Marketing is undergoing major change and upheaval. Marketing has changed more in the last 10 years than in the previous 50. Technology, mobile devices, social media and the internet have completely changed everything about how consumers go about buying things, engaging, and communicating with each other and brands. Marketers are drowning in all of change and disruption, and many are feeling desperately under-skilled and without the necessary awareness and knowledge with which to rethink marketing along new and integrated digital lines.
Traditional marketing has fallen from its long standing pedestal and become only one part of a much bigger and more intricate marketing ecosystem at our disposal. Traditional marketing still has a place within the marketing mix, but it is no longer the be all and end all of marketing strategy. Now brands have a much more diverse range of options to consider when devising a marketing strategy.
The new and improved capabilities of digital marketing have shown up the limitations of traditional media, and has provided a better way for brands to create, develop and maintain relationships with consumers and customers over time. Here are some of the top reasons why a digital first marketing strategy is needed: (from www.smartinsights.com)
10 reasons why you may need a digital channel strategy?
1 You’re directionless
I find that companies without a digital strategy (and many that do) don’t have clear strategic goals for what they want to achieve online in terms of gaining new customers or building deeper relationships with existing ones. And if you don’t have goals you likely don’t put enough resources to reach the goals and you don’t evaluate through analytics whether you’re achieving those goals.
2 You won’t know your online market share
Customer demand for online services may be underestimated if you haven”t researched this. Perhaps more importantly you won’t understand your online marketplace: the dynamics will be different to traditional channels with different types of customer profile and behaviour, competitors, propositions and options for marketing communications. See online marketplace methodology post.
3 Existing and start-up competitors will gain market share
If you’re not devoting enough resources to digital marketing or you’re using an ad-hoc approach with no clearly defined strategies, then your competitors will eat your digital lunch!
4. You don’t have a powerful online value proposition
A clearly defined online customer value proposition will help you differentiate your online service encouraging existing and new customers to engage initially and stay loyal.
5. You don’t know your online customers well enough
It’s often said that digital is the “most measureable medium ever”. But Google Analytics and similar will only tell you volumes not sentiment. You need to use other forms of website user feedback tools to identify your weakpoints and then address them.
6. You’re not integrated (“disintegrated”)
It’s all too common for digital to be completed in silos whether that’s a specialist digital marketer, sitting in IT or a separate digital agency. It’s easier that way to package digital marketing into a convenient chunk. But of course it’s less effective. Everyone agrees that digital media work best when integrated with traditional media and response channels.
7. Digital doesn’t have enough people/budget given its importance
Insufficient resource will be devoted to both planning and executing e-marketing and there is likely to be a lack of specific specialist e-marketing skills which will make it difficult to respond to competitive threats effectively.
8. You’re wasting money and time through duplication
Even if you do have sufficient resource it may be wasted. This is particularly the case in larger companies where you see different parts of the marketing organization purchasing different tools or using different agencies for performing similar online marketing tasks.
9. You’re not agile enough to catchup or stay ahead
If you look at the top online brands like Amazon, Dell, Google, Tesco, Zappos, they’re all dynamic – trialing new approaches to gain or keep their online audiences.
10 You’re not optimising
Every company with a website will have analytics, but many senior managers don’t ensure that their teams make or have the time to review and act on them. Once a strategy enables you to get the basics right, then you can progress to continuous improvement of the key aspects like search marketing, site user experience, email and social media marketing. So that’s our top 10 problems that can be avoided with a well thought through strategy. What have you found can go right or wrong?
On the other side of the media coin we can see clearly the comparative limitations of traditional media: Here are some of the most significant limitations of traditional media:
Lack of Timeliness
Traditional advertising does not allow you to respond to changes in the marketplace as quickly as newer forms of communication. You may have to create your message weeks or months in advance when you run magazine ads. Even daily newspaper ads may require a lead time of several days. Changing broadcast ads requires time and additional production expense. Small business can change Facebook pages, send tweets or update a website in a matter of minutes.
Harder to Target Audience
Modern technology allows marketers to more precisely target potential customers based on the amount of personal information websites collect about visitors. Small businesses can determine in advance not only what type of person visits a particular website, but how often, what they view and other information. Print and broadcast outlets provide media kits with audience demographics, but once a magazine is mailed, a paper is delivered or an ad is broadcast, you don’t know who actually read, saw or viewed your ad.
The message you can deliver with traditional advertising is much more limited compared to newer forms of communications. If you can get people to your website with the click of a banner ad or link, you have almost unlimited opportunities to deliver page after page of information to customers. With print and broadcast, you must communicate your message within a few square inches of space or in 30 seconds
The principles of traditional marketing have validity, but there are a new set of principles which have been born out of the digital revolution which we must pay close attention to. Here they are from
What has changed?
Technology innovations have completely changed how our world operates. Today technology allows us to transact across digital experiences, platforms and interfaces with the click of a button.
Consumers are no longer stuck in the linear grooves of traditional media, and are able to customise and control their exposure to your branded content.
The introduction of custom publishing interfaces and platforms have also allowed brands and individuals to create, publish and distribute content to their own organically developed audiences online. This ability to bring content production and distribution in house is becoming a popular strategy for many brands wishing to build their own communities and to create their own content through which to do so.
Technology has enabled brands to make use of disparate sources of consumer DATA for the purposes of achieving better consumer insights and better targeting strategies. This technology essentially works with three primary sources of data available to the consumer (first, second and third party data). Here is a brilliant article by the Content Marketing institute describing exactly how this data can be used to increase accuracy and consumer understanding called Data as Personalisation, turning kryptonite into treasure!
Technology has also automated many functions of marketing which enables marketing teams to become much more efficient, and to dedicate human resources to more strategic and creative work. Here is a great article on marketing automation by www.hubspot.com called What is marketing automation?
Social media has also become central to our lives, and it serves a powerful purpose for consumers wishing to speak out publicly about their experiences with brands and products. This shift in consumer communication has put the consumer in the driving seat of the experience. It is no longer the brand which controls the narrative.
Because consumers are now free to openly criticise brands on social media for poor service / products or engagement, brands need to work much harder to ensure a value exchange with consumers that does not encourage negative feedback on social media.This value exchange occurs from the first moment a consumer comes into contact with your brand, and it continues across all communications touch points until purchase is made, and then afterwards too during brand feedback and customer support. Content has become a much more dynamic tool with which to create and measure the effect of each touch point on a consumer’s experience. It has broken out of the advertising mould of traditional marketing, and it has taken on many new forms and formats.
Because so much of the modern consumer journey is done online (via multiple devices) content becomes the key enabler and vehicle of many of the steps that a consumer will take to purchase. The face to face experience is quickly being replaced by virtual and digitally enabled ones, each of which relies on specific content to create the desired response.
The overall transformation in marketing is the technological ability to track, measure and define the impact of marketing content across the buying journey with consumers, and to use this data to inform and improve on marketing content. This technology allows for overall marketing return on investment to be calculated. Calculating ROI on marketing spend is not easy. There is a key part of this process which relies on the organisational willingness to define the key attribution metrics and measures which will determine the value of each content step in the process. Here is a very powerful article by www.abakus.me called Hello Attribution, Goodbye, Confusion!
Marketing teams have all of the tools and technologies with which to measure ROI accurately but these teams lack the proper skills with which to successfully apply these technologies. Over and above just measuring ROI, marketing teams are generally underskilled to take advantage of what modern marketing and technology can deliver us.
So what are the biggest skills GAPs in modern marketing? Here are some interesting insights from www.smartinsights.com
It is clear that marketing teams believe they have work to do in developing the skill-set required to make the most of new marketing potential.
Why has it changed?
Marketing has changed so much because technological innovation has surpassed and outstripped our current capabilities. These technological advancements have made such a difference to our experience of the world that the implications are unavoidable. Progress has clearly made its presence known.
How to take advantage of modern marketing?
The advantages to modern marketing are huge, but the limited skills within marketing teams to take advantage of these opportunities is a problem. Many marketing teams & leaders are not schooled in the approaches of modern marketing, which means these teams default back to old strategies unconsciously. Many agencies that represent these brands also perpetuate a content strategy which reflects these outdated strategies. Instead of challenging marketing teams to think differently, many agencies simply do whatever the client is asking for, without providing the strategic provocation required to improve the state of play.
The company culture also plays a big part in whether or not your marketing team can make the changes needed to achieve modern marketing success. Many of the important inputs and processes of modern marketing involve a wide range of other departments and leaders being part of the process. Often company cultures are divisive and destructive which creates major problems for productive change to happen. The potential for marketing change to happen comes down to many factors outside of marketing control. Leadership, technological transformation, and customer engagement all have a major influence on whether marketing can achieve new marketing goals or not.
Many marketing teams often contract the wrong agencies to work on their marketing strategies. Or they contract too many different agencies who don’t communicate to one and other. If you want to achieve in modern marketing then you need to think deeply about how to choose your partner agencies. Here is a great guiding post by www.hubspot.com called Keys to choosing a modern marketing agency
It is crucial that your marketing team is able to produce a compelling business case for modern marketing to succeed. This case would include a rigorous and honest self appraisal of previous marketing effectiveness and key skills GAPs, and it should be able to show exactly how the adaptation of marketing practice is going to build better growth strategies for the brand, which can be directly measured against business targets and metrics like sales, leads, customer service and retentions.
Leadership is also crucial in taking advantage of modern marketing. Without strong and visionary leadership it will be impossible to change for the better. In situations of innovation and emerging practice it is leadership which usually creates the opportunity for change to happen. Marketing leadership must be able to drive the future vision forward within the organisation, and it is this leadership which creates possibility.
Your marketing team must be willing to take some chances and to experiment with new methods. Modern marketing is all about experimentation and learning from the experiment, so if your marketing team is keen to explore in this realm, then they also need to adopt a learning mindset through experimentation and measurement of different marketing strategies and tactics.
Marketing is now a discipline which is driven by research, data and derived insight. It is also a discipline which has become much more focussed on the scientific elements of marketing which underpin modern marketing strategy & implementation. In order to take advantage of this much more scientific and provable approach towards marketing, teams need to develop a much stronger focus on data management, analytics and research.
The focus is clearly on the consumer all the way. This means that the aim of modern marketing is to understand exactly who the consumer is, how they engage and interact online & offline, what their specific needs are (indirect and direct), and then how best to create content which they like and respond to. Without this crucial consumer knowledge it will not be possible to target consumers in the right way, or about the right stuff. Everything about the effectiveness of your marketing content comes down to how well you have clarified the following into clear intelligence.
- Buyer profiles / personas which detail everything possible about the life cycle and habits / interests of consumers. This is often not done properly which leads to inaccurate information being used to define consumer preferences, which in turn leads to the wrong content experience being produced.
- What are the consumption habits of your target buyers? This information provides you with a clear snapshot of your consumers preferential channels, platforms and content formats. This is critical because without this information it will be impossible to clearly decide on the correct distribution plan for your content.
- What are you going to be measuring? What are your goals? How are you going to measure success?These elements are often not clear which is not good for modern marketing. Digital marketing requires focussed targets, goals and measurement criteria in order to work in your favour. Again without this clarity your marketing strategies will be unmeasurable and without clear direction.
- Have you conducted social listening and consumer research in order to clarify the natural narratives and interests of your consumer targets? This is a crucial process which ensures that your marketing narratives and content topics are relevant to your consumers.
- What are the clear needs, wants, and interests of each buyer persona, and how will your content strategy address the delivery of this specific engagement?
The biggest threat to marketing teams in taking advantage of modern marketing is resistance to change. People and organisations don’t like change much! The changes required in marketing are fundamental in nature, and they impact on and affect the greater organisation as a whole. This means that any changes in marketing will likely lead to changes in other parts of the organisation as well (eg technology stacks). This is going to lead to problems of resistance, fear and frustration, which can cause huge problems to develop internally between staff, divisions, leaders and stakeholders. It is vital that all marketing teams have the awareness, knowledge and skills to deal consciously and strategically with change management.
Understanding marketing and its potential impact on an organisation is bigger than just the marketing team. It includes senior leadership and a variety of other essential partners (influencers / agencies / specialists). Creating a collaborative environment in which a common purpose and vision for a digitally led marketing strategy can be created is vital for success.
Marketing cannot lead this transformation if it does not possess the skillset to do so. Many marketing teams fit this scenario. These marketing teams are not taken seriously by the rest of the organisation because they are not leading the change, but rather repeating the past.
The pressure is on for increased marketing performance! Showing a clear return on investment becomes the best way to secure bigger budgets down the line. Budgets which show no clear return, and which cannot be clearly substantiated, are cut. This scenario is how marketing budgets will be allocated from here onwards. The proof is in the pudding, Without the correct awareness, knowledge and skills with which to achieve this result, marketing teams are going to become increasingly pressurised by senior executives to show results which they are not skilled enough to achieve. This scenario is one which is causing many marketing teams sleepless nights!
The time is now for marketing teams to begin to establish a clear view of the awareness, knowledge and skills needed in order to be able to thrive in the modern marketing environment. Without this clarity and vision for the future marketing teams will continue to repeat the past in spite of better and more advanced strategies.
Many brands do not have a documented digital marketing strategy, and operate in an ad-hoc manner when it comes to digital marketing. This is largely due to the fact that the average marketing team does not understand modern marketing, and therefore cannot define a clear strategy and plan for it within their organisation. Without a clearly documented strategy there is no way your organisation is even thinking about how to take advantage of what modern marketing has to offer. Have a look at this slide taken from a survey done by Smart insights in the UK
If this is what the situation is like in the UK, can you imagine what south Africa would look like? It is clear that many organisations are not ready for modern marketing. Is yours? Have a look at this brilliant slide which shows the varying levels of digital maturity an organisation can strive for. Where is your organisation placed?
Without understanding where your organisation is placed in its digital maturity, it is also very difficult to define a suitable starting point for your modern marketing strategy, because your strategy will be determinant on the maturity factor of your organisation.
Understanding modern marketing, and how to take advantage of it, comes down to how well you understand your own organisations potential for digital transformation. This conscious awareness is what will define your modern marketing development roadmap into the future.