Yes, my fellow marketers, the era of depicting what we do every day as “digital marketing” is coming to a close. Much like telling new acquaintances that my first concert was The Who’s farewell tour of 1982 (I think we know what happened after that), talking about digital marketing at the close of 2014 will sound dated at best. Why is that?

Although many of us have embraced digital marketing technology as a driver of messaging, feedback, and clearly defined action, we are now beyond putting technology first—it’s all about delivering the customer experience that happens to be enabled by digital marketing. Thus the evolution of the New Marketer—a big thinking, conceptual, yet analytical student of consumer behavior—cannot go forward without casting aside the fascination with digital channels and multimedia assets. Frankly, we’re not doing “digital marketing” anymore. Simply put, it’s marketing (in a digital world!).

Let me explain: As digital drives the efforts of the New Marketer, the emphasis is no longer on the importance of mobile, Web, email, paid search, and so on; the channels have dissolved into normalcy. Consumers have moved on too. They aren’t captivated by the novelty of these platforms; instead, they think in terms of task or activity or function. Today’s customer is plugged in in so many ways. The digital landscape provides us with multimedia touch points. Now we must infuse data from those touch points to become stronger marketers—New Marketers.

We can now leverage data to deliver the best consumer experience in real time. Consumer action immediately produces a user experience that must match her interest, intention, and ultimately, her objective. Within milliseconds, we must accomplish four strategic goals:

  1. It starts with gathering data from visitor actions. What have they done? What user action brought them to you? How do we organize data sets in a meaningful way?
  2. We need to predict which triggers will drive their actions. Where do they want to go? What information are they seeking?
  3. Third, we must access and assemble the digital assets that “move the needle,” that provide inputs that drive the output marketers are seeking.
  4. Deliver those assets through the right channels to deliver the end user experience that consumers seek.

Let me touch on goal 1. You’ll find that I’m something of a data geek. Now that we are capturing it at spectacular velocity and volume (it’s now Big Data…), New Marketers must use data to serve our customers better. What you ultimately get when data is the backbone for your marketing campaigns is that the HIPPO (highest-paid person’s opinion) becomes irrelevant. While interesting, a marketer’s opinion about his customers is less pertinent when data is there to represent actual consumer behavior.

From data we test our assumptions. This points back to strategic goal 2. New Marketers must zero in on the right consumer experience by testing various experiences (A/B and multivariate testing) then targeting the right experience to the right consumer at the right time. This testing enables us as marketers to better connect with our customer and ultimately deliver the best possible experience. Yes, data and digital technologies make this possible at scale, but it’s this New Marketer best practice of Always Be Testing (ABT) that make us successful.

As an example, I was able to share the experiences of one of our valued customers, SAP, at the Adobe Digital Marketing Symposium in New York and San Francisco earlier this year. Their marketing has been shaped around testing for over two years. SAP serves more than 232,000 customers in 188 countries and expects to reach over 1 billion users worldwide by 2015. The diversity of customers SAP serves requires a sophisticated testing environment that allows the company to allocate its resources effectively. With thousands of diverse user segments as part of their customer base, testing that effectively meets the needs of such diversity is essential.

So, what does it mean to be a New Marketer in the digital age? The New Marketer should evidence certain qualities: big picture, comprehensive thinking paired with a sense of granularity and specificity; a sense of possibility and a desire to be proactive in imagining new combinations of data and creative; a knack for creating the best experiences designed for an audience of one; and a belief that strategy and tactics must evolve (as the consumer evolves). Bottom line? Marketers must continuously learn from the data their marketing execution generates.

Over the coming weeks, we’ll reflect more on what it means to be a New Marketer. We’ll deep-dive into the four strategic goals and explain why, when it comes to marketing in an age of digital, what defines the New Marketer is not a mastery of “digital marketing” but understanding the importance of developing and messaging to a comprehensive profile of the target consumer.