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Don’t Sweat Tech (Well, Sweat It a Little)

Consumers—they want what they want and they want it now. So do colicky babies. When I posed that comparison to Brennan Carlson, SVP of products and strategy at digital marketing company Lyris, he didn’t disagree.

“This power is being placed in the hands of the digital consumer, and indeed they are a bit like petulant babies,” Carlson says. “They’re fickle, and if a brand doesn’t do right by them, just watch how quickly they move over to something else.”

That’s especially true when it comes to mobile, where a consumer’s attention span is dwindling down to almost nothing.

“As a society we don’t read, we scan,” Carlson says. “More than 50% of consumers in American open their email on mobile devices.”

It’s all part of the mobile mind shift, which was the major topic of conversation at Forrester Research’s conference last month in LA. Forrester defines the shift as “the expectation that any desired information or service is available, on any appropriate device, in context, at a person’s moment of need,” but it could also be put like this—

“All these needy, consuming people have more information at hand than ever before, and they’re just sitting there with their arms crossed and an attitude telling marketers to, ‘Do right by me,” Carlson says.

To effectively pay court to these, as Forrester calls them, “perpetually connected consumers,” marketers are attempting to become more digitally savvy. It’s only inevitable.

“The power used to be in the CIO’s court, but then it started to shift quite dramatically to the CMO’s,” Carlson says. “And now we’re talking about the partnership between the CIO and the CMO and the value therein—really the critical value—of bridging that gap.”

The problem is, while consumers are either already shifting or about to shift, a lot of marketers aren’t quite there yet—even though they’re aware of the increasingly urgent need to tackle mobile and get in control of Big Data. Marketers know what they have to do; it’s just a matter of doing it. According to Accenture, about 40% of CMOs say they feel unprepared to meet their objectives due to a lack of funding or internal inefficiencies, while many admit to being frustrated by the rapid growth of digital.

“Big Data and real time automation, remarketing, and retargeting—these are all critical, real things,” Carlson says. “But more often marketers haven’t checked the box for table stakes, let alone multichannel.”

It’s a problematic paradox. “A lot of companies are basing their strategic investments, dollars, time, and otherwise on technology,” he adds. “But the case is that marketers in general are not ready for that level of capability—I mean 30% aren’t even using welcome programs with their email.”

It’s not a matter of marketers needing more or better technology; it’s a matter of “walking before you can run,” says Carlson, who points to Eloqua as an example. “It’s a great tool, but I don’t know any marketers that implement more than 10% of its feature sets.”

But Carlson isn’t pointing any fingers. He’s just telling it like he sees it.

“I wouldn’t say, ‘bad marketers, it’s your fault,’ though, because the rug really is shifting out from underneath them,” Carlson says. “It makes sense that marketers want to identify solutions to engage with relevance—they just have to tie their shoes first.”

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