The Digital Age of Marketing

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Taking a chunk out of consumers’ wallets might require an upheaval of traditional mass-marketing campaigns. A recent report by analyst firm Gartner predicts that digital strategies like social and mobile marketing will influence at least 80 percent of consumers’ discretionary spending by 2015.

Analysts say digital marketing campaigns are “critical” in making up for increasingly ineffective mass-marketing strategies. Gartner’s operational definition of digital marketing includes “addressable branding/advertising, contextual marketing, social marketing, and transactional marketing” that “extends the marketing process through channels such as the Web, email, video, mobile and social applications, point-of-sale terminals, interactive television, digital signage, and kiosks.”

“Mass marketing is no longer a long-term strategy,” Adam Sarner, research director at Gartner, said in the report. “Marketers still need to shift their traditional campaign management strategies around executing campaigns to a customer and move toward a digital marketing, two-way engagement approach.” According to Sarner, mass-marketing campaigns have generated only a 2 percent response rate and are on the decline.

Gartner further predicts that a customer-focused strategy that uses digital techniques and channels will result in increased engagement, response, and conversion rates. The report states that mobile marketing in the United States reached $877.2 million in 2010, a 138 percent jump from the $368 million spent in 2009. And, by 2014, 6.7 billion devices will be connected to the Internet, and developing social CRM applications will reach $1 billion by 2013, an increase from $600 million in 2010, the firm says.

Sarner argues that using these tools for collaboration is key for developing effective marketing campaigns. “Today, activity on the Internet has shifted back to its roots in interaction and participation,” he said in the report. 

The report explains that while digital marketing provides opportunities for two-way engagement, digital channels, access to a customer view, and precise metrics, marketers should consider campaign management a “way to orchestrate the complexity of a complete online and offline marketing strategy, while incorporating the evolving customer approach of digital marketing.”

“Successful campaign management strategies have shifted from interruptive push toward two-way conversations and addressing mutually beneficial approaches to customers’ wants and needs, which a digital marketing approach can provide,” Sarner said in the report.

Sarner also insists “these channels can’t be just a port for traditional campaign methods. Although most marketers are using more than one digital channel, their approach is often no different from a spam model, where success is driven by high volumes and attempting to make a profit from nearly everyone who accepts the offer,” he said in the report. “Just using digital channels is not the answer.”

But not everyone is convinced social media will be that far-reaching. Esteban Kolsky, founder of ThinkJar, is skeptical about Gartner’s forecast numbers. He believes 80 percent is a “very dramatic number” and questions how it will be reached by 2015. Because the market is still new, it’s still too early to make a “globally sweeping” prediction. “You’re basically saying that four out of five people will be basing their decision on social media,” he says. “We don’t have that today, and we won’t have four out of five people actually connected to social media in 2015.”

Instead of eliminating mass marketing, Kolsky suggests marketers take a more integrated approach to engage consumers. “You see campaigns that reach out via one channel and then occupy another,” he says. “You may get a tweet that links to an online property or you go to a community and you have an account to follow on Facebook or Twitter. You don’t see campaigns that are separate; you see multichannel campaigns.”

Associate/Web Editor Brittany Farb can be reached at bfarb@destinationcrm.com.

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