Insights that gave birth to our strategy frameworks
Most would agree that the last 10 years has probably seen the biggest evolution in the field of marketing, with a new branch of marketing called digital marketing, not just cropping up, but fighting for centre stage. As a communications agency, having worked with clients who have evolved with the internet era and those who are still reluctant to accept and adapt.
We have witnessed how the internet has empowered the consumer and how the consumer now controls the dialog. We are seeing that faceless organizations now stand no chance against digital media weapons wielding consumers whose backlash can plummet brand equity.
In the process of embracing these developments and to provide our clients with the tools necessary to lead in every scenario, we have gathered insights to build our strategy framework. Some of the key insights and learning have been summed up in below.
The internet affects every facet of a production firm’s value delivery system, providing critical feedback and insight about the company and its partners/channels: the efficiency and effectiveness of its productions and markets; who the audience are, what they think, what they value and how the competition is performing. The internet is, above all else, a unique vehicle for facilitating and enhancing the audience’s role as an integral part of the processes and market infrastructure. It encourages a 2-way dialog with producers.
The marketers who adapt, accept and use digital media to their benefit are the ones who will lead in the future. Marketing is to be redefined as a continuous process of organisational learning and the subsequent adaptation of the business to technological, market and customer ever-changing dynamics. It is a business process rather than an event, enabling product and service providers to acquire and apply knowledge efficiently by interacting with customers and the marketplace. They are then able to innovate and respond competitively, reliably, consistently and profitably.
The objective of internet marketing should be to integrate with the overall marketing strategy, so that it supports and is supported by the offline marketing activities.
Effective internet marketing focuses on getting to know the consumer better. The objective here is to understand the consumers’ exact needs so that exactly the right products and services can be offered to them at exactly the right time and in exactly the same way. We need to use technology’s ability to listen rather than just talk. Understanding customer pain points, testing and measurement reduce risk and increase return on investment.
We need to understand what makes the customer loyal. This can aid in developing good customer retention strategies to increase customer value. Such information can help is creating marketing strategies such as loyalty programs. Getting incentive structure right is critical to the success of a loyalty program.
A brand is the sum of functional and emotional characteristics that a consumer attributes to a product or service. Going by this definition, it is digital marketing that can really do justice to branding. It is impossible in some and simply too expensive in most conventional media to communicate and imprint desired perceptions in customer’s minds. Organizations that integrate digital marketing with their conventional marketing strategy will develop a huge advantage over companies that don’t.
We look at a brand as the primary source of differentiation and the most valuable strategic asset. Sources of differentiation create four types of brands – commodity, product brand, service brand and system brand.
Not anymore. The whole organization is now a brand. With the kind of competition that exists, brands need to manage both visual and verbal identity to achieve recognition and differentiation. Verbal identity involves managing a brand’s tone of voice through style, vocabulary, names and the use of stories.
If a brand can match perceptions with performance, the consumers will turn marketers. When people suggest something, they are putting their reputations on the line. If they are confident, they love sharing.
The real power of online advertising is not its mass-marketing impact but, rather, its ability to reach niche markets and target the right customer with the right product. The scattershot approach is out and laser-point focus is in.
With the focus on individuals and not masses, the more information we have about our target audience, the more precise we can make our campaign. In an ideal world, direct marketing techniques would allow us to communicate one to one with every prospect, but in practical terms we are more likely to be communicating with groups who share the same characteristics.
The most important and the yet the most overlooked need in the process of building a website is to understand how it contributes to the overall purchasing process. For example, a great many people visit car websites before they make a purchase, but very few will actually make the purchase online. They may already be aware of the brand but want information. The key is to forget about measuring by crude visitor volume numbers and focus on the quality of the targeting, along with the influence that the website has on purchase behaviour. We need to analyse statistics generated as a result of consumers visiting your website and react appropriately to key trends that these statistics throw up.
An ideal website has the sophistication to customise customer’s experiences through personalisation systems, whereby a unique and finely targeted set of information and products is presented to each visitor.
It is critical to get the fundamentals of e-commerce right – service, comprehensive information, appropriate returns policies, and quality support. Most of the principles of director marketing apply to e-commerce.
Even some old marketing tricks are still working. Discounts, competitions and free offers work as well online as they do offline. While perhaps too much has been offered free on the internet in order to build business, these traditional marketing techniques, properly used, can be effective on websites. No matter what the strategy is, customers will only remain if they continue to recognise the value of our products and the quality of our customer service. That means continually enhancing the customer experience.
Content is a critical resource and its value lies in being read. Yet, not all content has the same value. We need to establish the business case for publishing content on our website. A core business case will revolve around statements, such as ‘quality content delivered to our customers will result in more sales and fewer support calls’.
Translating a 40 page document into HTML is a simple task; persuading someone to read it is another job entirely. The web makes every enterprise a publisher; there is so much information in the world and so little time. The internet marketer who can cut through the overload and bring to time-starved consumers the information they need is much more likely to succeed. With good content management we need to deliver the right content to the right person at the right time at the right cost. For this to work, we really need to understand who needs our content. Alternatively, we need to ask potential readers what content they need. And we must always remember that the content is consumed by busy people.
A problem with content is that it is difficult to measure. However, that does not mean that measurables should not be put in place. We need to establish methods for measuring how much content needs to be created each week, the quality of that content, and the time it takes to get content published. Quality people should create, edit and publish content. Published content should be reviewed to ensure that it is up to date.
People read differently on the web. They scan, moving quickly across text, always looking in a hurry for the content they need. They don’t trust the content they read on the web because they come across so many websites with poor publishing standards. Therefore, we need to write differently for the web. We need to write to please the reader unlike so many websites that write to please themselves. We need to write clear and precise content and avoid big words and convoluted phrases.
Email marketing content should contain information of the type and quality that consumers will sign up to get.