Now Digital Marketing Is More About Marketing Than Digital

They say every story has a beginning, middle, and end. So, from where do we begin this story? Well, let’s start from the beginning. 

Channel – focused marketing was the king 

Back in the early 2000s web presence meant creating a website and focusing on Search Engine Optimization (SEO), email marketing and referral marketing. SEO then meant content creation with focus on link building and keyword stuffing – with clear guidelines given to content creators about the number of times the keywords should be repeated. 

And then came social media! It provided a unique opportunity for the businesses to interact with their customers on a one-to-one basis. The journey started from (what today appears to be rudimentary activities) selecting a user name, getting profile picture and cover photo designed, and writing a catchy text about the business to getting vanity urls. And then came Fans, Contests &  Promotions, Storefronts, and Ads. Initially, businesses were a bit sceptic about embracing social media; well, to be honest most brands didn’t even know they’d a social media presence. You’ll be surprised to know that Coca Cola’s Face book page wasn’t even started by the brand! The Facebook page was started by 2 Coca-Cola fans Dusty Sorg and Michael Jedrzejewski. In August 2008, Dusty and Michael were looking for a fan page of Coca-Cola on Facebook but couldn’t find one. So, they created their own and gathered a few hundred thousand fans. When the brand came to know about the page they collaborated with Dusty and Michael to build a stronger base.

It was the beginning of businesses interacting with their customers on a one-on-one basis. Soon the obsession with fan marketing began. Marketers started focusing on getting more fans to their pages and thus a big chunk of their online ad budget was allocated for getting Likes & Followers. The common social media activities that marketers focused on 

Then towards the end of 2014 the research report from Forrester titled “Social Relationship Strategies That Work” was released which found that social posts from the biggest brands on Twitter and Facebook reach just 2% of their followers and only 0.07% of followers actually interact with those posts. Soon the realization dawned on the marketers that only doing social media (in silos) won’t work; it must be integrated with the core marketing efforts because it’s all part of the marketing.

Here’s an interesting interview where L’Oréal’s new CMO explains why brands shouldn’t have a digital strategy. One of his major priorities is to increase sales across each platforms. Currently, around 20% of L’Oréal’s sales come from its ecommerce platform, but he wants more numbers to come from digital. And for that he’s going to change the way digital is perceived as a separate channel in L’oreal. 

Marketers: Your Customers Don’t View Digital As A Separate Channel 

One of the reasons why digital as a siloed marketing channel won’t work is the customers. They interact with businesses and not channels ( or a specific channel). From mobile apps, social media, to website and brick and mortar stores – customers when interacting with businesses crave for relevant, meaningful and useful experiences. Which takes the marketers back to the basics of marketing. 

Now Digital Marketing Is More About Marketing Than Digital 

Given these changes, it’s about time that marketers go back to the drawing board and start thinking about marketing in traditional way to succeed in digital. Here are 8 traditional marketing themes that when integrated with marketing mix strategy can solve problems  ( not all but many) faced by today’s marketers –

1.     Not channel-based marketing, but relationship marketing – From focusing on channels and medium- centric efforts to building profitable customer relationships at the heart of the digital mix strategy.

2.     Target marketing (with the right messaging) – Not selling to everyone, but selling to well-defined targets with a message that the user group can connect with.

a)     The principles for right messaging remain same

* Do your homework ( Research on TG, pain points, gain points, factors influencing their purchase decision)

* Fix the positioning

* Brand image

* Fix the call to action (what do you want your audience to do after they read your ad?)

3.     Customer lifetime value (CLV) – Thinking beyond short-term goals (acquiring a lot of customers at the cheapest price) to maximizing CLV ( by spending on innovations to better customer experience, improving ROI on customer acquisitions by maximizing value), marketers need to see customers as value-creating partners and not money-extracting individuals. According to a report by Econsultancy, 64% of companies rate customer experience as the best tactic for improving CLV.

4.     Personalisation – It’s a key factor to a business’ present and future success. From Starbucks launching its personalized rewards program, Amazon suggesting product recommendations based on previous product purchases, and American Airlines offering services based on purchase habits and airport usage to Virgin Hotel’s Lucy ( a mobile app that allows guests to adjust temperature in their room, stream content on hotel TVs, and so on) – personalisation is the driver to enhance customer experience.

5.     Integrated marketing – Marketing is not limited to marketing department. It’s a company-wide endeavour to meets customers’ interests and business goals. From customer service

6.     Customer database – Collecting data about customers ( both online and offline) and integrating it with how the business interacts with its users.

7.     Employee advocacy – It helps businesses increase social engagement, leads and loyalty. An employee advocate program at Whole Foods found that when employees shared a content piece it gained eight times more engagement than the same content shared on brand channels. 72% of the social media users trust social media content shared by friends and family, according to a study by Edelman. One of the surprising facts that the study found was that the content shared by employees is trusted more than CEOs.

8.     Customer involvement – Tide, a brand with a mission to clean clothes, runs a customer involvement program called Loads of Hope that lets customers help people affected by disasters by making donations or volunteering.

Over to you. Do you think digital as a siloed channel will work or is it high time we start thinking it as a marketing channel?