Digital Distress and Crisis of Confidence: Marketing Realities in 2014

By Marc Roth

Adobe recently published a study that highlighted some interesting statistics around the premise that “Marketing has changed more in the past 2 years than over the past 50”. Having not only experienced that truism in my own career, I’m seeing it happen to my colleagues more and more frequently – more pressure to measure and report on marketing results, with less know-how and confidence in those measurements. In order to not only advance but simply survive in the field of today’s marketing, a whole new set of skills and know-how is required – why I’m here.

Digital Distress

“Based on a broad survey of marketers, the findings revealed a striking lack of confidence in digital ability. Less than half (48%) of professionals who consider themselves primarily digital marketers feel highly proficient in digital marketing. A majority of digital marketers haven’t received any formal training in digital marketing: 82% report learning on the job.”

My “formal” education ended before any mention of social media, content management or digital marketing was part of the curriculum. Due in no small part to that fact, much of my exposure to these new marketing tools was by trial and error, through agency partners or simply by following a “me-too!” strategy with our competitors. This was followed shortly by having to clearly monetize, communicate and understand digital marketing’s real value throughout the organization, so that we could justify moving offline spend to online projects. It was challenging – to put it lightly – and I always felt that about half of what I was saying needed to be verified again once I got back to my desk!

Crisis of Confidence

“Marketers also express low confidence in how their companies’ marketing programs are performing. Only 40% think their company’s marketing is effective. When it comes to measuring the effectiveness of digital campaigns specifically, only 9% strongly agreed with the statement that they “know their digital marketing is working.” Yet there is increasing pressure to measure marketing’s impact: 68% of respondents feel more pressured to show return on investment on their marketing spend.”

I have also lived this reality – that as long as the company “has” social media, then it must be “working” as long as we “post” something “often”. No single channel is ever effective, nor are the most popular social channels a good match for every business objective. In my B2B world, having 10,000 “likes” on a Facebook photo has absolutely no value compared to 30 signups to a recent whitepaper. Communicating that to an executive who not only is in a different generation but also isn’t too interested in understanding the nuances of our digital channel strategy is a serious obstacle to aligning business and marketing objectives.

Needless to say, I’m inspired to do an “It gets better” series for marketers to assure us all that even though it might be difficult today, our drive, curiosity and training will win out in the end.

5 thoughts on “Digital Distress and Crisis of Confidence: Marketing Realities in 2014

  1. Marc, as I was reading about how difficult it is, even for you, to get social media marketing right, I was also thinking how hard it must be to communicate your vision to your boss. That I ended with your same conclusion at the same time means to me you really got across your message. (from Julie)


  2. Annabelle Olivier

    I don’t come from a marketing background and hadn’t really ever given that much thought to the challenges you bring up. Yikes, scary. As Victor pointed out though you end on an inspirational note which is nice. Also liked how you backed up your arguments with quotes and link to the study.


  3. Marc, I totally agree with you that we are still on B2B marketing phase and there’s not significant outcome for digital marketing the way it should be. However, in my opinion it is as if there is a very big rock on the way at a river, behind which a large amount of water has been stuck and as the first generation of digital marketing age we are responsible to move rock away. Afterward the stream of water will be mind-blowing. This is how it would be… but when? donno!! 🙂



  4. Sharing your work life experiences alongside these relevant, and very scary, statistics is a very effective way to set the stage for why you’re set on continuing your professional development. I hope this message reaches outside our classroom because it’s so well told I feel it could inspire others, well beyond Montreal, to stop accepting a ‘me-too’ social media strategy at work and trade it for a better-educated pursuit.


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