Indications are that businesses in general, including banks, see marketing in the digital realm equaling and surpassing in importance more traditional marketing venues such as television, magazines, newspapers, billboards, and the like.
While digital marketing budgets increase, however, the effectiveness of digital marketing generally remains suspect. Penetration is one thing; getting positive customer response is another. It seems there’s a real and distinct art to transforming those pop-up ads, email blasts, and little mobile phone banners into actual customer response.
Nevertheless, the experts say an increasing amount of money is and will be spent on digital marketing. Gartner Inc., is a good place to start. It predicts digital marketing budgets will rise by 10% this year, following a double-digit percentage increase last year.
“Marketing leaders are securing bigger budgets to define markets, develop offerings, and attract, acquire, and retain customers,” says Yvonne Genovese, managing vice president at Gartner.
Thinkvine, which produces marketing mix optimization software, says in its own survey that more than half of the marketing executives it polled expect to spend more on digital media than traditional channels within the next two years. Most say they are confident that digital spending will eventually exceed traditional spending, with only 3% of respondents saying the shift will never happen. It includes the finance industry among those that are leading the way in digital adoption, with 36% of these marketers reporting they already dedicate half or more of their budget to digital.
The thing is, even as more and more resources get dedicated to digital channels—websites, mobile apps, social profiles, directory listings, on-site search, email, and more—actually getting the desired customer response is harder and harder to achieve.
Content Marketing Institute, in a study sponsored by Marketo, another marketing software producer, looked at the quality of business-to-business marketing content. It found that 70% of B2B enterprise marketers are creating more content than they did a year ago, but only 41% have a documented content marketing strategy in place to guide their efforts.
The biggest marketing challenges were found to be a “lack of integration” and “producing engaging content.” To this point, it found that social media content and videos are among the top three marketing tactics that B2B marketers use. LinkedIn and Twitter have overtaken Facebook as the preferred social media platforms.
“When we look at year-over-year data, we see that B2B enterprise marketers are doing a better job producing enough content. It’s producing engaging content that continues to be their biggest challenge,” says Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute.
“Tracking and responding to audience intent and delivering contextually relevant experiences to influence a complex purchase path is among the great challenges faced by digital marketers today,” says Jake Sorofman, research director at Gartner. “This requires a marketing technology leader who understands the requirements and issues associated with joining together disparate data sources and technologies, and who has a vision for future marketing requirements.”
At the same time what works for one enterprise doesn’t necessarily work for all, and that’s where the marketing art comes in. “Marketers shouldn’t blindly follow the crowd,” says ThinkVine CEO Mark Battaglia. “Consumers in general spend more time with digital media, but it’s important for each brand to know how their specific customers consume media and how different media types work together to achieve sales and brand objectives. Companies can’t take a one-size-fits all approach to their marketing mix.”
That’s why Gartner notes that, among the admittedly bigger enterprises it polled, 77% now employ a chief customer officer, and 81% employ a chief marketing technologist, or equivalents.
For businesses that can’t afford such dedicated in-house staff, there always are third-party sources. ABA offers extensive resources through its affiliate ABA Marketing Network, at http://www.aba.com/Tools/Function/MarketingNetwork/Pages/default.aspx.
And there are vendors. Jacobs and Clevenger is one, and is mentioned here only because it has posted an interesting blog about the pivotal role of technology in retail bank marketing communications. In it, Sheera Eby, executive vice president, strategy and client services, offers a few tips that are condensed here:
- Make mobile a priority—74% of mobile users rely on mobile devices to check email. Size the email’s format such that it can be readable and workable on a mobile phone.
- Use behavioral marketing—For example, suppose a potential customer clicks on a link in your email, but then quickly abandons the website because he or she didn’t want to make a quick decision. Follow up with another communication to that individual with additional information.
- Personalize communications—Assure the recipient that you know each other, in order to cut through clutter and boost the sense of security.
- Coordinate multichannel messages—Online and offline marketing communications, such as email, direct mail, and landing pages work better together than as stand-alone tactics.
Of course, there’s always hope, no matter the size of the organization. As ThinkVine’s Battaglia says, “The survey results show that most marketers are moving budgets to digital channels before they have all the information they’d like to have. They told us that they rely more on factors like experience, perceived current performance, and historical spending and trends than tracking and model-driven analytics. As a result, there is still an opportunity for marketers to improve results and gain a competitive advantage by using data and analytics in new ways across the marketing mix.”
Sources used for this article include: