In early 2018, everyone in the digital marketing world is talking about trends from artificial intelligence to personalization to more contextual targeting and the growth of live video. I found many of these posts to be way off from what I experience or where some of these marketing organizations are in adopting anything fundamentally new for their digital marketing practices. Then I stumbled upon a podcast that Mark Schaefer and Mitch Joel did called The Future of the Digital Marketing Agency that was much more practical and realistic and got me thinking more about where digital marketing truly is in the looking glass of adopting the future of digital marketing. From my perspective of a media buying digital agency, there is a different sort of picture being painted. The one I notice more readily inside of the digital marketing agency world, as an obvious next step is a a desire to measure the lifetime value of a client. But, for many of the others on the list of trends, there is still a lot that needs to align in marketing organizations in order for companies across industries and verticals, both big and small to benefit from these forward-thinking ideas. Even when some of these start happening, there will still be a large gap in connecting this to whole industries and across verticals.
Companies in most industries deal with fundamental problems seeing a large number of groups working together to influence a company’s brand including the brand’s online channels integrating with their marketing department, agency partners, technology partners, consulting partners, and media partners. There are many basics that need to be addressed first in order to see synergy here. There are still problems effectively understanding roles and aligning these to a simple, core marketing strategy for brands.
One of the bigger challenges is education and differentiation between software companies and digital agencies. Marketing technology companies often provide software or technology to companies that desire to use to integrate them into their existing infrastructure. For example, marketing automation companies sell big clients on big software technology but ultimately the brand is left to figure out how it works and maximize its use in their organization. When a company buys a competent piece of technology to help automate their marketing they don’t often consider or have the bandwidth for the creativity and the real implementation of the software. This is where the digital marketing agency can help but its important that you understand the difference between one that sells software and technology and those that are helping brands actually use the software to integrate with their organization. Companies often have a hard time understanding that when they buy brand technology that it is not marketing communication services, it’s just software. In many cases, brands expect the digital agency that they hire to already be an expert at a specific piece of software and how it should integrate with 3 to 5 other specific types of software that they use, for example, most often a CRM or marketing automation software among others. They also want the agency to have experience in and understand the terminology and challenges of their particular industry. This type of specificity is not often realistic, much less available.
Until these departments align much better with each other and there is more distinction and clarity in the marketing technology software and digital support, we won’t see any of the latest trends actually impact our day to day life due to a massive gap in technology and where we are today in understanding how to connect the dots. There is a large runway for supporting brands with their technology as long as a digital support group stays on the forefront of the continual changing landscape. As a digital marketer, the greatest question is how can I enable brands to communicate using technology? It is a weighty thing to try and help a brand’s online channels align with their marketing department in addition to their agency partners with their technology partners with their consulting partners with their media partners. But it is in great need and one that I’m glad I am able to help support.