The next phase of marketing: Are we lost in the inbox?

02 May 2016

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By Greg Taylor, Managing Director Marketo Australia

In this part of the world we are often ahead of the pack in terms of technology adoption. We have one of the world’s highest levels of smartphone adoption and we’ve been quick to embrace wearable technology. It would be natural to assume, then, that if marketers are now communicating more comprehensively across all these new devices, we’d be leading the pack there too.

But a report out this month from the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), sponsored by Marketo, shows how the marketing world is changing. And, in some ways, it could be argued that Australia is struggling to keep up – although, figures are not always what they seem.

First, let’s look at the speed of change. The declining relevance of traditional media will come as no surprise. When asked to name the top three channels through which customers experience a company’s marketing efforts, globally just 17 percent included television. That’s expected to fall to 15 percent by 2020. There’s a far more significant change coming for print. 26 percent of respondents listed it as one of their top three marketing channels today, falling to 14 percent in the next four years. That’s quite a drop!

So, what are the most common channels? Well, globally, 63 percent listed social media. We’re good at that here too.

Where we differ is in our reliance on email. 77 percent of Australian respondents gave it as one of the three main channels of marketing, compared to just 40 percent in New Zealand and 51 percent in the rest of the world. Skip forward a few years and 46 percent of ANZ marketers still see email as a top three channel, even though it has fallen to 33 percent in the rest of the world.

Our email fascination comes at the expense of our focus on the web. Just over half (51 percent) of ANZ respondents named websites as a top three channel, compared to 61 percent in the rest of the world. We also place less importance on mobile apps – just 15% of Australian marketers said it was a top three channel, compared to 38 percent in New Zealand.

On the face of it, the figures hint that Aussie marketers are traditionalists. We’re sticking with emails because they are relatively simple, compared to the intricacies of the web. Web marketing and mobile apps are becoming increasingly complex and, to succeed, you’ve got to have a handle on personalisation, behavioural tracking and attribution, and that’s just for starters.

But it would be wrong to say we’re slower at adopting these skills. I’d suggest that we’re doing all those things as well as anyone, it’s just that many are seeing emails as one of the regular tools for directing people to relevant content. In that, North America shares an interest in email marketing – 60 percent still see it as one of their top three channels.

There are other telling statistics to suggest we’ve attained a high degree of sophistication in our approach to multi-channel marketing. When asked what are the top two priorities for their marketing organisation between now and 2020, 43 percent of ANZ respondents to the EIU study said they needed better attribution across channels. We wanted to know how we could measure the importance of each element in a multi-channel customer journey. That seems a fundamental concern in this new environment, yet only 35 percent of marketers in the rest of the world gave it as a priority.

I’d say marketers in the region know as well as anyone how the discipline is changing. We recognise that fostering consistent and personalised experiences are key to developing the level of satisfaction that builds brand equity. We, like marketers globally, also recognise the wealth of data generated by the Internet of Things, will add an extra layer of complexity. But, with the right tools, this provides an opportunity for marketers to develop even stronger bonds with their customers and prospects.

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