiFi can be the most effective marketing channel for your business.