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“Nothing Short of Amazing”: Doug Karr on the Future of Marketing

By automating business content, our Wordsmith NLG platform (which you can request a demo of today) is changing the way people do their jobs. But Wordsmith isn’t the only technology transforming the business world. For a broader perspective, we’re interviewing big thinkers on the cutting-edge present and the fast-approaching future.

Douglas Karr Sq 300X300

Douglas Karr is the man of many brands. He’s the founder and CEO of the marketing agency DK New Media, where clients include GoDaddy, VentureBeat, Angie’s List, and Chase. He’s also the founder of Marketing Technology Blog, which covers topics from analytics and automation to search and social.

Can you give me a quick elevator-pitch description of DK New Media?

We assist marketing and technology companies with building online awareness, authority, and driving leads through their digital presence.

What’s the hardest thing about digital marketing these days?

Cross-channel marketing and strategies are a necessity nowadays. Search, social, and public relations all need to work in unison to maximize the impact and reach of your brand online. This includes both organic and paid strategies. Those are a lot of balls for a marketer to juggle, and most companies are doing it with fewer resources today, not more, because the assumption is always that digital marketing costs less.

What part of the job has gotten harder in the last few years? What’s gotten easier?

One example is social media. We often see stats or read articles that say, “it doesn’t work,” but our clients that are investing time in crafting their social selling strategies are getting amazing results.

Social media results can be more difficult to measure via first touch or last touch attribution, but our clients do see increased brand awareness and a growth in sales that correlates with the growth of their network.

What’s gotten easier is a tough question. I’d say that we’re returning to true marketing efforts rather than tricks and shortcuts with search and social.

What big challenge in digital marketing do you think will be solved in the next five years?

Predictive analytics is already becoming quite accurate for large enterprise organizations to see where they should be spending their marketing dollar for maximum impact.

I believe in 5 years the tools for predicting, monitoring and maximizing your marketing investment across channels will be nothing short of amazing. This will help marketers immensely.

I’ve always been somewhat of a critic of analytics because it raises more questions than it often answers. It’s why I like systems like Wordsmith that can help users tell a clear story around their data.

Douglas Karr

What new problem do you think will arise that digital marketers largely don’t grapple with today?

This is going to sound strange, but much of our industry is young and never experienced the effort and cost associated with marketing campaigns.

There was a time where we would spend millions of dollars and years invested into campaigns and we’d wait years to see the results. Marketers nowadays believe that you can test and measure a result in minutes, then adjust. They’re losing sight of the long-term opportunities by being too focused on the near-term results.

Of course, there’s a lot of pressure coming from company leadership to do the same, too, so the responsibility is shared.

What’s one skill digital marketers need to develop for their future careers, but aren’t?

Marketers need to learn sales. Marketing was once a one-way activity, producing branding and messaging that was only consumed. But now marketers are producing branding and messaging that’s being contributed to by the consumer or the businesses they are selling to.

Salespeople have always understood how to manage negativity and to nurture a lead through to a conversion, but marketers are new at this. It’s why organizations with sales and marketing alignment are getting superior results.

What marketing technologies on the horizon get you most excited? Or perhaps there’s another way to look at it – what technologies in general excite you, in that they could be applied to marketing?

One-to-one marketing technologies that utilize machine learning and artificial intelligence to customize messaging at the individual level are absolutely exciting. Imagine developing a branding guide and having a platform that optimizes the messaging and imagery to the prospect.

Wordsmith is all about automating the creation of personalized content. What other forms of automation do you see taking hold in your industry?

I’ve always been somewhat of a critic of analytics because it raises more questions than it often answers. It’s why I like systems like Wordsmith that can help users tell a clear story around their data.

Future automation won’t just tell you what is happening, though. Future automation will provide guidance on what you need to do to change the behavior of site visitors and then predict the response based on the criteria you put in – budget, timeline, growth, etc.

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