As we turn the page on the many marketing evolutions that came to light during 2014, it’s only natural to look toward 2015 with renewed optimism. January is renowned for fresh starts and new beginnings, and I know many marketers who are eager to dig into upcoming first quarter initiatives. But before you roll up your sleeves and launch new projects, let me interject one quick word of caution: There’s no sense in making changes just because you feel the urge to mix things up. If you want to be the most effective, take the time to reflect on last year’s wins and losses, and then figure out which changes will likely have the most impact in the year ahead.
To help you get started, I asked a few of my Teradata Interactive colleagues to tell me where they think digital marketing is headed in 2015. These pros work daily alongside global brand marketers, and they answered this question: “How can digital marketers make 2015 their most successful year ever?”
Focus on engagement
“In 2015, you need to focus on overall engagement. Marketers tend to get bogged down too much in a click or a visit or an impression. But if you build behavioral models that track attribution over multiple touch points, you’ll start to see patterns about how and when your customers want to engage, as well as what devices they’re using. Mobile devices have changed forever how people engage with brands, so you need to start thinking about how interruptive messaging (SMS, email on mobile, push and banners), active messaging (search, email on desktop, landing pages) and more traditional brand messaging work together to drive action. To really make digital channels work, you need to look at the data differently. Your customers are telling you what they want. Are you listening?”
Sean Shoffstall, Vice President Innovation & Strategy
“The pace of change in the digital arena is breathtaking and demands that you take a song from your IT software development team’s playlist: “Go Agile!” Agile marketing focuses on adaptive plans and continual development, and it allows for quick changes or improvements enabled by analytics tools. This type of short-term planning allows change to the strategy so businesses can adapt to unpredictability in the digital arena. If even the thought of agile makes your hair stand on end, small steps with a portion of your strategy will show how it’s a winning move that needs to eventually be rolled out across the organization. For example, take a look at any approaches that originate with direct mail. Many digital marketers have inherited planning methods that look out a year in advance. That strategy needs to be updated to be more agile.”
Lila Turner, Director, Digital Success
“2015 is the year to start CONNECTING with your customers, not just broadcasting to them. For too long, the online ecosystem has become a world of persistent billboards that follow people to an inbox or a page anchor on a website. To be successful, you need to truly engage with customers and create/maintain an ongoing data-driven dialogue….and that dialogue must go both ways. Listen to your customers, even when you want the information flow to throttle-back, and understand that 1st party opt-in is quickly becoming the currency of marketing’s future.”
Mark Hodges, Sales Director
Embrace all the data
“Before moving forward in 2015, I recommend that digital marketers actually take a step back to embrace all their data. Wholly cloud-based approaches of the past haven’t been able to, and never will be able to, keep up with the volume and speed of the data in the enterprise. Whether you’re dealing with sensor data in a sports stadium or real-time point-of-sale data at a brick-and-mortar retailer, you simply cannot move those high volumes of data to the cloud in a timely manner to engage the customer in a meaningful conversation. So, recognize that you must embrace your IT partners, maintain access to all data locally, and only move to the cloud the data that is required to drive conversations. Sending one billion emails is easy. Tying one billion emails into all your data and making it actionable is what’s hard.”
Andrew Downie, Digital Messaging Solutions Consultant
Prove it with data-driven processes
“All too often, marketers institute highly complex strategies without the data to back them up. In 2015, marketers, in general – and especially those in the digital space –need to focus on data driven marketing, i.e., building data-driven processes that actually prove their strategy through consistent analysis and optimization across channels. As the omni-channel integrated marketing landscape continues to grow, the key will be to understand and quantify what truly influences a consumer to take the action desired. Even an email that’s not opened could very well be more effective than you might think – provided the engagement with the customer is truly a connection, thus acting as a requested reminder to convert via another channel, say the web. We all need to break our mentality of analyzing channels in silos via antiquated methods. Build a model of data consumption, and never stop challenging it. If you ‘do what we’ve always done,’ you’ll be left in the dust in 2015.”
Lucas Mays, Director, Implementation & Architecture
These are all great insights to consider, and I’d like to add my own, as well. As I see it, digital marketers are facing some tough decisions in 2015. Given the explosion of data and the prevalence of 24/7 channels, many are failing to deliver the one-to-one marketing that we all know is critical to customer engagement and loyalty. The necessary digital marketing talent is often hard to come by, and internal relationships with IT are difficult to develop and maintain. Going forward, the most successful digital marketing professionals will overcome these two challenges by carefully evaluating internal strengths, and then looking beyond existing in-house resources for help to fill the gaps in both talent and tools. This year I predict we’ll see more blending of tactical internal marketing organizations with external digital strategists, both backed by integrated data/communication tools to get the job done.
Here’s to making 2015 a digital marketing success!