MarketingSherpa: What digital marketing challenges and/or opportunities you have seen in the past year?
Eric Fahey, Mintel: The biggest digital challenge we hear from clients usually stems from marketing silos — both organizationally and from a data perspective.
Organizationally we see siloed teams aligned around specific channels or products that primarily focus on their own KPIs. And why wouldn’t they? That is how the team’s success is defined. Thinking about the entire marketing journey of the customer isn’t as relevant as the sprint around that week’s projects.
On the data side, we find disparate sources coming from all directions. Marketers have CRM and bid management tools, Web analytics platforms, email campaign tools, DSPs, in-store POS systems — it’s overwhelming.
This all adds up to multiple teams and data sources, and no one knows how to talk to each other. Trying to coordinate your customers’ digital experiences across all these silos and channels isn’t a challenge; it’s an impossible task.
MarketingSherpa: What is an organization’s most valuable asset in digital marketing?
Eric Fahey, Mintel: I think the most valuable asset has to be mobile. Where mobile used to be a "nice to have" part of the marketing strategy, it’s now a "need to have" in digital.
The tremendous value of a mobile-first strategy comes down to the customer. Consumers engage with brands through each and every one of the devices they use. They have more ways than ever to interact with brands, and marketers need to ensure every interaction is mobile optimized if they want to not only retain customers and keep them happy, but earn new followers as well.
MarketingSherpa: How can marketers use digital to be customer-centric?
Eric Fahey, Mintel: Every digital touchpoint is a signal that helps marketers know their customers better. The more marketers understand where customers are coming from, the more they can deliver with every engagement.
I hear more and more from Mintel clients about the customer journey. Unfortunately, many haven’t started walking the [walk] yet. The mindset is there, and hopefully an evolution in how digital strategies are built will soon follow.
The frustrating thing is that the answers are already there for most companies. The digital path is complex but it doesn’t have to be difficult. It really does boil down to deconstructing silos to view the customer journey from an omni-channel perspective and properly leverage the data already available. The more companies can get their teams and data together as one, the easier it will be to put the customer at the center of everything.
MarketingSherpa: What was your big picture takeaway from digital marketing this year?
Eric Fahey, Mintel: Not just in digital marketing but in business as a whole, I think the conversation has evolved from trying to gauge the enormity of “big data” and how to implement it. The conversation now is how to use and analyze it effectively. How can marketers use predictive analytics — and even prescriptive analytics — to not only drive strategy, but custom tailor every digital interaction with customers? Then, how can marketers automate all of this to make processes more efficient?
How well companies can answer these questions as we move forward through 2016 and beyond will define their success.
MarketingSherpa: What are some tactics organizations should be implementing in their digital marketing in the future?
Eric Fahey, Mintel: I know email marketing isn’t the trendiest part of digital, but it’s still the bread and butter of most teams in terms of ROI, and it is not a static medium. Marketers need to keep focus on this channel and continue to evolve with the channel.
One of the more exciting developments I’ve seen in email is machine-generated marketing language. Platforms that use algorithms to generate custom content for every segment, essentially taking the guesswork out of copywriting. This includes subject lines and email body content down to the landing pages of the CTA. Companies using this technology are not only seeing considerable lift in their email performance metrics, [but] they are speaking to customers in the way customers want to be spoken to. Increases in efficiency and performance while putting the customers at the center — it’s a win all the way around.
MarketingSherpa: What are some trends that you see coming up in digital marketing?
Eric Fahey, Mintel: One thing I’m keeping an eye on is the world of online ads and ad blocking technology. Some of the recent estimates have online ad revenue at $513 billion globally in 2015. At the same time, we have ad blocking penetration on the cusp of taking another jump, while companies with big pocketbooks are negotiating with ad blockers to get whitelisted. We’re also seeing investment in native advertising taking off across the board. There’s so much at stake for every part of this ecosystem, and how it plays out for all parties in 2016 will be very interesting.
Mintel is a Gold Sponsor of MarketingSherpa Summit 2016. To learn more about their solution, visit their website or stop by Booth #404 in the Solutions District at #SHERPA16.