Unsurprisingly, the biggest shift came with the onset of the online era. As people flocked to the shiny new digital landscape, they found themselves open to suggestion from many angles, and brands of all kinds adapted to take advantage. That doesn’t mean further changes haven’t occurred since then, of course: the internet has continued marching ahead, after all.
This bears noting as background to the discussion of digital tools, as it’s the online world that presents, explains and sustains them. The proliferation of varied digital tools is contributing to some major changes in the marketing world — and in this post, we’re going to run through four such changes. Let’s take a look at them:
They’re automating repetitive tasks
Marketing can feature some tedious tasks, particularly when it comes to sourcing targeting data, personalizing materials, or choosing between similar alternatives when trying to optimize results. Take something as basic as personalizing each email in a marketing campaign with something relating to the individual recipient — with thousands of emails lined up, that would take days to achieve manually, and with a strong likelihood of making some major mistakes.
Today, there are myriad digital marketing tools available that are capable of producing complex automation (or at least being involved in it through rich integration support). Almost every variety of marketing suite or package features native automation options, regardless of the specific area of focus, with a prime example being the marketing suite from industry leader HubSpot — and it’s all relatively intuitive to use, making it accessible to beginners.
That means no more spending hours customising email subject lines or manually reposting social media messages in an effort to yield maximum ROI. Mostly anything repetitive can simply be automated, leaving marketers free to focus on more creative and interesting tasks.
They’re improving team communication
Internal communications were vitally important before the move to remote working, and they’ve only become more important since. With all the elements that go into a modern digital marketing campaign, it’s extremely difficult to proceed effectively when the professionals involved aren’t able to stay in contact and share their findings quickly and easily.
This is where general digital transformation comes to the fore. It isn’t just about cherry-picking single utilities when useful: it’s about sourcing fully-featured digital foundations for businesses, ensuring that everyone uses the same software and knows how to play to its strengths. This is something that needs to be done at an organisational level, of course, typically through a cloud solution distributor with a special focus on a relevant suite (take intY, a Scan Source Company as an example, gearing its resale options towards Microsoft’s SaaS solutions).
Consider the relative accessibility of these suites. Where once they were one-time buys with price tags that rendered them unaffordable to most companies, they’re now dedicated subscription services available at various tiers and in custom configurations. Accordingly, every business doing digital marketing (no matter how small) can find a suitable deployment.
They’re making adaptability a key skill
The digital marketing field in general is changing rapidly, and what it takes for a job candidate to stand out is morphing with it. Part of this is due to much broader factors such as the rise of the varied social media world and the switch to remote working as a standard in the wake of the biggest COVID-19 lockdown — but not all of it. The rest can be attributed to the availability of (and reliance upon) a huge and ever-expanding range of digital marketing tools.
If we’re to pick out one skill that’s become massively more important, it has to be adaptability. Put simply, it’s much less significant that you know how to use any given tool or have mastered everything that a certain niche has to offer. What matters is that you know how to learn quickly and effectively — that you can be comfortable testing a new tool, gauging its potential, and adding it to your arsenal, all without having all your actions tightly directed.
Today’s top digital marketers gather new tools as they need them, understanding what the basic options are and knowing when to research fresh alternatives and approaches. Someone who puts all their time into becoming an expert at Google Ads, for instance, would be in huge trouble if that service fell in popularity — while someone who kept their skills diverse would be fine.
They’re providing complex analytics
It’s all but impossible to run a maximally-effective marketing campaign if you can’t tell what exactly it’s achieving at any given time. You don’t start out with the perfect configuration, after all: you make some educated guesses, get things underway, see what happens, then make some appropriate changes to venture in the right direction.
Digital tools are massively enhancing that process of seeing what happens. Innovative analytics suites can achieve remarkable things, segmenting your results in countless useful ways to help you decide how best to allocate your resources. This allows you to iterate much more easily, moving your campaign towards success at a faster clip than you could otherwise reach.
There are other changes we didn’t get into here, of course, such as the vastly-elevated accessibility of marketing education — being able to practice digital marketing using free tools allows those with marketing ambitions to take huge strides ahead without needing to invest hugely in training. These are the key changes, though. And they’re still going, which means it’ll be fascinating to see how the field changes in the coming decade.