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!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Latest Videos

More Videos

Great piece Katja. It will be fascinating to see how the shift in people's perception of value will affect design, products and services ...

Paul Scott

How to design for a speculative future - Customer Design - CMO Australia

Read more

Google collects as much data as it can about you. It would be foolish to believe Google cares about your privacy. I did cut off Google fr...

Phil Davis

ACCC launches fresh legal challenge against Google's consumer data practices for advertising

Read more

“This new logo has been noticed and it replaces a logo no one really knew existed so I’d say it’s abided by the ‘rule’ of brand equity - ...

Lawrence

Brand Australia misses the mark

Read more

IMHO a logo that needs to be explained really doesn't achieve it's purpose.I admit coming to the debate a little late, but has anyone els...

JV_at_lAttitude_in_Cairns

Brand Australia misses the mark

Read more

Hi everyone! Hope you are doing well. I just came across your website and I have to say that your work is really appreciative. Your conte...

Rochie Grey

Will 3D printing be good for retail?

Read more

Blog Posts

How to design for a speculative future

For a while now, I have been following a fabulous design strategy and research colleague, Tatiana Toutikian, a speculative designer. This is someone specialising in calling out near future phenomena, what the various aspects of our future will be, and how the design we create will support it.

Katja Forbes

Managing director of Designit, Australia and New Zealand

The obvious reason Covidsafe failed to get majority takeup

Online identity is a hot topic as more consumers are waking up to how their data is being used. So what does the marketing industry need to do to avoid a complete loss of public trust, in instances such as the COVID-19 tracing app?

Dan Richardson

Head of data, Verizon Media

Brand or product placement?

CMOs are looking to ensure investment decisions in marketing initiatives are good value for money. Yet they are frustrated in understanding the value of product placements within this mix for a very simple reason: Product placements are broadly defined and as a result, mean very different things to different people.

Michael Neale and Dr David Corkindale

University of Adelaide Business School and University of South Australia

Sign in