Building Successful Brands in the (post-) Digital Age

Depending on which version of events you believe, (and which definitions you favour) Sir Tim Berners-Lee, working at CERN in Switzerland, effectively invented the World Wide Web (www) sometime in 1990-91. In the intervening 22+ years, as we all know, it’s had a massive impact on people’s lives: how we connect and share, how we work, how we get entertainment and how we buy things.

Marketers have been required to get involved; not least because their target audience is spending increasing amounts of time in digital spaces and often actually making purchases there; naturally the advertising needs to follow the eyeballs. But how to fit the new stuff in alongside the old? Depending on the make-up of your audience and the geographical regions you operate in, you are likely to find that offline media are still vitally important within your marketing mix, especially for delivering reach. People still watch TV, read newspapers and magazines and listen to the radio; although admittedly there is some substitution with digital channels. There is also the new phenomenon of multi-screening (eg smartphone and tablet in front of the TV in simultaneous use). So it’s really not enough just to understand the ‘new’ digital platforms; how to fit them into the mix effectively to maximise ROI on the total budget is just as important.

As Digital has grown in importance and in its share of marketing budgets, the thorny issue of integration has raised its head periodically; i.e. how to make sure all marketing communications, online and offline are working together seamlessly with maximum harmony and synergy. It’s effectively a ‘no-brainer’; we all aspire to it, but there are lots of reasons why it’s so difficult to achieve out there in the real world. The latest challenge is that of integrating ‘mobile digital’ with ‘desktop digital’; although ‘mobile’ is rapidly ceasing to be a niche and we talk confidently about ‘responsive design’, many websites are still not optimized for mobile devices… Noting that 80% of brands still don’t have a mobile optimized site, Simon Andrews of Addictive, speaking recently at The Future Of Digital Marketing conference said that the opportunity was now too big to ignore. “You are losing money by not doing it properly now – if you’re not doing it then someone else is”.

Econsultancy, who were one of the pioneers of publishing and training in digital (previously internet and e-) marketing, originally in the UK and now also in the US and Asia, recently published their Modern Marketing Manifesto.

Here are some highlights:

Strategy

We believe marketers should sit at the board table and help set strategy. If you do not believe your understanding of markets, products, customers and positioning plays a vital role in shaping strategy then you are not a modern marketer.

Digital thinking should be embedded in marketing strategies as a matter of course. Digital may not be relevant to every marketing effort but organisations need to properly consider digital and change their culture and processes to become more digitally oriented.

It is a mind-set rather than just an executional approach. If you do not ‘get digital’ then you cannot be a modern marketer.

Great businesses look beyond the horizon. Great marketers have the vision to define the horizon.

Customer experience

We believe that improving the customer experience must be the relentless focus of modern marketing. We believe this is key to customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Customer experience is about customer centricity as evidenced by the service or product that we deliver across channels. It is about respecting the power and importance of great design.

Experiences are events, products, services, hardware, software, customer service. Indeed, every interaction with a customer is an experience that we must make as relevant, pleasurable, easy and useful as possible for them.

Since resources and time are not infinite we need segmentation to help ensure we deliver the best possible experience to our most valuable customers.

Integration

We believe that the mobile revolution is only just beginning. But we see beyond just ‘mobile’. Modern marketers think about the whole customer experience and the multiple screens and touchpoints that control and mediate it.

Customers do not recognise lines and nor should we. Online, offline, above the line, below the line… we need to think and deliver experiences and marketing without delineation.

Modern marketing must be connected, joined up and integrated. This includes internal integration and goes beyond integration within the marketing function, across digital and classic skills.

Integration must also exist between customer facing functions. It is about working across the entire business and collaborating with other functions, such as sales, technology, editorial, HR and customer service.

Brand

We believe the internet has forced transparency upon brands and businesses. Brands no longer control the message, consumers do.

This loss of control means businesses must communicate authentically and this requires a clear sense of self to which they can be true. In a digital age what modern marketers need most is a strong brand.

Data

We believe data must be turned into insight and action to be a source of customer, competitive and marketing advantage. Data is the bedrock upon which successful research, segmentation, marketing automation, targeting and personalisation are built.

Data allows us to predict future behaviour which is fundamental to creating strong customer lifetime value models and optimising marketing effectiveness. Digital channels provide new and valuable sources of data and customer insight that can be acted upon in real time.

If you do not see data as exciting, valuable and empowering then you are not a modern marketer.

Personalisation

In the quest to deliver outstanding brand experiences across channels, we believe that personalisation offers the greatest opportunity to transform what customers currently get.

Digital channels in particular allow us to use everything we know about a customer to inform and optimise each interaction. Location, device, screen size, usage characteristics, the weather… we are in an era where we have exciting and powerful new data points to power personalisation.

Personalisation is not just for existing customers: we no longer need to know who the person is to provide convenient and relevant experiences.

As modern marketers we respect the privacy of our customers and recognise we must deliver value to them in exchange for personal data.

(Econsultancy: The Modern Marketing Manifesto 2013)

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It is interesting to note that Econsultancy, having been, since its launch, the champion of the interactive/ e-marketing/ digital community is now taking in a broader view of the marketing mix, perhaps reflecting a more general recognition by the marketing industry that digital should, increasingly NOT be viewed as a stand-alone discipline.

It is worth reading the entire Manifesto which is full of common-sense thinking for the modern (integrated) marketer.

I indeed, this Manifesto might well, with hindsight, turn out to mark the end of ‘the digital age’ and the start of ‘the post-digital era’ when it’s all just seen as ‘marketing’ and ‘media’. And marketing is always evolving. Yes we have Pinterest, Instagram, Google Glass and Twitter Vine, but we also have HDTV, 3DTV, Connected (Web) TV and Interactive Digital Billboards/ facial recognition; nothing stands still. How long before creative and media advertising and digital agencies consolidate via merger and ‘Head Of Digital’ disappears as a job title?

22 years on from Sir Tim’s invention, it is time for Digital Marketing to grow up and take its place alongside the longer-established but still effective marketing channels as part of a post-digital marketing landscape. In this new age, Digital shouldn’t be viewed as ‘better’ or ‘cooler’; rather as offering new opportunities and challenges. So: Marketing got more fragmented and complex… and more interesting. Get over it! And let’s get on with it!

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2013-06-16T20:09:49+00:00 June 16th, 2013|General, Integration, Trends|1 Comment

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