State of the digital marketer

As the pace of change and innovation in digital technologies continues to pick up, we’re seeing businesses constantly trying to make themselves stand out

Teamed up with the high expectations of connected consumers, the importance of establishing your brand in the digital world is a top priority for many. It is this increasingly digital nature that has been the catalyst for propelling marketing into an even more elevated role within organisations, making it now unusual for digital marketing to be treated as its own silo.

Recent research that we carried out among marketers in Europe found that more than two thirds (68 per cent) believe marketing has changed more in the last two years than in the previous 50 and half expect their own roles to change in the next year. The key driver behind this is digital. A further survey focused on UK marketers found 43 per cent now believe more than half their mar­ket­ing activ­ity is dig­i­tal, a sub­stan­tial 60 per cent increase over the 2013 fig­ure. In addi­tion, dig­i­tal skills are now seen as cen­tral to almost all mar­ket­ing posi­tions with 92 per cent stat­ing they are impor­tant, includ­ing 99 per cent of C-level executives.

With digital now a focus, marketing departments are facing huge pressure from the business to bring more “visionary” thinking to the table to position their brand ahead of the competition. While creative ability will always be important, modern marketers must now combine this with analytical know-how to come up with smart and successful ideas. It is important that marketers feel more comfortable with these changes and, with the help of technology, training and direct experience, we’re already seeing marketers tackle these challenges head-on, with 84 per cent having some level of con­fi­dence in their dig­i­tal skills.

As we move further into 2015, it is clear that the opportunities for marketers have never been greater. At Adobe, we’ve continued to see customer experience take centre stage as more companies realise how crucial it is, not just for differentiation against competitors, but for survival in an unforgiving business world.

This was reflected in our Digital Intelligence Briefing: Digital Trends for 2015, which revealed that more than one in five marketers believe customer experience to be the single most exciting opportunity this year. While creating an excellent customer experience can be a complex process, the positive response and dedication to using it as a point of differentiation bodes well as it shows companies commitment to customer experience for the long term.

There are some fundamentals for every customer-experience-focused company. Firstly, the experience needs to be consistent whatever the device. Secondly, taking speed and safety into consideration. And lastly mobile. The emphasis on getting these right coincides with meeting rising consumer expectations.  As a result we’ve seen brands increase their focus on customer satisfaction at every touch point during a customer’s journey in an attempt to foster loyalty and create memorable experiences, which in turn help them reach the ultimate goal – impacting sales conversation and therefore the bottom line.

While the potential impact of customer experience cannot be disputed, mobile is in many cases the channel that enables many other initiatives. We have seen the “year of mobile” come and go, with many of the new innovations in digital marketing centred on developing intimate relationships with the customer.

To truly maximise opportunities around customer experience, personalisation and geo-targeting technology, mobile should be seen as ‘business as usual’, rather than an optional capability

But it is important to realise that mobile’s relevance has actually increased. Smartphone and tablet adoption continues to drive how brands engage with customers and, in order to make the most of it in today’s environment, mobile should be a core competence that can be built upon rather than a standalone special feature. The development of geo-targeting technology is a perfect example of this, signposting a new era in mobile with 13 per cent of marketers planning on using geo-targeting in the next year.

In order to truly maximise opportunities around customer experience, personalisation and geo-targeting technology, mobile should be seen as “business as usual”, rather than an optional capability.

Another key trend for this year is the way that businesses are now approaching personalisation. The more enlight­ened busi­nesses are think­ing of per­son­al­i­sa­tion across the whole cus­tomer jour­ney rather than in a par­tic­u­lar mar­ket­ing silo, with our statistics showing that two in five (38 per cent) organisations agree that omnichannel personalisation will become a reality during 2015.

As mobile continues to gain scale, it becomes more impor­tant to offer the mul­ti­chan­nel cus­tomer an omnicross chan­nel expe­ri­ence through per­son­al­i­sa­tion and tar­get­ing on dif­fer­ent plat­forms and chan­nels. The fact is per­son­al­i­sa­tion is all about cus­tomer expe­ri­ence. When you give peo­ple exactly what they need and when they need it, on what­ever chan­nel they are on, they are going to love you. It doesn’t get much more emo­tional than that.

Our trends report found the emergence of targeting and personalisation (30 per cent) to be the highest digital-related priority area, narrowly ahead of content optimisation (29 per cent). The technology has long been available for marketers to target optimised content at website prospects and customers across the right mix of channels in a way which is timely and highly relevant to their implicit and explicit needs.

Nonetheless, personalisation is one of the opportunities that will be more exciting to marketers in 2019 than in 2015, alongside big data, multichannel campaign management, marketing automation and location-based services. Right now, the next step for many is execution, pulling together mobile, content, data and the various other building blocks and deploying them in a harmonious fashion.

A well thought-out approach is becoming even more important in a world where mobile devices and wearable technology mean that the digital and physical worlds are no longer separate.  We’re all living in a digital economy, and it is those marketers who are brave enough to bring something new to the table and demonstrate their value to consumers who will ultimately be rewarded.

Adobe research used in this article includes:

MOBILE APP MANDATE

Mark Phibbs

Q&A with Mark Phibbs, vice president, Europe, Middle East and Africa marketing, Adobe

Q. How can brands reinvent themselves for the mobile-first era?

A. There’s never been a more creative or exciting time in mobile marketing. The complex and rapidly changing mobile ecosystem means new opportunities for those ready to take them. Mobile apps are emerging as the champions in the digital world, attracting more loyal and more active customers than the mobile web. They are also the gateway to new innovations such as iBeacons, mobile wallets and wearables. Put simply, brands must not only think mobile first, but mobile apps first.

Q. What is the best approach to build and manage a successful mobile app?

A. Building a great app experience remains a mystery for many brands and it’s not difficult to see why. Managing the complete app life cycle, from app development and user acquisition to analytics and user engagement, is a complex process with a vast array of mobile tools and skills required. To go from concept to success without the hassle, brands must get rid of disjointed point solutions and implement a fully integrated mobile platform.

Q. How do you acquire users? And how do you keep them engaged?

A. Brands can connect with the right audiences by using data-driven mobile marketing technology. But acquiring new users is only the beginning and the first month is a critical time to really win them over. Brands must consider what special messaging will they provide to retain and gain their loyalty? What app features do they need to introduce to new users? How can they make their customer service team available if customers experience frustration, confusion or simply have first-time user questions? Contextually relevant experiences and promotions are crucial. Loyalty-building needs to continue beyond the first month with an ongoing engagement plan that includes push messaging, in-app messaging and geo-location tactics.

Adobe’s fully integrated mobile platform is the most complete solution in the industry and the first of its kind

Q. What can you find out about your customers from their mobile app engagements?

A. You need to understand customers’ in-app behaviour to understand fully the digital customer journey. With analytics tools, brands can get a deep understanding of how consumers are using their apps, allowing them to engage mobile audiences across a variety of channels. Knowing how users got to download the app, how frequently they launch it and paths they take will help brands to offer services to help, not hinder, their journey.

Q. What is in-app messaging and how can it engage users?

A. In-app messaging could be anything from targeted product suggestions, serving up relevant videos, or in-store welcome messages triggered by iBeacons. To make sure messages engage users, it is crucial the tone is helpful and the content is relevant.

Q. What are the possibilities for mobile apps connected to iBeacons?

A. The iBeacon’s accuracy is exciting for innovative brands ready to push the mobile limits. There are already some great examples for how mobile apps connected to iBeacons have been used to improve the customer experience in sports stadiums, retail stores and points of interest, whether that is exclusive content or “local” app notifications based on the consumer’s proximity to an iBeacon. The main challenge for brands is to communicate the value of “opting in” for push notifications, essentially giving permission to engage with them.

Q. What technology will help brands build and manage their apps?

A. Adobe’s fully integrated mobile platform is the most complete solution in the industry and the first of its kind. It is designed to eliminate enterprises’ dependence on an array of disjointed point solutions, instead offering the choice of using an integrated approach for developing and managing apps. It dramatically simplifies the highly fragmented app development process, making it simple to build and iterate on apps to maximise app customer engagement.