A word that crops up a lot to describe the state of interactive marketing is “maturing”. We’ve been through the phase of figuring out what the internet can do for marketers; we’ve been through the phase of experimentation to see what kinds of results can be achieved. Now, driven in part by the recession, we’re on to a phase of looking to use interactive marketing channels better.
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That’s one of the key themes that emerges from the features in this digital strategy supplement. Whether it’s search, affiliate marketing, mobile, behavioural targeting or analytics, what’s important is the growing need for marketers to become more sophisticated in their approach; to become more considered in their use of individual channels and to integrate them better to derive maximum benefit.
As Neil McKay of Lakestar Media says in his Viewpoint piece, there’s now no excuse for marketers not to be cleverer in their use of digital channels, because the tools available to them have become extremely sophisticated. So I was surprised by the results of the Industry Attitudes survey that we carried out into marketers’ use of online data. Only 13% of respondents said that data was the dominant factor in their decisions about online marketing. But interestingly, 56% predicted that more of their decisions will be supported by data over the next 12 months.
This is significant, because there’s a paradox at the heart of digital marketing. We may have moved out of the era of small experimental projects being done on tiny budgets, but the need for an experimental approach has never been greater. Technology is moving incredibly fast; five years ago we’d never heard of social media, for example. But people’s attitudes to technology and the ways they use it are moving even faster. The way we use an interactive channel or platform this year is not the way we would have used it last year, and next year it will be different again. So what’s needed is a combination of open-mindedness and a willingness to try new things with a rigorous evaluation of results. Every business’s digital marketing strategy will be different, but each one will be based on those two pillars – creativity and analysis.
Michael Nutley, editor-in-chief New Media Age and Reputation Online