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Marketing; The New Digital Marketing

‘Stay with me baby’ – from the Walker Brothers to Leanne Jarvis (1966+)

Staying contemporary and relevant is essential for successful marketing. Especially in the ever-changing digital world. However the basics of marketing, consumer and brand remain constant. So does the marketing director’s main function – to stimulate demand through great products and communication.

However, by examining these factors individually, a pattern emerges which helps improve marketing effectiveness.

‘Digital marketing’ is no longer separate from ‘marketing’

Firstly, the almost obvious point is that ‘digital marketing’ is no longer separate from ‘marketing’. The popularity of the smart phone (now in 78% penetration in the UK) (1) and the ongoing march of the tablets (now with 58% UK penetration) combined with the ubiquitous Internet and ever faster access speeds mean that ‘mobile marketing’ is all around us. Appreciating that mobile is digital, then the term ‘digital’ is no longer as isolationist as the term implies. Everything we do is created, managed, recorded and also reported digitally. So now the starting point is to think digitally, from the outset. Particularly in planning and selecting media, and using the right platforms.

Web-based platforms are becoming more advanced

The demand to monetise, for Google, Facebook, Twitter et al, means growing advertising revenue. Further, this means making themselves more relevant to brands – to deliver relevant communication to consumers that brands wish to target. Google’s algorithmic heart beats faster as the metaphoric Hummingbird’s wings beat faster and faster to seek out the nectar in search behaviour. And thus sell it to us. That ‘nectar’ is message relevance to the search. As a result, this means that the irrelevant, from a search marketing perspective, activity of link building, creating pages of lists i.e. keywords, for the sake of a high Google search ranking is now redundant. In turn this also means that ‘content for contents sake’ is dead too. Distinctive, credible and relevant messages are taking its place. So the growing range of social media from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, require understanding. So understand customers, and their behaviour, before mining.

The marketing director must champion creativity

Recognising that these new offers are simply new media channels means that marketing thinking is more important than ever. To rise above the operational hum-drum and relegation of content to a handful of keywords. Content has to become creative. In that simple sentence is a dilemma for the marketing director as the agencies providing ‘search’ marketing be it ‘pay-per-click ‘, ‘search engine optimisation’ and now ‘social media’ are all ill-equipped to be ‘creative’. The challenge for the marketing director is to embrace all these media and thus design and ‘brand’ platforms and pages to cut-through and appeal.

Also manage digital specialists

Specialist digital marketing agencies offer technical platform expertise but not necessarily strategic and message proficiency. However, they are in danger of being left behind, limited in their appreciation of how what they do fits in and inter-relates to marketing world. In particular, this is compounded by zero appreciation of the brand and the differentiation required. Consequently, the marketing director must recognise the shifts in media platforms and where agency technical limitations lie.  The marketing director must therefore fill the gap, champion creativity and lead the brand in all that (s)he does.

Plan your marketing not just digital marketing

It is not only in the message and media platform that the digital world has changed. Let us think about media planning. At the Marketing Society conference 2013, Chairman of WPP Group, Martin Sorrell gave the best rational for his giant agency group yet… ‘We remain committed to being ‘media neutral’ (2). The aim of media neutrality is to select the most cost-effective media to deliver the relevant message to the specific audience at the right time. While this is a vital function of marketing, it is also more relevant than ever.

Tim Arnold and Guy Tomlinson, authors of The Marketing Director’s Handbook. Chapter 31 Managing Digital Marketing is available in digital form.

In selling their media platforms to advertisers, agencies and media alike are not unnaturally using data, big data. However, big data only make it doable as long as it is the right data. So now with a customer relationship management platform like Marketo (3), the right data can be captured and marketing communications integrated.

Put customers first

The customer continues to drives all we do in marketing. The fact that media is in customers’ hands, not the hands of media owners, also means more complex cause and effect relationships. So marketers must understand these morays and react accordingly. From apps for specific brand and product messages: activities to interact and engage social communities: the blending of blog, forum, network, web site. All amplified by text and tweet. All thus puts renewed emphasis on planning. As a result, media planning should take place in the context of all marketing, not in isolation. In order to build a media matrix that meets the needs of your brands, and only your brands, disavowing the numbers of each individual medium.

The challenge for the marketing director is therefore to understand all customer groups. Also the customer’s journey to discover and build strong brand relationships. This means being aware of how they discover, and use brands, and in particular, their thoughts and feelings at each stage. This is not a phrase we in marketing should ever forget!  Through ALL channels. Phones, iPads and screens. From adaptive responsive web sites, viral this or that, to commercials that recognise fast forwarding, to multi-tasking using a phone or tablet whilst watching TV, to …. you name it. As a result you can choose the most cost-effective combination of messages and media. And thus better persuade and boost sales and profitability.

Marketing Inspiration

  1. Digital marketing is moving back to the marketing function. While the role of the marketing director is always to direct marketing, there has never been a more important time to be a strategic marketer.
  2. Examine the role of your agencies; also the way your organisation develops both brand and creative consumer messages and exploits new opportunities.
  3. Embrace change, there’s more to come …  search fragmentation, specific search media, more miniaturisation, wearable technology, radio frequency identification (RFID) (products with embedded data), and also multi-platform management.

Managing Digital Marketing is now available in paperback form.


(1). A decade of digital dependency, OFCOM August 2018

(2). Martin Sorrell, Speech to the Marketing Society 2013

(3). Marketo marketing automation software

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