Will 2018 Be the End of “Digital Marketing” As We Know it?

January  8,  2018 / By Cynthia Ramsaran

As marketers have shifted their focus onto the New Year, it’s a good time to forecast what exactly the marketing landscape will look like in 2018 and beyond. One general theme we are watching is the so-called “death” of digital marketing.


You read that correctly. Savvy marketers, if they have not done so already, will refrain from using the word “digital” as an adjective before the term “marketing.” At this point, what isn’t digital in marketing?


The growth in the digital space speaks to a much larger trend, though. Marketing as we know it has appropriately evolved to accommodate a consumer-centric approach where in addition to “traditional” marketing, org chart responsibilities such as business strategy and product development all fall under one umbrella. Just look at the acquisitions of creative and digital agencies by leading consultancies Deloitte and Accenture.


Marketers  leading the way in 2018 will be those focused, above all, on creating the best consumer experience possible — which likely, will live partly or entirely in the digital realm. To accomplish that, marketers must do more than map the customer journey or value chain and provide touchpoints throughout. Communication and content will be woven together with customer experience instead of being separate.




And this is only one aspect of the marketing evolution in 2018. Even the title of, “Chief Marketer,” is transitioning to include “growth” and “customer experience.”



Brands realize that to be successful in this “new normal” of marketing, CMOs must continue to evolve by acquiring the skills that help keep their fingers on the pulse of the consumer at all times. Subway CMO Joe Tripodi agrees that the evolution of the chief marketer role is due to the importance of focusing on the consumer experience. In Taylor’s “CMO Spotlight” series, Tripodi speaks of the role as chief customer experience officer, “because people realize more and more it’s the experience that the consumer is having that is so important.”


Mark Bonchek, founder, and CEO of Shift Thinking agrees that CMOs are now at a crossroads with four potential paths: up (being promoted into new roles); over (taking on new responsibilities); down (the loss of influence and authority); and out (leaving the organization)He predicts that we will continue to see a lot of shuffling among the C-Suite as companies “turn their attention to growth, recognize the insufficiency of incrementalism, and place the customer experience at the center of their transformation.”


With all of these changes, companies are following suit and migrating to consumer-centric models, placing a greater emphasis on the need for CMOs to evolve. To succeed, many CMOs must acquire all the skills necessary to have an “all things digital” mindset as well as make decisions that are in fact, truly customer-centric.
And while consumer engagement has traditionally been the realm of this role, now, most of the key points of interaction between a brand and its customers are in areas not traditionally owned by the marketing function, but in other areas of the business.


On this specific point, Taylor CEO & Managing Partner, Tony Signore – in a September 2015 blog post – had portended the need for CMOs to evolve:

“I’m proud to say that Taylor has often engaged with chief marketers who not only understand the importance of brand-building but also recognize the need of laddering up to a much higher place. They are confident leaders willing to embrace ideas and direction that’s not necessarily in their wheelhouse or comfort zone.


Before an evolved thought-leader ever turns to agency partners for direction, they’d engage the likes of McKinsey or Bain to truly understand the global marketplace, the competitive landscape, and their customers’ needs. And during this key phase of discovery, this highly-trained and capable CMO would work most effectively alongside fellow C-Suite members (CEO, CIO, CSO, CFO, CCO) to ensure total alignment is achieved.”


So as marketers take the customer experience to a deeper level in 2018, we’ll be keeping our eyes on the multi-faceted CMOs who understand that “digital” marketing is a thing of the past.


Share This: