Digital Media Will Breed a New Generation of Savvy Marketers

February 23, 2012   //   Digital Marketing, , , , ,

My oldest son is looking to attend college. This makes sense, given that he’s a junior in high school and has learned how to take care of himself. When I say this, I mean he can use a microwave and hit the snooze button on his alarm. He’s also very good at tweeting.

I frequently find myself thinking about his generation and the one before it — the millennials — and their overall survival. At least from a business perspective, I have my doubts. Where’s the fit?

My son’s education will be funded through my own career in the technology sector. I’m about 20 years into this journey, and it’s a watermark of the industry that it’s continually evolving and creating new dynamics that must be met with creativity and intellect. One of these emerging areas is found within the growing overlap between marketing and information technology: the increasingly prevalent discipline of digital marketing.

There are many reasons digital marketing is growing in significance. On the web, it lets us deliver interactive messages that can be tailored to a very specific consumer. Facebook is a prime example. Using the demographics of user profiles, I can direct messages to only those individuals that fit my target market.

What’s interesting is the ability for those individuals to take action if they are compelled by my message. They can click through my advertisement to a dedicated Web page where they can learn more about my product or service. In a perfect world, they may even make a purchase. It establishes a direct path between marketing and commerce. It’s a reality that my father and his baby-boom brethren would have only dreamed of as young entrepreneurs.

Beyond click-through marketing such as what takes place on Facebook, there are tactics like retargeting. Say I send a direct mail piece to a target audience. Some of the folks that receive my mailer may feel compelled to visit my website.

Maybe I give them some incentive to get there, like a free bar of organic soap to learn more about my holistic spa. Re-targeting means that everyone who lands on my website will have a small amount of code inserted into their web browser. This code is going to manipulate the advertising they see on other websites. The next time they go to their favorite news site, they see a banner advertisement for my spa. When they look up a recipe on their favorite cooking website, they find an advertisement for my spa. From there they go to a weather site with, you guessed it, an advertisement for my spa. You get the point. Retargeting gives marketers the ability to advertise their products within websites that consumers trust and associate with high levels of credibility.

What is hidden to many and what lies beyond the surface of the sleek Web pages and sophisticated marketing techniques is a tremendous set of requirements that must be met in order for the new world of digital marketing to pay off.

The formula for success is as much about database architecture as it is about strong copy writing and graphic design. The rub is that these skill sets are typically found within uniquely different people that typically exist in completely independent teams and work groups.

Today, how an organization manages the integration of these once-disparate teams will have a direct influence on the success of their digital marketing campaigns. Leaders of these teams need to have a complete understanding of both worlds and, more importantly, know how to communicate between the two. To effectively engage customers every time they interact with the company, a new marketing mindset needs to prevail. It’s a tall order to find folks who think this way, at least today.

In the future, I believe we’ll find a new generation of leaders that grew up on social media and learned the art and science of marketing over the Internet. For them, the lines between marketing and technology will be more fluid, and they can cross between both worlds effortlessly. It’s an interesting notion and, as the father of a college-bound tweeter, one that gives me hope.