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The digital marketing revolution

Opportunity for organizations

Digital marketing is a paradigm shift

Digital technology is at the very core of how consumers select products and services – before, during, and after purchase. The revolutionary integration of digital technology and marketing has created great opportunity for organizations that keep up, and peril for those who fall behind.

Because consumers now have so much independence, marketing organizations and chief marketing officers (CMOs) must continually create new strategies to reengage them, including responding to negative postings about their brand on social media. While digital marketing generates detailed consumer data with rapid turnaround analysis of different marketing strategies – at the same time the level of competition is spiraling higher and higher as a result of the continually evolving interplay between new digital marketing tools and cagey consumer behaviors.

CMOs know they need to adapt to this new environment. In a recent Association of National Advertisers and Korn/Ferry survey of more than 300 CMOs in the United States 72 percent acknowledged that building digital marketing capabilities is critical. Unfortunately, there is no magical cache of digital marketing tools that works for all businesses. Each company must forge its own path to increasing brand market share. With the help of professional markets, companies need to carefully define their objectives, select digital marketing tools/strategies that best support those objectives, and then implement whatever strategies offer the greatest potential for success. Rapid innovation- with inevitable temporary setbacks are all part of the new game.

Recent marketing developments that affect your business:

  • Today, a promotional campaign almost invariably results in your potential customers first researching your competitors’ offerings before making any purchase. Your competitors, in turn, are then able to track and target your intended customers. The solution? Begin with a multi-pronged strategy to keep them interested in your products/services.
  • Successful brands now do much more than pitch their products to consumers: they develop platforms that help foster long-term customer loyalty. How? By encouraging ongoing conversation about their products and services.
  • Previously successful companies have lost business to competitors who are out-networking them via LinkedIn and Twitter. Social media marketing is no passing fad…
  • Traditional manufacturers, who used to rely on their distributors to monitor customer communication, now need to respond directly to their customers, including negative reviews posted on social media.
  • Though retail businesses often gain business by using daily deals sites, this strategy has not resulted in a consistent uptick in longer term sales.
  • Brands now have to adapt to much shorter advertising cycle times than was the case for traditional ‘Mad Men’ agencies.
  • Consumers increasingly demand that marketing communication be tailored to their interests and needs. carefully targeted digital marketing (generates higher customer engagement for less investment). However, implementing digital marketing strategies is complex, often requiring new skills and behaviors across the organization.

Use digital marketing tools to help define your present and future customer base.

Differentiating your brand improves target marketing:

In previous OWDT blogs, We’ve emphasized the importance of carefully defining/redefining your brand. Once you’ve accomplished that, you can then implement digital marketing tools to get a much more complete picture of your target customer. For example, a company selling traditional luxury interior decor may can use niche marketing tools to reveal the following target customer profile: female decision maker, conservative aesthetic, Republican, typically no more than two children, actively involved in community organizations, with over
60% of this demographic group living in the Southeast. It stands to reason that if a target audience is too broadly defined, in this case encompassing IKEA customers with lower incomes, it will be confusing to potential buyers and a waste of money.

So, before launching a new website, YouTube video, or creating a new Facebook promotion, you need to –

  • Differentiate your brand (like Apple, be consistent yet distinctive) – in other words, articulate what sets you from your competition.
  • Use digital marketing tools to help define your present and future customer base.
  • Generate a competitive analysis and timeline.
  • Establish both strategic and tactical plans.
  • Create a method for systematically monitoring customer feedback.

Is your brand easily identified across media?

A surefire way to determine if you are communicating your brand with consistency is to see if customers can identify your company’s brand messaging across media compared with that of your competitors.

Drilling down on customer needs and preferences

In the past, understanding the customer required frequent expenditures on focus groups and surveys. While these tools are still important, the Internet now gives us immediate access to information about customers’ postings in group forums and other media. To tap into that information, begin with the following –

  • Join customer forums, blogs and groups. After identifying the needs and preferences of your target customer, locate which sites they are using to discuss their opinions online.
  • What are companies with the same target customer doing to attract visitors? There are a number of free online tools such as alexa.com that reveal information about where their website visitors are coming from.

Take necessary risks to engage new consumers

Marketing executives are too busy to keep track of the vast array of emerging technologies. Also, they are by nature disinclined to take the necessary risks that marketing innovation requires. That’s why you need an Innovation Team (like OWDT) to identify, evaluate, and implement new digital technology marketing strategies. Those that are successful can be scaled up into pilot programs for further evaluation before full implementation.

Evaluate the pros and cons

Implement the basics first –

A recent survey conducted by Forrester Research found that 82 percent of buyers research products and services online before making a purchase. Clearly, any viable enterprise needs to use digital marketing tools to assess specifically what is attracting and deterring their potential customers.

The first, easiest assessment of the effectiveness of your online brand is to apply a series of A/B tests with different marketing/branding content options. This gives you an upfront understanding of your bounce and conversion rates.

Other easy-to-manage strategies include –

  • Again, join customer forums, blogs and groups to monitor customer feedback to evaluate what your competitors are doing to attract online visitors.
  • Identify your new competitors. Small size can give them a competitive advantage. Are you responding to such challenges? Also what’ss different about your old competitors’ strategies today compared with 2 years ago?
  • Diversify your marketing talent away from surveys and towards data mining, social media, and knowledge management.
  • Take advantage of free online tools, the most prominent of which is alexa.com, that reveal information about where competitors’ website visitors are coming from.
  • Use Google Analytics to track visitors from all sources. It’s free and used by a majority of companies.
  • Address the new reality of price transparency. If your product is more expensive, then make a pitch for its greater quality, reliability, and your superior customer service.

More demanding, but essential –

  • Zero in on Internet channels that are most likely to reach your customer. First, determine what channels your customers are using and which ones your competitors aren’t yet taking advantage of. For example, you may not want to start a new blog if a competitor has already created a successful one, and you not need to launch a Twitter campaign if only 2% your customers use that social media platform
  • Regularly monitor social media so you can make adjustments during marketing campaigns to recalibrate the sweet spot of customer engagement.
  • Invest in technology and analytics to support seamless customer mobile, social, and e-commerce experiences.
  • Evaluate the pros and cons of focusing on a small, healthy market segment where your firm can dominate. If successful, you can then expand your offerings within that niche.
  • Continually enrich/expand your customer profile. Do you know their across-the-board buying habits? What is their standard / modal personality profile? Why might they NOT buy your product? What are their problems? How can you address them?

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