The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan



Digital Marketing

How technology is changing sales

By John Ghanotakis, Amir Khan, and Timothy Trahan

Software is drastically changing the frequency and content of, and messages prevalent in, modern marketing. In many cases, companies and senior marketing leaders are struggling to keep up.

Customers are now more informed about products than ever, and traditional web advertisements are becoming less prominent in marketers’ digital strategies.

The Young Professionals Group Subcommittee spoke with Amy Guarino, vice president at Marketo, a Silicon Valley startup specializing in marketing software, and discussed the changes she has seen in Japan.

The automobile industry came up as a prime example of how digital marketing is changing the consumer landscape.

“For Nissan, four years ago the average person visited a car dealership seven times when purchasing a new car. Now, the average number of visits is only 1.5.” Instead of visiting the dealership, customers are looking online to read reviews, understand specifications, compare other makers’ models, and find financing options.

“We see that consumers are doing self-directed research. Suddenly, the dealership doesn’t have as much influence over the purchase process.”

Potential buyers’ research efforts can easily be tracked, and companies can interact with visitors to their websites in novel, informed ways. This process is commonly referred to as engagement.

Engagement works in ways unlike banner advertising or direct email marketing (by many, considered spam email). The idea is to speak with customers in meaningful ways and on a personal level, often through mobile or other digital media.

Marketo’s software allows companies to monitor people’s engagement with their digital media presence, including social networking services such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Companies can thus track shoppers’ behavior and send follow-up communications targeting potential customers. This allows marketing departments to understand what communication programs are effective, and to spend less time finding potential sales leads.

They can find the answers to key operational questions, such as whether a coupon would be more effective in attracting buyers than a customer survey.

In addition, measuring engagement helps companies focus on the quality, rather than the quantity of leads, and salespeople can more consistently contact the right people at the right time.

This ultimately leads to increased sales for a company, which can often employ fewer salespeople and marketing staff when using this type of software.

Trend watch
Guardino mentioned a few things in particular she is noticing in the changing marketing landscape.

“Social is fascinating. The biggest change is that traditionally, companies try making Facebook pages to secure ‘likes.’

More recently, marketers have found that it is actually more important to generate trust on a personal level. Person-to-person trust is more important than company-to-person communication. Relationship selling is a big focus,” she said.

“This is an enormous opportunity for young people in the marketing field. Actually, these developments are new to everyone—even those at the executive level—and for experienced marketing professionals it seems daunting and outside the norm. This is a disruptive force, and people who are experienced have a hard time. The change will greatly influence marketing professionals’ careers for the next 15 to 20 years.”

Another key aspect of this change in marketing, especially when compared with previous tech revolutions, is that the pace of change is so rapid.

The switch to technologically advanced marketing tactics is “happening quickly, as this is driven by revenues.”

“Trends also indicate that banner advertisements are dying. Engagement—meaning that which you can understand from a data perspective—is becoming more relevant. Companies are finding that they can increase sales by 40 percent while also spending less money on marketing programs.” This, of course, assumes that companies have invested in sophisticated engagement software to stay in touch with their consumers.






John Ghanotakis (chair), Amir Khan, and Timothy Trahan (vice chairs) are members of the ACCJ Young Professionals Group Subcommittee.