Digital Marketing Still Faces Major Obstacles

Is digital marketing a foregone conclusion in business today? Naturally, I’d love to think so! But, the truth is, many companies continue to face very real obstacles that prevent them from adopting the latest marketing applications and solutions.

For instance, according to a recent study from the Economist Intelligence Unit, some of the most significant challenges include:

  • The “latest thing” gets too much attention. Many marketing executives now put an emphasis on “likes” on Facebook and “RTs” on Twitter as indicators of digital success. Meanwhile, consumers said they like social media for promotions (62 percent), but predominantly prefer to learn about products via company websites (51 percent), email (19 percent) or independent websites (19 percent).
  • Email suffers as a result. Even though consumers named email as the most important channel for their pre-purchase (37 percent) and post-purchase (52 percent) decisions, marketing budgets are still heavily skewed towards building and maintaining company websites. Marketers say they know the value of email, but they’re not acting on that strength.
  • Marketers underestimate the desire for privacy. 49 percent of consumers are concerned about the threat of privacy online. But, marketing executives consider only 23 percent of their customers to be very concerned about their privacy
  • The “big picture” of the customer seems out of reach. 45 percent of marketing executives surveyed felt they lacked the capacity to truly put big data to work. Half called their budgets inadequate for digital marketing and customer management.

On top of that, just 24 percent of those polled always use data for actionable insight, and 45 percent named an inability to analyze data as a major obstacle to evolving their strategies.

Couple all the confusion over which channels to prioritize with an inability to put data to work, and it’s no wonder marketers have trouble putting digital strategies front and center in their operational landscape.

How can you justify the investment, then? How do you make the case to a skeptical C-suite that it’s worth the time and effort to get it right?

  • Digital is the new normal. Consumers today expect the companies they deal with to be active — and effective — across digital platforms. If you’re not developing and managing a strong digital presence, your current and potential customers will look elsewhere to engage.
  • … and your competitors know that. Your competitive edge depends on increasing digital sophistication. If your technology and your workforce aren’t moving forward, it’s likely that your competitors will pass you by.
  • Talent is still scarce. Data science is not yet a common discipline, and the intrepid few who have mastered the analysis, manipulation and interpretation of data are a hot commodity for recruiters. If you wait too long to bring talent on board, there may not be any talent left waiting in the wings.
  • If not now, when? The moment that you’re completely “ready” to embrace progress may never arrive, and you certainly can’t afford to hold off forever. Taking deliberate steps to move forward now is your best hope of not being left woefully behind.

Digital marketing will continue to present challenges for marketers, if only because the technology moves forward faster than most companies can evolve. But ultimately, there’s no avoiding it, from a customer or competitive standpoint. Break it down into small, manageable steps and start building out a strategy sooner than later.

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