Digital marketing in 2014: Where marketers are placing their bets

We chat to several digital marketing leaders about how they're viewing the role of mobile marketing in 2014, as well as where they're putting the emphasis when it comes to customer engagement

Thanks to the rise of digital marketing channels, marketers now have an unprecedented number of ways to communicate with existing and potential customers.

Industry reports recent all point to spending on digital marketing rising in 2014, with mobile and social increasingly becoming key areas of opportunity over the next few years. According to a new Frost and Sullivan report, growth in Australian online advertising spending will continue to outperform more mature offline channels for several years to come, and already represented one-quarter of all advertising expenditure in 2013.

In light of this, we asked several Australian marketers which channels they will mostly focus on this year, along with their dollars and resource, and how this compares to their channel make up in previous years.

Marketing and communications director for Hoyts Entertainment, Karli Smith, said her team will push to better integrate digital channels across mobile, tablet and Web, with a greater focus also placed on CRM.

“We’ll also be looking to driving customer communities of advocates – both bespoke and cross pollinated – across our brands,” she told CMO. “These activities will allow us greater focus on driving frequency and consumption from our cinema and home entertainment customer bases.

“We also plan to conduct more co-branded brand activities with relevant partners in order to extend our reach outside of existing customer relationships.”

National marketing manager at Australian education provider, Upskilled, Michael Crump, is continuing to focus the majority of his budget and resources on digital marketing. This incorporates the company’s marketing automation platform, and predominantly EDMs – although he also flagged investments into PPC, SEO, content marketing, display advertising, re-targeting and social media.

Further enhancements to the Upskilled website to improve usability and conversion optimisation are also on the cards this year.

“In the education sector we believe many of our prospective students search for course options online in order to compare on features and benefits, along with costs,” Crump said. “Also, the ability to track ROI on campaign spend makes this a very attractive option.

“For example, if I increase my Google Adwords spend and maintain the same cost per lead, in addition to maintaining the same conversion rate to sale, it’s essentially going to mean more money in the bank. I don’t have that sort of luxury with other forms of media such as print.”

Not surprisingly, print and radio will have much less emphasis in 2014. “This is mainly due to it being harder to track campaign effectiveness and, with a tight budget, the marketing spend is much more driven towards lead generation as opposed to branding,” Crump explained.

At Wotif Group, the ongoing challenge in 2014 is to provide the same experience across multiple touch points – a task that requires both better use of analytics and behavioural targeting. Wotif digital marketing leader, Shaden Mohamed, pointed out the travel purchase cycle is complex and often involves multiple touch points across a range of marketing channels.

“The focus in 2014 will be on enhancing the experience along each of those touch points to ensure there is consistency in communication, and ease of use and booking at every touch point,” she said. “Therefore, the use of analytics and advanced automation in that space to better leverage those channels will be key for us this year.”

Overall, Wotif Group will be investing more resources and marketing dollars this year. “Our business is still a very profitable one, with many opportunities for growth,” Mohamed continued.

“It isn’t about placing ‘less emphasis’ on anything specifically, but rather, ensuring we have an optimum mix of marketing activity to remove any reliance on any one channel and to ensure we are engaging with our customers at all stages of the purchase funnel. It’s about remaining relevant to our customers, irrespective of channel.”

The view on mobile

According to a recent global report from Gartner, mobile advertising is tipped to hit US$49.1 billion by 2017, driven by display formats and video categories. In the next year, the research firm forecasts mobile advertising expenditure will reach $18 billion, up from $13.1 billion in 2013.

For Smith, mobile will be an extremely important part of Hoyts’ go-to market strategy and plans are underway to maximise its use in marketing activities.

“It is our second largest communication tool with our customers,” she commented. “We have not seen the shift from gathering information to actually transacting via mobile but we are expecting to start to see this in 2014.

“Our biggest challenge as a company is to integrate both localised and personalised offers via customers’ mobile devices for each of our cinema and Hoyts Kiosk sites.”

Mobile marketing is also of growing importance to Upskilled, with 30 per cent of website visits now coming from either mobile or tablets.

“We’ve also seen an increase of 32 per cent over the past 12 months in website visits coming from mobiles and tablets combined,” Crump said. “I would expect this to continue to increase throughout 2014 which is why we will be focusing on rolling out responsive emails, campaign landing pages and website/blog.

“We’re also investigating into the possible uses of a mobile app for Upskilled.”

Mohamed saw mobile as a “missed opportunity” across many categories in the Australian market.

“People are still talking about how to leverage it as a platform and marketing channel, when the conversation today should really be more about cross-device tracking and optimisation in general,” she said. “You need only look to other markets in Europe, Asia and the Middle East to realise that we are perhaps a little slow as a market to capitalise on mobile.”

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