In our collective world of marketing, digital is the other shoe that’s dropped but hasn’t yet found the floor. Econsultancy’s insightful 2015 survey of digital trends finds that 43% of brand respondents say digital permeates most of their marketing programs. At the same time, though, only 14% dared to describe themselves as “digital-first.”
If, like me, you’re hoping to see brand marketers take excitingly divergent marketing approaches rather than more repetition of the same, you’ll be pleased to know that the percentage of respondents who say they will experiment heavily with digital over the next year has gone up, from 64% in the previous year to 69% this year. The areas most commonly cited where respondents look to set up their mad science marketing labs are social, mobile, content, and personalization. With luck we’ll see new possibilities emerge from this experimentation, which will expand every marketer’s playbook into the future.
With Econsultancy’s survey results providing the cold hard numbers, here are three marketing areas to keep a close eye on for the rest of 2015 (and beyond), whether you’re a brand or an agency:
- Today’s emerging experience is tomorrow’s normal, and that’s good
That which is futuristic is also fleeting, and smart experiential marketers know it. Just like how your first cell phone blew your mind but now a smartphone is garbage if Siri spells your tweet wrong, those technological marketing experiences that wowed customers and instantly associated a brand with the bleeding edge a few brief years ago are now passé.
A case in point worth discussing: geo-targeting technology and its relationship with mobile acceptance. Apple brought us iBeacon in 2013, offering brands a host of exciting Bluetooth low energy (BLE) applications. When implemented, this technology allows marketers to communicate with customers as individuals in the intimate space of their phone screens, based on where they are (in a retail store aisle, near a display, etc.). According to the survey, only 11% of retail companies that responded are currently using this technology, with another 13% planning to in the next year. But a full 40% say they are currently exploring the technology.
Geo-targeting technology can increase brand loyalty, retention, and sales value per customer, offering a conduit for engaging and upselling customers without retail staff even needing to do anything. For this dynamic to become commonplace, it will actually need to become less exciting and more of a ho-hum fundamental of the customer experience. This is the nature of new digital technology that crosses over: consider again how mobile phones have advanced from exciting and rare to being standard in everyone’s pocket. Their reliable, boring presence has made mobile more relevant than ever before. It just happens that mobile being the norm is the foundation of marketing with geo-targeting technology. The normalcy this technology will achieve in time will allow customers to see geo-targeting not as an optional stunt but as a standard value-add of in-store shopping.
- What clients want is not always what agencies think they want
While 29% of brands report content optimization as a top-three priority in 2015, only 23% of agencies say the same. In general, agency respondents selected more forward-looking and emerging areas as their priorities, while the brands that are their clients tend to prefer focusing on what’s working the best right now.
The focus on content optimization also saw a veritable gulf between B2B and B2C marketers, with 40% of B2B marketers naming it a top priority versus only 24% of B2C marketers. B2B marketing is seeing a trend towards inbound marketing, where content delivers leads, placing more value on optimized content than you get with the outbound marketing more common of B2C marketers.
What nearly every brand can agree on –at least 70% of brands surveyed– is the high importance of clearly understood customer journeys, the consistency of message and customer experience across channels. Both agencies and their clients know that consumer expectations are rising, and understanding their journeys as they interact with a brand and make purchases is the key to delivering the consistency and quality of experiences they demand.
- ROI is HTM? (hard to measure)
While ROI is what it’s all about, the majority of survey respondents are finding it hard to say exactly what theirs is. Offline ad spending was found to be most difficult to quantify, with 22% of respondents even reporting they are “not at all confident” in their measures of it. Digital came to the rescue to some degree, with 41%of respondents having high confidence in measurement of their digital ad spend and 42% in their digital marketing measurement.
New technologies that connect offline and online consumer activities, such as the digital marketing methods and the geo-targeting technology mentioned above, add the bonus of better tracking the ROI of their efforts. In the coming year, brands will certainly seek out and evaluate solutions based on the ROI measurement opportunity in addition to their ability to improve or combine with other marketing practices. As nearly 80% of brands vowed, “Our marketing activity will be more measurable in 2015!”