By Mark Kersteen - March 1st, 2016

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Marketers are an optimistic bunch...

When it’s your job to make customers excited and engaged on behalf of your brand, it’s hard not to let that positive, blue-sky outlook seep into your thinking elsewhere. I’m guessing that’s why marketers often have such a rosy outlook on the future of their marketing capabilities.

Well, today we’re going to burst some bubbles. Not that the future isn’t bright, just that we probably need sunglasses, not welding goggles. We asked the speakers from Incite Summit: West: “What expectations do marketers (or others) currently hold for the future of digital marketing that you believe are overblown or unrealistic?” Here’s what they said.

New channels aren’t the be-all-end-all of your marketing

We love to chase “shiny objects”, and it’s no wonder. There’s no bigger temptation than the one to start fresh on a new platform and suddenly, easily lead the pack. Your brand could suddenly stand tall on Periscope or Peach, the brands you admire rushing to your door to learn your secrets, and all that hard, unrewarding marketing you’re doing elsewhere can be dropped and forgotten. Well, unfortunately, it’s not that easy. Here’s Andrew Strolin, Vice-President, Marketing at Nature's Bakery:

“The expectation of, ‘If we use it, they will come’, in reference to consumers and the ever-growing digital landscape. Too often, we believe that by being present in the newest, hippest, platforms, consumers will like us and want to hear what we have to say.”

“But, sadly, having a website, newsletter, paid advertising, using all the “in” social channels, etc. by themselves does not mean consumers find it valuable, pertinent to them, or in-line with their perceptions of the brand.”

“It is our responsibility as marketers to do the research and meet them where they are most likely to not just hear the brand, but listen. And to do it in a way that makes our message resonates with them, personally and authentically, where they have a reason to care.”

“Just because a new or old marketing channel exists, doesn’t mean we need to be in it. Our customers are intelligent and mindful of the brands they select to be a part of their lives, we should do the same and be thoughtful on how we reach out to them.”

One-to-one personalization isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution

Imagine: you’re able to give every customer the experience and messages they so dearly crave. That’s marketing Nirvana, more or less. Some marketers are even able to do it right now. Bankrupting your budget to get there, though? That’s less enlightened.

Jessica Jensen, Head of Marketing, Facebook:

“Full personalization of campaigns can be quite expensive and time consuming for marketers, so I think we’ll get better at deeper personalization. Full 1:1 marketing is costly and hard to manage, so I think we have to be realistic. I also think people are rightly excited about VR, and it will be an important consumer experience in the near term, but it will take us many years to get to sort out the marketing experiences therein.”

Data isn’t magic

Our ability to analyze customer information and make business-relevant conclusions is, frankly, staggering. I’m not going to downplay how revolutionary it for marketing and for business as a whole. However, it’s not a cure-all. There are still plenty of limitations, and it requires just as much focus as every other part of the marketing machine.

Nancy Lee, Vice-President of Marketing at Intuit, say that, “We still haven’t cracked multi-channel attribution, despite our efforts over the last few years.”

Eric Rasmussen, Vice-President, Consumer Insights at GroupOn:

“Data analysis is important, but people need to understand that it is one of many important inputs. Too many quantoids embrace this as the end-all, and they miss half of the picture.”

The journey doesn’t end at purchase

Digital gives us real power over the customer journey, but with great power comes a lot more stuff we have to do. We have to keep striving to win over customer both before and after they buy.

Ryan Lauder Director, Consumer Engagement at TaylorMade:

“Digital’s greatest benefit isn’t during the pre-purchase journey. Marketers need realize the role of digital in post-purchase experiences, and add touchpoints throughout to help customers become brand advocates. Think less about improving your CTR’s by 0.5% and more about your NPS (Net Promoter Scores).”

Domenico D’Ambrosio, Vice-President, National Channel Operations at Verizon:

“Some marketers are saying that ‘Retail is dead’. I believe that discussion is completely overblown. Even though we’re more digital beings, I believe a lot of marketers are undervaluing the importance of face-to-face contact—not only from a sales standpoint, but from an experience standpoint. Digital will continue to enhance the retail experience, but by no means is it even close to dying.”

Digital isn’t everything

It’s not an opinion you hear a lot, but JP tempers the enthusiasm for digital in the marketing space with some much-needed perspective.

JP Kuehlwein, Partner at Ueber-Brands and co-author of 'Rethinking Prestige Branding - Secrets of the Ueber-Brands':

“I think that some marketers lose sight of the fact that their brands’ long term success depends a lot on the meaning they are able to imbue their propositions with - beyond the material or process.”

“There is a run for all talent, experts, agencies, conferences digital and a belief that, once someone has ‘figured digital marketing out’, they will dominate the world. But the digital delivery is only the (second) half of the picture. Look at those who have arrived – or even started in the digital world - from Amazon and AirBnB to Etsy and Warby Parker. What do they do now? They add brick-and-mortar shopping experiences, find their services to be as much about making memories and providing meaning as they are about being economical and efficient solutions. Don’t overestimate what technology (alone) can do for your marketing. Meaning and some myth-making are essential.”

You'll be able to learn from Andrew, Ryan, Nancy, Jessica, Eric, Domenico, and JP in person at the upcoming Incite Summit: West.

The Incite Marketing Summit: West 2016

May 2016, San Francisco

The Incite Summit: West is the USA's best brand-focused marketing conference. Taking place in San Francisco on 18th and 19th of May, we will bring together Chief Marketing Officers from major brands to debate one key issue. How you can get a more granular picture of your customer and then engage in "one-to-one marketing". We'll focus on perception, precision and personalization.

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