By Claire West
Marketers report strong doubts about their skills, effectiveness and ability to measure the impact of their campaigns according to research released from Adobe.
The study, Digital Distress: What Keeps Marketers Up at Night?, polled 1,000 marketing professionals in the U.S. and exposes new insights into the industry’s beliefs and attitudes toward digital marketing. The research is being released during the annual Advertising Week conference in New York (Sept. 23-27), one of the largest gatherings of marketing industry professionals in the U.S.
“But you have to get in there and play and learn. The challenge is getting comfortable with risks. Set aside a portion of budget - 10-20% - and really try new things.”
Crisis of Confidence in Marketing Proficiency and Effectiveness
Based on a broad survey of marketers, the findings revealed a striking lack of confidence in digital ability. Less than half (48%) of professionals who consider themselves primarily digital marketers feel highly proficient in digital marketing. A majority of digital marketers haven’t received any formal training in digital marketing: 82% report learning on the job.
Marketers also express low confidence in how their companies’ marketing programs are performing. Only 40% think their company’s marketing is effective. When it comes to measuring the effectiveness of digital campaigns specifically, only 9% strongly agreed with the statement that they “know their digital marketing is working.” Yet there is increasing pressure to measure marketing’s impact: 68% of respondents feel more pressured to show return on investment on their marketing spend.
“Marketers are facing a dilemma: they aren’t sure what’s working, they’re feeling underequipped to meet the challenges of digital, and they’re having a tough time keeping up with the pace of change in the industry. What’s worse, no one hands you a playbook on how to make it all work,” said Ann Lewnes, chief marketing officer, Adobe. “But the opportunity for marketers is too great to let uncertainty slow them down. Marketers who are bold in their digital marketing efforts and investments, who are taking smart risks, and who are training their teams to be more ‘digital ready’ will be in a great position to capitalize on digital’s full promise.”
“Marketers feel the pressures, and in some cases understand what they should do, but lack the confidence that they will succeed. They’re anxious about understanding ahead of time what makes for good creative and smart digital strategies, managing complexity, and measuring real impact. Plus, so much of marketing today is a moving target,” said David Edelman, global co-leader, McKinsey Digital, McKinsey & Company. “But you have to get in there and play and learn. The challenge is getting comfortable with risks. Set aside a portion of budget - 10-20% - and really try new things.”
Underscoring the strain of rapid change in the industry, a strong majority (76%) of respondents think marketing has changed more in the past two years than in the past 50. Sixty-six percent of all marketers think companies won’t succeed unless they have a digital marketing approach.
“Business leaders recognize the potential of digital in driving revenue. Marketers need to rise to the occasion and mature — quickly — in digital proficiency. The challenge is to stop being digitally paralyzed and start aligning their products and services to the digital opportunity by building digital programs, measuring and optimizing,” said Yvonne Genovese, managing vice president, Marketing Leaders Research, Gartner. “Realizing the positive outcomes — like customer engagement, retention and conversion will rapidly fuel digital marketing maturity and leadership.”
Dramatic Gaps in Performance and Marketing Measurement
The survey data shows a compelling correlation between strong overall business performance and digital marketing proficiency. Respondents were asked to rate their company’s business performance as either “high,” “average” or “low” performing. The data revealed that high-performing companies are twice as likely to rate their company as highly proficient in digital marketing (50%) than average to lower-performing companies (25%).
Asked about their greatest professional concerns, marketers cited reaching their customers as the biggest challenge (82%), followed closely by the uncertainty of knowing whether their campaigns are working (79%), proving campaign effectiveness (77%) and demonstrating marketing return on investment (75%).
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