Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Digital marketing - Change is the only constant

As technology changes and evolves, it enables better interactivity, more personal conversations, better targeting, deeper analytics, and more. While that is happening, newer digital channels and marketing avenues emerge, and so do ways of doing what we did yesterday, even better. Existing platforms are constantly changing their algorithms and rules, as they add features and functionality, and even newer platforms that are engaging people better or focusing on a niche are coming up.

With the proliferation of digital devices and platforms, newer potential customers are now reachable, while existing ones are becoming more fickle, have shorter attention spans, and are becoming more demanding. Push is giving way to pull and marketing is getting more and more real time, continuous and even more interesting.

To succeed, Digital Marketers need to simultaneously know, learn, adapt and evolve - constantly. While email still works, more and more opens are happening from the mobile, websites have to be responsive so that they can be easily viewed from any device, landing pages have to keep in mind the ease of filling forms from a handheld device and conversations are happening more and more on newer mobile messaging platforms .

Analytics now has to track engagement and user flow based on device and OS along with time of day, their social interactions and the increasing number of channels they use. As traditional advertising majors acquire or build digital expertise, companies & brands too are looking for truly integrated use of offline and online in their campaigns. So offline marketers have to grasp digital and vice versa.

Yes, these are challenging and yet exciting times for Marketers. Challenging because they have to constantly learn and adapt to the new while improving on what they already know and exciting because with new developments in technology they can now do their jobs even better and deliver better results.

As all this happens the most common mistake a Digital Marketer can make, is to give more and more attention to the new, while repeating what worked earlier on the old. Also as we get more and more analytics based, we tend to at times forget the basics and the human element in it all. So let us jot down some essentials a Digital marketer should remind himself/herself everyday to ensure success.

First we should constantly remind ourselves the 3 key things that make Digital so unique.
  • It's Interactive
  • It's Measurable
  • It's Constantly evolving

Second - know your consumer or your target audience. Yes this too changes, as newer devices and technology and engagement channels are bringing a whole new audience to the fore that we may have not considered earlier. While free mobile messengers rule the urban audience, SMS and that too in local language (very important from the Indian perspective) is being used more and more by the rural audience. While channels such as Play Store or iTunes or YouTube are used by the young upwardly mobile from tier 1 & 2 cities to access content via WiFi or 3G,computer to mobile via cable or Bluetooth enabled device to device sharing of videos and audio is a rage among people in smaller towns and cities.

Third is to have a definite strategy and to rethink on the same at least every quarter. Use analytics to gauge the effectiveness of your strategy and then fine tune, modify, change, test and start again.

And finally always remember to be human in your interactions. Whether you are using email or SMS or a Video or a text ad or banner or building an affiliate program, don't forget that while technology handles the back end, its humans you are reaching out to. And humans like to interact with humans, buy and sell from humans and share and listen to humans. While automated messages and email responses and SMS replies and voice messages still have their use, it always works better if the customer or target audience knows there is a person at the other end. Automate the process, automate the analytics, automate the back end, but keep your messages and interactions as human as possible. Engage, listen and respond. People will listen to you more, tell you more, engage with you more, buy from you more, give you genuine feedback if you have an automated back end but a human front end.

While we are focusing on the online here, the same holds true for all marketers. And Clients or Companies or Brands. While the basics remain the same, a lot else has changed and is changing constantly. We need constant ideation, knowledge of what's new & re-definition of our target audience and our strategy. We need to constantly upgrade our skills, our teams, our systems and processes and then change again.

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