By Adam Fraser
A common theme on both the EchoJunction blog and EchoJunction podcast over the last 12 months has been the issue of short-term tactical execution overriding the importance of long-term strategic planning and brand building, in the marketing sector.
On the podcast, Professor Mark Ritson talked about the ‘tactification’ of marketing, JP Hanson discussed the optimum balance for branding vs activation and former ANZ Bank CMO Louise Eyres discussed the challenge of internally managing board expectations around the long-term v short-term results.
An excellent recent article on the Rogue Marketing website on the tenure of CMOs pulled together some interesting stats and analysis very much pertinent to this topic. It’s an excellent piece, well worth a read, but the spoiler alert is simple – CMO tenures are declining, with Harvard Business Review reporting 57% of CMOs have been in their position three years or less and Korn Ferry data showing CMOs have the shortest average tenure of any role within the C suite.
If CMOs are lasting less and less time in their role, the opportunity for genuine long-term strategic planning and execution early diminishes.
The article explores possible drivers of this trend – CEO expectations, clarity of role description and a general lack of patience.
There are also a range of enterprise-wide issues in play here; culture, incentive models, change management, org structures to name just a few.
Whether a symptom or cause, the longevity of CMOs is a key issue for boards and CEOs to address if they truly want marketing to build strong brands for the long term, based on multi-year, rather than month to month, strategic planning.
By Adam Fraser
Facebook changing its algorithm wouldn’t ordinarily be massively newsworthy; such is the frequency with which it happens.
Major changes such as “Reachgate” is 2014 – when organic reach first began to be materially choked -garnered a lot of attention and angst, as brands realised they, in essence, could no longer freely communicate with fans of their Facebook pages. Reach dropped below 5% and subsequently crept much lower to 2% or less, in the following years.
Thus the begrudging acceptance of most people in the marketing world that social media had become “pay-to-play”, learning the hard lessons about the risks of rented land.
Publishers, such as the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal (and locally, of course, Fairfax Media) have endured a slightly different but equally painful bumpy ride. Initially unsure whether to entirely reject or fully embrace distribution via third party social platforms, Facebook has attempted to entice with media-specific products such via Instant Articles, offering advertising revenue share and closer collaboration. Ultimately none have been particularly successful and in a post-Trump, Fake News era, most publishers are realising now that the only long-term safety is via driving direct web traffic and digital subscriptions.
The latest announcement from Facebook, however, is deeply ominous for publishers, many of whom still rely heavily on Facebook referred traffic. While initially only a test in 6 countries, Facebook is looking at moving ALL publisher (and brand) content to a separate tab – out of the all-important main feed and into the “Explore Feed”.
The no-go zone. How often do you explore anything other than the main Facebook feed?
The best analogy I can think of relates to changes made by Gmail in mid-2013. All newsletter and sales type emails are automatically moved out of your main email inbox and into a separate tab called “promotions”. You can guess how often that gets looked at.
If Facebook proceeds to roll out this change more broadly, there will at least be no absence of clarity about a publishers relationship with Facebook. Pay to be seen or be sent to the wilderness.
Advertising, of course, remains a viable and often very effective option for many brands (and publishers). Whilst offering far better targeting and interactivity options, the challenges for advertising as a whole remain true as the growth in ad blockers demonstrates, and the cat and mouse game between Facebook and ad blockers continues.
Social media as a platform for brands is evolving to an inevitable conclusion for a medium of connection – like the phone system – infrastructure. We use social media to connect with people we care about. We only want to connect with brands on our terms and at a time of our choosing. Hence effective listening and real-time responses are essential components of a social strategy. Be where your customers want you to be and engage with them on their terms. Answer all of their questions at any time on any channel they wish. Beyond that, most people would prefer brands to stay out of their lives.
By Adam Fraser
The latest CMO Survey has been released with its usual batch of interesting findings and insights. This bi-annual survey is well respected and is the longest-running survey dedicated to understanding the field of marketing. The latest edition received responses from 349 top marketing executives in the USA.
There are data points aplenty across the detailed 49 pages of results, but if you don’t have time to dive into the details, some of the key highlights were:
- Internet sales as a percentage of total sales remain relatively modest at 11.8%, flat on the prior survey from 6 months ago, and broadly flat over the last 3 years; from an industry perspective, Education (43% of sales) and consumer services (28% of sales) lead Internet sales.
- Marketing budgets as a whole are expected to grow but the rate of growth is slowing from prior periods (9% from 11%); notwithstanding the declining rate of growth, this remains a healthy barometer for overall spending.
- There is a marked difference re advertising spend trends between ‘traditional’ and ‘digital’ (side note – these boundaries between these definitions will become harder to define in the coming years) – with digital marketing spend expected to grow by 13% versus a decline of 2% in traditional advertising.
- Marketing budgets represent 11.4% of overall expense budgets, a slight increase on 6m ago, and broadly consistent with the trends over the past 3 years.
- Marketing spend is 6.9% of company revenues – this ratio has declined from the prior 2 periods; as a barometer, this was 8.3% 3 years ago in August 2014.
- Marketers are expected to expand social media spend by 89% in the next 5 years – growing from the current 9.8% of marketing budgets to 18.5% in 5 years time.
- B2C Products lead the expected growth in social media spend; all sectors are expected to grow by ~25-40% in next year.
- Based on survey responses, the assessment of how effectively social media is integrated into overall marketing strategy is showing no progress.
- The ROI challenge is alive and well as survey respondents confirmed the impact of social media remains difficult to prove.
- Marketing spend on mobile expected to increase 117% in three years but interestingly respondents assessed mobile’s impact on customers, brand, and financial outcomes as low.
- Spending on marketing analytics is forecast to increase a massive 229% in three years – moving from 5.5% of total marketing budgets to 18%.
Interestingly, while the spend on marketing analytics is growing significantly, only 1.9% of respondents felt they had the right talent to fully leverage those analytics.
In a related blog post, CMO survey director Christine Moorman analysed the contradiction between growing spend in social, mobile and digital yet disappointing effectiveness:
“One reason performance is lagging may be because companies remain focused on digital strategies, not on building a digital marketing organization. A digital marketing organization means embedding digital marketing activities into the very core of the organization. This means that digital marketing activities transform how the company operates, including its culture, its leaders, how it makes decisions, employee training and incentives, cross-functional cooperation, and the role of marketing capabilities.”
The recurring podcast theme of tactics before strategy in marketing seems to also be coming through in this survey.
A good piece of research into the current thinking of senior marketers.
By Adam Fraser
That new Snapchat feature, Instagram’s latest ad product, Twitter’s user numbers last quarter. Etc Etc. The media focus in the marketing space seems to be dominated by short term results and current tactics.
It can be hard to see the wood for the trees and elevate to see longer term trends and strategic perspectives.
Hence I really enjoyed the recent Medium blog post from Bob Knorpp on “The Fallacy of Digital Marketing as a Discipline”. It’s a reasonably short piece (unlike the excellent long form Doc Searle’s article on AdTech that I also recently recommended), but it is thoughtful and insightful around the challenges digital marketing faces, and the reasons why these have transpired over the past 2 decades. My favourite line (I am sure with programmatic in mind) is; “we’ve traded in meaningful interactions for nuclear-bomb levels of reach and frequency.”
One of Bob’s points on why digital has failed affirms a key thread in my recent podcast with Jason Kint of Digital Content Next – in the world of digital marketing we seem to have gravitated to a direct marketing flashing neon Vegas style “buy now” approach and forgotten about the brand building techniques used in more traditional media like TV, radio, print and outdoor. As Bob says; “marquee brands have been conditioned to treat digital as they used to treat coupon circulars, buying as a commodity, rather than as a considered brand-building choice on the now-dominant media.”
In the chaos and rapid change of social, digital and martech, a great 5 minute read to elevate up and consider longer term trends and the strategic landscape.
By Emily Kucukalic
Everyone has a digital device at their fingertips, 24/7 in 2017. This has translated to consumers increasingly demanding more customised, personalised products, services and experiences – delivered straight to them. While this leads to challenges for marketers to think of new and innovative ways to cut through and have impact, it is the PERFECT time to start thinking about your personal brand.
Brand engagement is more than the number of Likes a page receives. It is how well the brand is perceived as a whole. According to Forbes.com, the proliferation of digital devices and the ability to access information, products and services in an instant has led to consumers feeling more empowered and bolder when it comes to making choices.
So, if all roads lead to greater emotional engagement and more individual choices, what better way to emotionally engage with someone than person to person? At some point in any business dealing, customers buy from people; either in person, over the phone, via word of mouth or what image they personally project by buying that product.
Albert Mehrabian (Professor Emeritus UCLA) conducted a study on people’s power to influence others in the 1960’s that has never been disproven. In short it states that your ability to influence people is based on the following: 7% what you say; 38% your voice as you say it & 55% what you look like saying it. Be aware of all of these elements and understand that people are increasingly looking for things that stand out from the crowd. Now is the time to focus on your personal brand!
By Adam Fraser
It’s that time of the year again – when Scott Brinker aka chiefmartec.com releases “that infographic”.
The one summarising the martech landscape packed with tiny logos that you see at every marketing conference on the planet.
And it keeps getting larger and more complex. From 2,000 tools in 2015 to 3,500 in 2016 up to an amazing 5000+ in 2017.
To be precise – the landscape shows 5,381 tools from 4,891 vendors. Wow. From social media to newsletter marketing, ecommerce to CRM, all the subsections continue to grow.
I was lucky enough to have Scott as my very first podcast guest back in April 2015. Even back then – in a world of “only” 2,000 tools – we discussed the complexity of the market and whether consolidation was imminent.
There are a number of drivers of this breadth and complexity in the marketing technology landscape – including (at a high level) low barriers to entry, media fragmentation in a post internet world, the rapidly changing consumer buyer journey and constant technology innovation (as just one example think AI and chat bots which weren’t a “thing” 2 years ago and now are very much in play).
If you are feeling utterly overwhelmed by this landscape and what it means for marketing and IT professionals please know you are not alone!
The basic premise remains – strategy first, technology second. Focus on your business objectives and your marketing strategy and execution. Then, and only then, start to think about how technology can enable and potentially turbo charge your business processes.
People, process and technology. A three legged stool. In almost all cases the technology decision should come last not first.
By Adam Fraser
A surprising headline, I admit, from the founder of a marketing technology business!
Of course I believe in the power of data insights, automation (where it makes sense) and technology facilitated process improvement.
I would like to share 2 recent personal stories which will chill the bones of every marketer:
Story one. Approximately 8 months ago, I switched internet providers. Since that date,I have had repeated email offers for me to switch to that same internet provider and receive 2 months free.
So, having already acquired me as a customer, said telco is spending money promoting a service I already have at great expense! And telling me very clearly they don’t know who I am.
Aha! I hear you say – you must have used a different email address to purchase? Nope.
Different name, spelling, mobile? Nope.
I did most of my procurement to switch via social. Clearly the vision of social integrating to CRM, or any semblance of “one view of the customer” is some way off.
Story 2. My wife has just switched mobile providers as she wished to upgrade to an iPhone 7 plus. Her previous 2 year contract expired a few months ago and I had procrastinated about renewing.
So obviously we heard from the incumbent mobile provider in the weeks before the contract was about to expire? Nope.
Oh, so they reached out and made an upgrade offer just after contract expiry? Nope.
Checked you were happy to stay on the current plan and explained options? Nope.
Thanked you for your 8 years of loyal service? Nada.
Allow me to labour this point for one more paragraph – there is a 1-2 week period every 24-30 months when I want to hear from mobile phone providers. The rest of the time it goes in one ear and out the other. The incumbent provider has an incredible advantage to tailor a personalised message and make a targeted offer at the right time, factoring in loyalty, spending patterns and usage data.
This mobile provider in parallel is happy to spend millions advertising to “the world” to bring new customers into the funnel. Err what about the ones you already have?
Of course during this period I have had hundreds of marketing automation generated emails offering me services I have neither heard of nor have any interest in. And been chased around the web with cookie enabled banner ads (almost always wasteful and inappropriately targeted) based on historical searches performed.
So you can understand my skepticism when I hear about the amazing powers of big data and AI, VR and the internet of things.
When building a house you should focus on solid foundations before you worry about the style of the taps and the sheen of the paint.
Isn’t it time for marketers to focus less on shiny new toys and more on the somewhat boring but critically important business process of looking after their actual existing customers?
By Adam Fraser
The promise of digital was increased transparency and measurement, and a heightened ability to target the right message at the right time to the right person.
In some cases, the promise has been delivered – primarily via Facebook hyper targeted ads and SEO powered Google ads appearing alongside precisely targeted search terms.
However programmatic and the long tail of broader digital ad spend are coming under heightened scrutiny, and rightly so in the face of brand messaging appearing alongside highly inappropriate content. An advertiser YouTube ban remains in full swing.
Brand response is coming in many forms. US bank JP Morgan Chase lowered the number of sites it advertises on from 400,000 to just 5,000. Interestingly it noted very little impact in terms of cost and overall performance – an astonishing outcome.
Chase had unintentionally shone a light on the effectiveness of ads in the long tail, the nooks and crannies of the web, and the results were not favourable for ad networks powered by automation and AI driven ad tech.
The agencies are also responding. Omnicom – one of the worlds largest agency holding companies – is introducing human review across thousands of YouTube videos to ensure brand safety for their clients’ media buys.
Looming in the background is the landmark speech from one of the worlds biggest advertisers, the CMO of P&G, threatening to pull digital spend if transparency didn’t improve.
The business world often works in cycles – are we about to shift back to a marketing world with an increased emphasis on human curated traditional media buying, even across digital platforms?
As the risks of digital brand safety become more apparent I would suspect so.
By Adam Fraser
The latest CMO Survey has been released and the findings are both interesting and somewhat contradictory, highlighting the ‘deer in the headlights’ flux many marketers feel when it comes to data analytics and technology platforms.
This bi-annual survey is well respected and is the longest-running survey dedicated to understanding the field of marketing. The latest edition received responses from 388 top marketing executives.
The key finding showed spending on marketing analytics (quantitative data about customer behavior and marketplace activities) is expected to grow from 4.6% to 22% of marketing budgets in the next 3 years. Yet notwithstanding this material increase, marketers say barely a third of available data is used to drive actual decision making in their companies.
Interesting contradiction. The survey participants intend to increase spend by almost 400% on something which 2/3 of the time isn’t driving business decision making. Marketers seem to be saying “we know we need data and should be using data, but don’t have access to the right data when it matters”.
The report explores in some detail why marketers are not utilisng data analytics in decision making, the top 3 drivers being:
- Lack of processes/tools to measure success through analytics
- Lack of people who can connect marketing practice to marketing analytics
- Data not highly relevant to the decision at hand.
Marketing will always be a blend between art and science, something I have often discussed on my marketing podcast. Gut feel versus hard data. Both matter.
The survey shows that marketers still need to up their game in effectively utilising technology platforms and data analytics to increase their depth of consumer insight, drive their strategy and monitor the execution.
We can argue about the appropriate balance between art and science in marketing in 2017, but taking a mature, professional and structured approached to technology and analytics as part of your marketing operations is no longer an optional extra.