Ducks in Order

The most common question I get asked about digital marketing technology in my work as an analyst is, "How is everybody else doing this?” 

It's not an easy question to answer — ironically because most discussion about it overcomplicates the issue.

In short, for many, the best practice is to keep things simple.

That might seem counterintuitive given the potential level of complexity in the digital marketing space. But as we’ve said before, there is a lag between what is possible and what is actionable in digital marketing, which is true in any technology marketplace.

Baby Steps

Last week I caught up with a technologist working with a Digital Marketing vendor. I wanted to follow-up on some – quite exciting – new stuff coming out of their development labs, which was now in the hands of a select group of customers. My first question was, “So what are they doing with it?” The response, “Right now, quite basic stuff.”

While this may sound like a let down, it shows that people have to understand what is working and why before considering technology that scales out and automates customer engagement.

Our recent ChangeWave buying intent surveys have shown a gentle uptick toward digital marketing technology. But they also show, as of the April 2015 survey, that more than half of organizations have no plans for digital marketing spending within the next three months. Not to conflate this with a lack of activity in digital marketing, but rather that this work is not yet mature enough to necessitate specialist technology.

As we noted in research released in January, the regular appearance of Microsoft as a cited digital marketing supplier suggests a much less advanced install base than many would like to believe.

Consistency Gives Room to Experiment

So what “quite basic” things were the customers doing with the exciting new tech? Customer onboarding, event follow-ups — the sort of activities that customers knew how to handle and were comfortable with. The tech allowed them to automate and scale those activities with a strong degree of confidence, because they were based on well-established workflows.

The tech also brought them a further, less discussed quality: consistency.

While consistency doesn’t have the same cachet as scale (Ever hear about the exciting world of consistent data that will solve all the worlds’ ills? Me neither), it’s far more important than it gets credit for. And it's something that technology really helps with. While "consistent replication of an established customer experience, however simple" will never rank as the most exciting chapter in the big book of digital marketing techniques, it is the starting point for most initiatives.

Consistency gives businesses the breathings space to experiment with those new, more complex workflows that the bleeding-edge tech has been designed to deliver. By establishing customer success in those basic endeavors, organizations can gradually scale the digital marketing maturity curve while guaranteeing the longevity of the digital marketing software industry in the process.

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