Traditionally, companies have seen digital as just another marketing channel, isolated from operations, with these two areas never to interfere with each other. In truth, any good business runs as a holistic entity, and no one area can survive without the other. Digital should be at the core of the business, making operations run more efficiently while helping marketing to connect with consumers in more creative ways.
The best strategies should use creativity to solve an array of business challenges, from brand awareness, brand retention, deeper relationships with customers and operational efficiency, and using data to make educated business decisions.
According to the State of Marketing survey by Salesforce, on average, marketing leaders today say 34% of their budget is spent on channels they didn’t know existed five years ago — and they expect that to reach 40% by 2019.
For instance, over the past two years, mobile apps have grown by 161% in business-to-business marketing and 103% in the business-to-consumer space. Video advertising in B2B has grown by 204% while 141% in B2C.
The survey notes an explosion in channels such as video advertising, SMS, mobile apps, and native advertising/sponsored content, with proven channels such as emailers being used in conjunction with these.
Other channels included in the survey were websites, mobile (e.g., SMS, push notifications), social media marketing, display/banner ads, advertising on social platforms, organic search, paid search, and native advertising/sponsored content.
Channel discussions should focus more on “how” than “how many”
Over the past 12–18 months, 63% of all marketers say their companies have become more focused on expanding marketing efforts across channels and devices.
However, the survey advises that channel discussions should focus more on “how” than “how many”, which means being driven by customer journeys and paying special attention on coordinating marketing across channels, not just how many channels they touch.
The survey found that the best performing marketing strategies are 13 times more likely than underperformers to heavily coordinate their marketing efforts across these channels.
Marketers need to move away from the notion that that “digital” is for marketing purposes only while robust tech solutions or data driven interactions are for to business challenges only. The perception is that digital media such as social media is limited to the creative environment of marketing and advertising, while enterprise tech solutions such as order, billing, and delivery systems belong to the business world of finance and engineering.
Instead of developing systems that reflect the business units responsible for them, the various tools need to be integrated into a seamless user experience from the initial experience of gaining awareness about a brand or offer, to placing an order, to tracking and all the way to delivery and after-sales service, regardless of the industry.
More integration of marketing and core business functionality
Creative messages should be developed so that they are reinforced at every touch point and user experience, internally and externally. So, a consumer, supplier and employee should all recognise the same brand characteristics as they shift from one ecosystem to another.
Globally, advertising groups such as WPP, Omnicom and Publicis are scrambling to protect their market share, not just from each other, but from emerging competition from business consultancies such as Accenture, PwC and Deloitte.
Digital transformation has brought with it a major shift in thinking away from the traditional view that advertising and communication agencies only deal with marketing issues, while consultancies are left to deal with business challenges.
Clients are looking for more integration of marketing and core business functionality and agencies are working hard to augment their existing creative offerings with new functionality such as data analytics tools, user experience solutions and business consultancy capabilities. In turn, consultancies are building creative capabilities through companies such as Accenture Interactive, PwC Digital Services, IBM iX and Deloitte Digital, leveraging off their established enterprise-wide consultancy businesses.
A time will come when emerging agencies, as a matter of pure necessity and to save themselves the pain of late adoption, will need to offer these cross-functional capabilities from the start.