Marketing Strategies of the Digitally Mature: 2016 Adobe Digital Marketing Survey Results

As a profession, digital marketing has come a very long way in a very short time. It might seem like we’ve matured rapidly, but few of us call ourselves “advanced” when it comes to marketing strategy.

Results from Adobe’s recent Digital Marketing Survey reveal how marketing maturity and marketing strategy go hand in hand.

Organizations that are committed to improving their digital maturity are seeing major payoffs in KPI improvement as well as brand differentiation. Additionally, they overwhelmingly believe that increasing digital maturity is well worth the time and effort.

We’re going to take a look at how digitally mature marketing teams behave differently than their less mature counterparts in four key areas:

  1. Data-driven marketing
  2. Customer Experience
  3. Mobile
  4. Cross-channel marketing

While Adobe (and this article) are looking at each of these components separately, it’s clear that marketing “is no longer a pick-and-choose game. If you’re playing to win you have to do it all.” For those looking to improve their digital maturity, it’s time to commit to the full spectrum of capabilities if you want to compete in an increasingly sophisticated marketing world.

Digital Maturity Defined

Before we start talking about how mature digital marketing organizations behave, it’s important to define what we mean by “mature.”

There’s a lot more to marketing maturity than paying bills on time and flossing every night.

In the context of Adobe’s survey, they characterize maturity based on data integration, following best practices, using automation, and possessing technical marketing skills. Their four categories are as follows:

  • Advanced: Data mostly integrated, best practices generally followed, automation common, strong technical skills.
  • Focused: Data and processes somewhat integrated, automation common, solid and expanding technical skills.
  • Emergent: Basic data integration, some automation, growing technical capacity
  • Nonexistent: Limited data in silos, no automation, low technical capacity

If you don’t think you fall into the Advanced category, don’t feel bad. Only 19% of companies in North America rate themselves as Advanced, and only 7% of European companies.

Data-Driven Marketing Strategies

Most marketers are sold on the importance of data; Adobe reports that half of all organizations are now using data “to drive their digital marketing decisions.” For mature companies, however, data is at the heart of their strategy.

These teams plan to increase their measurement tactics by 41% over the next three years, bringing them to an average of 13. But the data points they cite as most important are:

  • Whole customer view: a holistic look at customer behavior, which must be stored in a single system rather than isolated in data silos.
  • Predictive marketing: meeting customer expectations that marketers will know who they are and what they want.
  • Attribution modeling: “Leading companies are using algorithmic attribution based on advanced statistics and machine learning to measure the precise impact of each marketing touch along a customer’s path to conversion.”

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The difference for mature companies that they’ve distributed the optimization responsibility throughout the organization.

Advanced Strategies Center on Customer Experience

While machine learning and algorithmic attribution may seem out of reach to some Emergent organizations, putting customer experience at the core of a marketing strategy is something any team can manage.

Put simply, to join the best in class digital marketers, we need to “deliver an experience related to what customers’ needs are at any given point, instead of promoting what’s top-of-mind for the business.”

While this sounds like an easier win, it involves investing in capabilities across the marketing spectrum so we can understand our customers from multiple perspectives and gain the ability to adapt content to what we learn.

Even in the most niche marketing team, the number of potential customer experiences make manual creation of personalized content prohibitive. Yet only 41% of organizations are automatically creating personalized experiences on their websites.

But, those that are employing automation for personalization are seeing solid results. Seventy percent report that “automating the delivery of personalized content for web has improved KPIs,” and 71% feel the same about mobile sites and apps.

Mobile Marketing for the Mature

Gone are the days when mobile websites were a nice addition to digital marketing strategy. In 2016, mature marketing organizations are now creating sites and apps born out of the mobile experience, with desktop coming as the final component.

Given the escalating expectations of our audiences, this approach is the only one that works:

<blockquote>like the element of air, we expect our content to be everywhere we go, expanding into whatever space is available and on whatever device we’re using at the moment.</blockquote>

The mobile fixation of the most mature organizations seems to be paying off; they report getting 35% of their web traffic from mobile channels, compared with 29% for companies overall.

Serious Cross-Channel Marketing Strategies

Take a look at this list of capabilities that marketers identified as important:

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Eleven out of the thirteen were scored about 80% in importance. Adobe argues that this is because, “more organizations are realizing that you can’t be good at one or two of these capabilities and be successful. You need to have maturity across a broad spectrum.”

What’s more, customers expect us to follow their journey from device to device, from online to in-person, with seamless, predictive capabilities. These expectations require intense cross-channel focus to maintain a consistent, relevant marketing message.

It’s no wonder that 66% of digitally mature organizations plan to invest in all areas of structure, people, processes, and tools.

Why Digital Maturity Matters

Taking the difficult (and sometimes expensive) steps toward digital maturity doesn’t just mean that you have a better functioning organization. Digital marketing maturity pays real dividends.

According to Adobe’s study, 81% of Advanced organizations said that digital maturity efforts “have definitely differentiated their company,” while 94% believe increasing digital maturity is worth the investment.

An increasingly sophisticated audience combined with competitors who are advanced their own digital marketing at a breakneck pace means that digital maturity needs to be on all of our radars if we want to produce marketing strategies that set our organizations up to succeed.

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Andrea Fryrear
About the Author:

Andrea Fryrear

Andrea loves to dissect marketing buzzwords and fads looking for the pearls of wisdom at their cores. Her favorite topic is agile marketing, which she believes holds the key to a more fulfilling (and less stressful) marketing career for individuals and a more powerful marketing department for business. When not scrutinizing the latest agile methodologies, Andrea can be found on the volleyball court, at the park with her two delightful kids, or baking “calorie-free” cookies. Connect with her on Twitter @AndreaFryrear, or on LinkedIn.

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