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August 26, 2014

How to become a digital marketing organization?

by Tom De Baere

digitally empowered buyersBuyers today have become more digitally empowered than ever.

It’s changing their buying behavior, which provides new challenges to those aspiring a digital marketing organization.

In this blog post I’ll cover:

  • the overarching reasons why marketing must change to keep up with changing buyer behavior 
  • how certain marketers are trying to trick the system, without any chance to success
  • why marketers are loosing ground against the digital adoption speed of buyers
  • what roadblocks you need to overcome to become a digital marketing organization

And at the end of the post, I’ll cover

  • 19 specific changes you can make in terms of organization, technology and tools, so you can become a digital marketing organization.

The era of information scarcity is over

Not so long ago, information about your company and its solutions was not readily available either online or offline. The only way a prospective buyer could learn more was to meet with one of your sales representatives. As a result, buyers were (more or less) forced to engage with sales early in the buying cycle.

In that era of “information scarcity,” traditional marketing tactics (e.g., telemarketing, events, and direct mail) proved an effective way to reach out to prospective customers.

But in today’s era of “information abundance,” prospects have found better ways to screen out and opt out from unwanted communications.

  • 86% skip TV ads
  • 91% unsubscribe from email
  • 44% of direct mailing is never opened
  • 200 million people are on the do not call list
  • 70% of the buying process is completed before the buyer contacts a supplier

marketing challenges

Dishonest marketers are fooling customers

Buyers have found better ways to get informed. The abundance of channels and content allows them to get informed buying decisions better than ever. New devices like smartphones and GPS systems allows them to shop mobile, pull information to them when and where they need it, and seek immediate answers to questions before making buying decisions.

fake amazon reviewsThis represents a tectonic shift in influence and responsibility from the sales department to the marketing department. If marketing doesn’t impress prospects with compelling digital content and experiences — including positive support from other digitally-accessible influencers in that market — sales won’t even get a shot at winning their business.

Unfortunately dishonest marketers are trying to fool consumers by posting fake product reviews by fake people that didn’t buy their products, and click-farms that fake social signals.

  • Many consumers have no idea book reviews on Amazon could be fake.
  • Many consumers have no idea product review bloggers are paid to give good product reviews.
  • Many consumers have no idea that paid social media squads are countering negative discussions in user communities.
  • Many consumers have no idea that product news in online news-sites is sponsored content.

Click farms, fake product reviewers, black-hat SEO magicians and keyword-stuffers

Millenials turn to facebook for information

When millennials want to learn more about local small businesses, they turn to Facebook over other social channels, according to a survey released by G/O Digital.

Click farms, fake product reviewers, black-hat SEO magicians and keyword-stuffers are causing Google to find new ways to filter out the quality from the crap. Eventually this is what the business of Google is all about: giving users what they want.

If bad quality surfaces to consumers, the search quality of Google will go down. As a consequence, users might be tempted to try Yahoo, god forbid.

When millennials want to learn more about local small businesses, they turn to Facebook over other social channels, according to a survey released by G/O Digital.

As buyers turn more and more to ever increasingly smarter search engines and ever present social media networks, companies have to face new opinion making and buying processes. They must learn to manage new influencers and “on-the-fact” feedback and review.

As a result, traditional outbound marketing tactics have been declining in effectiveness for years. In their place, companies need different methods to build awareness, develop relationships, and generate leads – methods that don’t rely on interrupting buyers but instead seek to connect with buyers when they are most open and engaged.

8 New Challenges for Marketers

Marketing must evolve. When you ask which challenges marketers have today , they’ll usually answer you lead generation, brand awareness, social media, budget, or any other of those generic terms.

To become a digital marketing organization, marketers must transform to cope with a total new set of challenges:Rubik's_cube.svg

  1. From one way, one shot contact to continuous, repetitive and interactive contacts with prospects and customers
  2. From push to pull messages. The customer decides when, where, how and what kind of content and information he consumes
  3. From one fits all to personalized content. Content not only reflects buyer’s interests, problems and objectives, it also varies in function of the context (channel, contact history, …)
  4. From outbound campaigns to a balanced mix of inbound and outbound contacts. Outbound actions reinforce an inbound content strategy by allowing the customer to “navigate” in your content according to his preferences and pushing him further in the buying funnel.
  5. From 4 contacts to 12 à 14 contacts to convince. Nowadays customers needs three times more contacts with the brand / value proposal before they take a decision.
  6. From cold, unqualified to marketing qualified leads to Sales. Only customers having showed a strong interest in your products should be transferred to Sales.
  7. From restrictive to maximum use of databases and partnerships. Multiple and automated flows of lead nurturing tracks guarantee the maximum usage of customer data by guiding the customer to the buying funnel that best fits his interests.
  8. From semi-manual to semi-automated campaigns. Automation based on customer behavior triggers specific marketing actions, without the intervention of marketers.


7 Roadblocks to Digital Marketing

roadblockIn a recent article from Paul Roetzer, he describes the roadblocks to digital marketing for enterprises.

  • Accountability: Marketing technology advances have made everything measurable. This can be intimidating for marketers who have never been held accountable for marketing metrics such as subscribers, leads, conversion rates, and sales.
  • Complacency: Too often, business leaders become comfortable with historical success and lack motivation to change their ways. They assume they can maintain market share, revenue growth, and profits by doing what has always been done.
  • Conservative culture:  “Nobody ever got fired for placing an ad.” Advertising, direct mail, trade shows, telemarketing, and other traditional activities are familiar. The risk is minimal, but so is the potential reward.
  • Lack of knowledge and talent: The marketing talent gap has a direct effect on your business’s ability to adopt new technologies and strategies and continually adapt to industry changes.
  • Power Struggles and Politics: Power struggles and politics are two unfortunate realities in business. Egos and self-interests can become challenges. Self-preservation is human nature, and it is a variable that must be considered.
  • Silos: Subscribers, fans, followers, leads, and customers choose when and where to interact with your brand. They do not differentiate between marketing departments and channels.  These silos cause lengthy processes that slow down every single marketing activity. Marketing must break down its own silos (advertising, communications, content, digital, PR, SEO, social, web) and find innovative ways to collaborate with customer service, finance, human resources (HR), IT, operations, and sales to drive performance and create consistently remarkable customer experiences.
  • Legacy systems and technology fatigue: Keeping up with the latest and greatest tools is exhausting. While there are likely smarter ways to do pretty much every marketing function, from CRM to website content management, large enterprises have legacy solutions in place, and small and midsize businesses (SMBs) face budgetary and human resource challenges.

Paul Roetzer ends his blog post with a quote which talks directly to leadership within marketing organizations:

Professionals and businesses that are nimble, dynamic, and transparent have the opportunity to disrupt markets, displace leaders, and redefine industries.

The next generation of leaders will be those who are ready to leave their comfort zones, let go of their fears and anxieties, take risks, and build remarkable corporate and personal brands.


Marketers are loosing ground

Meanwhile, buyers don’t care about roadblocks. They are outstripping marketers in adopting digital technology. Today they using more channels, more apps, more social media networks, and more content.

The daunting speed in which digital is changing things for marketers is having an effect on them. Not knowing how to embrace these changes, their confidence is dropping. In an analysis of the Global Workforce Insight study from CEB in Q3 2013, they found that marketers are more unlikely than any other functions in companies, to stay at their current company.
intent of marketers to remain at their company
Times are getting more exciting for marketers, as businesses rely more on marketers to bring in the business results.

On the other hand, our best senior marketers are running away because they fear the unknown. They are unsure about their future positions. They fear to be replaced by younger, savvier, and digital native, originating from the Y-generation of marketers.

Becoming a digital marketing organization

Becoming a marketing organization capable of keeping up with the speed of the digital consumer requires changes on multiple levels.

Here are a couple of things, 19 concrete things in total, that can inspire you when you are creating your organizational roadmap towards becoming a digital marketing organization:

organisationYour Organization

1. Create a sense of urgency, through evangelization and workshops
2. Provide a vision of change by formulating your digital marketing strategy
3. Make all team members familiar with agile operating principles
4. Assess every team members’ strengths and weaknesses in digital marketing and agile methods.
5. Show people how they can combine paid-owned-earned media in existing campaigns, and integrate digital tactics
6. Add skills and knowledge about digital marketing, and show it can help them to show marketing ROI.
7. Put brand managers in a learning process to help learn faster, and more flexible and focused ways of working.
8. Create a governance board acting as the digital governing body and championing the digital change program.
9. Introduce a new “digital marketing strategist” function envisioning and charting digital’s role in strategy and execution.

technologyYour Marketing Technology

10. Broaden the marketing ownership of the website for user interface, information architecture and content management.

11. Centralize and introduce new technology building blocks that automate marketing activities, to provide visibility from first contact to pipeline contribution.Standardize your campaign architecture so they become repeatable and fast to implement.

12. Introduce a new “marketing technologist” function, bridging the world of IT with reaching marketing objectives.

Your  Content Marketing

13. Audit your content to find the gaps in terms of buying cycle alignment.

14. Dedicate staff to develop deep, high quality content portfolios for a select key number of topics

15. Introduce new powerful highly engaging content formats that move away from pure text-based formats (ebook, interactive content, mobile apps, video-logs, …)

16. Activate the sales organization as powerful content delivery channel.

17. Shift from traditional events to Events 2.0 (remote presence, delayed viewing, feedback functions, post event tracks)

18. Introduce a new function like “Chief Content” who is responsible to align and orchestrate all content initiatives towards the business objectives.

19. Introduce new roles like “Consumer Insight Specialist”, responsible for connecting consumer insight to business drivers and execution.


In total 19 improvements you can make in your organization, technology or content, for you to become a digital marketing organization.

Have you build your organizational roadmap to become a digital marketing organization?

Warm regards,

Tom De Baere