(Photo Illustration by Budrul Chukrut)
Marketing will never be the same. The days of “Mad Men” pitch decks have been replaced by the science of numbers-oriented digital media presentations. As my old boss at Microsoft said: Every company is becoming a digital company. But in my view, every company is also becoming a digital marketing company – whether it wants to be or not.
With the turmoil underway at Meta and Twitter, strong digital marketing strategy is more important than ever. Reaching consumers today is a process based on successfully analyzing a company’s consumer data, understanding how they spend their time, and then reaching them through new media – whether it’s TikTok, connected TV, or programmatic ads in Forbes online. Most no longer watch the evening news or sink four hours a night into devoted couch TV viewing. People are instead on their devices, picking them up first thing in the morning and putting them down just before bedtime. In fact, 71% of U.S. ad buys are now online digital buys, up a whopping 16 points this year alone – a new record.
Every successful company today must adapt to this new environment or be unseated by digitally savvy competition poised to disrupt their market and siphon away their consumers.
Why is every company a digital marketing company?
We knew that the web would change everything. I worked with Bill Gates on his CES keynote 20 years ago when he told the world that all entertainment would be delivered digitally. But the implementation and digital nature of information, entertainment, and lifestyles has exceeded anything we could have imagined just two decades ago. From paper newspapers and live movie theatres to linear TV, the growth of the digital ecosystem at the center of life itself means that virtually every consumer action and interaction is now online.
We have come a long way from the Ford economy in which every car was painted the same color to make goods more affordable. We are even beyond the era of Starbucks personalization, in which there were 55 varieties of something as simple as coffee. We have reached the Uber economy – rather than simply iterating products, businesses have created the infrastructure to deliver product and service experiences that take you on a customized and connected journey instantly. This requires businesses to know more about consumers – and do more to retain and please them. We need to give them their favorite order before they even order it; or as I tell marketing leaders, get the right ad or product to the right person at precisely the right time. Successful companies will build at the intersection of digital marketing and digital production to grow in this arena.
The best TV ad has probably already been created, but the best digital ad has probably not been made yet. Most digital ads are static and boring, flashing a simple name or offer in front of a consumer. Successful digital marketing takes a new kind of creativity built around new production techniques, augmented reality, and the growing set of new tools available today. Most digital ads are simply annoying – the best digital companies will change that.
In recessions past, digital budgets were cut quickly because they could be. Digital buys weren’t stuck in upfront cycles. Today the opposite should be true: digital should be cut last because it converts best to new revenue, is the most measurable, and has the greatest opportunity for innovation. Digital platforms, content, data, and targeting strategies can efficiently and cost-effectively deliver the right experience to the right customer at the right time. There is a place for all kinds of advertising, but digital’s performance lens should put it first to stay, not to go.
A good example of a company riding the digital marketing wave is Chipotle. It set out just before the pandemic to transform into a truly digital business. The result? It has built one of the fastest-growing loyalty programs in history, an integrated effort tying enterprise data, creative marketing, and digital performance tactics together to grow its membership base to 27 million users. The burrito may not be digital, but everything else about the company has built a digital infrastructure that will pay dividends for decades.
Perhaps it’s obvious that every company needs to become a digital marketing company – yet look at the number of companies that are still way behind the times, clinging to old ways in an economy driven by consumers who look at the TV occasionally but look at their phones several hundred times a day. If you want to build for future growth, digital marketing transformation is the right step to take.
This content was originally published here.