Marketers have steadily improved the integration of digital strategy into overall brand strategy, but still face lingering doubts on achieving the appropriate media mix. Research is crucial.
Here’s a bold proclamation: “There are no lines between traditional and digital marketing,” according to the study Getting Digital Right 2016. In our third annual survey, Millward Brown Digital scans the horizon to assess the state of digital marketing. Based on responses garnered from more than 300 senior executives from brand, agencies, and media companies, we identified four principal findings for marketers navigating the evolving, multi-channel and cross-channel landscape.
1. Assemble the Team
Because customers now expect seamless experiences regardless of where and when they interact with brands, strategists have increasingly integrated ideas and implementation across traditional and digital channels. According to 74% of respondents, they have developed integrated strategies, representing a steady uptick from the 59% in 2014 and 67% in 2015. Note, however, that within the digital realm of Desktop/Laptop, Mobile and Social, there is room to improve integration; 33% of participants report these channels are not well integrated. A well-coordinated team will not only align digital and traditional strategies, but also maintain consistency within the digital sphere, so cross-channel efforts complement each other.
2. Master the Journey
Despite the importance of integration of traditional and digital strategies, 55% of marketers indicate they are not confident their organization understands how and where to reach and influence consumers in the buying process. Further, half of the respondents indicated they were not sure their organization has calibrated the media mix appropriately to align with the consumer’s journey. This 50% represents a worrisome increase from the 34% of 2014 and the 43% of 2015 that expressed uncertainty. In other words, creating the ideal mix of multiple channels – digital (total of 64%) and traditional (36%) – requires an even greater understanding of the consumer’s online and offline behaviors than before and pinpointing those touchpoints is essential for success.
3. Elevate Insights
Given this lack of confidence in calibrating the media mix, it is not surprising that marketers place an ever-greater emphasis on research and data. Indeed, brands, agencies and media companies all report they expect research budgets to increase in the next three years. Brand professionals are now more confident in how their organization uses Big Data than they were in 2015 – 41% compared to a shocking 14%! Still they remain less confident in their use of Big Data relative to their agency and media colleagues (59% and 60%, respectively). This suggests brand marketers may rely more heavily upon their counterparts at agencies and media companies for analysis. Because these agency and media marketers feel quite comfortable in their use of Big Data, they are more likely to generate actionable insights and devise ways to incorporate them into campaigns for their clients.
4. Unleash Impact
Tracking ROI of digital activities is a top priority for all respondents. It is the perennial issue: how to connect the dots between any promotional channel (or cross-channel) and the ultimate sale. The tools to track and effectively measure digital marketing continue to improve, yet measurable results from some segments, such as content marketing, events/conferences and webinars, remain murky. More research is needed, and, because brand marketers are less likely to substantially invest in such analysis, they will seek guidance from their agency and media partners who are allocating more dollars to this area. In fact, if they had the ability to better track ROI, nearly three-quarters of marketers would increase their spending in digital (74%) and cross-channel (71%) activities. The need to build tools that measure online and offline activities and how they lead to sales essentially unites all the themes discussed here: integrated traditional and digital teams, calculating the marketing mix and using research to understand and influence the customer journey.
So, now that three-quarters of marketers have evolved from siloed traditional and digital marketing teams to integrated brand strategists, there are plentiful opportunities to adjust media budgets in alignment with the consumer path to purchase. Synchronizing tactics within the digital realm creates a consistent consumer experience. Plus, an increased focus on research will permit measurement of campaigns, active incorporation of findings and adjustments to the marketing mix. The improved ROI for digital marketing will propel those integrated marketers to the head of the category. They will be getting digital right, and there truly will be no lines between traditional and digital marketing.
Feel free to download a copy of Getting Digital Right 2016 if you are interested in learning more.
Aaron Peterson is Corporate Marketing Manager for Millward Brown Digital (@Millward_Brown). As such, Aaron is a frequent contributor in industry media, hosts webinars, authors thought leadership, and manages the company’s flagship event, The Digital CMO Summit. Prior to his role in marketing, Aaron brings over 8 years of experience in client management and marketing research for Fortune 500 brands.