The past two years have shown a major increase in the amount of money allocated to digital marketing and communications, which has created challenges for senior-level marketers who have not been able to keep up with the changing times. The speed at which new techniques in digital advertising, social media marketing and SEO are growing and changing is faster than it has ever been.
People who have worked in marketing and communications for twenty years or more need to check their skills and knowledge. Don’t let practices you learned a decade ago become a weakness as you fight to be heard in an electronic community nearing four billion users.
Marketing in 2010
Remember MySpace? Friendster? These were just a couple of social platforms that were “out” by 2010. Facebook and Twitter were on the rise and YouTube was creating video game stars. Google AdWords was being used by some, but the world of Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising was still developing.
In 2010, we advised our clients to set up Facebook pages and Twitter accounts if they felt comfortable doing so. Some individually branded businesses and people in the arts were not comfortable “putting themselves out there” in a giant global picture book or communicating in 140 characters or less.
Just posting regularly was considered effective on social platforms. Facebook was a couple of times a week and Twitter was three to five times a week. What a difference ten years make.
When 2020 took an unpredictable turn, I decided it was an opportunity to find out what is current in digital marketing by enrolling in a master’s program in business school. Here are some things I’ve learned about how digital has affected marketing in the 2020s.
Job roles and teams in a digital world
1. Roles have changed so that there are more demands on marketing departments to share some of their work with the public relations teams and vice versa. When I was working in a corporate environment, there was a clear division between marketing, public relations and design. Separate these key components today and it is difficult to get anything accomplished.
2. Digital marketing and design thinking have created opportunities for businesses to conduct strategy meetings and prepare plans for launching new products more thoughtfully. Now, it should be a standard practice to have representatives from all departments in a room. Bring your post-its in multiple colors to keep track of all the great ideas your diverse team will conceive.
3. It takes a village to launch a product. When I started, most marketing departments had designers, copywriters, ad planners and researchers. A digital marketing team needs writers for long-form content and copywriters. You need a search engine marketing person, web designers (who understand search engine optimization), analysts to pull data from the social media and web platforms, researchers, PR people to manage messaging and the brand, content schedulers, real-time social monitors who engage in real time, designers and producers who can edit video and audio.
Consistent planning and rapid growth
4. Decide on a plan and stick to it until you have a chance to see how it is working. Too often, I see digital marketers shift tactics and direction because a client or manager expresses concern or has a new idea. Without a plan and some data about the progress to review, digital marketing is like playing whack-a-mole.
5. Growth is great if it is sustainable. There are new businesses that take off quickly and generate nice profits in the first five years. This is especially true in a marketing environment where word-of-mouth takes place in seconds. However, if you do not have a marketing plan for the long term, you will not continue to do well. As fast as you might grow, there are a dozen other products right behind you that are researching and planning their attack.
There is much to know about digital marketing and not a lot of time to learn. It is an exciting time in the field of marketing and communications, but continued learning is key to being effective.