Where Is Global Marketing Going?

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Where Is Global Marketing Going?
Where Is Global Marketing Going?

The more things change, the more they stay the same. This is certainly true with the new world of marketing and advertising. We all know that marketing is moving now at lightning speed with a dizzying array of data, technologies, channels, and tools. They provide marketers with infinite opportunities to engage with customers. But with all this change the challenges facing marketers remain the same—albeit now on a bigger and faster scale.

What is fascinating is that no matter where you are in the world, all marketers face the same issues to one degree or another.

"Data-driven" is the future…

The future of all marketing and advertising around the globe is data-driven and at last, the value of measurable, accountable, customer-centric marketing has been realized.

Although in the developing world there is still a focus on mainstream advertising, but with the advent of social media, increasing adoption of smartphones, and a developing multiscreen culture has resulted in a monumental shift in both thinking and marketing spend towards data-driven channels and techniques.

The term data-driven is now being embraced across the globe by businesses large and small. Many see it as a new phenomenon and an innovative technique, but data-driven marketing isn't really new: It grew out of a niche marketing form known as direct marketing, the result-focused style that placed the customer relationship front and center. It allows more relevant, targeted communications that lead to a true, one-to-one relationship with the consumer.

Data-driven marketing methodologies have helped to extend the reach of direct marketing principles, and are increasingly essential to all marketing and advertising (and every business).

…but data's causing a global headache

Even though data-driven has been lauded as a panacea for marketing ills, after attending a worldwide meeting of marketing associations in late 2012 it was crystal clear to me that the biggest challenge facing marketers is, in fact…data.

Whether or not you think the term Big Data is a buzzword, it has played an extremely useful role in elevating the data discussion to the C-suite. Whereas data previously sat squarely in the IT or analytics departments (and with a few of those niche direct marketers), it is now a business-wide issue and the idea of investing in data-driven is essential rather than optional.

Nonetheless, as organizations prepare themselves to ride the Big Data wave, most businesses are still struggling to centralize, analyse, and commercialize their own small data sets.

It's not a local issue and it's not a new one, either: The IBM Global CMO Study first identified this struggle as the number one issue keeping CMOs worldwide awake at night in 2011. Another study released in Asia Pacific last year 2012 noted that Down Under, more than 50% of organizations felt ill equipped to grapple with the challenge of how to retrieve the value that's locked away in their data. This will continue to be the case for many more years.

Creativity counts…we can prove it

The role of creativity in marketing efficacy has been overshadowed recently by all the talk of data-driven marketing. But creative ignored is profit lost. The ADMA recently conducted a study, along with UK–based marketing researcher and author Peter Field, which shows that there's a link between creativity and business effectiveness. A key finding: Despite creative brand campaigns taking longer—six months or more—to deliver business success compared to short-term response campaigns, creative campaigns win out by producing longer-term business profits and less consumer sensitivity around areas like pricing.

The study also challenges the current focus on data and short-term metrics for campaign success, noting that brands will sacrifice long-term success if they focus solely on quick-response activity.

Other takeaways include:

  • Short-term response and web and social media traffic do not reliably indicate longer-term business success.
  • Traditional direct mail strongly outperforms email marketing. Email may be cheaper, but it is associated with reduced campaign effectiveness.
  • Optimizing campaigns for short-term sales results will not lead to optimum long-term sales or profitability. It's important that CMOs measure success over both short and long-term, and that short-term results are not used to guide strategy.

Content marketing: a growing global trend

Content marketing is another phenomenon sweeping the marketing globe. A recent Content Marketing Institute study of content marketing trends and budgets in the UK, USA, and Australia showed that nine out of 10 organizations are using content marketing in the form of social media, blogs, and articles on websites, in case studies, through video, and in e-newsletters.

The study also found that the number one content marketing issue facing organizations was producing enough engaging content. An additional roundtable study then confirmed that the actual issue is being able to effectively distribute content. As the volume of content produced is moving rapidly towards overload, organizations will be forced to move from curation to optimization. Now is the time for this to happen.

Marketers in all three countries are planning to spend more on content marketing in the coming year. This year 64% of UK marketers plan to increase their content marketing budget, while 61% and 54% were planning to do so in Australia and North America, respectively.

Privacy: we have to get it right

By far, the greatest challenge regarding customer privacy for marketers worldwide will be the progressively tightening legal environment. This is a significant issue in every corner of the globe, with governments and regulators becoming increasingly concerned about the commercial use of individuals' data. 

Data protection is not a local or regional issue. We have a global economy, global commerce, and a global social-media landscape. And yet, data protections laws are adopted country-by-country and are inconsistent.

Australia will face new privacy laws come March 2014 that curtail how marketers approach consumers. Europe will see tougher times ahead as governments drastically tighten the rules around use of data for marketing. In Germany, politicians are calling for a new global charter safeguarding personal privacy online, after revelations about U.S. intelligence gathering on the Internet. Even in America, where the commercial value of data is understood, there are moves to regulate customer communications and the online world.

The largest regulatory problem marketers face is two-pronged: how to manage regulators' lack of understanding of marketers' goals and their instinct to act now and consider the consequences later.

As an industry we need to invest in rethinking these regulatory approach so that we can find a better way, one that understands the world we now live in and provides good balance between encouraging innovation and protecting consumers. Regulation re-imagined.

Jodie Sangster is the CEO of the Association for Data-Driven Marketing and Advertising in Australia, and a Direct Marketing News 2013 40Under40 Awards winner

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