Industry Insights

An Interview with James Panagas on Digital Marketing

Laura Myers

By Laura Myers

February 27, 2017

The innovations and emergence of digital marketing technology we have seen in the last few years has changed the scope drastically of what’s possible. For this reason, I was excited to have a conversation with James (Jim) Panagas, currently the Director of PR and Analyst Relations at Kentico Software, to chat about the current market and what he feels we’ll see more of in the future of digital marketing and customer experience. 

Given James’ extensive experience in the marketing world, he has watched it evolve first hand from print ads and design, to an array of technology that is now being improved exponentially with the push into the cloud. Gone are the days of upgrades being formatted in hard copy and shipped out to customers, now we are seeing updates go live almost instantaneously. But, he used the analogy that end users are trying to drink from a fire hose essentially, with the vast amount of technology and upgrades hitting the market and the occurrence of only a small percentage of the true capacity is being utilized.  

The New Marketer is a Technologist

A great point he made, was how the job description of the common marketer is changing, they are becoming what he called “marketing technologists” as the advent of drag and drop technology is one of the things allowing marketers to rely less and less on developers, and the need to be proficient in all types of marketing technology is required in many positions today. The trend is not receding anytime soon either, as Venus mentioned in her article, Marketing Technology Adoption and Investment in 2017, Gartner’s 2016-2017 CMO spend survey suggests that in 2017, CMO marketing tech spending is on track to exceed the CIO technology spend. 

This is also creating a circumstance where the innovation could be surpassing the available skills, James mentioned he doesn’t think that talent pool is deep enough. Having previously worked in the higher education sector myself, I always wonder if this trend will begin to show itself in the evolution of business and marketing education, to better prepare newcomers into the field with the skills the market currently demands. Also, therein lies the opportunity for those already in the workforce to make the choice to expand their skillset to appeal to the more technological need, while not losing sight of the basics of a good marketer. James emphasizes that point: “It’s a pendulum swinging and right now the marketing pendulum is swinging way over to the technology side, I believe though that over time it will swing back because you need both sets of skills to really be an effective marketer. I certainly want people who can write, and who can appreciate good design and can run these technologies”

Personalization Playbook

2016 was a big year for personalization, we covered numerous players in the CMS industry adding it to their offering through acquisitions or expansions but it is necessary to ensure marketing remains effective, as we move forward into an ever connected world. This connection is what James feels should be utilized in order to succeed.

There are common and very obvious missteps that occur, like a recommendation engine continuously suggesting a product that has been purchased, or receiving a pitch for a product that in no way fits into our life or buying patterns. Even something as simple as receiving a sales call from an organization with whom you’ve specified you were not a sales opportunity can be annoying, James wonders if there is a lack of care or simply a glaring disconnect. 

These are all easily avoidable if the strides are taken to effectively personalize an approach. James predicts we’ll see the tentacles of the common digital marketing system grow longer, to allow a much more complete picture of customers and prospects by taking a deep dive into the information from complimentary systems like the CRM system, finance system, sales platforms etc. 

Reminder Marketing

Another prediction from James is the advancement of voice interaction and recognition becoming omnipresent in the digital marketing world, following the lead of Amazon Alexa and Siri that in addition to a more keen sense of interaction and accuracy, will usher in the age of “reminder marketing”. With the growth of IoT resulting in smarter devices all around us in our every day life, more and more we’ll have products suggested by way of reminders like “you’re out of laundry detergent” or “your sister’s birthday is coming up”, with the resulting purchase and acquisition of goods becoming almost effortless. 

In an earlier discussion, James highlighted that as marketing shifts to a more receptive and anticipatory medium, it will shed a lot of its sometimes intrusive nature and be much more welcomed as a way to make your life easier, as opposed to feeling like you’re being sold to at every turn. He emphasized that the onus is still on organizations to use the technology responsibly however, and ensure any and all interactions with their customers are always positive and above all, ethical. 

The Cycle is Closing In. 

James highlighted the pace of innovation happening across the board in technology, with the cycles of product evolution getting shorter and shorter. He used the example of a car phone, becoming a flip phone, to now a smart phone, seeing how quickly that happened and how faster still other enhancements are becoming a reality. Its exciting, and he predicts more and more we will see intelligence creating these ideas, developers bringing them to life and organizations putting them to use but to echo the final thought James left me with in our discussion, we can’t lose the human element in all of this technology so keeping that interaction and trust, alive and well will be the true task. 

Laura Myers

Laura Myers

A digital business, marketing and social media enthusiast, Laura thrives on asking unique, insightful questions to ignite conversation. At an event or remotely, she enjoys any opportunity to connect with like-minded people in the industry.

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