The State of Digital Marketing – 2015

GFM's Saint Joseph Hospital Opening campaign encompassed web, social media, media relations, SEO and digital ad campaigns.

GFM’s Saint Joseph Hospital Opening campaign encompassed web, social media, media relations, SEO and digital ad campaigns.

If you’re in the marketing communications industry, you’re probably familiar with terms like “content marketing,” “social media marketing,” “community management” – or simply “digital.” But can you explain the difference between each one? What does “digital marketing” actually mean?

Marketing departments and creative agencies are at a crossroads. Think about how greatly our work – our strategies – have evolved in the past five to 10 years. Marketing channels, consumer behaviors, third and fourth screens, mobile, SEO, distribution methods, customer service, thought leadership, media relations, bloggers/influencers, social networks, digital content, video, social advertising…it’s all different, and it continues to evolve. Marketing departments are struggling with where to prioritize budgets (and who to hire to do the work!) – and if any of you attended the Evolve or Die SXSW session this past March, it’s clear that traditional agencies have just as many questions about navigating the digital arena.

The beauty amidst the chaos is, for quite possibly the first time, the consumer is firmly in the driver’s seat. As a customer, I want what I want and if I can’t get it, I’ll find it elsewhere. For marketers, this means having to account for multiple marketing channels, with multiple messages and multiple pieces of content (hence the full-on confusion from traditional “mass marketing” splatter approach and advertising agencies). Savvy marketers, digital or otherwise, take an extremely pinpointed approach.

Digital video is just one of the many channels to reach any number of audiences in today's marketing landscape.

Digital video is just one of the many channels to reach any number of audiences in today’s marketing landscape.

Digital marketing also allows us to be extremely targeted with our metrics and ROI. Long gone are the days of buying a billboard or landing a front page Wall Street Journal article and claiming that “X” amount of impressions led to “X” sales increase. For every digital content campaign and media story published, we now know the exact number of impressions that led to clicks, which resulted in new web traffic, and culminated in purchases/conversions. The guessing game is gone, which means we need to be more targeted with multifaceted campaigns within small to moderate marketing budgets.

There are a few things we know for sure about “digital marketing” in 2015:

  • Mass communications/marketing/advertising is dying. Customized campaigns with numerous pieces of content targeting specific audience subsets are where the most successful results occur.
  • Third party, authoritative and rich content is what consumers want, and what search engines are rewarding.
  • The ROI of marketing campaigns has never been clearer. Guessing and assumptions are, for the most part, a thing of the past (and if your agency or marketing team is telling you different, you should challenge them with more specific metrics).
  • Successful campaigns are all encompassing: creative content, SEO, earned media, digital advertising, influencer outreach, customer service, strategic messaging and a strong website presence. Implementing a campaign without integrating most or all of those items means you’re leaving opportunity on the table.
  • Each new channel and tactic allows businesses to effectively connect with their evolving audiences – acquiring long-term customers rather than one-time purchasers, clicks or views.

The marketing world is in a constant state of evolution. Are your marketing and communications campaigns evolving with your customers to get the most out of your dollar?

~ Jim Licko

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