2016, the year we stop isolating “Digital”?

****By “we”, I refer to marketing professionals”****


Throughout 2015 departments were told to stop existing in silos and that it is everyone’s responsibility to build expertise in Digital. We also had new job titles being created like CDO (Chief Digital Officer). What these moves did right was give priority to digital, but what it did wrong was isolate it from everything else.

The prediction

But in 2016 the winning organisations will be those that flip the script and stop classifying channels as either online and offline, stop talking about digital marketing as if it’s ‘on its own’ (and, for example isolated from the in-store experience). And those that instead think about the holistic consumer experience by focussing on delivering great experiences across the most important channels.

Back to simple…sort of

This transition has been from simple to complex. Next I think will be simple, again — but in a new way. If we get accustomed to the fast-changing environment and become comfortable with being agile — this IS possible. It requires us move away from thinking about the complexity that digital disruption brought and rather focus on the opportunity for efficiency, knowledge, and meaningful connection with consumers. It requires focussing on only what’s important, what’s useful and relevant . We find out what’s important and how to respond by understanding customer motivations and needs so well that you can get back to simple.

One example here is the path to purchase: we have seen countless diagrams depicting the old, simple path with few touchpoints in contrast with the new, complex path with many touchpoints. But what if we removed some of those touchpoints that were redundant, unnessary, unimportant and instead we focussed on making just a few touchpoints more effective? Then we could simplify the consumer’s path and by default be more focused in marketing strategies and tactics.

Okay so focusing on specific touchpoints doesn’t necessarily make things simple — even if I just had a website to focus on or just a brick and motar store to focus on, there are still inherent complexities. The point is more about focussing on the consumer experience, and not getting distracted by the desire to try everything, but learning enough about the customer to know what’s important, how to optimise and how to make the most important brand experiences. This means not talking about digital as the online marketing toolkit but rather talking about connections — regardless of whether they’re online, offline or something in between.