In the past few years, the mar­ket­ing indus­try has mor­phed into a dig­i­tal steam engine, charg­ing mar­keters through uncharted ter­ri­to­ries across social media, web con­tent, media opti­miza­tion and more.

But mar­keters haven’t felt com­fort­able with this pow­er­ful inno­va­tion. How would it be con­trolled? How would its effec­tive­ness be mea­sured? What type of peo­ple should be at the wheel? Accord­ing to a recent Adobe sur­vey of mar­keters, 76% feel the indus­try has changed more in the past two years than in the pre­vi­ous 5, and fewer than half of mar­keters today feel highly pro­fi­cient in digital.

This type of per­for­mance anx­i­ety has built a dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing indus­try that is rav­en­ous for data—any key lean­ings that will help pave the way on this dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing journey.

Recently Adobe, in part­ner­ship with Econ­sul­tancy, kicked off a global sur­vey of more than 2,500 mar­keters and Inter­net pro­fes­sion­als, in hopes of bet­ter under­stand­ing what com­pa­nies and agen­cies alike are pri­ori­tis­ing in 2014.

The result? Sixty pages of valu­able input from the coal-face of mar­ket­ing and ecom­merce high­light­ing key trends, chal­lenges and oppor­tu­ni­ties in dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing today—covering top­ics rang­ing from cus­tomer expe­ri­ence and mobile to cross-channel mar­ket­ing and email optimization.

Here’s a sneak peek at the meat inside this report:

  • Cus­tomer expe­ri­ence is the sin­gle most excit­ing oppor­tu­nity for in-house mar­keters in 2014, above mobile and con­tent marketing.
  • In the world of B2B, con­tent mar­ket­ing is king. For B2C mar­keters, how­ever, mobile sits in at the top of the pri­or­ity pile.
  • 2014 is a year of exper­i­men­ta­tion and agility. Does your com­pany cul­ture instill a fear of fail­ure? The inabil­ity to test, learn, and rejig­ger an approach is hold­ing many com­pa­nies back from dig­i­tal success.
Figure 1: In what areas will digital marketers experiment most heavily in the coming year?

Fig­ure 1: In what areas will dig­i­tal mar­keters exper­i­ment most heav­ily in the com­ing year?

  • Con­sumer expec­ta­tions out­pace cor­po­rate inno­va­tions. There is no doubt about it—consumers are in con­trol. And aside from grab­bing con­sumer atten­tion, cus­tomer stick­i­ness has become increas­ingly dif­fi­cult as per­son­al­ized offers and infor­ma­tion from other brands increases at a stag­ger­ing rate.
  • Evolv­ing role for email as mar­keters seek to engage with mil­len­ni­als. Over 90% of busi­nesses use email as a cheap and pow­er­ful way of both broad­cast­ing news and pro­vid­ing per­sonal, 1:1 com­mu­ni­ca­tion. How­ever the debate of emails effec­tive­ness in reach­ing a younger, social-minded audi­ence continues.
  • Tech­nol­ogy brings effi­ciency and imme­di­acy to dis­play adver­tis­ing in what has been a his­tor­i­cally chaotic land­scape for media buy­ing. And as the effi­ciency of tele­vi­sion adver­tis­ing dwin­dles, brands should be able to effec­tively cob­ble together large audi­ences com­prised of the right people—albeit from many dif­fer­ent sources.
  • Mar­keters fit for the future need to find the bal­ance between extremes. More so than ever, mar­ket­ing has become a com­bi­na­tion of art and science—and the need for left-brained engi­neers who will eat, sleep and breathe tech­nol­ogy into their mar­ket­ing teams is just as preva­lent as the call for cre­ative geniuses. Break­ing down organ­i­sa­tional silos and bal­anc­ing these two extremes con­tin­ues to be a challenge.
  • Com­pa­nies focus on har­mon­is­ing cross-channel mes­sag­ing and expe­ri­ence. As tech­nol­ogy evolves so too do mar­ket­ing channels—consider Vine, Pin­ter­est, Insta­gram, Tum­blr and other chan­nels that have surged into pop­u­lar­ity. Man­ag­ing these mul­ti­ple chan­nels with con­sis­tency has become an increas­ingly cru­cial dis­ci­pline for marketers.
  • Mobile has won—the time for pro­cras­ti­na­tion is over. There couldn’t be a safer bet than to pre­dict that mobile will con­tinue to grow in sig­nif­i­cance for busi­nesses, as more cus­tomers adopt tablets, smart­phones and wear­able tech­nol­ogy. 2014 will con­tinue to see busi­nesses work harder to improve the mobile expe­ri­ence, and to under­stand what mobile means for their customers.
  • Con­tent, mobile and social will become busi­ness as usual. While the vast major­ity of mar­keters under­stand that improv­ing the cus­tomer expe­ri­ence must be one of the sole focuses of dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing, most com­pa­nies are still gath­er­ing the right tools for their tool­box in order to cre­ate such expe­ri­ences. But as mar­ket­ing tech­nol­ogy moves into a more inte­grated set of solu­tions, these func­tions should bring greater value in the year to come.

May this full report help enable us all to bet­ter under­stand the mind­set, needs and con­cerns of today’s dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing professionals—so that the tech­nol­ogy, process and peo­ple will con­tinue to evolve. I look for­ward to con­tin­u­ing this dis­cus­sion with all of you dur­ing 2014. We’re on this dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing jour­ney together—let’s never stop find­ing new ways to improve.

Down­load the full 2014 Dig­i­tal Trends report from Econ­sul­tancy and Adobe here, and check out the report info­graphic of key findings.

@mrzablan