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Your Career With (& Without) Digital Marketing Expertise

Expertise in digital marketing may make or break your career today. As for tomorrow however, unless you’re looking to become an avocado farmer, being analogue in a digital world could well prove to not be your smartest career move.
The signs are already clear. What’s the biggest marketing talent shortage today? Senior executives with digital experience.
And it’s going to get worse.
According to the Australian Digital Skills and Salary Survey:
More than half of businesses surveyed anticipated hiring more digital specialists over the coming 12 months. Currently, 30% of the digital talent in Australia are, in fact, expats.
In other words, we’re not growing enough local digital talent to keep up with demand.
Why?
Researchers are quick to blame either the education sector for not adequately preparing students or the business community for not developing talent – and skills – to meet industry needs.
Attention marketers looking to advance your career: the same survey saw an increased demand for some very specific digital marketing skills: programmatic advertising, performance media and marketing, social media and content, search engine optimisation (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM) and data analytics.
Digital marketing experience and expertise can help to propel your career forward in ways other than just looking good on your resume. The ability to understand and leverage digital platforms and strategies will help you to justify budgets, quantify customer engagement, improve business processes and boost profits/ROI. Compelling skills for most potential employers.
So, what’s behind this seismic change?
Digital is an essential component of marketing.
According to recruitment company Hays Sales & Marketing, the way digital marketing is evolving is set to keep growing, and employers are set to take notice and prepare for its growth.
Peter Noblet, Senior Regional Director of Hays Sales & Marketing said “As the business landscape shifts, marketers must evolve with the times to fully connect with their customers and drive business growth.”
 “As marketing becomes more technology-based, harnessing and mastering ‘big data’ will be key to achieving competitive advantage. If companies are to remain market front-runners, they need to integrate their digital and social marketing channels into one customer journey. To do this, they require candidates with integrated offline and online channel experience.”
So, you need digital and online channel marketing experience. The downside is that marketing education in Australia tends to be very broad and is still in the process of evolving to meet these digital demands.
Formal education isn’t necessarily the answer, however. Consider further developing your skills in the digital realm through industry conferences, online workshops or through mentorship with another professional who may have more senior experience.
The other option of course is to do what several of our clients have done which is to volunteer to be the ‘digital contact’ within their organisation. There’s no better way to get digital experience than by jumping in at the deep-end; particularly when none of your peers are willing to move out of their own comfort zones.
The bottom line: digital skills aren’t just important for your employer, they’re important for you too. A background in digital marketing will prepare you to connect digital campaign efforts with business revenue and growth, making you an essential member of your team.
To keep up, the business world is looking for talent abroad.
Over the past few years, the education sector in Australian has looked overseas for cues on how to further educate their marketing students. There are reports of institutions looking to the UK for marketing direction.
The good news is that we Australians have a good track record for quickly adapting to new market trends. Australia has one of the highest social media and internet penetrations in the world, but we haven’t been fast to adopt this trend in business—yet.
For a current or future marketing leader looking to shape his or her career, it will be key to build your digital marketing business case from overseas trends and case study success modelling. The research suggests that once you do, you’ll find the support you need:
According to Ethos BeathChapman, compared to other countries across the region, Australian marketers reported stronger support for digital marketing from company leadership. In Australia, 44% of senior managers provided very strong support, which compares to just 29% a year ago.
As leadership becomes more open to adopting digital strategies and programs, a key part of your job is to build the business case for your organisation to implement them, as well as to invest in your education in the digital marketing arena.
The business case for digital is sound; as long as it’s integrated with traditional marketing.
The good news is that integrating digital with traditional marketing means that you don’t need to learn your job all over again; you’re simply adding to your existing skill sets.
As of right now, however not many marketing leaders in Australia feel prepared:
According to an Economist Intelligence Unit survey on digital marketing, most marketers lack the skill sets needed to understand and glean insights from digital data. 82% of marketers state that career skills have changed, with 37% indicating they don’t have the skills required to analyse and understand the vast amount of data available to them.
With data, you can move mountains. You can attribute revenue to certain streams, refine your audience targeting, and reach potential buyers in real-time. Adding an analytical mindset to your arsenal of marketing skills is the most important thing you can do to move your career forward, and ensure the success of digital marketing in your organisation.
Digital marketing will (not) go away if you ignore it
Even now, on the verge of 2017 – some 22 years after the notional start of the commercialised internet – many companies and the people who run them are pretending that the world hasn’t changed.
The problem, of course is that it has. And if you don’t embrace the now not so new digital changes, your career may prove to be very ‘interesting’ in the future.
Having said that, prove me wrong! Perhaps being a digital luddite may just work for you and your career. Just like it worked for the marketers who said that new fangled radio, television and, heck, even computers wouldn’t catch on.
You never know though, you may turn out to be the smart one and prove all of us digital zealots wrong. If not, well, get out the shovel, pull on your boots and start planting those avocado seeds!
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How to avoid digital dead ends

Have you ever noticed that so-called ‘express lanes’ on the road or in stores are often slower than the normal lanes?
While I know it’s easy to go on auto-pilot when performing mundane chores like driving or shopping, it amazes me that people so often follow the actual signs instead of reading the signs around them.
Because we humans are inherently disengaged, conflicted or uncertain as to what we should do in many situations, we’re attracted to people and things that can give us clarity, focus and direction. This is particularly the case when we don’t know a great deal about the subject at hand.
Charismatic leaders understand this. The more effective they are at providing a clear and compelling way forward, the more followers they attract. Not that their chosen path is always a good or rewarding one as history has shown on many occasions.
Digital marketing, as a discipline is failing miserably in giving marketers a clear way forward. Or perhaps it’s the other way around.
It’s not for want of trying, however. You could spend all your time consuming books, courses, podcasts, webinars, articles and conferences on digital this, mobile that, programmatic whatever. It’s information overload, the sworn enemy of clarity and focus.
What ends up happening is that huge dollops of dollars are being spent on doing digital stuff with no clear idea as to why it’s being done.
I was in a brainstorming session a few years ago with our client and their creative, media and PR agencies. The solutions that were put forward to increase awareness and drive sales of the client’s brand were all based on just doing digital stuff. Let’s sponsor Shazam, let’s run targeted Facebook ads, let’s do cool banner ads, let’s do pre-roll YouTube ads etc. Lots and lots of stuff.
My suggestion about first creating a strategy, engaging with consumers via email and phone to better understand their interests and needs and THEN rolling-out select digital stuff was met with a deafening silence. I was obviously a buzz-kill.
It’s no wonder clients end up going down expensive digital dead ends when they consistently receive advice that amount to just doing lots of stuff. The people giving the advice often know just enough jargon to confuse the people (clients) receiving it.
This doesn’t have to be you.
Here are the four key questions you need to answer when planning and implementing your digital program IF you want it to deliver actual results beyond views, likes, clicks and opens:

What do you want?
OK, it seems like I’m trying to teach you, an experienced and savvy businessperson how to suck eggs. Sorry. But for this rant to actually resonate with you in the context of all the hot air you may have been fed, I need to boil it down to the basics.
Is your market aging and you need a younger demographic? Are your competitors doing a better job than you of building awareness / relevance in the market? Do your customers buy on price and not much else?
These are the types of grunty sales and marketing problems that you need solutions for. They’re exactly the problems you can and should be looking to digital marketing to help you solve.
Marketing strategies and digital marketing strategies are not mutually exclusive. They must be intertwined. You must know what you want to achieve commercially before a coder’s keyboard is struck in anger.
If your digital partner doesn’t get what you’re looking to achieve outside of what can be done on a computer, mobile phone or a tablet, get a new partner.
What do your customers want?
I know, it’s obvious, but why do so many digital programs seem self rather than customer serving? One of the exciting aspects of web marketing is that it’s relatively easy to find the customers you’re looking to influence. So there’s no real excuse to be inward or focus group oriented with your digital programs.
The internet is the ultimate home of people seeking answers, solutions and to have most of their needs met. As with all types of marketing, the better we meet those needs the more successful we will be.
Often, the main solution web browsers are looking for is to make a connection with others who are ‘just like me’. We’ve achieved phenomenal results by simply asking customers to – confidentially – tell us their story as it relates to the product / service we’re marketing. Usually for no incentive other than the satisfaction of being heard.
Billions of dollars of value are being wiped off bottom lines in many industries because of many companies’ failure truly understand what their customers want. The default reaction: cut the price.
Do online surveys using third party lists if you don’t have your own; send an email to your customers asking for their opinions; put on a series of wine and cheese chats in your office; do targeted Google / Facebook ad campaigns driving prospects to a survey page. Heck, get on the phone and just talk to a bunch of random customers! Or do all of the above.
Your customers don’t care about your new website, app, eDM, social media page. Unless of course those platforms give them something that they want. If you use the access you have to your customers / prospects using various digital means, any or all of these may be appropriate. But you don’t really know if you don’t ask.

Think Long-Term
Unless you have a here today gone tomorrow offering, your digital vision needs to extend beyond the next six weeks or months. Try six years – for starters.
I get that marketers tend to be career butterflies but if you do your job effectively, your brand’s customers are not. We all are looking for long-term relationships: with our spouses, friends, work colleagues and of course, brands. Those types of relationships don’t happen after a 6 week burst. That’s a start, but the true value for everyone involved only becomes apparent over the years.
The same applies with your digital programs. Companies who view digital through the prism of the next quarter or year’s results are leaving money on the table.
By all means launch with a bang, get consumers engaged and excited but make sure you have a compelling answer for “now what?”. If senior management are looking for a ROI directly attributable to your investment in digital after only a few months in most cases, you may have a problem.
I’ve seen many cases of clever short-term digital campaigns with no follow-up strategy. This is old paradigm thinking: run my ad today and watch the sales fly tomorrow. The main advantage with digital vs. traditional advertising is that it’s much easier and more cost-effective to create assets – e.g. email / mobile databases / social media engagement.
And what can assets do? Provide a return over many years. Your 2016 digital budget should be directly returning money to your organisation in 2021 and beyond.
Stay the course

Don’t get bored with your digital campaign. Make adjustments by all means based on customer feedback but resist the urge to try something new when the old way could be working just fine.
Many marketers love shiny new things in the name of keeping up with changing consumer interests and needs. Which has some validity. The problems arise when you keep having to continually start from scratch, rather than build on what you did before.
Like relationships, if it’s the right one you hang in there through good and bad times. Customers don’t care when your budget starts and finishes; if you disappear for six months, one of your competitors has probably stolen your thunder – and customer.
Invariably, there are countless opportunities in your market for you to launch successful digital programs simply because most companies are not planning and acting in a structured way like this.

Use this formula to steer a course through the maze of digital options. Don’t just ask “what are we going to do?” WHY you’re going to do it is an infinitely more important question.
When you read and understand the signs that are all around you’ll be much more likely to get where you want to go. The alternative is far less appealing.
 
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The Email Strikes Back

Imagine a time long, long ago: 2002.
Facebook was but a twinkle in Mark Zuckerberg’s eye. ‘App’ was nothing more than my nickname. Big data sounded like a Clint Eastwood movie. And digital marketing, well that meant banner ads, websites, My Space profiles and spam emails.
Good times.
Fast forward to today and boy, it’s SO much more exciting! Digital technology is infinitely more ingrained in our lives and all manner of platforms, programs and strategies are now available to digital marketers.
There’s only one problem: those pesky bean counters keep on wanting you to deliver a profit from your investment in digital.
Hate that.
There is good news, however.
If you thought Facebook’s 1.4 billion users was impressive, how about another digital platform that has 3.9 billion users. It has a 300% higher conversion rate than social media with sales that have 17% higher value. And here’s the kicker: for every $1 spent on this platform, the average return is $44.25. That’s a lot of beans to count.
So what is this amazing digital platform? It’s, wait for it, EMAIL!
Email? Are you serious? Email is so, well, old and boring.
Yes, compared to all the latest digital, mobile and social media thingamies, email marketing has whiskers. It hasn’t had the digerati WOW factor since the 90’s. And if you’re waiting for an invitation to deliver the keynote at a digital marketing conference dissecting your highly successful email marketing program, don’t hold your breath.
For a time there, the figures suggested that email was on the way out. According to the McKinsey iConsumer survey there was a 20% decline in email usage from 2008 to 2012, inversely proportional to the increased popularity of social media, instant messaging and mobile apps.
Given that many marketers have the attention span of a tsetse fly, the endless new digital tools to play with are tailor made. You get your head around Instagram and then along comes Pinterest. You master YouTube and then you have to contend with Periscope (or Meerkat). Heaven!
The key problem that digital technology has created for many marketers is that there are so many new platforms and methods to learn about that the ‘what to do’ has taken the focus away from the ‘why to do it’.
I’ve seen millions of dollars spent on ‘doing digital stuff’ with no clear strategy as to how the activity will lead to increased sales, awareness, new customers or more satisfied existing customers. As for a longer-term vision that builds on the momentum that’s been created by the initial digital campaign, forget about it.
Of course, it’s not all doom and gloom. Smart marketers have been focused on building digital assets since the 90’s; starting with opt-in email databases through to active communities on target market appropriate social media platforms.
While the jury’s still out on putting all your eggs in the social media basket, there has been a clear resurgence in email marketing’s appeal.
Salesforce Marketing Cloud’s 2015 State of Marketing report found that for 73% of marketers email is core to their business. Tellingly, 60% see email as a critical ‘enabler’ of their products and services this year compared to 42% in 2014.
Even though there hasn’t been anything new to get excited about with email since Adam was fretting over the Y2K virus, the savvy among us know that if it’s results you’re after email marketing is what you should be doing.
Not that the humble email in and of itself is anything special. As with any type of marketing, the magic is not in the technology or the delivery method, it lies in the ability of that marketing initiative to take the target market from point A to point B.
As you’ve no doubt experienced, in the hands of amateurs and villains, email has the power to damage and dilute a brand. How many deathly dull email newsletters have you received that talk all about the sender and nothing that’s remotely interesting to you?
And then there’s spam.
It could be argued – convincingly – that any commercial email that doesn’t focus on what your market is interested in and what can help them is spam.
So be warned. You don’t have to be selling dodgy medical cures or timeshare apartments for recipients to hate you for wasting their time and clogging up their inbox.
Conversely, effectively crafted email marketing is still what it has always been: an incredibly flexible, highly targeted, trackable and results-generating strategy.
Here’s a fun exercise: compare the cost per personal contact for email versus any other sales or marketing method. We did this recently for a client’s Business-2-Business email marketing campaign and compared it to their salespeople calling on the same number of customers who opened the email. There was around a $275,000 difference in favour of the humble email. It’s enough to give those bean counters palpitations.
By all means do the fun digital stuff; it may not achieve terribly much but it sure as heck can look good on your CV.
However, if you’re the person responsible for generating leads, driving sales and serving your customers more effectively, email marketing could well be the solution, digital or otherwise, that you need.
 
The Message is brought to you by Tick Yes – providing solutions for all your digital and content marketing needs.
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Email Marketing

 
 

Smoke, Mirrors and Digital Advertising

Having worked in the digital space for well over a decade I have witnessed first hand the ability of digital marketing to deliver tangible business results. From quantitatively robust research insights, through to enhancing multi-channel relationships and of course market share and profitability increases.
But there’s a big but. Not all digital marketing is created equal. Not all solutions are going to keep shareholders/senior management/your wife happy once the digital dust settles and the numbers are objectively reviewed.

For example, it’s very hard to get excited about digital display advertising when the average click-through rate is 0.05% (2019). Let’s put that in retail terms: imagine you run a store where you need to pay the cost of goods, rent, utilities, staff, cleaning, security etc. before putting a cent in your pocket. Then after dealing with all that, for every 2,000 customers who walk in your door only one shows any interest in what you’re selling. Note, I didn’t say they actually bought anything. They just asked a lukewarm question or two. Perhaps they’ll buy; chances are they won’t.
It’s not a very attractive business model. Yet that’s exactly what advertisers are being sold by website publishers every day. It’s what I was sold some years ago when I was marketing a travel related product. The salesperson from what was then Australia’s largest travel site got me all excited about contextual relevance, traffic numbers, time on site, engaged users blah, blah, blah. After spending many thousands of dollars, the rep proudly informed me that my campaign performed “off the charts”. Apparently it almost doubled the site’s display advertising average click through rate. And what rate was that? 0.7%.
We ended up paying $X00 per click and achieved virtually nothing because of the few people who did click most didn’t do what we wanted them to do. It was a disaster.
Now there will be many in the digital advertising business who will say that maybe:
a) My creativity sucked
b) There was no compelling call to action
c) Display is most effective when part of an integrated campaign
d) I didn’t test enough various creative, offers etc.
e) I wasn’t on the right – read their – site
You know what; there may be some truth in all of those points. But I keep coming back to the numbers. Or in this case, THE number: 0.7%. Unless you’re selling nuclear reactors or Ferraris where you ROI per single sale is very high and your target market is very specifically defined, digital display advertising can be a very big and very black hole.
If you are looking for maximising the returns from your digital marketing investment, look to create and then leverage your own digital assets. Sure, other digital strategies like social media can drive engagement and be a big contributor to your online success but never forget that unless your last name is Zuckerberg, you don’t truly own the communities on your social media pages, accounts etc. Someone who does own them could decide to change their platform and ‘your’ community could disappear in a single mouse click. Pretty scary, don’t you think? What you can control is your own website, blog and opt-in email database to which you can send relevant, targeted eDMs. You can create compelling content to syndicate on a variety of platforms that will be online forever and will continuously drive interested people to where you want them to go.
All of this is sounds a little small time to the ‘awareness merchants’. Schooled in the art of doing big brand building ad campaigns, this is all a bit fiddly. And they’re right. Interacting with individuals can be, let’s face it, a pain in the neck. Particularly when you’re used to paying for exposure to someone else’s community or audience.
If you want someone to buy what you’re selling there’s no better way to achieve that than to talk to them belly to belly and find out what they want and need and to then craft your pitch accordingly. Short of being able to do that, being able to digitally connect with them individually is the next best thing.
Of course traditional advertising is not dead and can still be highly effective, but as we’ve known for decades much of the investment you need to make is wasted and doesn’t achieve the desired results. As we’ve seen, digital marketing is by no means immune to wastage. The difference however, is that by running cost-effective tests and then implementing proven strategies it offers savvy, results-oriented marketers leverage well beyond what they’ve ever had before.
The Message is brought to you by Tick Yes – providing solutions for all your digital and content marketing needs.
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