Have you been struggling to stay on top of constantly changing digital marketing technology? Rest assured, you’re not alone!
In early 2018, Chicago-based PR and digital marketing firm Walker Sands conducted a survey of 300 professional marketers and found that marketers were having a hard time staying on the ball. Of the respondents, 63% agreed that the technology landscape has changed rapidly in the last several years, but only 28% could say that their organizations had kept pace with the changes.
Of the respondents, 57% stated that their reliance on technology to achieve organizational goals has either increased steadily or rapidly, yet just 15% said their organizations were highly agile when adopting new technology. One of the more significant gaps is in the area of artificial intelligence (AI) solutions, with a mere 11% reporting having fully implemented these.
If your company doesn’t keep up with changes in technology, it runs the risk of experiencing a decline in the quality of its products or services and of becoming out of step with the times and irrelevant.
If you want to take a more systematic approach to analyzing your company’s needs in relation to technology changes, it may be useful to employ a technology awareness strategy. This can be effective when considering adding any form of technology in a company, but the process is also useful for technology solutions for digital marketers.
Author Brian J. Nichelson divides this kind of strategy into four distinct steps:
1. Determining the Company’s Needs
In this step, examine why you need the technology, what problems it will solve, what processes it will improve, and so on.
2. Assessing the Available Resources
Here, look at what resources you have at your disposal and what the preferred learning method is. This will help you determine which option or options work best in your particular case.
3. Ranking Resources by Usefulness
You’ll probably discover in step two that you have a multitude of resources available to you. It’s probably not feasible to use all of them. In this step, rank resources in descending order from most useful or appropriate to least useful. Be sure to take subject matter into account when making your assessment. For example, you may find LinkedIn to be an otherwise inappropriate resource choice for you, but if it is one of only a few sources of information on AI advances, you will want to rank it among the useful resources that you will use.
4. Dedicating the Necessary Time to Consult the Resources
With your useful resources identified, allocate some time and energy to use them. Some items will only require a quick read or watching a short video and can be discarded immediately. Other resources will prove to be invaluable on an ongoing basis. For these, it would make sense to maintain a reference library that you and other members of your team can access at any time.
Here are some possible resource suggestions to help you keep abreast of trends and developments in the world of digital marketing technology.
Seek out some relevant blogs to which you can subscribe. They’re often filled with valuable information and presented in a convenient, easily digested format. Check out sites like WordPress and Tumblr to find blogs that are right for you.
The professional networking platform is an ideal place to find and connect with leading industry experts. You can also leverage LinkedIn Pulse to get news about the topics that most interest you. Through the influencer program, you can get great advice and suggestions from leaders in your field. Lastly, you can join LinkedIn groups related to your field, where discussions about digital marketing and technology are abundant.
Create a Twitter stream on Twitter using carefully chosen hashtags. Stay away from hashtags that are too generic, such as #marketing or #technology, to avoid being bombarded by irrelevant tweets. Consider #DigitalMarketing or #chatbots. For more ideas, hashtags.org can be a useful resource.
Technology thought leaders frequently discuss what’s going on in their field on Twitter. Your Twitter stream will soon reveal some important influencers who are discussing topics of interest and that you should start following.
Instagram users can search for content by specific terms or hashtags using the platform’s Explore feature. It also offers related searches that allow you to broaden your results. It can be a powerful tool to stay on top of trends and discover valuable data, infographics, and videos.
If going through all your social media accounts to access the information you’re looking for seems time-consuming, you can consider setting up an IF This Then That (IFTTT) ‘recipe’. IFTTT enables users to create basic scripts, called recipes, based on their preferences. For example, an event in one app can trigger an action in another. It’s well supported on social media platforms, so you can have all your news and updates about digital marketing technology from across all social media served up to you in the way that you prefer.
Stay on top of the latest news and most recent industry announcements by setting up some Google alerts built around keywords and phrases. You can also create alerts for the Twitter influencers and LinkedIn leaders, so you won’t miss a thing!
Google isn’t the only online solution for gathering news from online sources. Other news aggregator apps, such as Feedly, News360, and Flipboard, offer customized news feeds and many of them are free.
Industry-specific conferences and trade shows provide an excellent opportunity to learn about the latest technological developments. It’s often the very place where tech developers unveil their latest solutions. And even if they don’t, seminar topics are likely to include new technologies or issues surrounding their adoption.
The mere fact that conferences permit you to meet others in the digital marketing field and exchange ideas with them can in itself be incredibly beneficial. When you expand your peer network, it gives you a deeper pool of informational resources to tap into when you come face to face with a problem or challenge.
If attending conferences in person isn’t always an option, you can nevertheless follow the conference on social media to stay informed about the subjects covered.
You can also look for local digital marketing meetup groups you can join for information sharing and to expand your network.
The web is a vast source for learning. Podcasts about digital marketing and technology can be an outstanding source of news and information. And they’re a convenient time-saver, as you can listen during your commute to work, while you’re working out, or at any other time that’s convenient for you.
Let’s be clear – we’re not suggesting corporate espionage here! However, you can keep your eyes and ears open about what others in your field are doing from a technology perspective.
When you come across an article or news item that is especially interesting or insightful, share it with others on your team and ask them to do the same. It’s even a good idea to include knowledge sharing as an agenda item in your regular internal meetings.
Even though we’ve already covered this point in the fourth step of the technology awareness strategy, it bears repeating. If you tap into these or any other resources that are most useful to you, you’ll soon have a steady flow of information coming your way. You won’t be learning anything if you leave those blogs and articles unread or if you don’t actually connect with others in the industry. If keeping up with technological changes is really important to you, then you must dedicate some time to it.