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Digital: The Gap between Importance and Performance

Digital Marketing: The Gap between Importance and Performance

If marketers aren’t able to sleep at night, a study published by Adobe just might offer a reason why:  we know digital marketing is important, but we’re not very confident in our ability to execute it effectively.

Adobe has a number of products it would like to sell to marketers – but in all fairness, the research is well grounded:  it surveyed 1,000 respondents using ResearchNow with 95% confidence and a margin of error at +/- 3%.

Some of the findings are at incredible odds:

  • Marketing influence over business. Just 44% say their marketing departments have a great deal of influence over their organization’s overall business strategy and (surprise!) just 40% think their company’s marketing is effective. And 61% of all marketers think that, for most companies, digital marketing approaches are a constant cycle of trial and error (as opposed to tried and true).
  • Digital skills gap. Absent formal training. 82% of digital marketers learn on the job but just 48% of digital marketers feel highly proficient in digital marketing.  Yet, 60% of marketers expect their companies will invest more in digital marketing technology this year and another 66% percent of all marketers think companies must use digital marketing to be successful.

Analysis? Many marketers don’t begin their careers at marketers, rather businesses pay employees to become marketers. By far and large, marketers are being asked to execute an already decided business strategy through a set of skills in which they lack confidence but is crucial to success.  And we’re hoping to solve the problem by throwing money at it.

Digital Skills and Benchmarks

“Don’t read beauty magazines they will only make you feel ugly.”  That’s a line from a song but it underscores a psychology to marketing – we’re always looking at what someone else did in admiration without recognizing the quality of our own work.

In a world of social media, we’re constantly bombarded with vanity metrics, bravado and self-admiration. On the surface, we dismiss these, but bit by bit, tweet by tweet, we’re wondering how we stack up.  A friend once remarked that when someone passes a runner in a marathon, they take a little piece of that person with them; it’s like that in marketing too.

Sometimes I re-read my own blog posts from several years back and wonder what on earth I was thinking.  Other times I re-read old blog posts and think to myself, gosh that was pretty smart; how do I do more of that?

Marketers by far and large, have are being asked to execute an already decided business strategy through a set of skills in which they lack confidence but is crucial to success.  And we’re hoping to solve the problem by throwing money at it.

Problem. Solution.  Results.

I don’t believe the digital marketing world is at quite such a gap.Sure there’s more to learn…Brian Solis put it eloquently when he said we are all students of new media.  But there are something we can do to boost our own confidence.  Here are three:

1. Marketing theory matters

It’s worthwhile to keep up with the latest trends, but there are grounded principles in marketing theory. The mediums by which we market may be new, but chances are someone has already tested an idea – in principle before.  Invest in some quality time in classic marketing books. Ogilvy. Kotler. Reis.

2. Invest in a marketing portfolio

Investors use portfolios to eliminate the risk of a downside. They’ve got more than one horse in every race.  It’s useful for marketing to think of programs and projects deemed experimental in a portfolio. Apply time-tested principles in new mediums.

3. Make off the job training count

I choose to blog. I’ve made no greater investment in my own self-education than by blogging. Nothing compares to learning than making a bet on something that belongs to you.  Blogging isn’t the only option – start a newsletter for a professional organization, learn to code, or take a new course like Google’s track on pay-per-click advertising.

* * *

Here’s the study:

What do you do to get an edge and stay sharp?

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