Over the last week I have been reviewing a lot of research, studies and content related to the digital transformation of marketing. The amount of data and statistics lately that is surrounding this transformation is quite substantial. It appears that every major research organization is producing study after study on the various elements of digital transformation and its effect on both brands, marketing and consumers alike.

After reviewing a significant amount of research, I wanted to share some of the data points as well as a few of my thoughts on how digital transformation is affecting marketing today and into the future. But I am going to start with the answer to a question I asked myself as I sat down to write this piece…

If I had to sum up my investigation of marketing and digital transformation into a single concise statement, it would be that “marketing is being forced to transform based on the new habits of business and consumers”. Here’s why…

Follow The Money – From Traditional To Digital Marketing

Very similar to corruption and politics, you always need to follow the money to get to the bottom of a specific situation. When outlining digital transformation and where marketing money is being spent now, compared to where it is expected to be spent in the future, provides a clear indication of the trends over a period of time. These trends that extend over several years are pointing to the transformation of marketing that businesses of all sizes are coming face to face with.

Let’s take TV ad spending versus digital ad spending as an example and key indicator. The fact is that next year total digital ad spend will surpass that of TV for the first time! According to eMarketer’s latest report, TV ad spending will equate to just 35.8% of total media ad spending in the US next year, while at the same time digital ad spending will climb to 38.4% of all spending.

This shift in where money is being spent is no small trend. In fact if we look back to 2014, digital media spending represented only 28.3% of the market. That’s a 10% increase in spending focus in just 3 short years. During the same period TV ad spending has shrunk from a 39.1% share. If we look ahead to 2020, digital media will make up nearly 45% of the share spent on advertising mediums. Boy are times changing!

Digital Marketing Requires Transformation

Any look into digital transformation would be incomplete without understanding the changes within digital marketing that is causing the transformation. As I reviewed study after study, multi-channel marketing and omnichannel marketing were the significant drivers toward digital marketing transformation. Meaning, single platform marketing approaches are all but gone, in favor of being everywhere or at least multiple places your target audience spends time online.

A survey conducted last year by the PR Council and Association of National Advertisers (ANA) found that multichannel marketing and content marketing where by far the biggest investment priorities of experienced marketers. But let’s be clear, it isn’t just conducting marketing across multiple channels that has made mulit-channel marketing both an executional and investment priority, but rather truly integrated digital marketing components across those channels.

It’s the true integration of all digital marketing components into a unified effort that is what is causing digital transformation within organizations of every size. It is one thing to have a presence on multiple digital platforms, yet it is wholly something different to bring the effectiveness data together from social, PR, Website, inbound, content, mobile and paid media channels to make them a unified strategy that transforms marketing and scales. This is what’s making truly integrated marketing strategy by far the top priority of US senior marketers.

The fact is that an enormous 63% of marketing executives place marketing integration as the number one area of focus, followed by content marketing at only 13%. That’s a 50% rank difference from the number one and the number two focus areas! It’s just not even close. If your B2B, SaaS, Startup or brand is not placing an emphasis on total marketing integration through multi-channel marketing disciplines, you are falling WAY behind.

*(to better understand the difference between multichannel marketing and omnichannel marketing, read this)

Digital Consumption Habits Driving Transformation

How we are consuming content is changing and that is a huge driver behind what marketers need to be doing now and into the future. Consumers used to spend much of their free time in front of the television, but that is changing quite rapidly. As estimated by eMarketer, the average US adult will consume almost 6 hours of digital media daily across mobile, desktops/laptops and other connected devices and NOT via television. At the same time that we are moving toward digital consumption of media, the amount of that time spent on mobile has continued to grow and is now eroding time spent on desktops and laptops as well as television.

Marketers have to use these trends to stay ahead of the curve and make painful adjustments to their marketing strategies, mediums and content.

Visual Transformation

In addition to all of the other factors we have covered so far, the onset and growth of digital consumption is driving the requirement of visual content. Short attention spans, the mobile revolution and the shift away from television is making visual content the normal requirement.

A recent study by Lewis Communications reveals that 94% of digital marketing executives are already producing visual content instead of just text-based blog content. Visual content such as graphics, photo’s and video are said to be 67% more engaging in the study and it’s no surprise. The research further shows that beyond being more engaging, respondents cited (50%) that it’s required in social media, (46%) visual content evokes emotion and (45%) lack of attention span as the top reasons for driving the production of more visual content.

The study goes further by outlining the important factors in making visual content successful. They are:

  • Great production quality 66%
  • Compelling image 42%
  • Interesting story 39%
  • Stunning images 34%
  • Good timing 32%
  • Emotion 28%
  • Humor 27%

These are the top factors the study cites as important, yet does not describe the challenges small and large brands are facing while attempting to increase their visual content creation using these factors. This represents yet another forceful push toward the digital disruption and transformation of marketing.

As online usage and trends continue to change, marketing and how businesses utilize it is transforming as well. Although digital transformation has a lot to do with marketing, its strategies, integration, platforms and tactics, it is mainly something that comes from within an organization more than what comes out of it. What I mean by that is that digital transformation is the result of an organization’s commitment and the dedication of the resources and expertise required to implement it from within. That decision and ultimate priority is what will then transform the outward execution of the marketing. Transformative digital marketing can’t transform an organization from the outside in, it must happen from the inside out. And that means leadership at the executive level that sets priorities toward transforming their internal infrastructure, operations AND marketing toward a digital heading.

Need help navigating digital and marketing transformation? Let’s talk