Updated: Dec 31, 2019
Enough has been said and written about how Digital is here to stay and how mobile technology has made it ubiquitous in our lives. Businesses have accepted that Digital is not something they can escape but have our businesses really learnt how to adapt to this and are they making the most of what it has to offer? I think the answer lies somewhere in between somewhat and not at all.
In the last 4 years, in my Digital Marketing Consultant Avatar, I have come across several businesses, small and big, that have appeared confounded, skeptical or scared but rarely any that is confident or consummate in their adoption of Digital Strategies. The purpose of this post is to demystify Digital Marketing and explain how a Pre-Digital evaluation of a business can help in conquering the Digital Marketing conundrum.
What is Digital Marketing?
India, especially Tamil Nadu, abounds with jobless engineers who make it their pastime to start a Web Development and Digital Marketing company. The number of training institutes offering Digital Marketing courses keep doubling every day. Most business heads do not understand the scope of Digital Marketing themselves and end up falling prey to these newbie digital marketeers and hire their services. Daily posts on social media including some random festival wishes are all they get but these businesses are under the impression that they are doing Digital Marketing. Few years and few lakhs in expenditure later, the businesses write off Digital as just an unnecessary hype that does not deliver. Read on to understand where this started going wrong and how to do this the right way.
What is most important in Digital Marketing is establishing a meaningful and deep connection with your Target Audience. A connection that starts as an engagement, turns into a purchase and then into a recommendation. And the way to do this is to give them useful and relevant information. Content that helps them to solve a problem or to reach a goal or to understand a challenge better. By helping your customers, you become a trusted source for them. When trust is established, business flourishes. In simpler terms, Digital Marketing means that you use Digital tools to simplify your Marketing processes in order to reach more of your target audience at the right time and at the right place.
How to deliver this content is based on several factors – your product/service, the industry you operate in, the needs of the consumers, the influencers, the target audience segments, the lifestyle of your consumers, pattern of consumption of your service and many more such factors that is to be individually analyzed for each business. Any Marketing that does not take these into consideration before deciding on the content, delivery channels and budget is sure to fail.
Before diving headlong into the Digital space, it’s important to ask yourself these questions:
What is the organization’s overall vision and what are the goal posts for the next few years?
What is the overall Marketing Strategy to achieve the long-term vision and short-term goals?
How can Digital fit into this overall Marketing Strategy?
Other than Marketing, are there any other departments like HR that can utilize the help of Digital?
What are my Digital Assets and how do I streamline them to be efficient?
What kind of customer data is being collected and how can I put them to use in my Digital journey?
Who are my target audience and what is the communication strategy to engage these groups online?
What percentage of my Marketing Budget do I allocate to Digital Marketing?
What are the KPIs should be tracked for measuring ROI?
Organization’s Vision and Digital Strategy
Digital strategy is a part of the overall organization’s business strategy and the former cannot succeed without considering its fit within the latter’s framework. For example, if an organization’s vision is to expand into the international markets to sell its products/services, then the Digital Strategy must include measures to target audiences overseas and the communications tweaked to appeal to audiences internationally.
Digital Marketing within the overall Marketing Framework
An organization’s approach to selling its products/services to its customers while maintaining a competitive advantage in the market is outlined in its Marketing Strategy. This includes the Positioning, Pricing, Packaging and Promotional (traditional 4Ps) strategies of the Brand.
Short-term goals could be defined as:
Bring in new customers
Get existing customers to buy more
Introduce a new product or service
Increase market share
Improve customer loyalty
Now the question to be asked is how can Digital Marketing help in achieving these overall Marketing goals. Without defining these goals, Digital Strategy is bound to be ineffective.
Digital Marketing for other Organizational goalposts
Digital medium can be used for various things and not just in aiding the Brand Marketing Strategy of an organization. For example, we had worked with a multi-national client who wanted to improve employee morale and connectedness with the upper management which was scattered around the globe. We designed online engagement activities for their employees that increased connections between senior management and the general staff. It also helped them to break down the invisible communication walls within the organization which improved employee morale and reduced attrition rates.
Streamlining Digital Assets
Any content that is stored digitally over which you have usage rights is your digital asset. From photos to videos, from documents that are stored in the Cloud to PPT presentations, from your website to social media channels that you have created – every byte of information you own is your digital asset. Digital assets form the foundation of your brand’s digital identity and hence it becomes important to take stock of these and manage them well.
We once had a client who had 4 different FB pages in their name – every time the employee who was managing their FB account left the organization, he/she took the password along so they recreated another page. This created confusion among users as to which was the branded page. It is possible to merge pages into one if the passwords are available. Since that was not the case with them, we suggested they increase activity and spend on their active page to gain followers. This ensured that their active page was the “most popular” option FB would pull up if someone were to search for the brand on Facebook.
Data Collection and Usage
Data is the new currency on the block. A sudden explosion of consumer data, now available to marketeers, means that the one who has the ability to exploit this data will emerge the winner. The most successful companies today are the ones who use data to make personalized and meaningful consumer interactions. This being the case, it is very important for organizations to correctly collect and use this data for targeting the right consumer at the right place. With the aid of AI and Big Data Analytics, it is possible to now glean information about the consumers from disparate sets of data that were difficult to use earlier. For example, a restaurant that records data on every order that is placed, can do an analysis to see which items are most popular and use them in their promotions. Organizations must plan and collect as much information from customers as possible in order to get insights into customer preferences and audience similarities. Many organizations make the mistake of collecting information but don’t digitize them or even if they do, fail to put them to use effectively.
Engaging the Target Audience
Marketing Strategy will have a clear definition of the target audience and their personas. Digital Strategy involves the identifications of specific channels to communicate with the specific audiences with a particular communication strategy to target each of these segments. For example, a brand that sells to the millennial audience could focus their communications on Instagram which abounds with millennials - Facebook is where their parents are and Twitter is where the politically active ones go. For the normal millennial, Instagram is the social media channel of choice. This audience responds to content types like memes and short videos better. Another example could be utilizing the email channel to engage existing clients to induce repeat purchases or to increase advocacy.
Digital Marketing Budget
Although there is no thumb rule for setting your Digital Marketing budget, a look at industry trends and your audience profile can help you in setting your annual Digital Marketing budget.If your target audience is the younger generation or if your business depends on the digital medium like ecommerce or app based delivery services, Digital Marketing should get a bigger than normal chunk of your Marketing budget. Digital Ads alone will constitute 29% of all ad spends by 2021, say industry experts. Committing to a budget spend and allocating that to various aspects of Digital Marketing like SEO, SEM, Social Media etc will enable consistent and continuous communication via the Digital medium.
Another very important and overlooked aspect is the measurement of results in Digital Marketing. While KPIs such as reach, impressions, traffic, bounce rates, engagements etc may be easily available and tracked regularly, the real metric that needs to be measured is the sales growth that can be directly attributed to Digital Marketing efforts. Without this measurement, the effectiveness of the strategies cannot be measured. Even if not all, sales can be directly attributable to Digital Marketing, wherever possible, if this metric is captured, it will go a long way in sustaining Digital Marketing spends.
Contact us at Prequel Lab to get a pre-digital evaluation for your organization’s digital readiness. Email : firstname.lastname@example.org