As the speed with which digital marketing changes continue to increase, business and marketing executives are forced to continually evaluate the effectiveness of their efforts. The importance of understanding the technologies, platforms and content being used is a crucial element of digital marketing success. At the heart of these challenges are an increasingly diverse set of tools that are being utilized to bring the various components together, thus creating the need for brands and marketers to more effectively use marketing technology solutions that enable them to improve and scale.

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The State Of Digital Marketing

While reviewing a recent Forbes Insights report I uncovered some interesting statistics that give us some of the current facts that marketing and agency executives are experiencing. The study outlining “Keys to Success in Translating Marketing Visions Into More Engaged Customers” revealed that executives are still struggling to bring everything together, however they are making some progress.

Here are some of the study’s data points that are very relevant to establishing which digital marketing technology solutions and capabilities are most important.

  • 62% of brand and agency executives are satisfied or very satisfied with their digital marketing systems
  • 38% of the responding executives said that they don’t effectively create and deliver timely content tailored to specific customer personas
  • 57% of marketing executives say that they will make new technology investments in the coming year

One of the most interesting things that stood out to me with these digital marketing statistics is that though a huge 62% of marketing executives said they are satisfied or very satisfied with their systems, over 90% of them also said that they are planning to make new technology investments.

Does this indicate that something is contradictory in their minds or maybe even in the study data? I would say that it isn’t contradictory, but rather a sign that shows a couple of things;

  1. Marketing executives are identifying additional holes that currently exist and require marketing solutions in order to be satisfied.
  2. Marketing executives are looking beyond today and anticipating their marketing technology needs in the future.
  3. They are seeing trends in certain areas such as video and mobile and are attempting to address those additional requirements now.

The Top Digital Marketing Technologies

Marketing executives made it very clear in the Forbes Insights study, that they do in fact realize that the latest marketing technologies are a crucial component that drives effective results. The study further noted that brands are relying on these technologies to improve customer engagement opportunities across multiple channels and platforms.

One element of the study asked marketing executives to rate various marketing technologies related to their importance and capabilities. The top two rated marketing technology capabilities that were ranked as critical by marketing executives respondents were Analytics and Social Media Marketing capabilities. Both of these capabilities were ranked critical by almost half of the executives that took part in the survey and reflects the need to keep up with the changing social media world and also track its effectiveness.

Furthermore, I believe the connection between the stated critical technology capabilities of both analytics and social marketing also display a sense that marketing managers are expecting it to achieve more than it currently is. This is not something we should overlook here.

The digital marketing technology capabilities study data goes a bit further when you take a look at the percentage of executives that rank certain marketing solutions as critical on a scale of 1 to 5. A Five on the scale denotes that marketing technology solution capability as critical, while a 1 on the scale represents not at all important. Here’s what the top digital marketing technology capabilities look like when put together.

Social Marketing Capabilities: 77% of marketing executives said that social marketing capabilities was either a critical or important (a 4 or 5 ranking) digital marketing technology solution capability. A huge 43% ranked this marketing solution capability as crucial, while still 34% rated it as important. The study is showing that brands still value social media as a medium and it has become intrenched within their business marketing applications. Technologies that support social marketing (especially to the enterprise) are going to continue to be an important component to making it effective and more scalable.

Analytics: Also ranked by 43% of marketing executives as crucial, an additional 29% ranked analytics as a number 4 (important), making the combined critical and important score a 72%. As the digital marketing changes continue, brands are clearly expecting marketing technology solutions that will help them improve their decision and evaluation capabilities. Analytics will continue to be an ever-increasing capability requirement that marketing executives demand.

Ease Of Use: This separate capability was a bit confusing to me at first. I had to ask myself if “ease of use” was really a digital marketing technology capability? After looking at it that way, it was clear that marketing executives are expressing that their need for capabilities that are easy to use, regardless of the complexities the marketing technologies are dealing with, was highly important. In fact it was so important that 76% of marketing executives rated this capability critical or important (41% to 35%). Brands are saying that there is a significant value to marketing technology solutions that do not require expert level skills to use them. They are saying that they want and need solutions that make the most complex capabilities easy to use and I think we can all get that!

Collaboration Tools: Marketing executives ranked collaboration tools extremely high as well. In fact 74% of the marketing professionals surveyed ranked them critical or important, while only 35% of those said it was critical. As the complexities of managing digital marketing continues to rise, brands are increasingly utilizing additional external partners as well as including more internal departments and teams. This fact has made the need for collaboration tools to rise in importance within marketing organizations in order to enable them to stay on top of these multiple moving parts.

The Future Of Digital Marketing Technology Solutions

If there is one thing that this study and other research is telling us is that marketing technology solutions are continuing to evolve and become more important components of a brand’s overall digital transformation. Today’s complex marketing world will continue to require more from brands and the teams that support them. The increased content volumes and types of content required by brands will continue to escalate, all as additional platforms and methods evolve.

Today’s business and technology climates are one of change and scale. It requires efficiencies, increased information that is actionable as well as marketing solutions and capabilities that are easy to implement. Digital marketing technology solutions and the capabilities they deliver are key to the critically important requirements of marketing executives today.

But I warn you not to get too comfortable with the top capabilities that are listed in this post. Why? Because I can guarantee you that once you believe you have the marketing technology solutions in place that are critical for these areas, another new group of digital marketing technology solution capabilities that are deemed critical will arise. How well you quickly identify and implement the proper solutions will determine your effectiveness at scale.