Digital Strategy: What Your Campaigns Miss

“Strategy is about setting yourself apart from the competition. It’s not a matter of being better at what you do; it’s a matter of being different at what you do. While I quote this, let me also state that ‘hope is not strategy’ and this stands very true when discussed in the context of digital media.”

– Michael Porter

And I couldn’t agree more! Let me explain why.

If your social media marketing includes a post or two on Facebook, few conversations on Twitter and some campaigns on Instagram, and you hope that it will generate big conversations about your brand or will take you towards your desired goal, then you’re mistaken and even doomed.

Every business is closing this concept of increasing the RANDOM social media postings on their channels with a hope of getting extraordinary results one fine day. This used to work a few years ago but today the digital world demands more than just some (random) creatively led campaigns. Digital marketing needs to start with what message are you looking to promote in digital, who are you looking at promoting your message to and the most important one – why will those people care about your message?!

Whether you are a big shot in your industry or an enthusiastic start-up striving to win hearts on the internet, you need to have answers for the following basic questions:

· What are the various segments of people you talk to?

· What is the message you want to communicate?

· Why should they listen to you?

· What is the tonality?

· What is it that you want the person to be left with after engaging?

– Emotional Call for Action

· What is it that you want the person to do after he/she engages?

– Physical Call to Action

Once the answers to the above questions are clear, build the strategy platform by platform or take some professional help from a strategic marketing and consulting agency. This brings me to the ‘doing differently’ aspect of strategy stated by Porter. Following this framework, you can ensure that you have the right digital strategy for your digital marketing efforts, which will be unique in all manners.

Here’s a list of things that you should keep in mind while developing the digital strategy for your business:

· Ensure that the data is measured and analyzed to see what works the best for your business.

· Always have clarity about your business aims/objectives and what role you want social media to play in achieving them.

· See that all your social media campaigns are aligned with the overarching digital strategy and goals.

In a nutshell, posting random stuff on your channels is equivalent to not posting anything at all as it won’t deliver any value to your audience. Hence, understand your audience and strategize and channelize your digital marketing efforts accordingly.

Factors That Will Define Digital Strategy – 2013

As digital technologies continues to evolve at an accelerating pace, over the next few years we will see a complete transformation in the way people live their lives driven by the internet, smart phones and other mobile devices. And all this is going to impact the way organizations do business i,e their digital strategy.

As per world’s top notch digital strategy consultants and leaders it is the time to integrate all digital channel together to create a digital strategy and deliver a digital solution that will provide an optimal brand experience. According to a report by ZenithOptimedia, Internet advertising is forecasted to grow by 14.6% in 2013, while traditional media will only grow by 1.7%. This exemplifies the world wide adoption of digital technologies. From a perspective of a digital agency – 38% of agencies rate mobile optimization and content marketing as their top priorities this year as per a report by econsultancy.

There is no doubt that consumers are becoming more and more selective in making their buying decisions. Buyers chose the time and the channel through which they are going to interact with the brand, so it is getting increasingly difficult for brands to know how to best engage with potential buyers. Given below are some of the critical factors that will define the next generation digital solutions – from a digital strategy consulting point of view.

Social Data: One billion users in Facebook and half a billion in Twitter, so there is no denying the fact that social networks have firmly established themselves within the mainstream of digital marketing. The sheer number of users/audiences is impossible to ignore, thus 2013 will see social media optimization occupy a mammoth share of the overall marketing budget. But the real challenge for marketing experts and CMOs is to justify the ROI by realizing the value of the social data, customer insights and conversations that the social networking channels generate.

Activities like creating social media campaigns, building communities, creating shareable content, blogs, enabling social media functionality in corporate websites all will drive business value to organizations including generating referral traffic and improving brand engagement. In 2013 we are likely to see more adoption of social media solutions/monitoring tools/listening tools that will enable organizations to measure ROI and the business value that these initiatives bring to the organizations.

Search: Last year we saw huge number of searches in search engines, as the volume of searches increases, we see most of all search clicks coming from an organic link than from paid links. This means is that with more searches being made year-on-year, the volume of paid search clicks will also increase, which in turn means more money was invested in search advertising. Google, Yahoo, Bing are the powerhouses of search. But beign said so YouTube is now a highly popular search engine – with over 800 million unique monthly users. According to comScore, the total U.S. Internet audience watched 39 billion videos in September 2012, and U.S. Internet users watched online video content for an average of 23.3 hours for the month. According to YouTube, more than 4 billion videos are watched through their platform every day. Customers demand engaging videos which addressed their needs. The video strategy can be a game changer in 2013.

Mobile: Gartner predicts that by 2013 mobile phones will overtake PCs as the most common Web access device worldwide and that by 2015 over 80% of the handsets sold in mature markets will be smart phones. Marketers must recognize the unstoppable rise and development of mobile technologies and focus on strategies to leverage them.

Emails: With the increase of social media, content marketing and mobile usage, email marketing is also growing at an accelerating rate. 2013 will see even bigger adoption of email marketing by businesses.

Big data: This is the latest digital marketing buzzword, deriving meaning full customer insights from the plethora of information available will be the key.

Digital Marketing Decoded Part 2

Last fortnight in part 1 of BizParade’s Digital Marketing Decoded we asked Melbourne internet agency Salsa to share their knowledge on how to get the most out of search engine optimization to help drive your website’s presence in the free search engine listings, and how to get a head start by implementing an AdWords campaign or linking strategy to rank even higher.

In this issue the author talks to three digital marketing agencies to investigate the advantages of implementing digital campaigns, how you can market to your database more effectively, and the benefits of developing a more comprehensive digital strategy to maximize the return on your marketing spend.

Some of the most significant advantages to digital marketing over more traditional mediums include the ability to track the results and measure them against specific desired outcomes and segment your audience, but cost efficiency and fast lead times are also a draw card.
Sydney based digital marketing specialists Permission Communications specialize in digital marketing solutions for a range of medium to large companies spanning the FMCG, fashion and event sectors.

“We use a combination of solutions that are available, for example email marketing platforms, but we also build lots of little applications and solutions that say, well okay you’ve got a need in your business to do this, so we’re going to build a digital solution that can allow you to do that, for instance online surveying systems, event management systems and triggered email systems to name a few,” says Permission’s [insert title], Jeremy Glass.

One of their strengths is developing email solutions including direct marketing, CRM and promotional campaigns right through to more technical solutions including custom-built email systems, integrated email and spam management technology.

“Email campaigns are often compared to direct marketing, but there are significant advantages to online, which traditional direct mail simply cannot offer. Primarily this is the ability to easily measure the effectiveness of an online campaign, which can be more challenging and costly with direct mail,” explains Glass.

Advanced reporting software can track a consumer’s behaviour from the second your email hits their inbox, or they click on your banner ad or upgraded directory listing, right through the consumer’s engagement and purchasing process.

Unlike more traditional mediums where you don’t know if the response to an offer has uptake until the phones start ringing or the consumer visits your store, tracking an email campaign is significantly more telling and it is in real time.

Tracking reveals important information about your campaign and gauges whether it is delivering the desired results. If the results are below expectation, you can track this back to the number of people actually clicking on the email, and whether your subject line was a success. Or, if they opened your email and clicked through to your website, telling you whether your call to action was compelling or if it was clearly understood.

“You get those metrics down to the individual, so you can tell what different people in your database would be interested in, and then you can do a follow-up communication with them specific to that insight so that immediately gives you a lot more power,” adds Glass.

This is the other important advantage of digital: the ability to segment your audience and tailor messages to different groups depending on their purchase behaviour. “The tools which are available for building, sending and managing email campaigns generally come with the capability of both segmenting a database based on profiles of the members of the database, but also using that segmentation to send out content specific to that profile,” explains Glass.

One of the biggest trends in email marketing currently is automated and triggered response emails, which effectively communicates to your subscriber at any given time they act. “It’s based around the principle if you can talk to the person with the right message at the right time, you’re more likely going to.

Gaining these insights so you can segment and target messages gives you the added advantage of adjusting the campaign within the first few days or even hours, which can be critical to your event’s success.

Whilst email solutions are not necessarily cheap, says Glass, they are far more cost effective in delivering ROI against desired outcomes compared to above-the-line because they are relatively inexpensive to produce and they can be targeted so precisely.

In tests run for one of their clients Esprit, Permission found email marketing was five times more cost effective at delivering the same level of response than it was using direct mail. “And that’s just the cost let alone the insight and the information that we got from it,” says Glass.

This can also be said for mobile and interactive wireless marketing solutions, which brands such as Vodafone have been successfully testing since 2005. For the past three years Vodafone Australia has sponsored major electronic music festivals across Australia as part of their ongoing relationship marketing strategy, says AURA Interactive’s Sales & Marketing Director, Adam Dunne.

Similar solutions can be just as effective for implementation at events and conferences, with mobile marketing offering the same advantage of segmenting your database according to their previous purchasing behaviours or preferences.

“Entry level pre-event reminders and post event follow-ups via SMS can be just as effective to remind participants of conference dates or results post event, says Dunne. But being more active during the time they are actually engaged at your event is probably where mobile technology can cut through, given the often-limited access to email.

“Being more active during the event and using the conference database to actually drive traffic through to the seminars or to specific stands and sponsors, sending reminders about session times and potentially prize draws for example,” are all opportunities to add value to the consumer experience cost effectively, adds Dunne.

Measurability is just as easy with the ability to track user’s actions and gauge insights about their behaviour, whilst also being able to react quickly with different messages depending on your desired outcome.

Last minute offers, reminders, and refer a friend campaign can all be instigated at the push of a button and sent directly to consumers based on their previous level of engagement either via email or mobile campaigns, or both.

“From an event marketing perspective, I would look at putting a strategy into place that actually looks at all those different scenarios up front and have it all ready to go because it’s not like a print campaign where if you want something to be ready to go, you’ve got to invest the money, the time, and the logistics and it’s got to be all planned out. Rather, we just make a snap decision and within a couple of hours we can send out a special offer,” adds Glass.

Award winning digital agency, Clear Blue Day’s Peter Bray agrees that planning your digital strategy is integral to achieving better online results. “The adage about failing to plan is a plan to fail is very true. It is essential that you take time to create a strategy, but also you need to be realistic about what you want to achieve, and start with a budget. Having key performance indicators as part of your initial plan is vital so that you can judge your success,” Bray adds.

Specialists in the development of digital strategy, online campaigns, search engine optimization and website design, Clear Blue Day offer a fast and effective method of understanding your business and how digital can best meet your objectives, says Bray.

“The Sprint method cuts out a lot of the meaningless consultancy. Most of Clear Blue Day’s clients come to us with one end game: sell more products and capture more market share. There is no point in spending weeks working out what needs to be achieved when everyone in the room knows the goal. The sprint model allows companies to not only come up with a strategy in minimal time, but also to roll it out quickly. In the time precious world of business, this is vital.”

In a landscape that is constantly changing with the introduction of new technologies and capabilities, engaging a specialist digital agency before you engage your clients is an important first step in planning any digital activity.

“One of the key principles that we often talk about is that there are a lot of little potholes and falling into one of them can actually scuttle your whole campaign,” adds Glass.

“You’ve got to make sure you’ve ticked all your boxes to ensure this doesn’t happen, and I guess that’s the difference between working with someone that’s been doing it for years who is a specialist.”

And, if you are concerned about the costs, then you will be reassured to know the investment is worth it. Online marketing is considerably cheaper and more cost effective than more traditional mediums and there are a number of entry points depending on your budget, ranging from search engine optimization to a fully integrated email system or mobile campaign.