9 questions smart marketers will ask themselves in 2020 about digital marketing

I know it is the fashionable thing to do lists of 20 things for 2020. But when it comes to digital marketing, I think these are the 9 key questions that businesses must ask themselves, writes Ashok Lalla, an independent Digital Business Advisor. 

  1. Are we still checking off the digital boxes and merely being swayed by the shiny new digital cool, or do we have a wholesome, concerted approach to digital? Without a well thought-out holistic approach that integrates digital with the business and its marketing, digital will soon start giving diminishing returns. 
  1. Do we realise the increasing role technology is playing in digital marketing? Technology is now the most potent digital enabler for a business today. Thinking digital without harnessing technology well is like trying to paint a canvas with brushes but no paints. 
  1. Is our digital work like a patchwork quilt of this-and-that or are there strong foundational elements and ideas that bind it all together? Too many brand owners get carried away by the temptation of doing a little bit of a lot of digital things and hoping that something will click. Instead, it is important to build digital activities around a strong central core, much like it is with erecting a tall tower. Digital media channels or content formats are not ideas by themselves. Good old fashioned creative ideas are still very much the currency of impact, even in digital. 
  1. Are we able to co-relate digital impact with business outcomes or are we caught up with digital for the sake of digital? It is 2020, and so the ability to draw effective linkages between digital initiatives and investments with impact on customer preference and brand sales is increasingly real. It takes more effort than a simple cause-effect analysis but can be done and should be done. 
  1. Is our digital focus still around scoring vanity metrics or have we matured to seeking sanity metrics? Millions of impressions, likes and content virality are just the nice to have vanity metrics that digital offers. Too many marketers continue to be caught up with them. It is time to look beyond such numbers and focus instead on using digital to deliver sanity metrics, the numbers that matter in a business, and can impact the balance sheet. 
  1. Are our agencies and partners more focused on digital channel management and their own core areas of expertise or do they provide wholesome counsel that helps deploy digital to its best capability for our business? It is common to find agencies hawking whatever their core competence is as the digital holy grail to clients. This could be web and app development, content marketing, technology tools and platforms, influencer marketing, media plans… While all are important, skewing to one or the other is usually a recipe for disaster. 
  1. Are our own capabilities with respect to digital good enough to take us to the next level through digital or are we held back by talent and ability? While digital is being given greater importance by most businesses, it is still often tucked away under the marketing function or a business owner. And ownership of digital given to mid-senior persons with a skew for one or two of the digital channels they have worked with. This is operationally a sound approach but limits the strategic advantage a business can get from digital. It often helps to tap external experts who can help manage the big picture and also mentor internal teams to grow their digital nous over time. 
  1. Are we on the top of understanding consumer behaviourial trends through how digital channels and platforms are designed and work? An example of this is the Tinder effect on brands, or how the growth in consumer promiscuity (smartly translated into a dating proposition by Tinder) is influencing buying decisions and brand loyalty, and therefore how brands should respond. The Amazonization of consumer shopping is another trend that influences how brands must market themselves, both offline and online. 
  1. Is digital part of our C-suite and Board-level deliberations regularly? The smartest businesses realise that Digital needs to be upfront and centre, and even in a position to call the shots in the business. For the others, the time is now to reconsider how digital resides within the organisation, and quickly take steps to give digital its place at the big table.

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