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Adobe Highlights Digital Marketing ‘Roadblock’

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Digital marketers face challenges where it comes to embracing mobile and social technologies, an Adobe study has found

Although 40 percent of marketers claim they want to “reinvent” themselves, only 14 percent of those marketers said they actually know how to go about it, according to a recent report commissioned by Adobe.

The study, Digital Roadblock: Marketers Struggle to Reinvent Themselves, is based on a survey of more than 1,000 marketing professionals in the United States and exposes new insights into the attitudes and beliefs of marketers as they work to redefine their roles and expand their skills. Adobe released the findings last week at its Adobe Summit 2014 digital marketing conference in Salt Lake City, where the theme was “reinventing marketing“.

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Changing roles

Sixty-four percent of marketers said they expect their role to change in the next year, and 81 percent said they believe their role will change in the next three years, according to the study. But the path to reinvention remains a challenge. Respondents cited the lack of training in new marketing skills (30 percent) and organisational inability to adapt (30 percent) among the top obstacles to becoming the marketers they aspire to be.

Asked to describe the ideal, successful marketer 12 months from now, 50 percent of marketers said they should take more risks, and 45 percent hope to take more risks themselves. On the topic of new technologies, marketers are generally playing it safe, with 65 percent saying they are more comfortable adopting new technologies once they become mainstream.

Speaking at a keynote at the Adobe Summit, actor Robert Redford said, “Not taking a risk is a risk.”

The findings also highlighted a gap between marketers in companies that spend more than 25 percent of their marketing budgets on digital campaigns, compared with those that spend less than 10 percent on digital. Marketers in high digital-spend companies are more likely to believe (82 percent) they need to reinvent themselves to succeed, versus low digital-spend companies (67 percent). Marketers from high-performing companies are three times more likely (23 percent) to say they know how to reinvent themselves than low performers (8 percent).

“The shift to digital requires new technology, new approaches and, in many cases, entirely new roles for marketers,” Ann Lewnes, chief marketing officer for Adobe, said in a statement. “The good news is that marketers see the change in front of them, and understand they need to embrace data, focus on creating personalised experiences and work across their social, web and mobile channels. They just need to take the plunge.”

Importance of data

Marketers also said they see data as important but that it is not always used to the fullest. More than three-quarters of marketers (76 percent) said they need to be more data-focused to succeed, but 49 percent report “trusting my gut” to guide decisions on where to invest their marketing budgets. Seventy-two percent of marketers said they believe their long-term success is tied to proving marketing return on investment.

Seventy-four percent of marketers said capturing and applying data to inform and drive marketing activities is the new reality, and 69 said they need to embrace “hyper personalisation” or using data to provide the right products, services and content at the right time. Yet only 39 percent of marketers report using consumer data and behavior patterns to shape marketing strategy in the past 12 months. However, 45 percent said they plan to use more consumer data and behavior in the next 12 months.

Meanwhile, according to the study, marketers see mobile and social as bigger priorities. Sixty-nine percent of marketers surveyed said they believe mobile is a critical element to get right. In terms of media types and platforms, 61 percent of marketers said they see social media as the most critical area of focus 12 months from now, followed closely by mobile at 51 percent. Print and TV were at the bottom of the list, at 9 percent and 7 percent, respectively.

Sixty-three percent of marketers said they were doing more social marketing compared with last year, and more than half said they were doing more direct customer engagement via email (51 percent) and digital analytics (51 percent) than they were in 2013.

These priorities are driving a shift to more investment in digital talent within marketing organisations. Marketers cited digital/social marketer (47 percent), data analyst (38 percent), creative services (38 percent) and mobile marketer (36 percent) as key roles companies need to invest in over the next 12 months.

Cross-channel engagement

The survey indicated that marketers believe the ability to work better across different channels will make the biggest single difference in their effectiveness. Twenty-one percent of marketers said this would make the biggest difference, followed by 16 percent who listed the ability to measure and learn from campaign effectiveness as most important.

When asked to prioritise one capability that will be most important to their company’s marketing moving forward, personalisation ranked highest. Sixty-three percent of high-performing companies said that they are focused or very focused on personalising experiences for customers, compared with 53 percent of average- or low-performing companies, the study showed.

Adobe commissioned the study, which was produced by research firm Edelman Berland and conducted as an online survey among 1,004 US marketers. Data was collected between 19 and 27 February by ResearchNow.

In other news from Adobe Summit, the company announced a major new release of Adobe Experience Manager, its web experience management solution that includes innovations for simplification of website re-platforming, dynamic asset delivery and mobile app development.

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Originally published on eWeek.