There are some trends within the digital marketing industry that we're observing that are already having an impact on budgets and resources – and will continue to in the future.
From an investment perspective, services marketing budgets will grow slightly in 2016, to about 1.5% of total services revenue. The increases will lag expected growth in services revenue, however, putting yet more pressure on marketers to expand scope and performance with only minimally additional resources. Source: ITSMA
In short, budgets for digital marketing continue to grow and C-level marketers are now expected to be hands-on and fully understand the complexity of the landscape, the tools available, and the reporting necessary to improve a company's acquisition and retention efforts. Given the explosion of channels and the need to optimize for so many, We're doing more with less… and it's becoming more complex.
While marketing staffs are increasing, the expectation for marketers to do more with less continues. And much of the pressure is to invest in marketing tools that help alleviate the number of human hours needed to respond, plan, execute and measure marketing efforts.
Automation and Intelligence Compliment Human Resources, They Don't Replace Them
Our agency does quite a bit of work for some very large companies. At any time of the day, we probably have 18 or so dedicated resources working on client work. From brand experts, to project managers, to designers, to developers, to content writers… the list goes on and on and on. The vast majority of this work is accomplished through partnerships with other organizations, though. We develop the strategy and they execute the strategy.
Tools are one way that we're able to increase touchpoints with clients and prospects. We utilize a collection of dashboard, reporting, social publishing, and project management tools. The goal of those tools isn't the automation of our jobs, though. The goal of those tools is to maximize the time we personally get to spend with each client to both explain and optimize the strategies that we're putting forth.
As you're looking to invest budget for automating internal tasks, I'd ensure your goal isn't to replace people, it's to free them up to do what they're best at. If you want to destroy your marketing team's productivity – keep making them work out of spreadsheets and email. If you want to maximize productivity, make the purchase of tools a priority so your team can have everything it needs to be successful.
Ultimately, the goal of any marketing-related system should be that it enables more productive time with your prospects and clients, not less. Produce more for your customers and you'll reap the benefits. Some examples:
- We utilize Wordsmith for Marketing to filter down and present Google Analytics data in a manner that our clients can better understand. That enables us to communicate the trends and offer the strategy to improve rather than spending time trying to explain analytics data.
- We utilize gShift to monitor social media and search's impact on each other and on the bottom line. Attribution is difficult, if not impossible, without a tool like gShift. If you're not measuring the results of your content strategy accurately, you're going to have a tough time explaining why your client should continue investing in it.
- We utilizeHootsuite, Buffer, and Jetpack to manage our social publishing efforts. While we're a small team, we make a whole lot of noise on the Internet. By spending less time on publishing, I'm able to spend more time actually interacting with my social media audience.
Each of these tools enables us to focus our efforts where they need to be rather than working on mundane tasks that our clients would never value. They want results – and we need to be working on them!