Lee Odden

Poll Results: Digital Marketing Priorities for Major Brands in 2016

Lee Odden     Digital Marketing

Digital Marketing Priorities 2016It’s strategic marketing planning season for 2016 and digital marketers all over the world are navigating their way through organizational goals, data and the pulse of their communities to specify areas of focus for the coming year.

Much of what drives digital marketing strategy is a mix of business objectives and marketing priorities. Deciding on those priorities helps create a direct line of sight to what success looks like. Research from CMI/MarketingProfs shows that marketers with a clear idea of what success looks like are more successful.

But what are the top digital priorities for digital marketers in the coming year?

At TopRank Marketing, our team is in the business of translating objectives and priorities into marketing strategy as well as knowing the key trends in digital marketing. That said, to make sure we’re on the right track, I like to check the pulse of marketing leaders with digital marketing polls to see where the industry beat is going. I have a hunch this is something you might be interested in too.

A BIG THANKS goes to the marketing savvy executives from the Fortune 500 to the Inc 5,000 including: Dell, McKesson, Symantec, EMC, eBay,Dun & Bradstreet, IBM, McKinsey, Logitech, Deluxe, Intel, Ingram Micro, Xerox, United Healthcare, EPAM Systems, Verizon Wireless, Century 21 Real Estate, workfront, and Blendtec who shared a range of digital marketing priorities for 2016. Out of the many insights shared, three stood out:

Customer Experience

Most of the digital marketing executives I polled had something to say about their focus on customer experience for 2016. The emphasis on creating a great experience through marketing for business customers is being approached in a variety of ways and in some cases, for different reasons. But overall – the most often cited digital marketing focus for the new year is on the customer, and rightly so.

“For 2016, integration and relevance are my key digital marketing priorities. Relevance is about unwavering focus on our clients and prospects all at stages of their buyers journey. Integration means to be where they are, engaging in digital conversations that lead them from one stage of their buyers journey to the next.”
Jeannine Rossignol  @j9rossignol
Vice President, Marketing for Large Enterprise Operations at Xerox

“A focus for us in 2016 is to create a unified, integrated and highly personalized digital experience across all facets of EMC.com including a frictionless digital commerce experience.”
Todd Forsythe  @toddforsythe
Senior Vice President, Brand & Experience Marketing at EMC

“Top digital marketing priorities for us include increasing the quality of inbound leads by focusing on architecting a more sophisticated path to purchase for our buyers. We’ll also continue to plug funnel gaps for better data capture and customer tracking.”
Tami Cannizzaro  @tamicann
Senior Director, Global Demand Generation at eBay

Data Informed Marketing

Leveraging data to improve marketing and even customer experience was the next top area of focus for the digital marketing executives that I connected with. There’s an overwhelming amount of data available to marketers and the notion of big data seems to be giving way to smart data – actionable insight from data analysis that digital marketers can use to achieve marketing goals.

“Data & performance: The challenge will be a true integrated customer experience where we leverage data and metrics to inform compelling storytelling that resonates with the individual. Digital Marketing leaders will balance data with human engagement.”
Michelle Killebrew  @shellkillebrew
Program Director, Digital Marketing Transformation – Cloud at IBM

“For 2016 we’re focusing on on leveraging the data across product categories to improve the customer journey. Leveraging data is a huge priority for us to build a better experience for the consumer.”
Jeremiah Andrick  @jeremiah
GM, Global Ecommerce at Logitech

“Personalization and intelligent data ingest are some of our top priorities. Gathering qualitative and quantitative data in order to develop the customer experience are essential. We’re focused on harnessing all of that data and interpreting it to understand how all the variables combine to influence a net result and to provide actionable outcomes.”
Alison Herzog  @alisonjherzog
Director, Global Social Business & Digital Strategy at Dell 

Internal Social / Employee Social Advocacy

The third of many priorities digital marketers are focusing on into 2016 is centered around further developing internal social media literacy, competency and advocacy for the brand. Business is personal and self-directed buyers trust peers and network connections far more than advertising. For medium to large companies, the scalability in reach and engagement through internal social media programs can be significant.

“Marketing must let go of social media “the concept” and help the rest of the organization utilize social media “the tool set”. Brands continue to miss opportunities in human resources and recruiting, customer experience, assistance, customer care, social good, education and other instances where they could use social tools to reach more depth and relevance – to be truly useful. ”
Leslie Poston  @leslie
Social Media Editor at McKinsey & Company

“One of our digital marketing priorities will be focused on internal social to educate and empower our employees on how to use social media.”
Kyle Peterson  @kylegpeterson
Global Digital Marketing Manager at Ingram Micro

Digital Marketing Priorities for Brands in 2016:

Besides customer experience, data and internal social media, there were many other digital marketing priorities mentioned from using marketing for recruiting to refining budgets and optimizing performance.

“We are really focused on getting a new marketing automation system and a new CRM connected. Another focus is to maximize the use of our marketing automation system by implementing improved scoring, grading and nurture programs to generate qualified leads for sales and further grow and nurture our blog subscriber base and customer community.”
Barbara Feinberg  /in/barbarafeinberg
Senior Product Marketing Manager, Campaigns & Digital Marketing at McKesson 

“We’ll continue to refine our go-to-market messaging and strategy, and part of that work will include an increased and enhanced Web presence. We will also scale marketing more effectively globally, drive pipeline, and build the brand through efficient and effective communications / influencers. We’ve been testing Account Based Marketing successfully and we will look to scale this substantially in the coming year.”
Rishi Dave  @rishipdave
Chief Marketing Officer at Dun & Bradstreet

“As EPAM continues to expand its global reach, our marketing priorities become equally more urgent and more complex. Beyond the normal B2B technology branding and positioning focus is the industry-wide challenge of attracting highly-skilled IT talent.”

“For 2016, we are focusing more of our marketing on talent acquisition. Our global organization now numbers almost 15,000 people in over 20 countries and our top priority is a consistent and attractive message for why EPAM is the one of the best places in the world to work for high-tech and business savvy talent. We know that when you hire and grow the best people, you can’t help but be a formidable presence in the industry.”
Elaina Shekhter  /elaina-shekhter/
Chief Marketing Officer at EPAM Systems

“Three of our top digital marketing priorities for 2016 include:

  • Personalizing communications with consumers so that we are more relevant
  • Offering relevant content and experiences to build trust and earn consumer engagement
  • Using data to drive decisions”

Amy Wargin   /in/amyadrianwargin
Director of Consumer Marketing at UnitedHealth Group, Optum

“Areas of focus for our digital marketing in 2016:

  • More investment in acquisition and retention marketing
  • Refine allocation of marketing budgets to best performing earned, owned and paid media
  • Moving towards mobile; responsive digital properties and apps”

Kara Thornton  @SocialStPaul
Senior Manager, Digital Marketing at Deluxe

“Three digital marketing focus areas for 2016:

  • Tracking marketing contribution to revenue
  • Integrated multi-touch/multi-channel campaigns
  • Earned Media”

LaSandra Brill  @lasandrabrill
Sr. Director, Enterprise Digital & Advertising at Symantec

“Some of our specific digital marketing priorities for 2016 include:

  • Driving social referral traffic to century21.com (KPI 5% of overall site traffic)
  • Enhancing digital content / distribution strategy to optimize share-ability among brand advocates
  • Enhancing the consumer / affiliated brokers and agents ability to leverage C21 mobile app”

Matt Gentile  @mattgentile
Director of Social Media at Century 21 Real Estate

“The biggest priorities we are looking at is what conversations are being created around our content and how to develop content that creates more in-depth conversation, and creating a consistent message across all properties. Verizon has many business units but we are working towards developing the same message across them all.”
Andrew Mucci  @AndMucc
Digital Strategist / Social Media Manager at Verizon Wireless

“At Blendtec, we’re focusing on three broad areas:

  • Website & owned property UX
  • Content and Influencer Marketing
  • Interest-building digital advertising”

“I couldn’t put those in any specific order, since I’ve got a team on each of those. These are really extensions of the work we started this year, since Blendtec really had no push on any of these. We’ve made some strong moves to get us to a point that we are at least functioning in the last year or so, but 2016 will be about taking the rough programs we’ve built, and smoothing and polishing off the edges.”
Rick Galan  @RickGalan
Director of Digital Marketing at Blendtec

“For 2016, some of the digital marketing priorities for Workfront:

  • Improved audience segmentation
  • More sophistication in attribution
  • Predictive scoring
  • Multi-channel nurture”

“We are content rich, so we are looking to increase our content distribution through various social channels (using the existing and experimenting with new platforms) and through other digital tools. We really want to continue to build on the influencer marketing foundation that we have built. We’ve received a lot of good traction by what we have done this year, and are looking to really push this in 2016.”
Scott Duehlmeier  @Paco_Belle
Social Marketing Manager at workfront

To all the Digital Marketers out there thinking about your own areas of focus and prioritization for the coming year, what digital marketing priorities would you add to this list? What are you focusing on? Which of these suggestions do you agree with most? Which do you not agree with?

Disclosure: Dell, Deluxe and McKesson are TopRank Marketing clients

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About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on integrated content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely on a beach somewhere doing absolutely nothing.