Are digital marketers headed for a wipeout?

New Forrester report suggests technology confusion is rife in the marketing community

Network training

Network and organisation training on the blackboard.

analyse, analysis, analyze, approach, assess, assessment, background, blackboard, blank, business, chalkboard, chart, communication, complex, connect, connected, connection, course, courses, create, creating, data, diagram, different, distribution, flow, flowchart, flowcharts, follow, following, idea, dreamstime

dreamstime_7218230
Network training Network and organisation training on the blackboard. analyse, analysis, analyze, approach, assess, assessment, background, blackboard, blank, business, chalkboard, chart, communication, complex, connect, connected, connection, course, courses, create, creating, data, diagram, different, distribution, flow, flowchart, flowcharts, follow, following, idea, dreamstime dreamstime_7218230

As marketers ride the digital wave to higher salaries, greater roles and bigger budgets, will it all come crashing down? Do marketers really understand the technology that has upended their profession? If they don't improve their digital IQ in a hurry, they're risking a wipeout.

Consider this new Forrester report about marketers, 2015: The Year of the Big Digital Shift, which found swaths of poorly prepared marketers:

"A particularly surprising finding is that despite the increased spending, confidence and future expectations for digital marketing, respondents admitted they don't completely understand today's marketing environment," writes Forrester analyst Jim Nail in the report.

That's no strategy

Time and again, Forrester found a disconnect between a marketer's optimism and reality. For instance, almost two-thirds of marketers claim to have created an effective digital marketing strategy. After pressed, though, more than half admitted that their digital marketing is more tactical than strategic.

This finding in particular mirrors the theme at the MarTech Conference in San Francisco earlier this month. Attendees, mostly techies, lamented a marketer's penchant for making impulsive, tactical decisions. Speakers talked at length about architecting the technology stack and crafting a marketing tech strategy, in order to avoid shadow technology and the dreaded frankenstack.

Nearly everyone in Forrester's marketer survey -- 97 per cent -- agrees measuring digital marketing's impact on business goals, such as revenue growth, is important. Yet only 60 per cent say they're effective at doing so. Marketers face an attribution problem when it comes to their digital investments. For instance, a consumer might conduct an initial product search on a mobile device while waiting for a bus after work, watch an advertisement for the product on television at home, and then execute the order on a tablet at midnight. Each marketing interaction may have played a role in the sale, but it's impossible to tell.

Similarly, everyone -- 96 per cent -- says the idea of "creating digital experiences that will build a stronger relationships between customer and the brand" is a top priority. Yet only 62 per cent rated their firm as effective. Even worse, marketers claiming to be effective are probably overly optimistic. Forrester probed deeper into this group and found that more than half admitted not investing in the technology they need to build these relationships.

The problem is the lack of technology know-how or access to technology expertise. Less than 40 per cent of marketers claiming to be effective at building digital relationships say their marketing and technology teams work well together or that their technology management team has the right skills, Forrester says. The rest have a lot of work to do.

The good news is that investment in marketing tech is on the rise. The marketing budget grew 3.4 per cent last year and should grow 4 per cent this year, Forrester says. Priority investments include mobile, social, search, display advertising and email. The digital marketing budget has caught up to the traditional marketing budget.

Marketers need a little help from their friends

Although marketers face a steep learning curve, they should not attempt to climb it alone, Forrester advises. Marketers should enlist finance colleagues to educate them on measurement tools and building the business case. They should seek the help of CIOs in creating a strategic marketing technology plan and agenda, including a technology requirements list.

"B2C marketing leaders mustn't allow the latest gadget-du-jour to distract them from developing an adequate level of mastery of digital programs that have become essential to their marketing mix," Nail says. "Rather than single-mindedly chasing new opportunities, the time has come to build a stronger foundation of core digital marketing disciplines."

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Blog Posts

Innovations in retail will bring creative and technology closer than ever

While approaching a customer in a shop and asking what you can help them with is Retail 101, how many of us actually enjoy being approached? Generally, you have to give the forced, fake smile and say, “Just browsing, thanks,” while screaming on the inside, “just leave me alone!” Maybe it’s just me?

Jason Dooris

CEO and founder, Atomic 212

There’s a brand in my digital soup

Not a day passes by in the life of business executives where digital innovation or the prospect of disruption is not front of mind. This in turn, drives an unrelenting flow of questioning, discussion and strategy papers.

Jean-Luc Ambrosi

Author, marketer

Can marketers trust agencies again?

Unless you’ve been marketing under a rock, you’ll probably have questioned whether your media agencies are offering you transparency.

Nic Halley

Founder and managing director, Mindbox

Nice post Brad! very useful information. The retail stores are really mean for every brand I am agree with you. Now Online Service Market...

Srialto

The rise of online retail marketplaces and what they mean for brands

Read more

Minor correct Nadia, just wanted to clarify that the "Marketo consultants" that did this work, were actually Hoosh consultants

Fab Capodicasa

What it's taking for Edible Blooms to grow a stronger personalisation strategy

Read more

Im not surprise though, been in the industry for couple of years and I feel and see it with my tow eyes how eCommerce platforms innovated...

Jason Smith

Australia Post earmarks $20m for Australian ecommerce innovation investment

Read more

For marketers that are "going Agile" I recommend using Ravetree. It's a really powerful suite of tools for Agile project management, reso...

Janice Morgan

7 ways to run your marketing department like a software startup

Read more

Over the years very part of our lives has become technological. That’s why I am not surprised to see that Australian home loans are going...

GreatDayTo

Why Aussie Home Loans is embracing digital transformation

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in