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Will digital integrate back into marketing?


As consumers become more engaged with digital channels, their interest has been mirrored by the attempts of marketing firms to hire talent in this area as they attempt to move ahead of their rivals through bringing in the best possible staff.

However, some naysayers feel that this could be something of a fad, claiming that digital will simply be integrated back into traditional marketing channels rather than overtaking them completely, as some of its more intemperate cheerleaders claimed earlier in the decade.

What is the reality, and how will this affect businesses over the coming months? A recent study from eConsultancy pointed out that digital remains an important part of many corporate strategies, despite the fact that certain large companies do not have a specialist team in place for addressing this part of their marketing plan.

Chief executive officer and co-founder of the consultancy Ashley Friedlan said: "The operational reality for most businesses is that digital is very much alive and a huge area of focus. In our research around organisational structures it is clear that most organisations can only move quickly enough in digital by creating dedicated digital teams with digital specialists."

Some 36 per cent of firms operate a so-called 'hub and spoke' system whereby they have some digital experts in place, but also disperse tasks throughout their different divisions; however, 44 per cent of the companies surveyed has a 'digital centre of excellence' dealing with all issues that fall under this remit.

If eConsultancy's study is correct, the path towards digital 'evaporation' - where knowledge of technology will spread throughout a company, thus negating the need for centres of excellence and so forth - is certainly in place, but many firms are only taking their first steps on to it.

What that means for candidates is that the hunt is on for workers with specific, tailored digital skills, as the market begins to mature and companies attempt to focus on particular areas such as search engine optimisation (SEO), social media and pay per click.

Many businesses have been finding positive results through concentrating on areas such as search engine marketing, meaning that it is important potential job seekers are clear about which part of digital they wish to develop their career within.

While in the past it might have been simple for workers to simply act as a sort of digital jack-of-all-trades, specialisation looks to be increasingly key as firms become more aware of what is needed to attract customers in this area.

EMR recommends that companies think about how digital can work for them and their brands, rather than simply treating it as a kind of magic bullet that will instantly solve all of their marketing woes or an optional add-on that they are only adopting because of its popularity with rival firms.

Ultimately, the channel and the message need to be right for the product - if digital is utilised incorrectly, it will simply lead to wasted money and effort on the part of a company.

It is also important to bring in the right kind of talent - specialists can be trained to take on further jobs outside of their remit and eventually groomed for supervision or leadership roles, particularly if they are of the correct calibre and strong development processes are in place within an organisation.

Finally, it is important for someone who has a seat at board level to think about the importance of integrated marketing, as otherwise this part of the business can become siloed, making the likelihood of effective multichannel operations less likely.

Bringing in the right workers at the right time, and training them well so they can fulfil their potential, is crucial if companies are to work collaboratively within the digital sector as the market continues to mature and expand.

Despite the warnings made by some chief marketing officers that digital will simply fade back to become one channel among a plethora of others, it seems that developments within the industry and across a number of other sectors are pointing in the direction of further digital specialisation over the course of 2014 and onwards.


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