Digital marketers should identify new opportunities

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When Boeing globally sourced components for the Dreamliner a decade ago, it was news. Today, it is a necessity. Technology has shrunk the world. Business models are evolving faster than ever. As a marketer in the digital world, it is not enough to keep a tap on technology trends alone, but also identify new opportunities to generate value to the customer. As a digital marketer today, you might want to think about inbound marketing, the infinite network and precision marketing to stay relevant in your market.

Inbound Marketing:

In my teens, I discovered brands through television commercials and print advertisements. “Onida” was a big brand for me because of their “Neighbors’ Envy. Owners Pride” commercials.With the right positioning of their product, this outbound campaign significantly increased Onida’smarket share.

Today, brand discovery happens more through word-of-mouth than anything else. I hadn’t seen a single advertisement of Facebook before joining the network. And now, I’m on Pinterest, follow AvinashKaushik’s blog and read the NewYork Times. I was never “pushed” to these. I was “drawn in” to these websites and blogs. What’s different? “Inbound marketing”.

Instead of pushing a campaign to the user, marketers behind these names ensured that their brands are discoverable and empower the consumers to speak for their brands. Facilitating the consumers to speak is just the first step. A digital marketer is successful only when he manages to convince consumers to speak about his brand by leveraging tools such as social media marketing, blogging and search engine optimization.

A successful example here is Dove, whose FaceBook fan page has more than 17 million likes.The recent “Real Beauty Sketches” video went viral with more than 55 million views. Dove fans worldwide engaged with the FaceBook page by commenting and sharing their thoughts on beauty and, occasionally, on Dove products. Clearly, the brand is ahead of the competition not just from great market research, but also by letting consumers speak for themselves.

Digital marketersshould put consumers in control by capturing consumer attention at the “right place” and “right time”. To do that, getting your content right on social media, on blogs and bidding on the right long-tail keywords as part of your search engine optimization activities is crucial.

The infinite network:

The infinite network is a world where people, devices and data are connected to each other meaningfully. In sometime from now, fridges will automatically place orders for groceries. Homes will automatically adjust temperatures, not just based on weather, but also on user preferences and moods. Devices will become more contextual with their functionality, thanks to the infinite network.

What we will witness is an explosion of “things” connected to one another. For a digital marketer, this is a fundamental shift in consumer behavior. As new channels for reaching the consumer open up, digital marketers not only have to keep pace with emerging technologies, but should also be prepared to exploit them.A key challenge in the future is going to be spotting those trends and technologies that will impact business, whether it is adding value to customers or identifying new opportunities. A deeper market research, while still focusing on the fundamentals, is the key to successful marketing.

Precision Marketing:

I vividly remember my dad being the first in my entire family to consider purchasing a two-wheeler. The choice was unanimous: The Bajaj Chetak. There was hardly any other alternative. Cut to today. My wife and I were scouting for a new car. It took us more than two months, a dozen sales executives,test drivesof ten sedans before narrowing down to one of our choice.Aren’t we spoilt for choice?

The fulcrum of power has shifted from the manufacturer to the end consumer. With this shift, brand loyalty takes a beating.Retailers today point out that less than five percent of their consumers are brand loyal. Given this trend in consumer behavior, marketers realize that it is more expensive to attract a new customer than retain an existing one. Thus, pioneered by the airline industry, were born loyalty programs; the beginnings of precision marketing that rewarded loyal customers.

Personalization takes loyalty programs to the next level. You search for Canon’s digital camera and read some reviews. A few minutes later you are onto something else in Youtube, but a display advertisement offers you a 10% discount on digital cameras on FlipKart.This is Precision Marketing - an offer made to the “right consumer” at the “right place” almost at the “right time”.

As the consumer gets increasingly mobile (Gartner reports that for the first time the number of smartphones outsold the number of feature phones in the last quarter), it is natural to expect personalization taking place in real time. The day is not far away when you walk into your favorite retail store on a Saturday evening and the store immediately informs you on your mobile about a 5% discount on your favorite wine. Such offers will also be optimized based on location and stock levels in real time.

To conclude, digital marketers need to build their brands by empowering customers to speak for (and sometimes against) the brand; better understand new avenues of opportunity in an increasingly device-driven world; and personalize their advertising programs to each user. Remember how Target arrived at a conclusion that a teenage customer of theirs was pregnant?