Marketers are being held to increasingly higher standards these days. CEOs are expecting visibility into digital campaign results; consequently, performance is being scrutinized more closely. This expectation raises marketers’ accountability, and that accountability sharpens as new data sources enter the space. Traditional marketers can feel even more pressure if digital is not their native language.
In exchange for this sharpened scrutiny, senior-level marketing decision makers are assuming new leadership responsibilities in their enterprises.
The Adobe Marketing Cloud team recently met with senior-level marketers from some of today’s leading global brands. They shared four primary concerns about the current digital marketing environment.
1. More variables and players to navigate: Managing consumer data, personalization, mobile, and social have all become front-and-center priorities in the digital marketing space. For marketers, it’s challenging to get a clear view across disparate systems, data sources, internal departments, and outside agencies.
We need to be able to:
- Test and target, personalize and profit
- Create robust, engaging experiences for consumers
- Manage campaigns across multiple properties and mixed-media sources
- Optimize rich media assets for fast display, retargeting initiatives, and mobile rendering
- Deploy social campaigns that build audiences and drive traffic to conversion assets
The pressure mounts each time a digital solution enters the marketplace. What are its capabilities? How does it drive ROI? Who is behind the latest release? What product support can I expect? These are all questions facing digital marketers on a nearly daily basis.
The evolution of digital marketing suites has yet to fully meet the demands of today’s digital marketers. One senior-level marketing executive we spoke to recently explained how managing the expansion of digital marketing capabilities feels: “It’s like I’m wading through sand. You’ve got this drag on you. Instead, I want one click to see what a single customer segment is doing from beginning to end.“
2. More issues that require marketers to quickly react/adapt: Marketers are expected to be “at the ready” to put out or manage fires. In an environment of immediate feedback, we must turn our teams on a dime. We face more opportunities for negative reviews, comments, posts, etc., that must be responded to efficiently and effectively. Forecasters predict we’ll see increased ad fraud in programmatic buying, so we need to react swiftly to mitigate wasted ad spend.
We’re looking at more data than ever, but data-driven marketing is laced with challenges right now. (I am a firm advocate of the practice, so please don’t take this comment as a reversal of opinion!) Take mobile analytics, for example: Although we’re accumulating mobile data in greater volumes, many marketers have still not adopted a mature solution for integrating mobile and desktop analytics. If we make a mistake managing data, we’re expected to adapt campaigns on the fly.
One of the biggest concerns when it comes to having to react quickly as a marketer is a hacked customer database. Security breaches have become a huge issue for some brands—we have to be agile enough to reinforce public trust through quickly assembled marketing campaigns. A brand’s image can be hit at any time.
3. Expected to be more proactive in more areas: As channels and product knowledge proliferate and “constantly shifting” consumer expectations abound, marketers feel increasing pressure to continually create and refresh content and ideas in a proactive manner. We need to be proactive in site optimization, mobile deployment, and social conversations. But we’re also operating in a digital marketing environment that has yet to mature fully to meet the demands we face.
Cross-channel attribution is considered a critical concern for leading brands. Measuring ad attribution is a leading concern, along with device attribution. Yet senior-level digital marketers are expected to raise conversion rates in the face of attribution challenges by becoming more proactive in generating brand loyalty.
Business intelligence empowers us to generate better customer profiles with sharper insights. We can identify trends and track behavior, which reveal historical data, but connecting the past to future behavior is a capability we don’t have. Yet marketers must be proactive by anticipating future behavior. Unfortunately, many marketing organizations have yet to acquire robust predictive capabilities that allow them to proactively meet shifting consumer expectations.
4. Answering the usual call to deliver more, faster: Digital marketers are in constant response mode when it comes to marketing spend. We feel a little like Pearl Jam’s “The Fixer”: “When something’s broke, I wanna put a bit of fixing on it.” We have to elevate our performance, and if an initiative isn’t producing, we’ve got to put a bit of fixing on it or get rid of it quickly without wasting further budget. The days of instant feedback loops require marketers to respond immediately to a dip in results.
What makes it worse? Deeper analysis means our results have become increasingly specific. For example, what was our conversion rate from an email campaign during the week of February 10th through 17th? Marketers must constantly contemplate how to respond to narrow changes in campaign results, sometimes tailoring responses to the most nuanced responses to campaigns.
We’ve got to uncover customer needs faster (think #3, above). That requires focus on media, channels, analytics, and more. As one senior-level marketer recently observed, “For me the challenge is the media mix, showing ROI on the programs we’re doing to drive more money to marketing.”
In response to the call, we’re asked to deliver:
- Customer engagement
- Content development
- Acquisition/retention strategies
- Mobile and social strategies
- Email campaigns and more
The response to these demands has been primarily tactical to this point. Strategic alignment toward an integrated enterprise focused on its customers has been lacking. Most current tools are siloed and rarely seen in a strategic role; they’re limited to being only part of a solution. At this point, marketer needs are typically being met by multiple providers. In the words of one top marketer: “Tools don’t talk to each other.”
Fortunately, as technology empowers us to do more, we’re able to more sharply guide our brands through responsive initiatives. We’re able to personalize campaigns, create more optimized media, and understand the consumer better than ever. Unfortunately, we’re likely to face increased pressure as data reliability continues to be an issue. That challenge can be summed up in a quote from one of our customers: “Interpreting [data] properly as a tool to drive direction is a challenge.”
See what the Twitterverse is saying about digital marketing: