by Matt Owen

Last week had annual Future Of Digital Marketing (FODM) conference in London. 

One of the things that makes FODM unique is the focus on the practical future. Newly formed ideas and technology that you can actually put to use straight away. 

This year was no different, and while there was a certain amount of theoretical future gazing (takes a bow, haptic contact lenses!)the buzz on Twitter focussed on the practical, with a number of interesting stats and concepts grabbing the lion’s share of ReTweets

I make a point of monitoring the tweet action at all our events as it provides great insight into the discussion points that really matter to attendees.

This year, mobile technology, integration and personalisation were all recurring themes. Let’s take a look at these in a bit more detail:

1. The future of digital marketing is personalisation

Personalisation was definitely a theme that struck a chord. In the recent past, many marketers have been struggling to join up data from multiple touchpoints and create a ‘single customer view’, but with the increased opportunities for personalisation at the single customer level, there’s a realisation that this view may not actually exist.

Customers behave in unique ways according to platform, and while it’s a given that segmentation makes a real difference, the current challenge is to provide truly granular relevance.

Many organisations are delving increasingly into marketing automation, and this seems like a natural extension of the kind of automated targeting we’re seeing there. It also indicates a structural shift in companies, with different departments aligning more closely.

We’ve already seen the move to align marketing and sales, but increasingly we’re seeing tech departments getting more credit and influence, in my opinion this can only be a good thing.

2. Customers want honesty

Social has seen big moves towards integration in the past year as well, with large brands looking beyond the hype and genuinely engaging their customers.

Scalability is a challenge, but not an insurmountable one. Ling Valentine of made a standout presentation that really bought home the value of personality, individuality and a sense of humour (it’s not often that you see a room full of digital marketers standing for the Chinese national anthem, or a company tweeting “B**tard!” at detractors!).

Ling was one of many presenters who underlined the importance of appealing to customer’s emotions. As McLaren’s James Keady put it:

Spending £200k on a supercar is not a rational decision so we need to appeal to the heart

Customers want more than “Likes” and freebies, they want transparency and real value.

3. Mobile has come of age

Mobile and connected technologies featured heavily this year. Again, the demand from consumers is for integrated experiences, across multiple devices, at a time that suits them.

They engage with brands in an intelligent focussed way, making sure they get maximum return and minimum friction.

If you want a customer to love you, then give them love back.

Mobile gives marketers the ability to target at an unprecedented level, with technology and penetration constantly increasing. NFC payment platforms continue to increase, and it’s up to marketers to ensure that confidence remains high across the board, and that cross-device incompatibility is kept to an absolute minimum.

4. Anyone’s content can be king

Content creation and curation was a popular topic this year.

The ability of curation to add context and strengthen the reputation of both the curator and the creator has become increasingly important.

An increasing number of marketing departments are finding content marketers to join them, with more businesses entering the publishing realm.  Producing content isn’t enough. You have to make sure the right people see it, which is where seeding and collaborative sharing comes to the fore.

We’re seeing more of this with the likes of Pinterest and the trend is increasing – good news for both in-house and agency content creators, as an increase in demand sees content allied more closely with core marketing functions

Many people spoke about technology, but at its heart FODM showed the need for marketers to embrace new skills across a variety of disciplines, and to remember to appeal to emotion, to display personality and to add value to every step of the customer journey.



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