The rise and rise of digital marketing

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With more companies keen to experiment with digital marketing, there is a growing demand for knowledge and expertise in this area. A recent survey conducted as part of the 2014 Digital Trends Briefing[i] showed that although two thirds of respondents wanted to boldly begin their digital marketing journey, only 23% felt they had the necessary technology to successfully execute their strategy, while others cited lack of skills as an issue of concern. Here we look at current trends[ii] and latest developments in the ever increasing sphere of influence of digital marketing.

Let’s get personal

According to social media whiz, Ted Rubin, the next trend in online marketing[iii] is for things to get personal. Rubin, who is ranked by Forbes magazine among the Top 15 Social Media Power Influencers of 2013[iv], believes that relationships are the new currency and that a successful social media strategy increasingly relies on the ability to interact and engage with customers. His approach involves empowering individual employees who in turn power the company brand. Clearly this relies on the employee having a positive view of their workplace, which in turn goes back to the relationship leaders and managers build with their staff. This circle of trust and belief Rubin believes can help generate customer satisfaction, improved brand reputation, deeper employee loyalty and increased revenues.

Content remains king

Getting to grips with content marketing remains a fundamental requirement of a successful foray into the world of digital promotion. A study conducted by the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs found that around 60% of marketers planned to increase their spending on content marketing this year. Another study by Forrester Research has however found that despite this redirection, companies still struggle to get results from their content marketing strategies. This can be for a variety of reasons from lack of understanding of content marketing to an internal skills gap[v] in this area. An obvious solution is to outsource this type of work and access the expertise required to devise and execute a content marketing strategy.

The recent phenomenon that is the ALS ice bucket challenge is a perfect case study about how to get it right in terms of content marketing[vi]. This compelling challenge has swept the globe and for those who haven’t seen it involves people posting social media videos of themselves having buckets of ice cold water dumped on them to raise awareness and donations for the ALS Association.

The ice bucket idea works because it is simple, it is both sad and happy (and therefore has the potential to engage with a wide range of people) and the call to action is fun and free. These principles could underpin any content marketing strategy and will seriously increase its chances of success.

Access the right technology

Understanding digital marketing and having the right skills in place are two key elements in terms of maximizing its effectiveness, but a third less utilized ingredient is appropriate technology. Getting to grips with what technology providers can offer to digital marketing can seem like a daunting prospect but it is a route which can offer significant rewards. Forbes Insights surveyed 125 C-level executives from global large scale companies as part of their recent report, “The Race is On: Keeping Pace with Consumer Goods Leaders in Digital Marketing and Technology.” Almost two thirds of those interviewed felt there was significant scope for companies to harness digital technology to improve the effectiveness of their marketing operations[vii]. Fragmentation and internal structures were cited as barriers which have so far limited the integration of this technology. Encouragingly, 20% of the companies surveyed described themselves as transformative and whose leaders were using digital technology to enhance not only sales and marketing but the business as a whole.

Recent news about HubSpot[viii], a global company which provides cloud based marketing automation software, would suggest that there is indeed increasing demand for such services. The flagship product helps marketing teams manage all forms of lead generation and communicate with customers via email, social media, blogs and traditional websites. Their services are offered on a subscription basis, giving companies a low cost flexible option by which to access this type of technology. HubSpot[ix] has just announced its decision to go public and aims to raise $100 million capital in the process. Its confidence is based on growing demand for this type of product evidenced by its 50% year to year growth in 2013.

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