It’s a little late in the year for me to wish you a happy new year—I do wish you a Happy Year of the Rooster, though—but as this is my first post of 2017, I wanted to catch up on a couple of things that occurred to me over the Christmas and New Year period.
This is a time for reflection for many of us, and I’ve been resolving to follow more of the ideas laid out by the guys behind the Minimalists blog after receiving one of their books as a present. If you’re not familiar with their writing (and new film), then I highly recommend checking them out here.
The Minimalists blog welcomed the new year with a resolution to get “back to basics” in 2017. And this got me thinking about work (I didn’t switch off completely over the holiday!) because I think it’s time that as marketers, we strip back all the buzzwords and unnecessary technology, and focus on the foundational skills and tools that help us do our jobs well.
This idea got me thinking about our priorities for digital marketing this year, especially in light of a recent survey of nearly 200 digital professionals released by market research firm ClickZ Intelligence. This survey confirms the “back to basics” concept, finding that great customer experiences sit at the centre of digital maturity.
According to the report, 52 percent of organisations now use some form of marketing cloud technology to enhance the customer experiences they deliver. Among those respondents, 82 percent report that marketing cloud technology has had a positive impact on their marketing activities, while no less than 97 percent report that an integrated marketing suite has positively impacted their business performance.
Still, not all organisations agree on which elements of a marketing cloud are most crucial—or on which advantages of these suites are most helpful. A breakdown of these responses reveals that companies rely on marketing cloud tools in a range of ways as diverse as the industries and customers they serve.
The majority of ClickZ’s respondents—a full 60 percent—described customer and digital analytics as the “most critical core product” within a cloud-based marketing service. But beyond that, opinions diverge more widely. Many respondents described digital asset management tools as “important” or “nice to have,” but not critical in a cloud service; others cited paid media management and mobile app management as significant, but not crucial.
Given the centrality of digital assets, paid media, and especially mobile apps in just about every company’s customer experience, why would such large percentages of respondents report that these elements aren’t critical in a marketing cloud service? Part of the answer comes from the fact that not all companies are highly focused on these areas—in other words, while every marketing department deals with each of them to some extent, not every company has allocated the budget or staff to require their management on a large scale.
But a more telling set of insights may come from the widely divergent ways in which companies use marketing cloud tools, and the benefits they hope to achieve from them.
Advantages and concerns
While the vast majority of survey respondents agree that marketing cloud technology has had a positive impact on their organisations’ marketing activities, they offer a surprisingly wide range of answers when asked exactly how marketing cloud tools have helped them.
The most commonly cited benefit is reduced complexity—nearly half of respondents agree that a single point of interaction helps them maintain momentum and achieve greater results in return for time spent. At the same time, though, providers of marketing cloud solutions express concern that a one-stop solution can’t provide ideal tools for every industry and task, which is why they continue to work to integrate with digital tools designed around each industry’s unique needs.
Among all these variations in focus, the unifying trend is simplicity. Marketers are tired of overly complex interfaces, unnecessary technologies, and tools whose real impact remains unclear. The ones who’ll succeed in 2017 will be those who strip away every task and tool that doesn’t contribute to a positive customer experience—and stick to the basics of keeping their customers happy.
If you’re wondering about your own organisation’s digital maturity—and about whether you’re heading in the right direction, take a look at Adobe’s Digital Marketing Maturity Assessment. This assessment is an effective way to pinpoint your strengths and weaknesses, and identify your top focus areas for the coming year.