What does the future of digital marketing look like?

Let’s get one thing straight: digital marketing is a highly evolving field. The fact that it is based on technology and that it caters to trends and demands of the market makes it highly unpredictable.

What does the future of digital marketing look like

But, there is one factor that can help ensure a successful digital marketing future for any organization, and that is the marketing team.

The fallacy of solely relying on digital marketing technology

There is a common misconception that bringing in all the marketing technology money can buy will automatically result in an increase in sales and healthy year-end profits.

But, that’s not true:

  • Not enough know-how: Every new tool comes with a learning curve. The steeper that curve is, the more difficult it becomes to find the trained staff to leverage it. It means investing further in training and the results won’t be guaranteed until the team has mastered the new tool.
  • Incompatible input/tools: Just because a tool is touted as being a wonder, doesn’t mean it will solve all problems. Businesses have their own sets of data that present problems that are unique to their processes. Investing in a tool that isn’t compatible with the businesses’ processes, doesn’t work with all its data or can’t be fully utilized, is a poor marketing technology choice.
  • Newer versions: Most software solution vendors push upgrades and feature updates as a way to generate after-sales incomes. No sooner has an application been installed, than it requires an upgrade. More costs are incurred on the user by way of license renewals or the addition of features.
  • Stack redesigns: Whenever a new software is installed, it comes with soft- and hardware prerequisites. Constant updates and upgrades can become costly. This poses an obstacle for businesses with smaller IT budgets.
  • The need for tech support: Continuous addition of marketing technology will eventually need the oversight of a tech support team. This could be out of the scope of a marketing or any other non-technical firm. Outsourcing the support could incur extra costs.

As we can see from the points above, simply adopting a new software solution isn’t the most feasible way to go about planning the future of a business’ digital marketing plans.

Man over machine – why investing in the marketing team makes sense

There is an alternative. Perhaps even a better one. Instead of choosing to go “all-out” on bringing in new technology, it would make sense to focus on the marketing team itself.

Steps to take could include:

  • Selectively onboarding new technologies: Software solutions that are deemed necessary and enabling should, by all means, be used. Careful consideration needs to be given to the price, return on investment (ROI), ease of use, and ability to perform required tasks as efficiently as possible.
  • Training staff: The marketing team needs to always be kept up to date on digital marketing trends. If they are to lead in the marketing game, they need to be enabled with current knowledge. Throwing the latest software at marketers who haven’t a clue what to do with it will fail.
  • Adopting “old” methods: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has always been the key marketing tool in online marketing. It had lost some ground to pay-per-click (PPC) advertising until internet users started to increasingly use ad-blockers. Now, it is back to SEO as a primary way of putting products and services in front of potential customers; this requires a marketing team to go back to researching for ranking keywords.
  • Considering mobile technology: The future belongs to mobile devices. Already, over half of the people who go online use a mobile device. Focusing marketing on this trend alone will increase exposure. Marketing teams need to be able to cater to this mobile audience.
  • Boots on the ground approach: It is no longer all about sending out adverts and hoping they get the attention of potential customers. Cold calling, using email lists to send out customized emails, using real employees in video ads, and using other customers’ testimonials are still the best ways of marketing a product or service.

The points above show that it is indeed a feasible option to invest in the marketing team.

The machine is still too feeble to replace the digital marketing team

While there is a fear that machines will one day overtake our jobs, we can rest assured that that day isn’t coming soon.

Some might argue that the technology we have today is capable enough to take the marketing team out. But, let’s have a frank look at some popular marketing technologies to see if that is true:

  • Artificial Intelligence (A.I.): Yes, everywhere we go there is some piece of code that is always listening, always learning. But, that’s just it – it’s still Will it know enough soon? That’s something we need to wait and find out about. For now, A.I. is still in its infancy. It can’t replace the mind of a marketer at the end of a phone line, it can’t anticipate every users’ requests for more information, and it can’t deliver on their customized service needs.
  • Voice commands: Although Google has enriched its voice search capabilities, that technology is not readily (or cheaply) available for general marketing use. Apart from the one-sentence command or one-word reply, that is. Here too, just like in the case with A.I., clients will need a capable human marketer to instill confidence in the purchases they are about to make.
  • Chatbots: Many businesses have a chatbot on their websites. But, this trend has a flaw. They can’t be relied upon at all times. The internet is full of examples where chatbots failed Hinging a business’ first contact on a piece of code is a big mistake. The better alternative is to have a marketer communicate with potential customers at such critical initial contact stages.

The bottom line is that no customer wants to be met with an electronic entity. Most of us still have that innate mistrust of code that wants to take our money.

So, what does the future of digital marketing look like?

While we will probably look to adopting more technology into our marketing campaigns, we will still need to have the trained manpower behind it to convert the feedback we get in the form of data, requests, and inquiries – and convert them into sales closures.

Businesses will always be required to invest in their marketing teams for:

  • Customized responses: Clients may need a customized version of available services or products.
  • Pitching of similar services: Other clients may need a variation of the services and products on offer.
  • Sharing and acting on acquired information: Marketing is a team effort; members need to share data for a better understanding of their campaign results. Although marketing tools gather data and perform analysis on them, it is the team that decides how to act upon it.
  • Reaching out to potential clients: Sending out unsolicited messages annoys most email recipients. But, reaching out to clients that have already shown interest (based on collected data) and adapting the interaction (be it in written, voice or video format) to their needs is a skill only marketers have.

Clients will always prefer to do business with a firm that presents itself as human as possible as opposed to a “cold” commercial machine. No technology will ever be able to replace the human touch of someone else at the other end of the conversation.

You should prepare for the future

The best way forward in the digital marketing game is to create a capable marketing team that can leverage the technology available to them. Investment should go towards training, business process improvement, and addressing issues – or transforming them into opportunities – all of which are tasks we can help you with.

Contact us to find out how we can work together to ensure your digital marketing team can conquer the future.