One trend I’ve been watching is the growing digital marketing strategy gap as companies move past an early phase of content creation by any means necessary and start thinking more about how the content plan supports overall business goals. It’s not so easy to get content planning and business goals aligned, and thus the gap. This is exacerbated by, but goes much deeper than, the marketing skills gap we looked at last week.

In this week’s Content Pulse, we can see lots of evidence of this strategy gap trend.

Marketing technology

Not all that glitters… — Strategy matters more than digital technology for agile managers, according to The 2015 Digital Business Global Executive Study and Research Project by MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte.

This fascinating survey of 4,800 excecutives argues that “it’s not about the technology.” The ability to re-imagine business in the face of an evolving marketplace can be the defining factor between a successful company and one that goes under during an age that demands “digital maturity.”

Some of the other findings of note:

  • Standout organizations use digital tools for transformation more than for efficiency.
  • 80% of respondents say they want to work for a digitally enabled company or digital leader, and that cuts across all age groups. It’s not just millennials. The skills gap can be exacerbated by a skills exodus if an employer isn’t digitally savvy enough.
  • Companies where the C-suite leads by example, even if they aren’t fluent in digital tech, get better results.

When done well, it works — Along the same theme, McKinsey & Company takes a look at digital marketing operations business transformation. The authors David Edelman and Jason Heller point out that strong digital marketing operations yield a 15-25% improvement in ROI and engagement metrics.

They offer a five-part model to evaluate key attributes of marketing operations. It’s not the sexiest part of marketing, they acknowledge, but marketing operations is becoming mission critical and doesn’t just enable brands to connect with customers but also shapes those interactions.

Branding basics

Demand in short supply? — The “Lead Flow That Helps You Grow” report by the CMO Council suggests that, although 87 percent of survey respondents said they would like to generate better leads through the use of content, most don’t feel they’re generating the demand that expected for the effort. Content marketing programs don’t appear to be targeting the right audiences, because only 21% of the marketers say they are partners with sales and business colleagues.

A deep look into buyer personas — Personas are not a “set and forget” activity, says Heather Levy of Gartner Marketing. Developing buyer personas is all about understanding your audience. She outlines five core components to understand and create the ideal persona for content campaigns, storytelling or UX design.

Related reading: How a Minimum Viable Buyer Persona Can Help Your Content Plan

Talent

Gotta spend money to make money — The Professional Services Marketing Survey conducted by marketing strategy consultancy Hollinden shows an acute strategy gap in that sector. Lawyers, financial advisers and consulting firms struggle to justify the cost of their marketing teams, and there is frequently no support from the top. Some key findings:

  • Most allocate less than 5% of revenue to marketing and one-third allocate less than 1%.
  • 83% aren’t calculating ROI for marketing.
  • Only 1.25% are using marketing as a talent acquisition tactic.

Retreating from the ad agency model — Mark Schaefer has a piece on HBR.org looking at the trend of in-house marketing teams growing, while companies tighten their budgets for agencies. The case for developing in-house talent is that continuity has become more important as consumers increasingly resent bad, untargeted advertising.

John Hampson contributed research and writing to this article.