Julie Hopkins

A member of the Gartner Blog Network

Julie Hopkins
Research Director
1 years at Gartner
15 years IT Industry

Julie Hopkins analyzes digital marketing strategy, trends and practices. She studies social marketing, digital marketing programs and emerging digital marketing trends. Read Full Bio

Facebook Mobile Saves Lives

by Julie Hopkins  |  January 30, 2014  |  Comments Off

It’s been an interesting 10 days in the world of social media. It began with the headlines spawned by a Princeton University study that predicted the death (or appreciable decline) of Facebook. The prediction that Facebook would lose 80% of its users by 2017 was based on a model of the spread of infectious diseases that was applied to an analysis of Google search trends for the word “Facebook.” Never mind the impact the meteoric rise of Facebook usage on mobile phones (thus through an app) might have on search volume, or the fact that, with more than a billion users, few need to use Google to find their way to “the Facebook.”  The study had a big (though imperfect) finding, and thus could lead with a big headline, and so people – the press, the blogosphere, and yes, even a few Gartner analysts – started talking.

Meanwhile, it’s winter.  And while many things go cold, dark, or quiet in winter, nature’s fury certainly does not. And so when Mother Nature turned her reign of terror to the southeast, chaos ensued. Cars hit roads covered by ice, and those racing to beat the storm to their destination – truckers, school bus drivers, daily commuters – soon found themselves stranded on the highway. But this wasn’t your ordinary traffic jam. In places like Atlanta, cars ran out of gas, cell phones died, and hours stranded could now be counted on two, then three hands. What initially felt like an inconvenience quickly became an emergency.

Who could help? 10 years ago, a solution would have been much harder to come by. But today’s technology is on our side, and the hero of the hour became a device, loaded with applications designed for location identification and broadscale sharing. Quickly, a group formed on Facebook called SnowedOutAtlanta, and as darkness literally (and figuratively) started to set in, individuals joined at a rate of 300 new members every 15 minutes. Photo sharing capabilities helped community members recognize motorists who couldn’t otherwise be found. Individuals could pin their last known location, and be married up with those who had food or water, or could provide nearby shelter. Demand became so great – the group now numbers more than 50,000 members – splinter pages had to be created to address the needs and communications of individual Atlanta neighborhoods.

So indulge the intentional hyperbole of this blog title, but acknowledge the leap isn’t any bigger than those made by the folks in Princeton. Ten days and one polar vortex surge after we found ourselves wondering if Facebook was cruising towards irrelevance, it plays spoiler to the headline. Certainly, over time, Facebook (the network, versus the company) will be impacted by shifts in demographic and communication preferences. But platforms aside, our new native behaviors are here to stay. We are SoLoMo-vers and shakers. We check in, we check out, we learn and we share. While many (rightfully so) report on how these actions can contribute to isolation, in this case it has also demonstrated how it can bring individuals with only circumstantial (but relevant) connections together.

Stay warm, stay charged, and stay connected, folks. Research doesn’t guarantee that doing so will save your life, but it might.

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Category: digital marketing     Tags:

All Oracle Wants For Christmas Is…a B2C Focused Campaign Management Platform

by Julie Hopkins  |  December 23, 2013  |  Comments Off

 In case you thought things were going to wind down, and the digital marketing world would exhale, ever so briefly, as it exited 2013, you were clearly wrong. Because, in the ultimate Groundhog Day move, Oracle snatched up B2C campaign management provider Responsys (NASDAQ: MKTG) on December 20th for $1.5 billion, exactly one year from the date when they purchased B2B Campaign Management provider Eloqua (anyone want to make bets for 12/20/14?). Bringing these two providers together as part of the Oracle Marketing Cloud underscores Oracle’s focus on the marketing organization as a source of growth, addresses a gap in their existing marketing cloud offering, and in their words,  demonstrates an effort  to bring together “best in class” capabilities for both B2B and B2C marketers.

“What now?” would be a fair question, as we look back on an active year in the digital marketing management space.  Billions of dollars have been spent in the last twelve months to bring Eloqua, Neolane, ExactTarget, and now Responsys under new ownership, and if winners were decided on acquired campaign management capabilities, an argument could be made that momentum was on the side of a handful of players. Those who remember this happening in the ERP space will likely tell you this feels familiar. But certainly, those of us who are knee deep with these providers will tell you there’s still ground to cover, and questions to be addressed. For instance, there are a lot of key functions – content marketing, ad tech, PPC bid management, web analytics and tag management – where providers bring inconsistent offerings to the table, and which, when executed effectively, can distinguish great from merely good digital marketers.

 Thus, not only do players like Adobe, Oracle, and Salesforce.com have the responsibility of integrating all of the capabilities they’ve acquired in the last year, they’ve got additional functional gaps that must be closed. This is not just a game of yards – yards representing  the core campaign management capabilities that hook everything together – but also a game of inches, representing key functions that are the “secret sauce” of successful marketers.  

This being the season of lists and shopping, I give Oracle an “A” for checking items off that potential customers might be seeking under their marketing cloud tree. But as we all know, the best presents quickly become table decorations if not wrapped with the necessary batteries, components, or attachments. If you’re a parent, you know the anticlimactic defeat of that moment. Let’s hope that Oracle knows better than to leave these pieces on the table, sad and inanimate, full of squandered potential, as holiday music chirps in the background.

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Category: digital marketing     Tags:

Nuke LaLoosh On Digital Marketing

by Julie Hopkins  |  November 4, 2013  |  Comments Off

There’s a great line in the movie “Bull Durham” that came to mind this week. Used once in the film to ground the struggling Bulls in the basics of what they’re on the field to do, star pitcher Nuke LaLoosh extends the image later in the film to demonstrate his profound thinking on the sport of baseball. If you’ve seen the movie, you know the line.   

This is a simple game. You throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains. Think about that for a while.

Of course digital marketing isn’t a simple game. I’ve had a blog post building in my head for months loosely titled, “Maybe What We’re Doing Here is Really Rediculously Hard.” We’re processing massive amounts of information in order to connect with thousands of increasingly narrow segments with the hope that we can match the person with the perfect message, placed across the ideal channel, tuned to the precise device, delivered real-time at the moment of maximum impact, with all the tools necessary to enable social sharing. Oh, and ideally it’s all perfectly tagged to allow for measurement and tracking, and the data will flow through an attribution model that will tell us EXACTLY what’s working, in what proportions, and how to spend our money better next month.

I would argue, though,  that there are contests on the marketing playing field that are not being lost in the complexities of multi-channel campaigns, but on the fundamentals. Who is your customer? Where do they hang out online and what do they do there?  When they’re there, do they want to talk to you? Are their engagement preferences dynamic, and how frequently are those preferences changing (e.g. will consumer attention move from Vine to Instagram before the end of your campaign)? What are your campaigns designed to do or achieve? Is your team and management structure aligned that this is the desired outcome? Are your customers really going to act in the way you’re asking (see my post from earlier this year on WWYCD?). Have we defined what success looks like? Will we know it when we see it?

 Marketers are optimists. This is why we’re so darn fun to be around. We like when things work….when they make a splash…when the level of the buzz rises, and the cash registers ring (or site is clicked).  It’s a lot easier to believe that what we do is uniquely hard – or that the platforms we have to work with are uniquely flawed – when our programs don’t deliver.  It’s certainly better than admitting you used the wrong platform…you shared the wrong content…you overextended your budget… or you made the wrong ask. As my colleague Jake Sorofman said in his post, Facebook is Not the Problem, “…blindly throwing pennies at Facebook and expecting it spit out quarters like a slot machine is little more than a fool’s errand.”

 The best digital marketing tool you possess is your mind. Ask the most of that platform, and your programs will improve.  Because, at its’ core, it’s a simple game. Think about that for a while.

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Category: digital marketing     Tags:

But Seriously….

by Julie Hopkins  |  September 20, 2013  |  Comments Off

At dinner the other night, my companions asked me what I liked best about my job. Truthfully, the list is long, but I led with how much I like talking to smart, interesting people about the cool things they do. It happens during vendor briefings. It happens during our weekly staff meetings (team members like Martin Kihn, who recently found a way to connect Jay-Z and Hadoop in a blog post, can always be counted on for a laugh). Other times, it takes place in larger venues (like the ExactTarget Connections User Conference, where I wrote this), when the person you’re listening to is someone like Jim Collins, author of the management best-seller, “Good to Great.”

In his presentation,  Collins highlighted several differentiating characteristics of great companies, including the discipline that leaders of those companies demonstrated. Fanatic discipline. Singular focus. Consistency of action. I loved the fact that he was discussing this in front of a room of digital marketers. Because sometimes we act like we think we can be successful – or at least be in the game – without having to play by similar rules. Yes, you want to manufacture pharamaceuticals? You should be fanatical. In fact, feel free to err on the side of being a zealot. But make a mistake on a 140 character tweet? Enh….suboptimal, but probably OK.

The Digital Marketing culture has always operated a little looser than other marketing disciplines, not to mention looser than the other departments within the org structure. This is partially due to the ease of experimentation. It’s much easier to launch a Facebook page than run a quarter page ad in The Wall Street Journal. Our ongoing casual approach of things is also rooted in the natural irreverence in the discipline (when early campaigns take the form of Burger King’s “Subservient Chicken,” it’s hard to be the serious guy in the room).

But as we approach what many are describing as “the transformative era of marketing,” many marketers are raising the level of their game. Some are still finding their way, recasting their identity through every new digital media channel they try…flirting with Vine…toe-dipping into Twitter…throwing hash tags around to see what sticks. But others have moved out of their digital adolescence, and now that they’re out on their own, are doing some pretty impressive things.

Great digital marketers will emerge when we start seeing the fanatic discipline applied to other parts of the organization now applied to digital marketing. It will require detailed planning. It will require measurement tracking that connects metrics with business objectives. It will require leadership that is willing to embrace the creativity that is core to digital, while imposing on it the consistency of delivery that is expected in other disciplines.

Recently, one client posed to me the following question: “My CEO just told me he ‘had a guy’ who could get our company on LinkedIn. He wants to just go ahead and let this guy do it….do you think this is a good idea?” My answer was pretty direct – it might be, depending on your strategy, your objectives,  who the guy is, what you’re going to have him do, and the cost. This CEO’s question came out of a casual treatment of the discipline. To him / her, LinkedIn was the digital marketing equivalent of a shiny object.

The time has come to do better than this folks. Be smart. Be consistent.  Be fanatics. Hold your digital programs to higher standards. And be Great.

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The Subject Line that Launched 1000 Purchases

by Julie Hopkins  |  August 16, 2013  |  1 Comment

Earlier this morning, I got an update in my email on a trio of dresses I ordered. Good news, they’ll arrive soon! (I know you were all wondering) And then I saw this new little feature on the far right side of the subject line space.

Email inbox capture

Announced in May, but rolled out a few weeks later, Gmail Quick Actions allow the user to take action on a message from the subject line without even opening it. So whether you’re checking a flight status, RSVPing to an invitation, viewing status of an order, or submitting a review on a recently purchase product, you can jump directly from the brand email to the interaction, without interruption. One button, straight from the inbox, to your end destination. So efficient – LOVE!

Why highlight this twist in email, especially this week, as our GML team conversation turns to commerce? Is it because I’ve got fashion on the brain? Maybe. More likely, this feature highlights something we all logically know, but that is becoming increasingly important – that the commerce experience is far reaching, and it encompasses more than just the steps we take en route to buying.

Reference all that’s been written on the Zero Moment of Truth, and consider all of the points at which a consumer can become aware of your product, or the inputs that drive them to select and then buy your product (or buy from you again). Stealing Chuck Martin’s line from the HBR’s The Mobile Shopping Life Cycle, “Consumers no longer go shopping, they always are shopping.” As such, no portion of the commerce experience should go under-considered in terms of its ability to connect closer to the shopper, including post-purchase.

If you’re actively trying to sell something – online or otherwise – be very deliberate and thoughtful about how all of the interactions you support build upon one another to create a richer relationship. Take nothing for granted. One of the most interesting pieces of data I saw recently spoke to the fact that emails sent late at night had higher open rates, transaction rates, and revenue than those sent during the day, and that revenue per email spikes on Saturday. Ask anyone who ran an email marketing program 5 years ago if they would believe those statistics, and they’ll describe the testing they went through to determine if Tuesday sends were better than Thursday. The point? Everything is up for grabs when it comes to moving the consumer to buy, and bringing them back for more.

Today’s consumer is different. The purchase process is different. More voices are involved. And if you want to sell something, you need to start thinking creatively about how to make your voice heard, and all of the “little touches” you can leverage to help get a consumer just one tiny step closer to purchase, repurchase, or a loyal relationship with you. In an inbox filled with 1700 unread messages, one button caught my eye, and made my buying journey richer.

How will you stand out?

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Mind the Gap: You’re Taking a Ride on the Social Marketing Line

by Julie Hopkins  |  July 16, 2013  |  Comments Off

By now, if you’re in the digital marketing space, the Digital Marketing Transit Map has made its way into your sphere of consciousness. Perhaps you listened in on our webinar.  Maybe you read similar posts from my colleagues Jake Sorofman, or Andrew Frank. If you have, you’ve had a couple good “aha” or “YES!” moments. I personally like that the Emerging Trends line in the one that’s the most “out there” on the map. I also like that the UX line is right at the center, putting the customer right where they should be in digital marketing discussions. In fact, the only change I might make is to add a couple of caution signs or “helpful hints” to travelers on the social marketing line. Here’s why.

Social Line_Transit Map

If you’re a social marketing manager, your travels through the digital marketing landscape rarely feel uneventful. On the upside, the social marketing line gets a lot of traffic, by a lot of diverse people, many of whom are doing some really fun and  compelling things. It’s an intense and exciting ride, available at all hours of the day and night. But this route is also unfortunately often under construction. The rules of the line can change at a moment’s notice. The temperament of the crowds in the terminals can range from loving and effusive to entitled and angry. Mistakes in executing your plans can leave you feeling very exposed. Connections feel overly close, and as a result, are often missed. Even the best marketers can feel like the line moves too quickly – or too chaotically – for them to execute very well.

Our research tells us that this is true. The social marketing line is taking brands to amazing places, but few are riding it with peak efficiency or effectiveness. Our research over the last few months has highlighted some of the difficulties marketers face in making this ride “work” for them. What, then, can you do to buffer against some of the natural volatility in this line, and help you navigate better?

-          Look upstream: What upstream resources or opportunities have you ignored by jumping on midway? For example, backtrack and look more seriously at your software tools – are they offering the support you need for a stable ride?

-          Explore the neighborhood: The commerce track runs adjacent to the social marketing track for a reason. How closely can you connect the content you create and share, or the technologies you leverage, to the activities that drive revenue into the organization?

-          Consider connections: What impact comes from the connections that lie ahead? Consider where emerging technologies intersect with the social marketing line – are there reasons to jump off and explore, or does your strategy dictate that you stay on course?

As with any good map, you benefit most when you use the Transit Map to not only navigate a singular path, but to explore and exploit the opportunities around you. Smart consideration of your options can help you to identify where trouble on the line can slow you down, or which routes will lead you to social marketing gold. Navigate well!

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Salesforce.com Acquires ExactTarget

by Julie Hopkins  |  June 4, 2013  |  1 Comment

You’ll see a lot of things today in the news…in your social feed…as you move around town…as you attempt to understand your children…that will fundamentally not make sense to you. The headline today announcing Salesforce.com’s acquisition of ExactTarget should not fall into that category. You may work hard to fully comprehend a sum of money like $2.5billion in cash, but if you spend about two minutes thinking through the reasoning of this move, you should get yourself quickly to a head-nod, and be able to move about your day. Here’s why.

Begin with fact that the technology needs of today’s marketing executives are increasing rapidly. Our recent survey of marketing executives indicates that 10.4% of revenue is budgeted for marketing, and is expected to grow 6% in 2013.  With projected technology investments a major part of marketing budget growth, Salesforce.com has been building out the “big rock” components of their marketing cloud since the acquisition of Radian6 in March 2011. The cloud got more crowded when BuddyMedia was acquired last year. With today’s announcement, Salesforce.com rounds out the components of their marketing story.

Is email a $2.5B part of the engagement story? Sure it is. Email communications remain a critical part of how organizations engage their audiences. Whether communications are transactional or marketing in nature, they reach consumers semi-seamlessly across devices, can leverage the big data companies are increasingly collecting and harnessing, link actions taken tightly back into the consumer record (feeding the grand insight loop), and meaningfully drive to other components of online and offline programs. Regardless of company size, audience, or industry, email is a hard-working vehicle that many companies are still working to perfect. In short, getting closer to a leading email company makes sense if you’re a company built on helping your customers engage their customers better.

Why ExactTarget?  With a marquis customer list, and the ability to support robust email marketing programs, they offer Salesforce.com and their customers the capabilities needed to build out the marketing cloud. In fact, when existing Salesforce.com customers were seeking support for complex email requirements, the folks in San Francisco would point customers east to the folks in Indianapolis…often enough that integration via the Salesforce.com APIs already exists.

It appears that the distance will shrink between the two companies, though there are still a lot of details to be worked out. There is overlapping functionality that must be reckoned with. There are ExactTarget customers who work with Salesforce.com’s competitors who are certainly pondering the impact on their current setup. There are two brands, rich with equity, that will live alongside one another…for now. All of this will need to be dealt with. BUT, there are also CMOs who are feeling increasing pressure to drive value into the organization, who are saddled with increasing influence over the business, and who are working hard to make sense out of the providers and solutions that support their digital marketing initiatives.  We at Gartner are watching this scene play out from the front row, and have even launched a new offering to help digital marketers navigate this new landscape. But this announcement will give them some additional food for thought. More will certainly come, along with our official position on the announcement. At the highest level, though, knowing the players involved and the market being served, this move is far from a head-scratcher.

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Attribution Modeling: More Cost Effective than Paying LeBron James

by Julie Hopkins  |  May 24, 2013  |  Comments Off

So I’m from Michigan, I went to Duke, and as anyone who has read my blog before has deduced, I love college basketball. When you add up all of these factors, you’ll understand why therefore I also LOVE Shane Battier. Shane Battier, Michigan raised and Blue Devil trained, currently plays for the Miami Heat, and is known as one of the most frustrating (read best) defensemen in the league. In 2009, the New York Times Magazine published an article called “The No-Stats All-Star,” that described Battier’s game as a “weird combination of obvious weakness and nearly invisible strengths.” They write, “…when he is on the court, his teammates get better, often a lot better, and his opponents get worse — often a lot worse.” Earlier this spring, the New York Times returned to the topic of Battier, discussing the coincidence that Battier has been, interestingly, part of three of the greatest basketball win streaks of all time. According to this Times blog, “there have been only four single-season winning streaks of at least 20 games in N.B.A. history, and he (Battier) has been part of two of them…but neither streak qualifies as Battier’s longest; he was a starter during Duke’s 32-game run in 1998-99.”

This blog is not meant to be a love letter for Shane Battier, though we should all feel free to write one at some point if the mood strikes us. Rather, it’s an outward and visible example of what’s revealed when you push beyond last click attribution. Were basketball statisticians to stop at points scored, we would miss the impact of the assist…the offensive rebound…or any of the defensive statistics….and then of course, the insights that are generated to understand the impact of players on the court whose power is not outwardly visible in the final score, but whose presence certainly makes it possible. As a result, all we would know would be to chase the next LeBron James, regardless of the cost to the organization. Same goes for your digital programs. If all that matters is the last step before the conversion, we give no credit to the Shane Battiers of digital tactics – the pieces of your digital puzzle which prime the pump for the eventual golden moment. The more we peel the onion, the more we understand how the pieces work together, and when they are working best to drive value.

Attribution is the topic that’s taking center stage this week in the Gartner for Marketing Leaders world. Why? Because it’s keeping our good friend and colleague Andrew Frank very busy these days, which means that something that everyone has been writing about has become something that our clients are actively struggling with. I applaud those who are starting to fight the fight to get to deeper insight into their digital campaigns, and what about their formula is truly working. I was (frankly) surprised to see the IAB stat from June 2012, indicating that 44% of digital marketers don’t have processes in place to assign credit to their efforts – even as simple as last click attribution. It seems those who are digging deeper into the story are more exceptional than perhaps they know. What we believe will be the reward for those efforts, however, will be improved performance, the ability to better plan and budget, more predictable outcomes, and in the end better ROI. Seems worth the quest, right?

I totally understand that accessing siloed data, putting together, and refining, a strategy for better attribution modeling is far from a walk in the park. The difficulty of piecing together the story – and the imperfections that may be revealed – can stop the project before it gets off the ground, or gets to a working model. Embracing non-obvious solutions en route to better understanding is difficult, but is what makes this quote from Jonathan Wichmann, Social Media Manager at Maersk Line, so exceptional.  In a case study of their social media program, Wichmann indicated they were achieving 1500% social media ROI. He also shared, however, that the ROI number could be zero, or it could be 5000% depending upon your assumptions. His candor is awesome, and speaks to the fact that measurement is a process, and that there’s benefit to just starting, learning, and refining from there. Perfect clarity on Day 1 into what combinations work best to drive revenue will be elusive; but that will not be true forever.

Beyond insight, planning efficiency, improved program performance, and eventually, increases in revenue and ROI, perhaps there’s another reason to dive into the complex problem of attribution. Recently, HBR highlighted a post from Rosabeth Moss Kanter that poses that, “The Happiest People Pursue the Most Difficult Problems.” Reason enough to dig deeper into campaign understanding? Maybe not. But certainly icing on the cake.

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An Open Thank You Note to the Risk Takers (with a shoutout to DraftFCB)

by Julie Hopkins  |  April 23, 2013  |  Comments Off

Dear friends at DraftFCB (and those elsewhere pondering, “are we sure we want to do this?”),

Thank you so much for Kmart’s “Ship My Pants”. Millions of us have enjoyed the commercial, and are waiting to hear how the television run plays out for you. I loved the ad before, but love it even more knowing that the account is under review, and that your future with this client is probably closely linked to the success of this spot. I’m not sure how much you were crossing your fingers when this launched, but I’ve got to believe it felt a little like a roll of the dice. For your sake, and what it means for everyone involved, I hope it was a winner.

You need to know I’ve always struggled with the battle between gut and data. I lean towards more ‘practical’ marketing – even my ‘big bets’ can be calculated – so I applaud those who are willing to gamble a bit. I worked with a brand manager a few years ago who used to talk about perusing the grocery aisle where her product lived, and “just knowing in her gut whether a competitor product would sell.” Never mind what the data said (a fact that, as owner of the data, I found infinitely frustrating) – she figured she had her finger on the pulse of the space and could predict what products would make it.

Recently, though, I’m starting to appreciate the role the big-bet guys play in our business. Two weeks ago, Ron Johnson’s ouster at JCPenney dominated business and marketing headlines, with most pointing to gut reliance as the source of his failure. Ironically, the article I resonated with most strongly was this HBR blog post, “What Ron Johnson Got Right”. I found myself applauding his willingness to think big and swing for the fences on behalf of his struggling brand. His mindset made sense to me: “To do things that haven’t been done before,” he says, “you need to trust your intuition.”

When big bets go awry, there’s always room for the marketer who wants to swoop in with safe tactics. He or she will have a better chance at success because someone else went big first. That’s why I applaud you, and everyone else, who is willing to push the envelope a little, and embrace the inherent risks that come with innovative marketing. Thank you for launching a campaign rooted in bathroom humor. Thank you for being the one to take on the discomfort, and experience the momentary cringe that will come when the ad reaches the masses. Thank you for leading with a great idea, regardless of where the data shook out. And thank you for creating a larger safe space for the rest of us to market in.

You and others who expand the marketing world deserve our respect and our gratitude, no matter the outcome.

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Maybe Not Enlightenment, but Certainly a Path to a Better Place

by Julie Hopkins  |  April 8, 2013  |  Comments Off

One of my former colleagues works at a great ad agency…one that is new to the digital game, but trying their hardest to build a digital practice that will be as rich in capabilities as the offline side of their business. As the man in charge of making the digital dream happen, he gets a great deal of support from the agency, but still regularly runs up against the same roadblock. In his words, “it’s really hard to focus energies on digital among a group of people whose greatest enthusiasm – and deepest understanding – surrounds creating a brilliant TV spot.”

Digital isn’t new. BUT, even the best marketers – especially those who are still growing into their digital clothes – are still mastering the hows, how-tos, and how muches of digital marketing . The rules of thumb are not yet second nature, and few have committed the practices of digital marketing to muscle memory. Look no further than the findings from our recent Digital Marketing Spend Survey. We begin our discussion of where digital marketing dollars are going by talking about how big marketing budgets are, how much of that budget is allocated to digital, and what portion is being carved off for advertising. These numbers may feel basic, but the question of “how much should I spend” comes up every day, as digital marketers work to plan and allocate their digital budgets.

The infographic we published from this research is one that is worth printing and posting, or sharing and pinning, en route to checking-in against where you stack up against the CMO’s path we describe. How do you compare, spend wise? Are you finding savings from your digital activities, and can you describe for others in your organizations what those savings enable you to do? How do your investment priorities compare, and as you tackle these projects, who is doing the heavy lifting for you? Perhaps, if you haven’t already, it’s time to bring in outside help to expedite your efforts, help you find some process or cost efficiencies, or optimize en route to better results. Finally, how does your leadership stack up? As digital marketing continues to build dotted line relationships between marketing and IT, are you among the many seeing the need for more oversight at the top?

There are companies and industries who are leading the way, and their budgeting and priorities are pointing us to the areas where digital has the potential to change how business is done. Then there are other companies, for whom the newness of digital still feels uncomfortable in the face of “favorite jeans” print or TV. One company I know,  in a moment of weakness during a recent campaign, pulled their digital spend to focus on print, and when the magazine came, found 38 paid ad placements or editorial insertions of their product. Not surprisingly, questions about inefficiency started to leak into conversations that followed. I would recommend to them, and to others, to take a minute to walk the path of our CMO. Are you following her closely, walking alongside, or have you off-roaded into the woods? If you’re off-roading, is it because you believe you’ve found a better way, or are you legitimately off course? Let us know. As the infographic says, the digital sphere is always evolving. Perhaps you’ve laying the breadcrumbs for our CMO’s next path. Or perhaps it’s time to get out the map.

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