5 of the biggest challenges facing today's marketers

May 8, 2017 McKenzie Gregory

Achieving success in today’s fiercely competitive marketing landscape is no small feat. Audiences are distracted, virtually every digital channel is overflowing with content, and breaking through the noise seems next to impossible. 
If you feel overwhelmed by it all, you aren’t alone. During Marketing United 2017, we got the opportunity to chat with some of the best marketers in the industry about the top pain points they (and their peers) face on the job.
Here were their responses to the question, “What’s the biggest challenge facing today’s marketers?"
1. Dealing with data 
Elaine Armbruster (The Ohio State University): It’s been this way for a while now – you probably remember everyone buzzing about ‘big data’ just a few years ago. We have to get our data clean before we can personalize our messaging and provide the kind of custom experiences our audiences both expect and deserve.
Cynthia Round (The Metropolitan Museum of Art): We’re inundated with so much information, and we know so much about WHAT our audiences do. But too often, we don’t take a step back to understand WHY they do it. We can't get so sidetracked by the data that we forget the qualitative, intangible aspects of our brand that really drive loyalty.
2. Getting your website right 
Ben Jabbawy (Privy): 98% of traffic coming to your site is leaving without completing the goal you want: buying something, signing up for your list, registering for an event, whatever. Focusing on how to intercept that massive group of users and figuring out how to convert them is our biggest challenge. 
Oli Gardner (Unbounce): Most people fail when it comes to testing. Yes, A/B testing is the mechanism to make your website perform better, but if you’re a small brand, there’s a good chance you don’t have enough traffic to do it effectively. So, in the meantime, you need to be doing research to find out who your customers are and what they want. That way, by the time you DO have enough traffic to test, you’ll have a data-driven hypothesis to start with.


3. Identifying (and using) the right tools

Ann Handley (MarketingProfs): There are so many kinds of technology and so many platforms out there, and I think it's become increasingly challenging for marketers to figure out which ones will sustain us and which ones will ultimately distract us. 
Lauren Hobbs (Union Square Hospitality Group): I think the biggest challenge facing today’s marketers is the rapid growth of so many channels, especially on the social side of things. There isn’t really any definition for what ‘expertise’ in social looks like because it’s changing so fast, and you’re constantly being forced to stay on your toes and adapt your strategy. That’s why you have to really hone in on the channels where you can win and ignore the channels where you won’t.


4. Collaborating effectively 

Kevin Keith (Orangetheory Fitness): Everyone talks about collaboration. So often, I’ve worked with teams where it’s an issue: People have trouble communicating and getting on the same page. Being able to see the bigger picture and understand your role in a marketing team is absolutely crucial. 
Robert Brown (Nissan North America): Marketing teams need to be multi-disciplinary, and they need to communicate super effectively – not just in terms of how they express themselves, but also in how they think about the ramifications of what they’re doing and how it’ll affect the rest of the team, making sure everyone’s on the same page, and keeping it all moving in the right direction.


5. Staying relevant 

Jenny Leahy (Microsoft): Our news cycles are incredibly fast, so for your campaigns to break through and actually be relevant across multiple channels, you have to tell an authentic story that’s true to your brand and on-tone with what’s happening around the world. You really have to be tuned into key events and your brand message to really make those stories shine through. 
Samra Brouk (dosomething.org): I think the biggest challenge facing today’s marketers is how do you stay relevant (and on-brand) when so many things are happening both politically and socially in the world? You have to find ways to meet your audience where they are, keep things timely, and avoid alienating anyone in the process. 

Sound off: What is the biggest challenge YOU face as a marketer? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!  

About the Author

McKenzie Gregory

McKenzie Gregory is a senior content manager on Emma’s marketing team. A Nashville native, she can be found covering all things email on the Emma blog, debating hyphenation rules, and watching obscene amounts of Netflix without a trace of shame.

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