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Digital marketing technology is too immature to effectively address enterprise business strategies. 

That's the stunning conclusion of new research from the independent analysts at Olney, Md.-based Real Story Group (RSG).

Unlike past technology waves, when technologies developed quicker than enterprise strategies, digital marketing technologies are lagging the problems they are supposed to solve. 

The Digital Marketing Challenges  

Jarrod Gingras, managing director and analyst at RSG, told CMSWire the immaturity of the technologies is compounded by enterprise confusion about the solutions. “Enterprises are picking the wrong tools for the job,” he said.

The findings are spelled out in RSG's just released report on Marketing Automation & Social Technologies. The report is based on the findings of an online survey in the last quarter of 2015, which questioned a cross section of organizations and industries (excluding organizations of less than 20 people) in all geographies about the maturity and expectations of their marketing and social technologies.

Digital Marketing Strategies

While the sample size was small (75 organizations), the results are intriguing. About 59 percent of organizations have adopted an enterprise-wide strategy for digital marketing technology, and just about half have a related strategy in place at the business-unit level. 

So what's the problem? It not a lack of digital strategies, but a misalignment of tools and expertise, Gingras said.

The research shows that:

  • Less than half or organizations (47 percent) have tools that fit their organization
  • Only 35 percent of enterprises have optimized their technologies

The deficiencies and underuse of tools s are creating significant challenges for marketers.

The result is underperforming technology implementations — which are often implemented late and over budget. Only 39 percent of organizations report on-time completion, while only 55 percent of them report on-budget completion.

Future Digital Pain vs. Plans

Gingras ominously predicts a lot of pain in the future for organizations grappling with digital marketing transformation. 

“Some companies are cobbling these [digital] tool kits together. Some are leading the way, particularly in the consumer goods product space. They are really pushing it and that will circle down and we will find all kinds of things. At the other end of the spectrum, though, it’s going to take a lot of pain to get enterprises where they want to go," he said.

For now, overall satisfaction with digital marketing software is only “middling despite investments with digital marketing clouds showing a lower level of satisfaction than other digital marketing products," he noted.

Gingras said enterprises need to address strategies and technologies holistically. “A holistic strategy needs to be in place to be successful. They need to look at people, technology and strategies,” he said.

There are other more immediate responses too:

“Because this technology is largely on the cheaper end of the digital marketing spectrum — and I accept that this is a very broad statement —  a lot of companies we see are just pulling it out and starting over,” he added.

“With the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model making things relatively cheap to get started, enterprises can try something else out if it is not working. In some cases, this is causing a lot of pain as people are going through the same process over and over again with the same results.”

Ultimately this is market that has yet to mature and things are not going to change any time soon. Expect some instability in the market: some vendors will drop out and others will enter. “There are new players entering every day,” “he said. 

However, it will take as long as three to five years for many of the products to mature.

(RSG founder Tony Byrne will be sharing insights about digital transformation strategies and ways organizations can advance their digital maturity when he returns to CMSWire's DX Summit in Chicago this November for the second consecutive year. DXS16 will be held Nov. 15 and 16 at the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel Chicago, with a full day of pre-conference workshops on Nov. 14.)