Last month, the Digital Marketing Institute hosted its inaugural Global Industry Advisory Council (GIAC) in New York. As a leading authority on digital marketing, the GIAC brings together key influencers to discuss current and future trends within the sector.
The aim of the GIAC is to drive excellence in the digital marketing and sales professions through standardizing best practices as well as focusing on continuing education and development for individuals and businesses.
In this article, we explore the key outputs of the inaugural meeting and their importance for marketers across the globe in the areas of privacy, skills development, leadership, and consumer behavior.
Data Privacy is a Global Concern
Data protection has received a substantial amount of coverage this year, largely due to the implementation of the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in May. At the inaugural GIAC meeting, Ardi Kolah, Fellow and Director of the GPDR Program at the Henley School of Business, delivered a presentation about the importance of data privacy for marketing professionals.
Ardi encouraged delegates to go above and beyond the basic requirements of data protection law. By placing extra emphasis on data security, companies can avoid the reputational damage that breaches incur. Demonstrating respect for personal data also helps to build the trust that acts as a foundation for long-term customer relationships.
1. The Influence of GDPR
The introduction of GDPR was broadly acknowledged as a positive development. GIAC members felt that a rigid framework helps marketing professionals to be more responsible with data a welcome contrast to the haphazard approach of some companies that impacts the trust of audiences.
Although its foundation was clear, some felt its implementation was difficult, particularly for small businesses looking for cues from industry with many feeling communication could be improved in the future.
Data protection and privacy are the right thing to do for any business. Regulations such as GDPR should be a helpful guide, not a necessary ‘extra’ to be considered. Key learning is to only collect data truly needed and keep data only as long as truly imperative for the business.” - Frank Hattann, Director Inside Sales, Microsoft
2. Navigating Unique Rules in Different Markets
Managing global data protection when there are unique rules in different markets presents a challenge for CMOs. Members recommended reviewing default information requested from clients and being clear on processes in each market along with ethics training and real-world examples to deepen understanding of data protection principles.
3. Building Trust Around Data Protection
Clients and customers are understandably cautious when it comes to data privacy. The challenge for marketers is to build confidence in their companies and the industry. GIAC members agreed that an exchange of value between individuals and companies is a good place to start. As Mark Kilens, VP of HubSpot Academy explained, the industry “must add value before we extract [it].”
The responsibility of businesses was also highlighted to explain in layman’s terms not only how they use data but why they collect it. Transparency can encourage trust in a company’s ability to manage data responsibly.
4. Potential Stumbling Blocks
Discussion moved to the possible pitfalls of implementing new data privacy laws. Ardi explained that there is a fine line between the enthusiastic pursuit of consent and outright spamming. GIAC members also examined the importance of using good communication to help customers understand precisely what they’re signing up for.
5. Barriers to Change
As with any major initiative, there are barriers to change when it comes to better data protection such as the challenge of bringing together data in multiple locations, an issue that is even more pronounced when a company uses internal systems and external platforms
There can also be issues with data ownership within a company. GDPR, for example, requires a Data Controller to take responsibility for adherence to regulations. Deciding who takes on that role can be difficult.
With the implementation of GDPR, CCPA, and impending privacy legislation at both the [U.S.] state and federal levels, companies need employees with the appropriate knowledge to address the changes that their companies will need in order to comply - Patrick Dolan, President & COO at IAB
6. Call to Action
GIAC members were asked to identify three key actions that industry leaders should take to drive positive change in the management and security of data. The first suggestion was to educate the public on their rights as well as the intent of companies processing their data.
Secondly, education is needed within companies to ensure that only required data is collected, and nothing superfluous. Finally, using natural language is key to keeping communication concise when requesting consent from visitors, customers, and clients.
Challenges to Marketers in 2020
In addition to data privacy, marketing leaders and their teams face a range of challenges. In order to gain insight into the concerns of CMOs and other senior marketers, the Digital Marketing Institute conducted research to get a snapshot of today’s digital environment to predict how the industry is likely to change by 2020.
The outcome of the research, due to be published in November 2018, formed the basis of a lively and valuable discussion. Key points to note include:
Expanding Budgets and Higher Expectations
There was a consensus that digital marketing budgets were steadily increasing, with no sign of deceleration. The scope of digital media is expanding, and the increasing innovation and technology lends itself to more spending opportunities.
However, some experts felt that the focus had moved too far in favor of short-term transactional outcomes rather than long-term measures of customer retention and engagement. Consequently, a disconnect has arisen between two outcomes that are intrinsically linked, and ultimately work toward the same goal.
As Keith Moor, CMO UK at Santander pointed out, digital marketers shouldn’t be motivated solely by transactions. “Depending on the industry, the marketing focus is less about a sale and more about keeping a customer. A broader, more comprehensive measure of ROI, encompassing short-term lead generation and long-term customer satisfaction, would be welcomed.”
Soft Skills Development is Crucial
When it comes to skillsets required to succeed in the digital landscape, GIAC members pointed to 'soft skills,' such as empathy, curiosity, and emotional intelligence, as a growth area due to their increasing importance in the workplace.
Offering leadership-skills training for managers was also suggested, something that is key for the CMO role.
Many brands are now in the process of reskilling their entire organizations in the context of the digital transformation being led now. This research will help leaders validate key digital areas they will want to explore further as they think about the talent required to win from a future-tense perspective - Barry Thomas, VP Global Shopper and Channel at the Coca-Cola Company
Solutions to deal with this involved the development of training packages specifically targeted to key groups; e.g. small business and large enterprises. In addition, the value of establishing learning communities, centered around job roles or specific tasks was cited as an enhancement to current training.
Finally, the group focused on how the Digital Marketing Institute can promote their own services and certification in general. It was also noted that the value of certification needs to be better explained to improve understanding within the industry.
Assessing Digital Marketing Behavior Trends
As technology becomes even smarter, the definition of 'digital' continues to expand. As Mina Seetharaman, EVP, Global Managing Director from The Economist pointed out, TV accessed via the internet is far more user-aware than ever before, which presents opportunities for targeted marketing. Similarly, walking past a billboard can easily become a digital interaction if someone is carrying a mobile device with location tracking.
Attendees discussed the qualities and skills needed by today’s digital marketers. They noted that graduates of some marketing programs have outdated skills that do not correlate with the current demand for humanity and storytelling. According to Mina, within the industry, “we’re too focused on the technology and not as much the ability to connect and have empathy.”
Similarly, delegates commented that the art of critical thinking - a crucial aspect of marketing strategy and management - doesn’t seem to be taught sufficiently.
Looking Ahead to the GIAC's Future
(From R-L) Ken Fitzpatrick, CEO Digital Marketing Insititute, Michael Goeden, Digital Marketing Insititute, Ardi Kolah Henley Business School, Lee Odden Toprank Marketing, Frank Hattann Microsoft, Brian Lavery AccuWeather, Larry Kim Mobile Monkey, Ty Heath LinkedIn, Tami Cannizzaro CA Technologies, Julie Roehm Abra, Olivia Kearney Microsoft, Tony Appleby Project Strategy Consulting, Mia Mora Google, Barry Thomas Coca-Cola, Gabe Villamizar Lucidchart, Patrick DolanIAB, Tom Kendall IBM, Mark Evans DirectLine Group, Mark Kilens Hubspot, John Hurley Digital Marketing Institute, Keith Moor Santander, Ted Weissberg, Chairman Digital Marketing Institute, (other members Shuvo Saha Google, Amy Brooks Facebook, David Moore WPP Digital, Andrew Mortimer SKY, Mina Seetharaman, The Economist
Members were asked about topics they would like to discuss at future meetings. Many highlighted the changing skillset required of today’s digital marketers, particularly in the B2B context, which requires updated training.
In addition, training for sales and product marketing managers were identified as promising subjects. There was also enthusiasm for harmonizing job descriptions within the industry to ensure consistency for employers and professionals.
Digital marketing training and education has been the focus of my work for the last decade, which is aligned with DMI's goals, so it's great to work together on this mission - Larry Kim, CEO at MobileMonkey, Founder at WordStream
'20/20 Vision: A Marketing Leader's View of Digital's Future' research will be published in the coming weeks, and the Global Industry Advisory Council will meet again in early 2019.