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Gartner and marketing - just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water

Stuart Lauchlan Profile picture for user slauchlan November 25, 2015
Is digital marketing now mainstream? Gartner thinks so, but then it also thought the CMO would be the lead IT decision maker around about now.

Long-term readers may be familiar with my skepticism/irritation at the propensity of tech providers over the past couple of years to trot out Gartner’s prediction that the CMO would become the real IT decision-maker by well, round about now!

(Met any CMOs who’re getting stuck into an RFP for networking tech or signing off that database upgrade recently? No? Hmmmmm, where can they be?)

Anyway, snark aside, I’ve tended to approach CMO-related studies with caution since then, but my eye was drawn to another one from Gartner which declared body that digital marketing is just marketing these days. In other words, it’s now so mainstream that when you say ‘marketing’, the digital element is presumed.

According to Yvonne Genovese, group vice president at Gartner.:

There is little doubt that digital marketing is now mainstream. Marketers no longer make a clear distinction between offline and online marketing disciplines. As customers opt for digitally-led experiences, digital marketing stops being a discrete discipline and instead becomes the context for all marketing. Digital marketing is now marketing in a digital world.

According to Gartner’s research, 10% of marketers reckon to have moved beyond digital marketing techniques and are expanding marketing's role to create new digitally led business models. Gartner argues:

The blurring of the physical and digital worlds represents opportunities for marketers to apply customer insights to create and test new digitally led experiences and business models.

My response to this is…maybe, but maybe not. Certainly digital marketing is a more mainstream concept on the corporate agenda across certain sectors, such as retail. I note with interest, for example, the comment made by Victor Herrero, CEO at Guess?,the other day when he declared:

I consider digital marketing and social media capability to be critical for interact with our existing customers and gaining new customers.

Over in the food and drink industry, Denise Morrison, CEO at Campbell’s Soups, sees an increasing role for digital in her firm’s marketing strategy:

We're shifting more of our marketing budget to digital channels…we're shifting our spend overall to about 40% of our spend in digital, and that is creating a different dynamic between working and non-working media. With our cost savings efforts, we're trying to be as responsible and efficient as possible in the area of non-working media. When you shift to digital, you're spending a lot of time and expense on content, but TV is just a different dynamic.

In early October, we began airing our new Made for Real, Real Life advertising. Built around the strategic insights we've shared with you about the changing mosaic of the American family, this campaign represents a major departure for Campbell and depicts how our real food fits into real people's lives in an authentic and relatable way. Digital media is playing a larger role in this campaign than in previous efforts.

But not everyone gets it just yet. Another study, this time UK-centric, finds strong indicators that UK businesses at least are not as up-to-the-mark as they should be around digital marketing.

The Digital Marketing Managers Census 2016, from Marin Software, found that:

  • There’s not enough budget being allocated to digital marketing, with 61% of respondents wanting offline spend reallocated to online.
  • Some 49% of all UK adult media consumption is via digital channels, but only 46% of the UK’s £15.7 billion total ad spend goes on digital.
Some 39% of respondents are critical of the heads of marketing, saying that while digital is flagged up as important, their bosses don’t actually understand fully what it means. As such, they don’t allocate the budgets, a complaint made by 62% of respondents.
  • But it’s not all about digital with 68% emphasising that online needs to be better integrated with offline marketing.

That said, there’s also evidence of schisms within the online world with nearly two-thirds of respondents arguing that more attention needs to be paid to integrating different digital marketing tools, such as paid search, social, SEO, and display, into a unified whole.

But given that we go along with Gartner’s thesis to a certain extent and accept that digital marketing is where the spend increases are going to come, what do you need to do to ensure success? Some simple starting points from my own observations:

Do you know your customers and their values? If you don’t then how can you possibly target them effectively? It’s like coming out of your house in the morning to drive to work, getting in the car and saying to yourself ‘I’ll set off and see if I get there!” Chances are that unless you know your destination and the best route to get there, you’re going to end up lost in the middle of nowhere.

Where are your customers on the digital landscape? Once you’ve worked out who your customers are and what their target values are, how can you best reach out to them and via which mechanism? Are they on Facebook? Are they going to find you through search? Is Twitter a viable platform? You need to hunt down your buyers on whatever channel they prefer to use. Don’t follow the herd onto Facebook if that’s not where your customers congregate and engage.

Work out how you’re going to know when you’re winning. If you can’t metricise the results of your digital campaign, then you’re not going to get the return you’re looking for. A lot of traditional marketing has been based on gut instincts. That’s not going to fly in the digital world. What the metrics are will vary from organisation to organisation, but you need some kind of measurement to live by.

Get your content right. Content is king, queen and royal family hangers-on. And content is hard. You’re going to need to drill down on your content creation and content marketing. You have to get this right. You need to understand what your audience wants to read about or hear about, not just decide what it is that you’re going to tell them.

Don’t put all your eggs in the one digital basket. Digital is the direction of travel, but don’t suddenly decide that offline doesn’t matter. For certain customer constituencies, digital may well be less appropriate than traditional offline channels. For customers of a certain age demographic, for example, putting all the budget into mobile marketing may well be a false spend.

My take

Perhaps the most important point to note is that this is an emerging science, not one that’s fully formed. Nobody gets it right all the time, even companies that are digital natives. Take Amazon just this week, whose marketing campaign for its new Amazon Prime series The Man in the High Castle went horribly wrong.

Promoted by an integrated campaign of online and offline advertising, the integrated campaign for the show - about a world in which the Germans/Japanese won World War II (that’s original!) - did fine online. But the offline aspect involved plastering Nazi-style iconography all over the New York subway.

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Not the best idea marketing ever had

Amazon said the show was "high-quality, provocative programming that spurs conversation”. Indeed - just the wrong sort of conversation in this case. Someone's gut instinct didn't kick in on this one!

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