Digital Marketing in 2021 & Beyond: With Acoustic CEO Dennis Self


Digital marketing is an industry in perpetual motion, with new trends and innovations coming to the fore every year. As such, strategies for digital marketing must be agile enough to balance the shifting sands of consumer behaviour against an ever-growing stack of tools and tech.

Thankfully, the martech industry is booming, with flexible solutions in market that make it possible to integrate multiple technologies into a central platform. In doing so, marketing teams are edging ever-closer to marketing nirvana – having a unified view of customers across different touchpoints. 

As CEO of enterprise marketing cloud Acoustic, Dennis Self leads a company on a mission to unify all the tools marketer’s need into one flexible cloud suite. We sat down with him to discuss martech innovation, the impact of Covid-19 on digital marketing, and how Acoustic is rising to the challenge.   

Increasing the value of customer interaction 

Brand content and campaigns are now consumed across a host of platforms and devices, from smart phones and tablets to social media, apps, chatbots and connected devices in the home. Today’s consumer expects quality content and a seamless experience from your brand across each one of these channels.  

Data Experience Platforms (DXPs) are a popular solution for delivering multichannel marketing programs and end-to-end customer journey management. Prior to their existence, marketers had to analyse and interpret customer data from many sources, from analytics tools to social media accounts, and content management systems (CMS) to marketing automation platforms. DXPs integrate the marketing technology stack into one place by using APIs to push and pull data from multiple sources. The Acoustic modern marketing cloud is one such platform.  

The data intelligence resultant from this level of integration is significant, allowing marketers to develop personalised campaigns grounded in holistic insights.  

As Self explains, the game changes when marketers can orchestrate the customer journey across different channels – both on and offline. 

“Digital marketers are often forced to look at each channel independently while trying to track a customer or prospect across different channels. As marketers are more empowered to create content that works in any channel, they can begin to offer consistency across channels. This should extend beyond digital and work towards in-store, branch, kiosk, and signage for consistent messaging and offers.” 

Building an Omnichannel Content Strategy

Moving to a headless CMS solution like Acoustic Content is one way marketers can meet the insatiable consumer demand for high quality, omnichannel content. Where traditional publishing methods require you to create different content types within each platform e.g., website content is created and published within WordPress, online ads within Google Ads etc., a headless CMS allows you to publish different content formats as data over an API.  

The process is faster, more streamlined and easier to optimise and report on as you have complete control and flexibility, without needing to constantly repurpose content.  

While the headless CMS space is becoming more competitive, Acoustic CEO Dennis Self says choosing the technology and implementation partner is just one piece of the puzzle. The real hurdle is navigating the shift to an omnichannel strategy while understanding the knock-on effect to marketing programs and content creation roles. 

“Many companies still treat each channel as a completely independent function of business and marketing operations. As a result, this requires much more management and oversight, a lot of re-creation of content, and it prevents companies from acting with the agility that is required in 2021. 

Often, we will see companies that rely on a fast-moving content channel such as social media simply because they cannot keep their website up to date as quickly as is required by customers and prospects.”   

One-time Content Creation 

Modern, lightweight and built for today’s customer experiences, Acoustic Content enables the smooth creation, management and distribution of assets across multiple channels. Self says the platform’s unique advantage is that it has been designed for the reality of the customer experience in 2021. 

“This is reflected in the foundation of our content platform, content modelling, search and retrieval, and API-first approach. Content can be used in the format needed for each channel whether that is JSON or rendered HTML, the content is only created once. This approach is fundamentally different to a traditional CMS where content needs to be created multiple times as JSON fragments, HTML blocks and as searchable items – and we’re proud to lead the industry with this unique approach to content management.”   

The Impact of Covid-19 on Digital Marketing  

Covid-19 has had a major impact on how businesses operate globally. But while some industries have experienced major downturns, the report card in marketing is mixed. With work, play and spending done from home in many parts of the world during 2020, digital marketing and e-commerce is booming, with dramatic increases seen in online spending, socialising and social and digital media consumption.  

As Self highlights:  

“More than any other time, the pandemic has woken everyone up that a robust digital face of customer interaction needs to be central to the business, even if the ultimate goals stay the same.” 

The biggest change has been a new understanding of the value of digital to drive marketing’s key goals - attracting and converting new customers, improving efficiency and ROI of marketing, and growing brand loyalty.” 

However, the human impact has been felt more keenly, with collaborative endeavours like marketing campaign development harder to execute under remote working conditions. To get out in front of such challenges, Acoustic is developing new functionality to make collaboration and campaign tracking easier.  

“For example, we’ve explored taking something that might be talked about in an office and then swarmed to fix and instead making it an alert that all the disparate team members get automatically.”   

Balancing In-Person & Online Efforts 

More than ever before, post-pandemic marketing means delivering seamless omnichannel experiences. By necessity, 2020 saw the rise of digital communities and virtual events. But in 2021, with a type of new normal settling around us, Self believes marketers will need to rise to the challenge of creating harmony between on and offline experiences.  

“What’s fascinating about this change is that there has always been an ambition to more “connected” experiences in physical or offline channels. Location-based marketing with geo-fencing and beacons have been practiced by marketing teams for years.  

Now, with customers getting more used to digital experiences they get from this ‘digital-only’ year, there will be more pressure on marketing teams to connect online and offline channels.” 

Consumers will expect the perks of the digital experience in-store Self explains, across aspects like inventory availability, purchase documentation and ease of search.

Spotlight on Cyber Security & Data  

With the threat of cyber security and data breaches becoming ever present, agencies like Revium are implementing specialist services to help businesses proactively manage digital security.  

At Acoustic, the company has also developed a strict set of data ethics principles that give consumers choice and empower marketers to be effective without being invasive.  

“We take it very seriously. Acoustic was one of the first marketing clouds to enable GDPR compliance for Europe, and we extended those capabilities to other regions like Asia. We also have a Chief Data Ethics Officer who has built a team dedicated to data ethics, privacy and security.”   

Ever present AI 

With the use of artificial intelligence (AI) on an ever-upwards trajectory, Acoustic has taken an integrated approach to its application in their software. Self explains that this is based on the belief that, while essential to next-gen marketing technology, machine learning and AI should disappear into the software.   

“At the end of the day, marketers care about getting their problems solved more than the technology used to solve it. Is the customer experience better? Are you capturing more conversions? Are you saving more cart abandons? 

Acoustic builds AI-powered features to support each of these use cases, but the typical customer just knows Acoustic is doing it.” 

What’s coming next? 

In the near term, Acoustic is focused on fine tuning their product suite – from marketing automation to behavioural analytics and content management. The company is also doubling down on interoperability, to ensure Acoustic can connect to the tools marketers already use.

Self also highlights the importance of continuing to develop a new kind of marketing cloud that serves the needs of both marketers and audiences who fundamentally changed in 2020. 

“It’s the kind of investment that takes time to build, but we are pretty excited about what the next generation of marketing will look like.” 

To learn how Acoustic can boost your marketing efforts with a headless CMS solution, chat to us today