CONTEMPORARY DIGITAL MARKETING: A SNAPSHOT
A recent study conducted for Altimeter by leading analyst Omar Akhtar examines the key practices (strategies, channels & practices) being used to achieve digital marketing excellence. Altimeter is a research and consulting firm who published the report with the intention of helping the industry make progress, guided by the principle of Open Research.
The V5 Digital team is constantly on the lookout for ways to leverage disruptive technologies. It’s this desire to consistently make strides forward which aligns the Windhoek-based Digital Thought Leaders with San Francisco’s Altimeter Group. Now in its fifth year, Altimeter’s “The State of Digital Marketing” is a highly regarded paper, based on a survey of over 500 senior digital marketers in North America, Europe and China.
The most valued indicator of the success of digital marketing efforts is customer loyalty or customer lifetime value (CLV), followed by direct revenue. This suggests that one of the primary ways digital marketers can move beyond brand awareness is by understanding how to use technologies and practices – like e-commerce - that have a more palpable impact on the bottom line.
Despite it’s geographic focus, the paper holds many insights that are applicable to marketers in Africa. It is these key insights that will be pulled out for the purpose of this article.
While many companies can transform digitally in some way – typically shifting certain functions or channels to digital - most battle with achieving transformation throughout the rest of the organisation. The underlying reasons for this are the challenges around finding talent with the necessary digital skills and being able to successfully scale innovation across all aspects of the business.
The biggest gaps in talent appear to be in data analysis and tech expertise – especially around marketing automation software expertise. These areas are desirable and valuable because they allow for more data-driven targeting and personalisation, customer segmentation and analysis, campaign performance tracking, and they drive the testing and learning processes. User Experience (UX) design and coding are also near the top of the list.
However, the study showed that traditional marketing skills such as video editing and content writing and editing, are still in healthy demand. SEO and paid media expertise have moved to the bottom of the list, probably because in the markets where this study was conducted many of the tasks related to those processes have been automated.
MEASURING DIGITAL MARKETING SUCCESS
The most valued indicator of the success of digital marketing efforts is customer loyalty or customer lifetime value (CLV), followed by direct revenue. This suggests that one of the primary ways digital marketers can move beyond brand awareness is by understanding how to use technologies and practices – like ecommerce - that have a more palpable impact on the bottom line.
Traditional marketing segments customer groups predominantly by demographics and psychographics, whereas digital marketers focus more on behavioural segmentation. This allows digital marketers to focus on personalising content for different audiences.
The study found that marketers who emphasise traditional goals like brand awareness are also more likely to focus on traditional data (demographic), which may inhibit them from tackling other vital success metrics, like customer loyalty.
DIGITAL CUSTOMER JOURNEYS
A whopping 90% of respondents said they have or were busy implementing customer journey mapping. Sophisticated digital marketers increasingly map multi-channel digital customer journeys. Due to the variety of consumers marketing typically needs to address, we have seen the rise of content customisation frameworks that indicate what content will be delivered at different touchpoints to each different audience segment.
Testing is a major indication of the sophistication of one’s digital marketing efforts. The majority of participants in the Altimeter survey stated that they conduct three to five tests a month, while the next largest group expressed that they do multivariate testing more than ten times a month.
Testing leads to learning, which is then used to optimise content or experiences at different points of the customer journey so that marketers can optimise formats, offers and messaging. This has become a key function of the strategic planning required of digital marketers.
TOP PERFORMING CHANNELS
It’s no surprise that respondents expressed that websites are close to being their top performing channel, since consumers who visits websites already have high intent by the time they click through to a website. What is surprising is that social media beats websites. On the other end of the spectrum, email marketing is bottom of the list, probably because the influx of emails the average person receives dilutes their impact.
Interestingly, where companies expressed that Customer Lifetime Value was their primary concern, email featured far more highly. This suggests that email should be used for post-purchase communications, rather than brand awareness.
80% of respondents said their company engages in real-time personalisation on their digital channels. This means that if you book a skiing holiday, for instance, a travel company might change the background on their website to images of skiing while you browse. Much more widespread is the use of web and social analytics platforms to deliver personalised content and experiences. However, the shift toward personalisation is evident in the fact that marketers specified that it is their top priority for future initiatives.
DIGITAL MARKETING PLATFORM VENDORS
The four major enterprise marketing platforms are Salesforce, Adobe, Oracle and IBM, which together hold 86% market share. Salesforce beats out the competition as the preferred solution. This is likely because Salesforce scores highly across the board, for achieving brand awareness, CLV and customer experience.
The biggest challenge facing digital marketers when it comes to using marketing platforms is pulling data from across the varied systems they use to facilitate consistent, pertinent customer experiences.
THE NEXT BIG THING
What’s the next big thing in digital marketing? The Altimeter study shows that the most-used tech innovations are:
1. Blended digital and physical experiences that enable and personalise in-store experiences and data capture
2. Voice or smart assistant technologies
3. Machine learning
The study also reveals the next next big thing, since participants divulged which new technologies they are planning to use in the next eighteen months. Topping that list is augmented and virtual reality, followed by the Internet of Things.
THE STATE OF YOUR DIGITAL MARKETING
If you’re a digital marketer or you have a company that is looking to up its digital game, hopefully you have found inspiration in this snapshot of the global landscape. In particular, understanding the multiple business goals that digital marketers can work toward – beyond brand awareness – means that attention can shift toward investing in practices and technologies that further those goals, such as e-commerce and CLV.
V5 digital, one of the leading digital marketing agencies in Windhoek, Namibia, can assist you on your digital journey by understanding your unique digital business needs. Whether that involves helping you to use digital to sell your products or services online, or connecting with your customers on social media, V5 Digital specialises in crafting fine-tuned, clear, agile digital strategies to help your business succeed.
Don’t hesitate to contact V5 Digital for a free assessment or to help you decide whether investing in a digital is the right next step.