In a recent conversation with a chief technology officer, he asserted all digital technology changes in his organisation were being led by IT and not by marketing. It made me wonder: How long a marketing function like this could survive?
Having gone through such substantial technological change in 2014, digital marketing is a whole new ballgame for marketers in 2015. Not only are brands expected to engage with customers across all channels of communication in real-time, using ever-more complex combinations of data intelligence to better target messages and engagement, they also have to do so while respecting a consumer’s privacy.
Here, we ask leading industry association and agency figures to share their views on what digital marketing strategy needs to look like this year, and where the emphasis must be placed for success.
Check out the first part of our digital marketing predictions series on game-changers from 2014 and lessons learnt here.
Where should marketers place more emphasis in 2015?
Alice Manners, IAB Australia CEO:
Almost four in 10 advertising dollars were allocated to digital during the first half of FY15 with the trendlines already suggesting that online advertising expenditure will near $5bn by year end. Continued and growing investment in the interactive advertising ecosystem testifies to the rewarding relationships marketers are effectively building with consumers through digital marketing.
The mobile sector isn't slowing down any time soon. We all recognise the role of connected devices in the day and the life of the consumer and with many Australian publishers seeing well over 50 per cent of their traffic from mobile, the message for marketers is simple: Get mobile or get left behind.
Digital video will be another growing area for marketers. A recent study conducted by Adapt TV and IAB Australia found advertisers are looking to increase their digital video spend by 37 per cent in 2015, but they face a very real challenge thanks to the scarcity of in-demand inventory, particularly in long-form content. Marketers will have to work smart and hard to find the right inventory for their marketing efforts. And there is a real opportunity for Australian companies to offer quality content that is easy to digest.
In addition, marketers need to consider brand safety and ‘safe sourcing’ carefully this year. As an industry, we’ll be exploring the issue of fraud and examining what self-regulatory principles are needed to bring increased trust, transparency and, therefore, reduced risk in the digital world. We’ll never do away with fraud entirely (can any industry?) but focusing the efforts of everyone across the industry should pay huge dividends.
As a marketer, it is vital to practice ‘safe sourcing’ and only trust business partners who have earned it. Look to implement technology to detect and prevent fraud and consider filtering traffic through vendors who specialise in fraud detection.
Marketers should also make time for technology in 2015. Digital is constantly changing and a commitment to investing in technology and business models that engage digital customers is an essential exercise. With more data, information and the constant increase in the number of channels, the demand for and importance of marketing technology will only increase. Take the time to become informed about where your audiences spend their time and make sure you dig deeper into customisation and personalisation.
The final consideration for marketers is ecommerce. The significant shift in consumer behaviours means people no longer have a fear of payment fraud online, nor do they see ecommerce as cheapening the customer experience. That means the only real barriers remaining to the growth of ecommerce will be economic and logistic.
Jodie Sangster, ADMA CEO
Marketers should be placing more emphasis on the customer experience, with digital the means to support it. To succeed, they need to focus more on relevance and being genuinely useful to customers. This is about moving from a campaign-driven philosophy to an ‘always-on’ approach.
Content marketing was increasingly important in 2014 and will continue to be so in 2015. It was encouraging to see more companies using content for engagement rather than brand awareness. However, greater steps need to be taken by marketers in 2015 to truly understand the role of content within a marketing strategy and to measure its results.
In 2015, we will see progressive agencies and brands moving past just accessing data to integrating it across key business decisions. More marketers will be using specialised technology and software to help them understand the data they have. Instead of just focusing on website traffic, cart abandonment and conversion rates/clickthroughs, the smart marketers will be focusing on the entire customer experience across all touchpoints and channels.
Marketers should also be trying to understand how data can help them market to customers on a true one-to-one basis. With technology, this is now a reality but the next step is ensuring we have the talent in place to be able to deliver the true customer insights.
Talking of insights… the need to obtain useful insights from multiple repositories of data through analytics was a major priority for many companies in 2014, and this is set to increase this year. The challenge will be to cut through the reams of data clutter to glean useful insights and to analyse those findings in real-time to make immediate use of them. This will be particularly important around social analytics.
Data will be used to drive sales, to identify the right customers/prospects and present them with relevant offers – and there should be less of the creepiness factor that has often characterised big data in recent years. Technology will be the enabler as it makes all things possible around data, content and customer experience.
On the human front, the smart digital marketer will be focused on creativity. The winners here will not only produce more creative content and great work, but showcase clever creative strategy and engagement methods.
Mobile will be increasingly important to digital marketing in 2015. Mobile-first is now an essential. Alongside this, location-based marketing will increase thanks to next-generation technology like ibeacons, and smart marketers will spend more on mobile location to assist in customer relevancy. There are ethical considerations to location-based marketing around privacy, making transparency and value key to success this year.
Mark Bailey, Chemistri Group director
This year, it’s all about me, me, me: Customisation and personalisation based on demonstrated behaviour will be critical. Customers in a more competitive climate than ever are saying know me, listen to me, don’t bombard with anything and everything but talk to me and engage with me intelligently - don’t waste my time.
Informed conversations are all powerful. Marketers must understand when, where, how and why their audience are accessing information and act and engage based on that. Make sure you have a proper foundation in place – there are plenty of options and you don’t have to have massive budgets to start. Look outside traditional options and for the ability to have a pragmatic, flexible approach that can be easily evolved.
Doug Chapman, Razorfish managing director
Definitely the big bets for 2015 are analytics and personalisation. We are about to turn a corner in this space and it will forever change the digital marketing landscape. The merging and automation capabilities that will emerge over the next few years will not only impact clients and their approach to marketing, but it will change the landscape for the major partners in this space like media agencies and digital agencies.
The platforms open up enormous possibilities for clients who have the scale and desire for self-management in this area. It will change the types of people that are recruited into marketing in the future and it will spurn whole new marketing industries more focused on consulting and technical expertise.
Tim O’Neill, Reactive managing director
At Reactive, we’re seeing a single unifying trend: Marketers are being charged with responsibility for the customer experience, not just reaching new customers. We’re strong advocates for looking at digital marketing in the wider context: What other touchpoints (digital or otherwise) has the customer experienced, and how can we optimise each for success using the technology we have available to us?
By looking at a customer holistically, we can have greater influence over the acquisition of a new customer, or providing better service for an existing one. We can also build a much more sophisticated view of our customers, by also treating analytics holistically and creating a single-view of customer data.
A few years ago, this was technically a major challenge, however new technology platforms like those from Sitecore and Adobe also have a focus on delivering fantastic customer experiences, rather than simply managing content on a website, or distributing a display advertising campaign.
David Pountney, DT managing partner
One of the benefits of this recent consolidation is a more centralised view of customer behaviour across touch points. As such, cross-channel marketing automation platforms will continue to play an increasingly important role for marketers in 2015 and beyond.
After all, it’s not how big your data is that matters, it’s what you do with it. The new wave of marketing automation platforms will drive greater returns from digital marketing investment than ever before and should be a competitive advantage for marketers who leverage them in 2015.