The Customer’s Keeper: The Modern Digital Marketer

Sanjay Dholakia, chief marketing officer of Marketo, put it best when he said, “Marketing has changed more in five years than the past five hundred.” This pace of change has spurred an evolution in the management roles that oversee marketing efforts. Before, the digital marketer was expected to be like Marcus Crassus: a spoke in the wheel, smart and effective when it came to the bottom line. Now, businesses need their digital marketers to be Julius Caesars: not just leading and driving in business, but making friends along the way.

Marketing often finds itself as either the white knight or black thumb of a given business. Success begets a bigger budget; failure leads to pink slips. The digital age generated a significant change in the way that marketing campaigns could be executed, as well as the potential impact they could have. In the time before everyone had a smartphone, laptop and tablet, the digital marketer’s main priority was to increase leads from within designated buyer personas, whether that be subscriptions, mailing lists, memberships or anything else that could be of direct use to generate sales. Technology such as social media, however, has put the power in the hands of the customers. The goal of marketing is no longer to just get people to buy, it’s to convince people that the brand is worthy of their loyalty.

Of course, it’s not just consumer-facing technology that has changed the responsibilities of the digital marketer. The rise of programmatic advertising and native advertising have both had a heavy hand in the transformation of the digital marketer’s role. Though the two may seem polar opposites – programmatic is all about algorithm-based automation, while native advertising is all about communicating an experience specific to the platform it is on – they both work toward the same goal: to provide a more personal and engaging experience for customers.

Personalizing advertising goes hand-in-hand with establishing brand trust, which is one of the major responsibilities of the modern digital marketer. Customers today are more willing to provide brands and marketers with information about themselves if it results in being shown ads that align with their interests. However, in order to utilize this effectively, the digital marketer must walk a fine line. It can be very tempting to take this data and throw as many ads as possible at someone in an attempt to remain top-of-mind. However, doing this is going to seriously annoy customers, and can quickly drive them to the competition. Even worse, it can drive them to turn to social media or review sites to vent about the frustration they feel from being bombarded with ads from a given company. Negative brand experiences find a far larger audience than positive ones today.

These cases are where the modern digital marketer can flex his or her recently-gained muscle. It’s no longer enough to simply drive in leads and nurture them along their path to purchase. Marketing must strive to build relationships with customers that not only keep their brand top of mind, but also keeps the customers engaging with the brand in meaningful ways when they aren’t looking to make a purchase. This requires brand trust, which modern technology has made much more difficult to build and maintain.

To achieve true brand trust today, customers must be treated with respect because they not only have plenty of options to choose from, but they have the platforms to sound off and rally public opinion against even the biggest brands. Comcast, anyone? It is now the role of the digital marketer to plan campaigns and strategies that are designed to promote and maintain relationships, rather than just drawing moths to the flame. As advertising technology continues to advance and achieve capabilities previously unheard of, the digital marketer must be the one to recognize how to utilize it in a way that balances the need for brand awareness with the respect that today’s customers expect, and that can be a difficult task when you know you could simply put your ads in millions of spots in the blink of an eye.

Digital marketers have more responsibilities now than they ever have. These responsibilities have been brought on by the incredible power that today’s technology gives marketers and customers alike. Digital marketers are looking to build lasting relationships with people and establish brand trust. Doing this requires attention and patience, but ends up putting those brands ahead of the competition. As programmatic and marketing technologies continue to evolve at a staggering pace, it will be very interesting to see how the digital marketer’s role develops into the future.

Homepage image via Shutterstock.

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