The year of the digital experiment

This year more marketers have an appetite for digital risk despite a shrinking budgets and a risk-averse culture, according to the first Quarterly Digital Intelligence Briefing of the year by Econsultancy and Adobe.

The survey canvassed 2500 marketers and internet practitioners globally at the end of last year and found 64 percent were willing to experiment with digital, up six percent on last year, with 51 percent disagreeing that their digital plans would involve more of what they’d always done. These more adventurous marketers were hampered by lack of support from the top, though: only a quarter strongly agreed their senior team supported an experimental approach while two in five participants said declining budgets meant accountability was more important than experimentation.

The report also predicts continuing debate over whether there should be a distinction between digital and other forms of marketing.

“The key takeaway is that they’ll no longer be seen as separate disciplines when digital marketers can fully embrace traditional marketing (and vice versa) and when organisations can properly integrate both,” the report says.

“The need for a distinction is not essential. What matters is the experience your customers receive, whether it’s online, offline or both.”

Content, targeting and personalisation, social media engagement and mobile optimisation were among the highest ranking priorities for surveyed organisations this year. “As more companies grasp the importance of high quality and original content for their marketing, it will become even more important for both B2B and B2C organisations to offer a distinct and original voice in a world where more and more companies are competing for attention,” according to the report.

The recognition of the importance of content and personalisation of content put the spotlight on mobile as a communication medium. While studies in the not so recent past have focused on the trend towards mobile adoption, this report says mobile has already won.

The report authors say mobile will continue to grow in significance this year, with greater tablet and smartphone adoption, along with wearable tech. “2014 will continue to see businesses work harder to improve the mobile experience, and to understand of what mobile means for their customers,” says the report.

Despite the rise of social media, the death knell for email hasn’t yet sounded, but the report signals an evolving role with the rise of the millennial audience. It points to the fact more than 90 percent of businesses still use email, but digital marketers are concerned about it losing relevance.

The report authors suggest it comes down to effective use of email and other marketing channels that are relevant to target audiences. “The first challenge for marketers is to define how their customers use email today and build a case for how they will use it tomorrow. To be sure social channels will grow in importance for some activities, but email is private, individual, easily referenced and easily findable.

“There’s no question that the role of its role in customer service and account level communications will only increase.”

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