The state of digital marketing 2016

min read

Has “digital marketing” become just “marketing”? The evidence is out there: don't treat online marketing with respect and you are on the verge of failure.

The State of Digital Marketing 2016

The term “digital marketing” has been around since the 1990s. Its journey has been a long one: from a buzzword to mainstream, but nowadays it’s a top priority for marketers everywhere. The findings of the Gartner's 2015-2016 Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Spend Survey show that 98 percent of marketers think that offline and online marketing are merging.

"There is little doubt that digital marketing is now mainstream," said Yvonne Genovese, group vice president at Gartner. "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." 

So why is this happening now?

Short answer: Convergence.

Long answer: Machine learning has become smarter and hence the ability to provide better personalization and improved customer experiences now falls within the reach of every marketer. In addition, more emphasis has been put on developing high quality, relevant content. The mobile revolution has meant that on average consumers now use at least three devices each and interact with multiple channels daily. All this provides more data to marketers and a greater opportunity for engagement. Big data is a big challenge: consolidating data into one place and figuring out which channel to use, at what time, and with what message is key. It’s not rocket science, but in essence the more data marketers have about a potential customer, the more relevant and valuable the content they can offer. The result is immensely improved engagement and retention.

All this together is why marketers can no longer rely solely on email. Content, social media, demonstrations and other interactive apps and tools need to come together and be thought of as one. Before ever asking a visitor to register on a landing page, marketers should engage with them until a level of value and trust has been established. Marketers need to allow machines to take on routine tasks so that they free to spend more time on marketing messaging, better consumer insights and thinking through the customer journey.

Ad blocking as an inspiration

Apple has also joined the war on interruptive ads and over recent months the prevalence of ad blocking has forced marketers to focus their efforts on other channels. Whether 2016 will be the end of inline display ads is yet to be decided, but with consumers rejecting this approach brands are being forced to shift to social media, mobile apps and influencer campaigns.

New platforms are taking over

There’s a new player on the field and it’s the messaging platform. Apps such as WhatsApp and SnapChat are trying dominate over social media. The use of one-to-one messaging is soaring and Facebook should be worried as less and less people are posting on “traditional” social platforms. The challenge for marketers is to find an authentic way to use these new tools and position their brands without being overly pushy.

Marketing automation for everyone

Let’s focus on B2B and everyone’s new favorite tool: marketing automation! North America has seen the adoption of marketing automation soar in recent years, and no marketer worth their salt would be trying to run campaigns without having decent analytics to back them up.

Thankfully we are finally seeing this trend repeated in Europe now too, and marketers are learning the value and importance of utilizing automation: it allows you keep your team small, save time on daily tasks, improve productivity, and measure results. It brings marketing and sales together. From scheduling emails, automating social media posts, and managing content, to segmenting contacts; automation helps you exceed your revenue expectations and generate more and better qualified leads.

No elections needed: Content is still the king

Whether you are delivering personalized content, establishing your expertise and authority, or telling stories that speak to customers directly, content is at the center. Modern cross-channel strategies require the production of optimized content in varying formats while remaining consistent to the brand. Of course, engagement data should be tracked to improve personalization and to ensure that the content you are producing is the content that your visitors want.

Mobile: Are we there yet?

It seems as though every year for the past decade or more has been “the year of mobile”. Each year we read how mobile is exploding and how important it has become. This year, Google finally gave us some concrete data by announcing that mobile users have surpassed desktop users. They also rolled out an algorithm change which forces organizations to optimize their sites for mobile or let their rankings suffer. So if you haven’t already, don’t forget to include a section in your strategy for mobile marketing.

So has “digital marketing” really become just “marketing”? In essence we believe so. The evidence is out there and in our eyes any organization that does not treat its online marketing channels with equal or greater respect than its offline ones is on the verge of failure. What do you think?