Exponentially, over the past five years, there has been a storm surge of new digital marketing channels have emerged, all vaunted as the next greatest-ever digital communications success.
And now is the time, as at the end of another year, when us digital marketers should look forward sagely, and predict what is on the digital marketing horizon for our clients the coming year.
Well, from what I’ve seen so far – and it’s early days yet – what seems to be on offer is, well, more digital marketing technology, such as newer, more shiny social media portals, content marketing programmes, marketing automation systems and multi-channel platforms.
But wasn’t this all predicted for 2013, and thinking about it, 2012? Yes it was, so why are we now predicting the past, and why has nothing seemed to have moved forward?
My view is that while these now not-so-shiny platforms have become technologically mature and established their utilisation in a true global marketing communications context has not. In other words, the digital space has had the capability to develop the technologies, but do not have the consummate skills required to drive them as true marketing communications channels on behalf of clients.
I think what we need here is a little less new technology and a lot more digital marketers with the – perhaps ‘old school’ – marketing communications skills to drive these technologies in order to increase client business performance.
Not only that, but if one looks carefully, these ‘predictions’ portent these technologies as single channel platforms, and generally do not describe these platforms as a part of a greater marketing whole – a closed marcomms loop, designed to lead the potential customer from prospect to engaged advocate.
And this is symptomatic: as an industry, we – digital marketers – seem preoccupied with our technologies, which drown out client sales, marketing and business objectives – and leaving clients with just another ‘business solution,’ but without business advantage.
To me, it is an absolute fact that web design, content and email marketing, social media portals, content marketing programmes, marketing automation systems and multi-channel platforms when populated intelligently and configured effectively by people who know what they are doing, are all powerful elements in global marketing campaigns.
But it seems we need to start using these integrated tools, and stop just predicting what is already in existence and available to us. In short, let’s stop hiding behind these technologies and start driving client campaigns with intelligence and application of humanistic psychology rather than merely propping up each campaign with outdated concepts.
So, I predict that if our credibility is to survive, we need to harness the undoubted raw commercial sales and marketing power of all these fantastic platforms, join up the dots in a well planed and sophisticated end-to-end marketing plan, and start delivering business performance to our clients before they tire of empty predictions.