50 Shades of Grey Area in Marketing

Marketing isn’t the sexiest industry. But with so much confusion around buzzwords, attribution, and technology, it does leave much to the imagination. So to coincide with the premiere of 50 Shades of Grey this Valentine’s Day weekend (I know, I know but go with it) I’ve decided to compile a list of the 50 shades of grey area in marketing and link to stories that address these provocative perplexities.


1. What’s the difference between omnichannel and multichannel?

2. Is there even such a thing as Big Data today, or is it all just data?

3. Is all marketing today direct?

4. Does television actually impact consumer behavior?

5. If you think Christian Grey had a complicated work relationship, just look at how many organizations’ marketing and sales teams communicate—even in successful, growing companies. The marketing industry is still catching up on what truly effective sales/marketing alignment looks like, and because of the baggage that relationship carries, plenty of grey area still exists on how to repair it. We’re seeing more organizations adopt a data-centric approach, which is an excellent foundation. But like any relationship, the soft skills matter just as much as cold hard data. Many marketing and sales organizations are still unsure of how to set up proper communication channels with one another, provide and solicit feedback, and share the actions they’re taking based on past performance so each team truly feels heard and empowered.” – Corey Eridon, managing editor for HubSpot

6. What is the optimal email send time?

7. What’s the right number of emails to send?

8. Is it better to build or buy your list?

9. What’s the deal with hashtags? Do they really matter?

10. “A classic gray area in marketing is dissevering between the meanings of social media versus social media marketing versus content marketing versus community management.” – Matt Knell, VP of social media and community strategy for About.com

11. Can social actually impact ROI?

12. Is dark social measurable?

13. Is mass marketing a goner?

14. What kind of role do wearables play in today’s marketing space?

15. “One of the biggest issues we are facing right now in B2B experiential marketing is the notion that spending and attention should focus away from ‘events’ and toward ‘digital’ tactics. The reality is that events are digital in so many ways, and the debate should be more about ‘online digital’ and ‘offline digital’ working closely together to give brands a more complete view of their buyers and prospects—as well as to improve the performance of their marketing communications and content investments.– Kurt Miller, SVP of strategy and planning at George P. Johnson

16. Is direct mail yesterday’s news?

17. Are consumer finally OK with sharing their data?

18. Does data help or hurt creativity?

19. Should marketers even track vanity metrics?

20. “The biggest grey area for marketing today is how to apply Big Data—first needing to turn data into insights and then to turn insights into action. There isn’t any grey area around Big Data buzz or around marketing recognizing the vital role analytics can play in using this data to improve marketing.Today, the area between storing Big Data and actually doing something with it is murky. Not only is there an unprecedented amount of customer data being generated each day, but consumers are willing to share it. 

According to Gartner, 80% of consumers will collect, track, and barter their personal data for cost savings, convenience, and customization. Their only ask is simpleuse their data to better meet their needs throughout their brand journey. The issue today is that departments within organizations are hoarding their data, with the customer service team, for example, using it to improve their one slice of the customer experience. However this ‘tunnel visioned’ approach is limiting the overarching potential of the datawhich can deliver powerful customer experiences throughout each person’s entire journey, whether in the store, on their tablet, or on the phone with the call center. By sharing all of this data, teams connect all of the analytical dots and, in doing so, obtain a complete picture of each customer so they can serve them the way they demand.”-  Jay Henderson, strategy director of IBM ExperienceOne

21. What will marketing look like in the future?

22. How will Amazon’s WorkMail affect marketers?

23. How quickly should marketers send triggered emails?

24. What constitutes as an impression

25. The meaning of personalization remains an area of confusion in the marketing industry. As DMNews has previously reported, marketers define ‘personalization’ to mean all sorts of different things, ranging from segmenting their lists to ‘if this/than that’ triggers. True personalization comes from using as much data as is available about the user to drive a dramatically improved customer experience.” – Erik Severinghaus, founder and CEO of SimpleRelevance.

Continued…


26. What about native advertising? What’s the right way to do it? 

27. Which year was the year of mobile?

28. Will the USPS ever bounce back?

29. Are preference centers worth the effort?

30.“Though it’s far from what Christian Grey is involved with, one area of confusion is that DMA’s regulatory guidelines apply only to DMA members. They are in fact enforced across our entire industry, and the worst actors are largely non-members.” – Senny Boone, General Counsel for the Direct Marketing Association

31. Is it sales’ fault for not being able to close a deal, or marketing’s fault for sending them poor leads?

32. What are the best content marketing metrics?

33. Is DRTV dead?

34. Is consumer spend always the best way to measure loyalty?

35. Don’t be handcuffed by IT. Technology is transforming the marketing function, but should marketers go for a best-of-breed approach or integrated stack? Simply put, it doesn’t have to be an either-or approach. Marketers can now select integrated platforms that reduce complexity while providing an open ecosystem that gives them the flexibility to quickly and easily add new capabilities. It’s a win-win that doesn’t require marketers to submit to the IT department or be handcuffed to an individual platform.” – Nick Bell, senior director and modern marketing expert for Oracle Marketing Cloud

36. Can marketers truly track reach?

37.  When do email marketers cross the line between aggressive and intrusive?

38. Who is responsible for educating consumers on their rights to privacy?

39. How can marketers quantify emotion?

40. “Are the consumer and the shopper really the same target?  A grey answer is sometimes. They’re not the same in categories like kid’s cereal or, for even less obvious reasons, men’s shaving. In kids cereals, Mom, the shopper, is heavily influenced by what the kids like or their emotional attachment to the brands, as well as what she personally believes about its nutritional and budget value in the family’s breakfast routine. In men’s shaving, [Dad] knows what he likes, but [Mom’s] doing the shopping 70% of the time and can be persuaded to encourage him to break his routine. In categories like cosmetics and automobiles, the shopper is most often also the consumer but needs to be engaged in a different way when in the active mode of shopping.” – Charlie Anderson, CEO of Shoptology

41. Is personalized marketing the same as customer-centric marketing?

42. Who really owns customer data?

43. At what point does guest blogging turn into spam?

44. What exactly is a data broker and what do they collect?

45. “As we embrace those European adland ways stateside—whether to kiss your client goodbye after the first meetinghow many times should you kiss and is it all dependent on the success of the meeting?” – Patrick Armitage, account director at Victors & Spoils

46. What exactly constitutes as “real-time” marketing?

47. What does a post-marketing world look like?

48. Which touchpoint gets the attribution credit? First click? Last click? 

49. Is retention the same as loyalty?

50. “How will marketing organizations evolve to better meet their customer’s needs and requirements for content? Clue: Please use this opportunity to break down silos, rather than add another. Your customer will thank you, if you do.” – David Brown, EVP of MXM

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