6 Fundamentals to Managing Digital Marketing in 2015

This research from Smart Insights and TFM&A explores approaches businesses use to plan and manage their investments in digital marketing.

During November and December 2014 we surveyed our Smart Insights and TFM&A audiences in order to get a better understanding of how businesses are managing their digital marketing activities and what steps they were looking to take in 2015.

Findings and recommendations are grouped in 6 areas aimed at improving the commercial contribution of digital marketing for businesses.

1. Digital marketing capabilities and transformation

The majority of companies are still actively working on transformation of their digital marketing capabilities – less than 20% rating their digital communications, customer communications or performance improvement process at an advanced level.

When asked about managing digital transformation, again just 20% of businesses had a transformation programme in place, but with 33% planning to implement a programme within the next 12 months.

Good practice: Audit your digital marketing capabilities and create a roadmap for transformation to improve capabilities over the medium to long-term.

Managing Digital Marketing

2. Digital marketing strategy and planning

In business, it’s recognised that plans help companies to prioritise, set goals and allocate resources to meet targets. Yet a planned approach often isn’t followed in digital marketing or marketing:

  • One half (50%) of businesses surveyed do not have a defined digital plan or strategy, although they are active in digital marketing.
  • Nearly half (45%) also don’t have a defined marketing plan in the business to align digital strategy against.

Good practice: Don’t just execute! Create a long-term digital strategy and plan aligning with marketing and business priorities.

3. Managing change via digital transformation programmes

Integration of digital channels into marketing activities was identified as a major challenge in the research – only a quarter of companies (24%) were happy with their level of integration of digital marketing and traditional communications.

The main barriers to integration are:

  1. Lack of integrated strategy and plans (27%)
  2. Teams structured in silos (23%)
  3. Lack of skills in integrated communications (17%)

Good practice: Use digital transformation programmes to eliminate digital marketing silos and improve integration through integrated planning and collaboration during campaigns.

4. Development of digital skills

Across respondents to the survey, nearly 60% of peoples’ time is now devoted to digital marketing activities, showing the importance of skills development in this area.

Many marketers are now confident in their knowledge of digital channels with nearly half saying they are confident, with in-depth knowledge or sufficient knowledge for what they need across different digital marketing techniques. However, there is still hunger for deeper learning about digital marketing approaches, particularly in Big Data and CRM (58% want to improve their knowledge), digital strategy (53%), search engine marketing (51%), content marketing (50%) and social media marketing (47%).

Good practice: Review and develop your personal or employees’ digital skills. Are you a T or W-shaped marketer?

5. Investing in digital marketing in 2015

The research shows the ongoing importance of the core digital marketing channels with similar levels of effectiveness compared to 2014. Email marketing was rated as highly or very effective by 51% of respondents followed by SEO (45%) and AdWords (34%). Organic use of social media wasn’t far behind with 33%, but with only 21% believing paid social media was effective.

Many marketers are planning to increase investment across these channels with Email marketing (59%), SEO (51%) and AdWords (46%) leading the pack.

Good practice: With the diversity of paid, owned and earned media, it’s important to focus resources and optimisation on core channels that drive value.

6. Innovation and optimising digital marketing

The opportunity to dynamically update and test digital media has always been claimed to be one of its main benefits compared to traditional media, so we were interested to see to what extent companies have processes in place to execute this continuously.

Around a quarter to a third of companies have embraced optimisation, with these leaders running frequent tests or continuously optimising. The percentage of leaders who optimised individual channels or contact points was 30% for website (desktop experience). 21% for Mobile (mobile site and/or apps), 29% for landing pages, 35% for email marketing, 29% for social media marketing, 28% for content marketing and 31% for paid digital media.

Good practice: You can’t compete if you update your website, your communications approaches every few years… Create a plan for “Always-on” optimisation of digital media and integrated customer experiences.

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Dave Chaffey

Dr. David ChaffeyCEO & co-founder of SmartInsights.com, best-selling author and regarded by The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) as one of 50 marketing ‘gurus’ worldwide who have shaped the future of Marketing.

January 16, 2015

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