Just the other day I was having this discussion on digital marketing with a dear friend, who I consider almost an authority on all things D, and engrossing as it was, there were some really key insights that came out of it, which I’m sharing below.
The Problem called Digital
Digital is hot…digital is hype…digital is now…digital is right! There’s just too much noise out there, and while some of it is really sensible, quite often a lot of it is misleading and hyped-up. And that's because while most folks were starting to come to terms with the Web, out of nowhere came Web 2.0, and now while they are still figuring out the definitions of 2.0 this and 2.0 that, there are people talking already about a Web 3.0!
This confusion leads to reckless, impulsive, and short-sighted decisions on part of marketers who’re already under pressure to meet the ever-increasing expectations of various stakeholders. And then questions are raised about the good ol’ RoI, fingers are pointed, and all of this happens because the ‘digital efforts’ weren’t tied to appropriate measurable goals, and were more tactical than strategic, etc.
The Solution called Digital
It’s critical to understand that digital is not some alien concept; it’s just the way the world has become, and hence the entire business. The moment marketers come to embrace that fact, the going gets easy.
It’s also easy to forget that ancient (and original) approach to marketing, which says that the entire objective of marketing is to provide solutions for customer’s needs, and that’s really where all of it should begin. To understand those needs, you have to first understand your customer very thoroughly. Digital is just another way to engage with your customer in that process of understanding his/her needs and serving those better.
Taking the First Steps towards Digital
The only way to succeed in digital is to tie it to strategic goals, and not being simply tactical. Thus, to begin with there must be a commitment from the senior management to drive digital in the entire organization and to get appropriate engagement from everyone internally. Now let’s cut to the chase and assume that you have the right product that meets the unmet needs of the customers and that you’ve framed your entire marketing strategy by integrating the insights from consumer behavior (life-cycle stage/ buyer readiness stage/ etc.), and the general business environment. Then from that overall marketing strategy you distill out appropriate strategic imperatives for a specific planning period, which then guide your digital marketing strategy.
The finer aspects of it involve the selection (over time) of the most suitable digital channels for achieving your marketing objectives, identifying precisely what to measure and putting a robust analytics framework in place (you’d be surprised by the level of detail digital can measure at), and then the actual execution. Understand that it’s an iterative process, and if the strategy is effective you follow a cycle of ‘rinse and repeat’ optimizing your efforts with each iteration, or discontinuing if it doesn’t work out and taking lessons from why it didn’t and moving on to the next plan of action.
Finally, understand that change from traditional ways of working isn’t easy, and hence it would take some time and coaching for people to get that agility, which the digital way of doing business requires.
What has your experience been with digital and how did you integrate it in your strategy, do share with us in comments.
© Jayant Rana, 2013
Image courtesy of KROMKRATHOG / dream designs / Kittisak / FreeDigitalPhotos.net