In previous posts, I’ve talked about the reinvention of today’s digital marketer. Our focus at Adobe has been to evangelize the need for traditional marketers to adopt a digital strategy in order to compete. Luminaries are shaping their organizations around the digital consumer. In the words of one of my favorite bands, The Who, we must be “getting in tune” with an audience that spends much of its time online and engaged across myriad digital channels. But have digital marketers made the transition to the super-connected, mobile, digital marketplace? Not yet.
According to our Adobe Digital Roadblock report, two-thirds of marketers expect their role to change over the next year, and over three-quarters expect changes over the next three years. Marketers know they must reinvent themselves but don’t know how to step through. They cite a lack of training in new marketing skills and an inability for their organizations to adapt as key roadblocks to becoming the marketers they aspire to be.
One of the common themes I like to talk about when presenting around the country is the impact of people, process, and product on how we mature in digital marketing. I’d like to sync five commonly encountered roadblocks with this theme of people, process and products.
Roadblock #1 – Hiring digital talent
Although we can’t ignore “traditional” marketing talent, our enterprises must focus on digital-savvy talent in order to reinvent ourselves. Gartner tells us that digital marketing budgets are expected to rise by 10 percent in 2014, following an 11 percent rise last year. Respondents to our report indicated that digital/social/mobile marketers, data analysts, and creative development are key roles their companies must invest in over the next year. So companies get the need for digital talent. Unfortunately, the talent pool is not rising to meet the demand.
The Harvard Business Review published a great post on the type of digital marketers we should be looking to hire. Essentially, it suggests that we look at “dual superpowers” such as being creative and analytical, having leadership skills and digital acumen, and other characteristics when hiring digital talent.
Without finding potential hires who possess the characteristics to operate in a fluid, data-driven, and highly technical environment, we will struggle with any transformation of digital marketing practices. Candidates who can move the needle, who combine data geek with creative virtuoso, are the team members to look for when we’re looking to reinvent our marketing ecosystem.
Roadblock #2 – Data avoidance
This roadblock is an extension of Roadblock #1; if we don’t hire the digital talent to execute digital campaigns, our success is doubtful. We must have luminaries who understand data (not simply those who can read the data, but those who can act upon it).
Reinvented brands embrace Big Data. We know where trends are developing. We deploy tools to capture, organize, and report data. Digital tools allow us to mine data at a remarkably granular level, and this data allows us to personalize and contextualize consumer experiences, right down to location, device, and time of day. We can create predictive models, allowing us to serve personalized messaging based upon even anonymous bits of data.
To reinvent successfully, we must arrange and schedule workflow to accommodate the constant feedback loops that permeate our digital world. We receive actionable data in milliseconds, therefore, our marketing (and, dare I say, business) practices must be synced to respond to real-time market shifts.
Marketers tell us they believe the ideal marketer should take more risks, but by embracing the strength of data analysis, risks can be significantly reduced. For those seeking to reinvent themselves, embrace data!
Roadblock #3 – Social media blackout
While some may continue to avoid social media marketing, the fact is most brands are growing their social media marketing budgets. Some predict that social media spend will double in the next five years. Our Digital Roadblock revealed that 61 percent of marketers believe social media will be the most critical marketing vehicle to deploy in the next few years.
We cannot step through to become reinvented marketers until we adopt a social strategy. We must cultivate a social identity and support that identity through a disciplined approach to social data analysis and continual audience engagement.
Our enterprise must be organized to leverage the speed, volume, and intensity of social media. But we must do so in a way that maximizes ROI. We have to deploy social media both to spread the word and to engage in a manner that generates lift and drives conversion. Teams must be able to entertain, inform, educate, and persuade all at the same time, all while directing traffic to engage our offerings.
Roadblock #4 – Lack of testing
Almost half of the marketers who responded to the Roadblock report indicated “trusting my gut” as the mechanism that guides decisions on where to invest marketing budgets. In the next five years, that strategy will be unacceptable for leading brands.
Gut-based logic is unnecessary today. Big Data is available to shape customer profiles, track consumer behavior, and monitor ROI. Nearly every dot can be connected through analytics. Accordingly, we can test marketing theories and generate feedback within minutes. No need for gut instinct—but we have to be willing to test.
We have the capability to conduct A/B or multivariate tests on a daily basis, to multiple segments simultaneously. Why would we speculate on the best way to convert consumers? Testing allows us to approach senior leadership with quantifiable results, which may be leveraged in other business areas. When we can show lift through testing based on data, we are able to justify marketing spend and improve productivity.
Roadblock #5 – Technology adoption
When we talk about people, process, and product as driving reinvention, it’s the products (tools) that enable people and process. Our ability to collect and report data, examine trends, create workflows, all these point back to the tools we use. Brands in any vertical have to embrace technology or suffer the consequences.
Unfortunately, marketers tell us they are more comfortable adopting new technologies once they become mainstream. However, leaders don’t wait for mainstream adoption. Competition is too fierce to hold off consumer engagement.
We can deploy assets in real time. We have dashboards that enable analytics, attribution, tag management, content management, and integrate marketing with business IT systems. There is seemingly no end to the integrated tools we have at our disposal that can make reinvention possible.
Ultimately, our attempts to reinvent ourselves as digital marketers must point to digital ecosystem management. The roadblocks to successfully transitioning our brand are essentially self-made. We have the ability to dovetail creative development, asset deployment, and customer experiences with financial management, KPIs, and resource management. We can infuse product development with innovation, deliver enhanced customer service and enable go-to-market (GTM) strategies based on actionable data. Let’s tear down these roadblocks and explore the frontier together!