Friday, 25 December 2015

A Digital Marketer’s Christmas Wish List

Ah, it’s that time of year again, Christmas—a time when children of all ages and dispositions take a moment to count their blessings and pencil out all the things they want from dear old Santa Claus. Among the ranks of this year’s holiday season hopefuls is the beleaguered digital marketer, whose job description includes the unenviable task of harnessing the wild, unceasing tumult of a seemingly never-ending and ever-growing Digital Tsunami to enhance the customer experience and generate positive ROI. Faced with such a herculean mandate, we digital marketers need some loving from St. Nick now more than ever.
Partly as an exercise in personal catharsis, and partly in the hope that Santa and his elves are actually listening, I’ve taken the liberty of compiling a generalized Christmas wish list for the beleaguered digital marketer in all of us. Here goes.

Wish #1: Abidingly Authoritative Algorithms

Come on, Google, we get that you’re all about continuous improvement, but how about finally delivering a one-and-done search algorithm that allows the beleaguered digital marketer to set a consistent SEO strategy—you know, something that can be periodically washed, rinsed, and repeated with minimal effort? Enough with the cutsy animal references, you need a name for this new algo update with sufficient gravitas to embody its perpetual nature, something like ALLSEARCH, or better yet, OMNIRITHM. Just spitballing here…

Wish #2: Continuously Copywriting Elves

Santa, let me give you some insight into the dark side of the digital marketing, which is embodied in a maxim that amounts to an unending devil’s bargain for the beleaguered digital marketer: the proliferation of digital media implies, and often necessitates, a corresponding proliferation of digital marketing content.
Bummer, dude.
This is largely because, as I’ve written before, in the mean streets of the online ecosystem—where web-based content reigns supreme—content is the alpha and omega:
In web design parlance, content refers to everything on a website: the words, images, and videos, etc. Just like you need matter to fill the universe and a body to fill a suit, you need content to fill a website page. Setting aside, for now, any debate over the merits of content marketing, in the context of web design content is a thing, not a strategy, tactic, or tool. Moreover, it’s an “are,” not an “is” – think plural rather than singular. When we refer to web-based content, then, we are referring to all the things that occupy or populate a web page, in aggregate.
In other words, the world is fast going digital, and in a digital world, it’s all about the content.
OK, Santa, you’re a magical dude, you must have an ad hoc solution for this content conundrum: a brood of continuously copywriting elves, perhaps? Nothing to flashy, maybe an underperforming elf on the shelf who would rather be penning poems than pounding together playsets.
Give it some thought.

Wish #3: Socially Savvy CEOs

Here’s a tale of two stats if ever there was one:
  • According to the 2014 Global Social CEO Survey by social media consulting firm Brandfog, 83% of senior executives in the U.S. think CEOs who actively participate in social media can build better connections with their customers, employees, and investors. Moreover, nearly three-fourths of these same execs believe that C-Suite leaders who use social media to communicate their core mission and brand values are more trustworthy than those who don’t adopt social media.
  • In early 2015, Weber Shandwick released Socializing Your CEO: From Marginal to Mainstream, an audit of the online presence of CEOs from the world’s 50 largest companies. Overall, the study found that social media usage by CEOs is still relatively low, at just 28%. Not surprisingly, the most popular social network was LinkedIn, used by 22% of CEOs, followed by Twitter, used by 10% of CEOs. None of the CEOs audited said they used Facebook or Google Plus.
What’s wrong with this picture?
Ok, I understand the potential liability issues with CEOs directly interacting on social media, especially CEOs of large multinationals. My neighbor is a general counsel for a biggish global travel agency, and he blanched at the very thought of his CEO freely Tweeting or Facebooking.
But come on, surely there is a sensible work-around here. After all, direct social engagement is working fine for Richard Branson, who largely composes his own Tweets to an audience of over 3.5 million Twitter followers. In fact, Branson recently earned the top spot in an analysis of the most social CEOs among Fortune 500 companies. A larger than life persona largely shaped by his relentless commitment to personally engage on social media, Branson is arguably the most popular entrepreneur in the world, well regarded by employees, peers, and the general public alike—sort of a businessperson’s Santa Claus, if you will.
Say, there’s an idea. Santa, maybe you could team up with Branson to host a webinar series on social engagement for CEOs. Two jolly old souls, both consummate marketers, imparting pearls of wisdom to the leaders of today, etc. Santa, if you’re reading this (and I know you are), I’d be happy to work with you and Sir Richard to concept it out. After all, according to Wikipedia, Branson’s nickname is “Old Beardie”—talk about a layup!

Wish #4: Digitally Dedicated Clients

Which brings us to the last item on our list—one that is personally nearest and dearest to my heart. Santa, could you work your elven magic and send us beleaguered digital marketers a brace of digitally dedicated clients? You know, the kind who see social engagement, content creation, and inbound marketing as paradigm-shifting marketing functions rather than one-off campaign initiatives; who regard digital transformation as a fundamental realignment of business culture, mindset, and process rather than a short-term band-aid.
Earlier this year, I recall having a conversation with the CEO of a mid-level healthcare company about putting together an integrated digital marketing strategy for his firm. After politely listening to my recommendations, he circled back to what he felt his company needed: a “really sexy” social campaign, something that would “go viral” on social media. He honestly believed such a campaign would transform his company from the digital laggard that it was to a digital leader overnight, sparing him the need to oversee a fundamental restructuring of the marketing function, and indeed the entire company; to manage the overhaul a business that was originally designed to operate in a pre-digital environment but now had to compete in the digital age.
The budget he had proposed was less than one tenth of what would be needed to accomplish his myopic social media goals, to say nothing of my comprehensive recommendations. Sensing we were at an unbreachable impasse, he politely ushered me to the door and was never heard from again.
Sadly, but perhaps not surprisingly, he is no longer with the company.
Santa, here is my final wish: help me and my beleaguered digital marketing cohorts convince top executives and business owners—especially small business owners—of the wisdom of employing proven digital marketing strategies. Help them understand that digital marketing and digital transformation are not one-off campaign strategies or short-term business initiatives, but instead are long-term strategic imperatives for most, if not all, brands great and small.
Yes, all these things, and a Doctor Who lunchbox, thanks very much…
Happy Holidays to all!