Renzo Rizzo
Renzo Rizzo 20 July 2016
Categories Advertising, Content

Digital Marketing Does not Exist

Marketing is Marketing, never mind whether you communicate personally, through television advertising or the web. Marketing should focus on gaining insight on what customers might need, and then highlight and satisfy the need in a way that creates value for customers and the company, in the context of a positive and - hopefully - lasting relationship.

 Digital tools are means to an end, the end remains the same. However, digital technologies are really changing the nature of this relationship and have made Marketing somewhat scary for those who are accustomed to the modes of communication used by traditional marketing (small case deliberate) epitomized by television advertising: talking down, one way and interruptive. Because Marketing with digital technologies is scary, it gets isolated into the separate definition of "digital marketing" and often even assigned separately from the other Marketing responsibilities. But why is it scary and why it should not be so? 

Scary fact 1, we are (partly) out of control:

With digital media, when the company talks, customers can talk back and make their reply visible by other customers. Besides, customers can create content of their own related to the company and its products (e.g., reviews), which will be regarded by other customers as similarly relevant, and will become part of an overall conversation about the company, a conversation that is not completely owned by the company itself. The scary feeling is that of being out of control. 

Scary fact 2, attention must be won:

Customers can refuse the message of the company, and will do so especially when the message interrupts what they are doing. Television advertising continues to be interruptive even in the era of streamed content and pay TV. The urge to interrupt customers is so strong among many advertisers that they figured a way to interrupt even on the web, with pre-roll films or banners. Even if the present generation of customers still seems to tolerate this bad habit, the emerging digital generations will not. The scary feeling is that attention must be won, it can not be forced anymore.

Scary fact 3, the initiative is with the customer:

Customers seach for the company messages, content and products in their own time. And they are not satisfied with the superficial and selling oriented content that is typical of traditional advertising and old web sites, they look for deep content, informative about the product they are considering, and also interesting for the general context and situation in which the product will be used. The scary feeling is that one needs to create and share a lot of information, that creating it takes a lot of time, and that it may be wasted if the customer eventually does not buy or worse uses that information to decide to buy another product. 

Certainly, thriving in this new digital world of Marketing takes more effort than the one way communications of the past. But a company does not need to be scared about these three aspects if it is: 

  1. Transparent - believes in its products and their qualities and usefulness, and is not afraid of talking with customers even about the issues a product might have. If a company is sincere, it is ready to face every conversation as a way to learn and to serve customers even better in the future, and accepts that the conversation is not one-way or top-down, but on the same level as the customer and in both directions.   
  2.  Engaging - never mind that the conversation is two-way, a key need for every marketer is to be a good storyteller, passionate about the products she presents, knowledgeable about what counts for her audience and engaging in the way the story is told. If the story is compelling, consumers will look for it and engage with the brand themselves, witness how much the really good "traditional" advertising films are still watched on YouTube long after they were aired.
  3. Relevant - customers now search for a company and go to its web platform when they have a need for the specific products or services. This inbound movement is potentially more effective than the traditional outbound one, because customers find the knowledge they need in the very situation when they need the products. Obviously, the information they find, especially in the company's web platform, must be deep and informative and competent, in order to create the trust that eventually will lead to a conversion.

So, really, Digital Marketing is just Marketing (capital case) and digital technologies are means to better fulfil the final aim of Marketing, i.e., gaining insight on what customers might need and then highlight and satisfy those needs, creating value for both customers and the company. It is hard work, but there is no need to be scared. 

Marketing Blu is a team of marketing advisors who help clients recognize, develop and implement growth opportunities through effective business and marketing plans.

Rebecca Nixon
Rebecca Nixon

I see digital marketing far too often siloed as a specialism, which can often lead to less-than-cohesive messaging across different channels. Furthermore, I am a huge advocate of using ALL channels to ultimately drive digital engagement. Why? When the customer goes digital, we can see their behaviour, we can react accordingly, we can track ROI in greater detail, and we gain the opportunity to remarket to those customers. I know it doesn't apply to all industries, but in most cases a campaign works best when non-digital channels are at the top of the funnel and digital channels are at the bottom, where granular analysis and a multitude of powerful digital tools are available. We spend more time on our phones and our computers than we do in front of any traditional channels - and when I see an ATL ad that I'm interested in, what's the first thing I do? Pull out my phone and get online.

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