The promise of digital targeting has had marketers salivating for years. We would be able to identify, reach, engage and convert consumers one-to-one at scale thanks to technology. Better yet, with mobile devices, we could bring an offer to a consumer who was physically close to our retail outlet thanks to big data, mapping and location services.
Accordingly, substantial investments have been made in a wide variety of technologies from CRM and data mining, to automation, analysis and beyond. In fact, Scott Brinker’s infographic on the landscape of marketing technology (2016) suggests that there were almost 4000 marketing technology solutions vying for your attention and purchase. With so many choices, it’s hardly surprising that marketers wonder where to start with the MarTech stack.
But Byron Sharp, Professor of Marketing Science at the University of South Australia says that the promise of digital marketing is unfulfilled. Or perhaps, we have over stated the role of digital at the expense of brand. This video segment by the Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) touches on these topics, raising interesting challenges for us all.
Now, there is plenty that I could argue with. There is a huge assumption that analogue marketing metrics are/were valid, and also that marketers are not following through on data, analytics and measurement of business value. But these are quibbles – because the most interesting aspect of this interview is the refocusing of marketing towards strategy.
In many ways, the pursuit of digital marketing and technology has seen us become reliant on tactics masquerading as strategy. We put some technology in place and think that the strategy will magically be enabled.
But this is never the case. As Byron reminds us, “We are in a battle for attention – for physical and mental availability … people [consumers] just don’t think of you enough”. Segmentation, data and technology alone won’t solve that problem – only a tightly threaded strategy and approach to execution will. And that means doubling down on your marketing skills. So don’t just re-evaluate digital – re-evaluate your team and yourself.