5 Digital Marketing Skills to Master

Five digital marketing skills to master for the future

by Charles Warnock | May 2, 2017 | Digital Marketing |

We are stuck with technology when what we really want is just stuff that works. — Douglas Adams

Like the future, digital transformation is already here. It’s just unevenly distributed.

The impact of digital technology in all its forms is already having a profound impact on business, government, science, the arts, communications – OK, nearly all aspects of human endeavor.

It can be hard to grasp the speed and magnitude of the changes. In a few years, the buzz has gone from “digital is the future” to “Go digital or go out of business.”

In the wide world of global digital transformation, I can’t help focusing on the sales and marketing revolution going on in my own backyard. As digital technology transforms entire industries and organizations, what happens to sales and marketing?

Transformation. Only faster.

In many organizations, sales and marketing have been among the first enterprise functions to experience digital transformation.

A great illustration of this growth can be seen in the expanding universe of marketing tech solutions. In his Chief Marketing Technologist Blog, Scott Brinker notes that the number of tech marketing solutions has jumped from approximately 150 solutions in 2011 to about 3,500 in the 2016 Marketing Technology Landscape graphic.

Wanted: Forward thinking humans

But technology alone is never enough to deliver transformational results. That still requires forward-thinking humans who understand innovation and its opportunities and challenges. But who are these humans? How will they manage all this change?

Marketing / Analytics sage Avinash Kaushik offers what he calls the 10 / 90 rule for Web Analytics, which can be easily hijacked for digital marketing. Ergo:

Here some roles these transformative human resources might play in the digital marketing future:

Stack Master

Cloud-based everything offers some great solutions, but presents a great problem.

With so many different applications and services springing up to support multichannel, multidevice customer journeys, the digital marketing Stack Master will ensure stacks are complementary, comprehensive and aligned with organizational goals.

Currently, marketing apps are frequently chosen by different individuals as point solutions and not chosen for the long-term success of the organization.

How many SaaS tools has your company signed up for?  Demand gen, CRM, Sales enablement, analytics, customer success — the stack up quickly. Which apps are performing, or not performing? What’s the total cost? The ROI? These are Stack Master questions.

Marketing to Millennials?

Can we stop talking about marketing to millennials?

OK, I get it, millennials are a big deal.

Born between 1982 and 1993, there are over 80 million of them, larger than any other generation to date. About one in three American workers today are millenials. They are growing, learning, earning, and rapidly becoming our future leaders. They are coming to power and will be running the show when Boomers are long out to pasture.

But although millennials continue to receive lavish media coverage, there seems to be little agreement about how to approach them in terms of marketing and media strategy. A quick look at Google Trends shows searches for millennials outpacing Gen X and Baby Boomers, without adding in Gen Y, another term for millennials.

Marketing to Millennials

In some reports, millennials are described as a mysterious and marketing-proof generation with mercurial demands and preferences. Other times they are portrayed as easy marks, a generation of drunken leprechauns who might be easily parted from their gold with a few well-placed marketing campaigns.As a group, millennials are described as tech savvy, independent, connected and activists for social justice issues. But some marketers are calling BS on these broad generalizations.

The problem? Millennials are not a target market. The group is too big and diverse to to draw meaningful conclusions and insights. Digital marketers love to talk about cohorts — groups of people sharing a common characteristic over a certain time period.

But targeting everyone born during an 11-year span is only slightly better than “anyone with a pulse” targeting. Identifying someone as a millennial provides little information marketers can use to create relevance and value. The needs and interests of the older millennials (this segment is called “Geezer Millennials” in our office), nearing the ripe old age of 33 this year, are far different than those who are 22 and perhaps still in college.

So, what are the issues here?

1. Limited reach – marketing analytics virtuoso Avinash Kaushik makes a useful distinction between the Largest Addressable Qualified Audience and the subset of those folks who have strong commercial intent — those potentially in the market for your product. Smaller still is the the group of these qualified folks who actually become your customers. No marketer has the resources to address 80 million prospects, so some savvy segmentation is needed.

Besides, any company with the resources to target 80 million people is too smart to target 80 million people.

2. Intent – Search marketers and those using predictive analytics will tell you that demographic data can be useful, but on its own it says little about user intent. Focusing on audience size without considering commercial intent is a costly marketing mistake. Lots of millennials doesn’t always equal lots of revenue.

Years ago, knowing the age, gender and location of your ideal customers was considered advanced marketing. Today, marketers are more accountable than ever to gather customer insights and turn those insights into measureable results. Analyzing cohorts can certainly help identify the links between a population’s characteristics and its behavior. But trying to discern how millions of people will act depending on when they were born is a big leap.

3. Priorities – Depending on your goals, it may not matter much if your customers are millennials.  Knowing whether or not your prospect is a millennial may be useful, but it’s not a key data point that helps your organization deliver a truly valuable product or service. In creating a product-to-market fit, every question below is potentially more important than “Are you a millennial?”

  • What is the problem or challenge we can help with?
  • Are you currently considering a purchase?
  • Are you aware of our products and services?
  • How did you become aware of our company?
  • What information sources do you use in purchase decisions?
  • How do you use PCs, mobile devices and tablets in your buying process?
  • Do our prices seem reasonable?
  • What comparable products are you considering?
  • What search terms did you use to find us?

Non-actionable data Infographics about millennials as a group of texting, sexting and selfie-taking digital natives are interesting, but data without an action plan is just trivial pursuit. For example, I have read that millennial men spend twice as much on clothing previous generations.

Interesting, but it’s just the beginning of the testing cycle. Now you have to figure out if that relates to your business, create and evaluate a hypothesis, create digital marketing assets and launch a campaign. Anyone buy your custom personalized men’s yoga gear? Why or why not? Then you start the testing cycle again.

It’s labor-intensive…but maybe you can hire some hard-working millennials to do it.


Growth Hacking Lessons

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Growth hacking lessons from the Grinch?

It’s hard to believe he has careened down Mount Crumpit every season since 1966. The Grinch may be old school, but he has something to teach modern marketers.

This time of year, there are dozens of holiday specials to watch, but few have obtained the classic status of How the Grinch Stole Christmas. The playful verse, brilliant music and quirky animation are as compelling today as they were a half-century ago.

The Grinch was was highly original even by lofty Suessian standards, perhaps the greatest holiday villain since Ebenezer Scrooge. Among hundreds of his creations, the Grinch was a favorite of creator Theodore “Dr. Seuss” Geisel, who saw much of the Grinch to his own personality

“I was brushing my teeth on the morning of the 26th of last December when I noticed a very Grinch-ish countenance in the mirror. It was Seuss! So I wrote about my sour friend, the Grinch, to see if I could rediscover something about Christmas that obviously I’d lost,” Geisel said.

  • The Grinch has important lessons for growth hackers and digital marketers. He:Takes action. Once the Grinch formulated a plan, he realized he had to execute. All that Christmas stuff wasn’t going to steal itself. Since his concept was a seasonal play, he knew there was no time to analyze market trends, financing and regulatory issues. He went straight to work, not even stopping to scrawl his idea on the back of a proverbial napkin.
  • Bootstraps, making use of materials and staff he had on hand. No reindeer? No problem. Choosing not to pursue venture capital afforded him a degree of freedom he would not have had otherwise. Plus, going through the pitch cycle or even a Kickstarter campaign means he would have missed a tight launch window and ended up among the many startups that never actually start up.
  • Has a wonderful, awful idea which didn’t scale. He knew that sometimes during the traction phase, growth marketers must take extraordinary actions to onboard their first customers. Some argue that the Grinch could have boosted productivity by hiring seasonal employees, but he managed to steal all the Who’s stuff using only existing staff and resources. Breaking and entering may not be a viable long-term strategy, but it opened up several professional opportunities for the Grinch in publishing, feature films and Christmas merchandise.
  • Builds trust. Although initially the Grinch’s head wasn’t screwed on just right, and his business model was a criminal enterprise, he was able to turn things around. At first, he is reviled as a monster not be touched with a thirty-nine-and -a-half-foot pole. He totally alienates the no-more-than-two cohort by lying to Cindy Lou Who regarding a customer support issue. Yet somehow, by the end of show, he has mastered the know > like > trust cycle. Seated at a place of honor at the feast, and even carves the roast beast, rather than spending Christmas in Whoville jail with a cellmate named “Max the Ax-Murdering Zax.”
  • Pivots his thinking when faced with new evidence. Say what you will about the Grinch, he listened carefully to his audience. Upon hearing the Who’s Christmas morning chorus, he is humbled and inspired to change his ways. In the process, he posts some jaw-dropping KPIs. His tiny heart grows two sizes, and he musters the strength of 10 Grinches plus two – a hefty 1,100% gain. That is growth hacking, right there. These Uber-numbers could serve as inspiration for stalled startups who can’t bear to leave their original concept behind to pursue a more promising business model.
  • Consistently delivers. Most of all, the Grinch is exemplary in showing commitment and consistency. Marketers justifiably have mad respect for Robert Cialdini, who illustrates the power of consistency in his Six Principals of Persuasion. People like to see consistency in their own behavior as well as others, and the Grinch nails it. He never just chills in his cave watching Scrooged or blows the whole thing off to spend the winter in Boca Raton. Like the Grinch, growth hackers need to be resourceful and consistently deliver whatever is needed for traction.

I can’t imagine getting tired of watching the Grinch have his annual epiphany. And it doesn’t hurt to have that reminder that maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.

The three words that best describe what you should do next are as follows, and I quote:

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