Why Modern Marketers are Seriously Confused (and How to Fix it)

under Digital Marketing.

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According to the "Digital Roadblock" study by Adobe, this is where marketers' minds are at right now:

confused marketers 01

That's a precarious position to be in, my friends. This desire for change is driven by a paralyzing fear that everything is about to change dramatically:

confused marketers 02

And, of course, they're right. So what do we do about that?

Read on to find out.

The marketing zeitgeist has its intuition in the right place by expecting things to change dramatically over the next several years. But the anxiety is the result of something different. All that intuition isn't backed up by a fundamental understanding of what's happening right now.

Here's an example.

One of the biggest buzzwords floating around right now is this concept of "engagement." You know, "we need to keep consumers engaged," or "we need to boost our engagement." And here's the glaring problem with that.

Nobody has any idea what that means.

According to a recent study out of Thunderhead, there's essentially no agreement at all in the marketing community about what engagement means. Does it mean they stay on the page for a long time? Does it mean they become long time customers? Does it mean they push the Like button? Leave a comment?

Your definition is as good as mine. The 45 CMOs Estabon Kolsky each had their own definition of engagement.

Oh, and here's a doozy. 88 percent of consumers said, no thanks, we don't want to engage with brands, leave us alone please. And 75 percent of the CMOs said they didn't even know how to engage with customers.

So maybe we can start by using words with definitions we understand.

You know. Things like ROI, customer satisfaction, customer loyalty.

Here's another example. Ask most marketers where they think they should start investing. You'll usually get one of two answers:

  • Nowhere. Everything's fine. Nothing's going to change. Where did I leave my typewriter and yellow pages?
  • Uh, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, WhatsApp, mobile, cloud, big data, content, inbound, omnichannel, market all the things. [Buries head in Fruit Ninja to stifle the anxiety]

There's some hyperbole there, but you get my point.

What you don't often see is something like this Forrester research:

confused marketers 03

Hmm. So if you have fans on Google+, they're going to interact with your posts almost as frequently as they will on Facebook, and twice as much as they would if they were on Twitter.

And, from the same study:

"Rather than trust Google's own user data, we decided to run our own survey. We asked more than 60,000 US online adults which social sites they used -- and 22% told us they visited Google Plus each month. That's the same number who told us they use Twitter, and more than told us they use LinkedIn, Pinterest, or Instagram."

So Google+, this place that's always getting called a ghost town, is actually just as popular as Twitter, but with more user activity.

This is where marketers' anxiety and uncertainty are coming from. They know things are changing, but they aren't looking at the data that tells them how they are changing. They are out of touch, and on some level, they know it.

Here's another example, this one from an infographic by Conductor. It's also probably the most important example:

confused marketers 04

Studies like these come out all the time. And they keep saying the same things: email and search are the most financially valuable channels. That's just not where the buzz is.

And there's your answer.

Modern marketers are confused and scared because they know things are changing, but they aren't looking at the data to tell them how. When you don't know how things are changing, you're going to have trouble figuring out how you are supposed to adapt.

Of course, these are all industry-wide figures. They should only influence you in passing. What you should really be asking yourself is where your target audience is. That's all that matters. That's the data you need to seek out. That's where you need to be.