What is Digital Marketing?

What is different about Digital Marketing?

To understand what digital marketing is all about we need to think about

  1. What is marketing
  2. What does digital add to the mix
  3. In what ways has the game changed.

What is Marketing?

Business is basically  the exchange of values between a willing buyer and a willing seller.

Marketing is anything that helps that process. It includes co-creation of products, promotion of products we already have, creating markets and supplying finance. It can be simply organising that the goods are in the right place at the right time with the right price for a customer who’s ready and able to get value from what’s on offer.

Marketing Theory

The theory of marketing consists of a set of principles and models to help prospective sellers get their goods accepted more easily. We could list them like this.

  • The concepts of value and exchange and what motivates people to buy
  • The external environment – research using PESTLE and SWOT to create a strategy.
  • The Segmentation, Target Market and Positioning process in creating strategy
  • 4 Ps and 7 Ps – Product, Price, Promotion and Place  Plus  Proof  Physical Processes and People
  • Conceptual tools like the Boston Matrix, the Ansoff matrix and the product adoption curve and porter’s five forces.
  • The idea that you develop a Strategy to get your products in front of the customer more advantageously than the competition.
  • The idea that this strategy drives a Marketing and communications mix – a tactical marketing plan if you will.

This sits alongside some models of why people buy. These are mostly semi rational despite our every day experience and the emergence of a better understanding of neuromarketing.  So much of brand attractiveness – particularly on line – happens subliminally and although some of it can be interpreted rationally – e.g typos and missing links being construed as evidence of unreliability – much more of it is impressionistic.

What does digital marketing add to the mix

What is unique about digital marketing is that we can watch and measure the actual behaviour of the customer as it unfolds. And this is why the emergence of data science is so important

Managing it in practice means getting the right balance between on line and off line activity for your particular business. It will include

  • Creating powerful narratives and telling them often enough in the right places to the right people to generate the results you need.
  • Building the brand, generating leads and supporting customer retention
  • Recognising the role that Brand value plays in  delivering organic search and additional value
  • Recognising that Service, Business to Business and Small company marketing are different from FMCG marketing and benefit from the interactive and testing methodologies intrinsic to digital marketing
  • Creating frictionless  and immediate purchase and delivery channels
  • Finding ways to add value, context and additional brand building via real time interactions analysed via using data science techniques on big data
  • Above all it means measuring what happens when you make a change and what can be done to improve performance.

What has digital done to marketing?

Today’s digital toolkit has added these tools to the traditional marketing mix

  • Inbound marketing
  • CRM
  • Pay per click
  • Email marketing
  • Social Media
  • Mobile

These developments have allowed easy data mining of real time information and the provision of increased service wraps to purchases of goods and services.  One of the things that this has brought in its train is a fragmentation of the customer journey as they go back and forth between on line and off line modalities.

Other side effects have been the effective collapse of transaction costs  (they are now less than 1/10 of the cost in the pre web era) , the freedom of information about offers and the collapse of the cost of copying and sharing information.

Digital Game-changers

It’s interesting to consider what precisely were the tools that changed the game. These were, in approximate order of appearance the following.

  • Email
  • Web sites and – ecommerce engines via secure socket layer
  • Broadband – always on – VPNs
  • Messaging and VOIP – Skype etc
  • Targeted PPC advertising – google, overture, facebook
  • Social media and Web 2.0 – Conversation, aggregation and collaboration
  • Mobile and geo-targeting
  • Big Data and retargeting

After being to transact at all online via email and websites and to drive traffic to sites via pay per click, the major game changers from a data science perspective were

  • Broadband – always on and we know what you’re doing
  • Mobile – we know where you are
  • Web 2.0 and social media – we know what you like and what you’re saying
  • The ability to aggregate and segment people by their preferences and target them selectively – the foundation of the Brexit and Trump campaigns.

What digital delivers

Effectively, then, digital has facilitated personalisation in communication, messaging, products and markets. That and the facts that

  • It’s always on
  • It knows where we are
  • It knows our digital history

So how do digital technologies support marketing?

  • Identifying – the Internet can be used for marketing research to find out customers’ needs and wants – this can either be done manually or automated via data science techniques
  • Anticipating – the Internet provides another channel for customers to access information and make purchases. Evaluating this demand is key to governing resource allocation to e-marketing.
  • Satisfying – a key success factor in e-marketing is achieving customer satisfaction through the electronic channel. Is the site easy to use, does it perform well, how good is customer service and physical products dispatch?

So to summarise Companies need to

  • Understand customers’ expectations
  • Make clear service promises
  • Deliver on those promises

And to make use of the tools of the web and data science to do so.

Find out more

A fuller version of this paper is available on request here.

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