Marketers are stuck in a Bermuda Triangle of being fearful about innovations impacting their jobs, yet if they don't use new tech they will fail to meet business outcomes.
According to a new study by LinkedIn, Australian marketers are not future proofing themselves, are failing to leverage new technologies and are “are going to have to get up to speed”.
In the professional network's 2018 Marketing Trends study, which surveyed nearly 800 people across APAC, 217 of which were from Australia, it was found that Australian marketers are behind their APAC counterparts when it comes to leveraging new technologies.
Stats show that Australian marketers feel unprepared for the impact of new technologies, with one in three saying their team is not well prepared, compared to just one in 10 marketers from across APAC expressing the same concern.
Only a third of Australian marketers see artificial intelligence, machine learning, augmented reality and virtual reality as opportunities. In contrast, nearly half of all APAC marketers see these same technologies as opportunities.
Customer acquisition and retention are the top priorities for Australian marketers this year. However, the survey found that Australian marketers are not investing in the innovative technologies, nor the skills, that are becoming increasingly critical to the development and delivery of seamless customer experiences.
“This reflects a distinct gap between desired business outcomes and investment to achieve these outcomes,” LinkedIn’s new director of marketing solutions Prue Cox says.
Cox, who joined LinkedIn in October from a commercial director role at Pacific Magazines, says the continued lag in adoption of innovative technologies will result in Australian marketers failing to meet business objectives.
The fear of tech
While she believes it is essential that Australian marketing teams start investing in these technologies and the skills required to leverage them, the survey says Australian marketers see new technologies as a threat, rather than an opportunity.
For example, Aussie marketers see emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (17%), chatbots (11%) and machine learning (11%) as threats that could impact their function. Two in five (42%) marketers believe that due to these disruptive technologies some marketing functions won’t require human labour and nearly a third (28%) believe there will be less marketing jobs.
As a result of this ‘fear of tech’, Aussie marketers are adopting a ‘business as usual’ approach compared to their APAC counterparts.
Speaking to AdNews Cox says this is a “concern” and marketers need to speed up their education.
“As marketers we need to be continuously building capability and be continually learning,” she says.
“Australian marketers are not future-proofing themselves.”
When asked how Cox herself keeps ahead and avoids falling into the tech fear, she says it’s about committing time to learning and is about “looking forward” to what is next for the business.
She says while there is some great examples of B2B marketing and tech developments, such as NAB’s virtual assistant, much more needs to be done.
So if marketers aren't looking to tech innovation and improving their skills, what are they doing?
The study, which was formed via quantitative online survey methodology, found that the majority of Australian marketers said data analytics (67%), marketing automation (62%) and programmatic buying (49%) are the key areas they plan to focus on this year to support their marketing activities.
Only a third of Aussie marketers said they are planning to use artificial intelligence (34%), blockchain (29%) and augmented reality (34%) to support their marketing activities this year.
This was considerably low when compared to other marketers in APAC where two-thirds of APAC marketers said they are looking at artificial intelligence (64%), blockchain (61%) and augmented reality (64%).
This year, Australian marketers said they will be prioritising customer acquisition and retention over brand awareness and customer experience. Also, while Australian marketers agree technology is critical to their acquisition (89% agree) and retention (89% agree) strategies, they still seem to be focusing on traditional methods of marketing.
While content and email marketing were highlighted as key investment and focus areas, overall Australian marketers rate their teams higher on cognitive (84%) and account management (84%), and see themselves as being less capable in creative (65%) and technical aspects (55%) of the role.
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