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What I Learned at the 2018 Gartner Digital Marketing Conference

June 05, 2018 - By Wayne St. Amand, CMO, Nielsen Visual IQ

What I Learned at the 2018 Gartner Digital Marketing Conference

This article was originally published on MarTech Series.

At its recent Digital Marketing Conference, Gartner famously called the future of marketing "fast, frenetic, and fantastic" and we couldn't agree more. Consumers increasingly expect seamless, highly relevant interactions with brands yet feel trepidation about brand marketing.

Measuring our marketing is the only way we’re going to learn what’s working and what’s not. This is the insight that’s going to help us be better marketers.

Marketers must now succeed in an environment where more personalization means greater privacy risk, where walled gardens are the customer’s gateway to the Internet, and where emerging technologies are rewriting the rules of marketing every day.

And don’t forget, marketers are consumers too, both practicing and experiencing these factors. We strategize about the best ways to identify our customers -- Who are they and what do they want? What are their pains and problems? What do they need?

We master ever-growing tech stacks to communicate with prospects -- using twelve or more platforms to blog, socialize, email, host online events, optimize our sites and our marketing, measure results, and capture the leads (please, the leads!) from those who make their way to our sites to download, subscribe or even request a demo.

We gather databases full of different kinds of information: email addresses, social handles, locations, time zones, device IDs, and more. We do our best to make sure we’re presenting the best creative, the most relevant and useful information we can -- not spam.

Occasionally, we leave the office. We drive or walk or take the train home and open our laptops or swipe our phone screens or turn on the TV. We answer personal email and take to Google to find the best vacation spots, restaurants, or help the kids with their history homework.

We see the banners and the videos populating our social feeds. And we never take off our marketing hat -- always viewing these creatives with a critical eye and sometimes an envious one. “What a great campaign!” we say to ourselves, or sometimes “What were they thinking?”

We know that behind every amazing visual and tagline, there are a group of hard-working marketers just like ourselves.

Finding Out What Matters to Marketers

Which is why attending an event like Gartner’s Digital Marketing Conference is so important these days. It brings together hundreds of our fellow marketers, all slightly (or not so slightly) stressed by customer expectations, the pace of change, the arrival of new platforms, tools, and technologies, not to mention GDPR.

But we also bring our own expertise to the party. We each have our own take on the best way to grow. As the CMO of a marketing effectiveness company, I’ve put my money on the ability to measure. It’s that simple. Measuring our marketing is the only way we’re going to learn what’s working and what’s not. This is the insight that’s going to help us be better marketers.

Eight Things That Matter

At this year’s Gartner show, we hosted special guests Iain Noakes, Chief Customer Journey Officer at The Economist, and Amy Hu, VP, Interactive Marketing and Online Experience at H&R Block, for a panel discussion about the future of marketing effectiveness. I noted key takeaways from our event and throughout the conference.

At our event and throughout the conference, I noted key takeaways. Here are eight things that I heard matter in 2018.

Boldness Matters: Disruption abounds, but for the fearless marketer, there's never been a better time to harness the mix of available marketing measurement and effectiveness technologies to hone their craft and drive the outcomes they need to be successful.

Marketing Attribution Matters: Attribution solutions assign credit to each touchpoint along the customer journey that reflects that touchpoint’s influence on purchase (or other business goal). Attribution is more than just optimizing spend. It enables marketers to follow consumers through the entire funnel from the first touchpoint to conversion and drive ongoing engagement.

Models Matter: Marketers often choose between multi-touch attribution models that offer speed and granularity or marketing mix models that offer scale and coverage. Holistic performance measurement requires both types of models.

Speed Matters: Consumers move with great speed today. To be effective, marketers need to act just as quickly to improve consumer experiences and drive business results. This means refreshing models and data in near-real time.

Insight Matters: Companies in all industries share a common challenge: how to know which activities are actually driving revenue. Marketers need attribution to focus efforts on attracting, converting and retaining high-value customers.

Personalization Matters: Consumers want more customized engagements across channels and devices. According to Gartner, 64 percent of marketing leaders report using or planning to deploy personalization technology, yet they struggle to develop personalized customer experiences across the buying journey.

Long-Term Matters: Marketers need to shift from a focus on short-term conversions to overall customer lifetime value. Attribution is a key element to monitoring the ongoing relationship between a brand and its customers and applying these insights to new activity.

Tech Matters: Consumers want more customized engagements across channels and devices. Gartner recommends six solutions to help marketing teams capitalize on these customer-centric trends: multi-touch attribution, mobile marketing analytics, cross-device identification, predictive analytics, artificial intelligence, and customer data platforms.

Customer Loyalty Matters: Since for most companies, the top 20% of customers drive 80% of sales, allocating spend to efforts that attract the most loyal customers makes the most sense. By shifting focus to attribution informed by lifetime value, you not only increase the efficiency of your media buys, but you also maximize your company’s sales through high value, lifelong customer relationships.

What Matters To You?

As I mentioned, every marketer brings their own expertise and insight to figuring out the best way forward. What are you hearing from your colleagues, customers and team? Let me know what you think matters.

Learn More

To learn more about how you can be a better marketer in the digital era, download our ebook: Crossing the New Digital Divide: Your Guide to Marketing Effectiveness

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