Econsultancy have just released their 2016 Digital Trends Quarterly Briefing in association with Adobe. They always present some interesting reading and statistics on trends which are taking place across the digital landscape so we thought we would provide a digest and our take on what the key considerations are – in a sense we’ve done the reading of this 40 page document so you don’t have to (or to encourage you to!)

The 3 key opportunities as provided by the 7,000 marketing, e-commerce and digital professionals who participated in the survey are:

  1. Optimizing the customer experience
  2. Data driven marketing that focuses on the individual
  3. Creating compelling content for digital experiences

 Essentially, providing great customer experience is seen as the prime opportunity and provides the catalyst for data driven marketing and creating compelling content. This is good news because there are still many Australian and international brands who are yet to show evidence that they are realizing this opportunity – is 2016 the year that this shift happens?

It is well documented that people have moved from being passive toward active and participation based consumers – actively researching, viewing, curating, creating and sharing content across the digital social web. Content has become the currency to drive awareness, consideration and engage customers. The use of data to understand who your customers are and how they are interacting with the brand, services or product is essential to informing the content strategy and creative.           

Within this, targeting and personalization are seen as areas which have swiftly moved to the top of the priority list to enable consumers to enjoy the best possible experience. This is evident by the top 2 responses provided when asked “Most exciting opportunity – 2016 vs ‘five years’ time’”

 Source: Econsultancy / Adobe Quarterly Digital Intelligence Briefing - January 2016

The constant evaluation and changes required in infrastructure to take advantage of innovation and the opportunities it creates is seen as an area where companies have made limited progress. Having the infrastructure and people in place to make sense of the data available is only occurring in 37% of organizations. Commentary in the report states “A good CX (Customer Experience) requires the linking of technology, data and teams so that experiences are consistent and seamless, and requires a culture and organization that reflects the fifth stage in Econsultancy’s digital maturity model10 ; a fully integrated structure.

This is important as the emergence of data as a priority for marketing is by far ranked as the most important element for an organisation’s success. Here’s the conundrum, as the report states “Accessing, defining and using customer data is one of the most difficult challenges faced by the modern marketing organization”

When examining how respondents prioritize their efforts over the medium term future, the first order of business is to bring together technology, process and talent in ways to create a seamless, consistent and valuable experience. There’s a bit of marketing buzzword bingo there but it is still interesting that many companies are really grappling with the day-to-day implementation of these principles. In this respect the most important priority in the findings is "Optimizing the customer journey across multiple touch points” – 70% and next “Ensuring consistency of message across channels” – 63%. The insight for us here is that this will require massive collaboration, both within organizations where multiple departments and stakeholders have responsibility and critically, across external agency partners.

The report then looks at the role of creativity in the face of all this technological change and data availability. Creativity is seen as a key influencer of business success with companies fostering creativity enjoying greater market share by a factor of 1.5 when compared to their less creative counterparts according to a Forrester / Adobe study. The insight here being that agile creation of ideas is only possible if there’s a connected approach to strategy and creative.  This point is made when the report quotes Jarek Ziebinski of Leo Burnett  “pulling meaningful, actionable insights from your data and using those to drive the creative process and in turn elevate business results might become one of the most efficient approaches to modern marketing.”, well said.

Interesting then that according to the report, when it comes to planning and execution, only 16% of respondents agreed with the statement “Digital permeates all our marketing programs.”. It seems the power of digitally based marketing to provide data is still a double edged sword where the ability to clearly measure ROI around digital content means that if marketers do not have the resources to measure it then they are reluctant to pursue it (and can we guess that they will often stick to the un-measurable analogue based status-quo approach??).         

So we can see that marketers (and assuming businesses) understand the need for continued change, driven by the way customers have changed their habits and the way they now demand more from the services, brands and products they purchase. The customer experience is all-important and achieving this through understanding data and applying this throughout marketing to provide a more personalized approach to communication and content. As an independent video content agency  90% of all internet traffic predicted to be video related by 2019 according to Cisco, the ability to integrate video into the content ecosystem will become critical. That’s the opportunity for 2016, there are some businesses who are already doing it really well but for the majority there’s work to be done.