Guess what? Not every marketing challenge will be solved by digital.
I recently came across a November post by Tom Shapiro on Marketing Profs which did a great job highlighting the current issues CMOs and all senior level marketers need to be thinking about as we head into 2012. While I am in agreement with most of Tom’s points, I have added a number of points in this post to extend the future view to go beyond digital to consider the full spectrum of multichannel marketing.
Marketing has been changing and evolving for many years. To keep up, chief marketing officers (CMOs) need to consistently look into a crystal ball to keep their companies in the spotlight—and ahead of the competition.
Here are five major changes taking shape in 2012:
1. A Return to Strategy
The marketing world has been abuzz about every possible digital marketing tactic in the book, including mobile couponing, augmented reality, “apps” and real-time bidding by digital media exchanges. Many CMOs have become entranced by those bright and shiny digital marketing options. However, the smartest CMOs understand that tactics come and go, and those CMOs are going to be the ones leading a movement back to strategy.
Focus on the right strategy, and you'll develop a winning marketing formula. Yes, digital is important, but how your customers and prospects are engaging with your product or service across channels is the key issue. If they are like me, and pretty much everyone I know in the developed world, there is more to our lives than what is on a smart phone or an iPad. We all interact with brands in many ways, and this is what is important to keep in mind when developing the right consumer engagement strategy.
Apple does this almost better than any other brand. Undeniably a leading technology-oriented consumer products company, Apple focuses on what will exceed the customer’s expectations, time and time again. Then they apply tactics to reach the goal of customer going “wow.” Whether you visit their site, watch an ad, go to an Apple store, get a new iPhone in the mail, the customer experience is clearly front and center and that is a big part of how they differentiate. Sure, they have great products; however, it is the seamless customer experience across all these channels that elevates them beyond providing simply great or amazing tech devices.
2. Channel Integration
Integrating all the marketing channels in a smart, data-driven way is probably the largest single operational challenge CMOs face today. Now that strategy is set, how do you balance all of the right tactics to reach your objectives, and measure the results?
Today, we still talk about mobile, social, search, video, email, and display marketing as if they're in silos. What about the other customer touchpoints that exist such as mail, store, call centers, etc.? In 2012, expect to see massive integration of these areas.
Many of our clients are working towards a customer experience journey and refining a road map of how they plan to engage with customers before, during and after the sales process.
3. Vertical Integration
Every industry has its favorite marketing "Hot List," which typically comprises piecemeal items. In 2012, we're going to see more comprehensive vertical solutions rather than individual tools.
For example, within the automotive market there is a great deal of excitement surrounding Facebook, Twitter, Google Places, Foursquare, third-party sites research sites like Edmunds.com, and other tools. But marketers at these car companies have hectic schedules and lack the time to manage those individual platforms, and they need solutions that go beyond mere lead generation and aggregation. They need to be able to integrate their marketing with supply-side lead capture, buyer-side lead capture, and customer-relationship-management activities.
Expect the rate of vertical-specific integration to accelerate, making it easier and more effective for professionals across a range of industries to generate results via streamlined digital marketing initiatives.
4. Offline-Online Integration
Now this is something we have written about for a while now. When was the last time you walked into a store and people around you weren't holding smart phones? Years ago, right?
Get ready. You're going to need to understand that each customer's day is a zig-zag experience through the online and offline worlds. Customers no longer have simply offline or simply online experiences; they have integrated brand experiences.
In the future, you should assume that customers will be checking their smart phones while in your store and that they'll be reading print magazines in hard copy and on their laptops or tablets. You should expect that your billboard will lead prospective customers to the destination website, Facebook page, or customized QR code experience.
But offline-online integration requires consistency. For example, a Fortune 500 retailer was conducting its holiday marketing campaign with different messaging and promotions in every marketing channel, including its website, community site, social properties, online display ads, weekly circulars, TV ads, email blasts, and in-store displays. But customers were experiencing a disconnect. The different messages in each marketing vehicle confused consumers.
It's not surprising that the retailer can't seem to produce breakout results even though it has the financial resources to do so: After all, they weren't using proper marketing integration.
In 2012, those that strive to effectively integrate offline and online will reap the most significant marketing gains.
5. Multiplatform Marketing = Multichannel Marketing
Today, when segmenting, as marketers we look at smart phones, tablets, laptops, and desktops. Every day we see more articles about a cool new mobile or iPad campaign. The reality is that we're already a multiplatform society and consumers have been multichannel for decades. Many of us use a smart phone and a laptop concurrently, or a smart phone and a tablet, or a tablet and a desktop, even while watching TV or reading a magazine.
Some 86% of mobile Internet users are using their mobile devices while watching TV. During this year's Super Bowl and Grammy Awards, 17,000 tweets were generated per minute. It's not that digital marketing in 2012 will need to factor in the multiscreen experience. Digital marketing in 2012 will need to be a multiscreen and multichannel experience. Marketing needs to be multichannel, since the richest experiences life has to offer are out there beyond the screen!
Get ready for the future of marketing, and get your strategic, integrated, multiplatform marketing plans in shape. The digital and multichannel landscape is changing fast, and the insightful CMOs who adapt their marketing efforts to those changes will be successful in 2012.