Digital marketing can't be seen with traditional lens

by Shweta Verma    Sep 30, 2013

Udayan Bose NetElixir

Digital marketing is gradually becoming an integral part of every marketer’s life. As organizations gain a better understanding of how it works, the adoption is bound to increase, believes Udayan Bose, Founder & CEO, NetElixir.

Despite the increasing popularity of online media, digital marketing has still not been adopted in a big way. Why?

The biggest roadblock, in most cases, is the lack of understanding of digital marketing. Traditional marketers approach digital marketing wearing the traditional marketing lens. This, in itself, is wrong. Digital marketing is about driving digital engagement, analyzing the interactions, making data driven, measurable tests, aggregating insights and applying them to fine tune the efforts. Most marketers don’t still get it. Another challenge has been unrealistic expectations regarding the impact/results businesses can derive. Companies are comfortable, understandably so, with ROI as the key measure. They struggle to get a good ROI on various digital marketing channels like social media primarily because that’s not the right metric. However, we firmly believe, digital marketing is a force that is impossible to either ignore or escape. As the marketers gain deeper understanding and appreciation of the digital marketing process and channels, adoption will sharply increase.

What makes it different from the traditional approach to marketing?

Digital marketing is different from traditional marketing. To name three such points:

Measurability – The ability to measure digital interactions and track sales revenue to marketing dollars in a precise mannerHigher attribution accuracy – By establishing digital touch points, marketers can more efficiently allocate dollars between different digital marketing channelsControl – A search marketing campaign can go live in 15 minutes and can be paused instantaneously… a  huge departure from traditional channels like TV and Print. This also gives marketers a phenomenal ability to conduct rapid digital marketing tests, learn and apply insights.

 Looking at the readiness of the Indian market, what should be the approach of digital marketers here?

A focused approach towards digital marketing may be prescribed at this time. However, the speed at which digital media has caught on in Tier two cities, is indicative of quick adoption curve. Most digital marketing channels like Facebook allow targeted advertising and messaging. This combined with the ability to conduct rapid (and often real time) message testing can be a great way for marketers to penetrate target customer segments.

Briefly explain NetElixir’s approach to digital marketing. How do you assess ROIs?

NetElixir is a search marketing management and web analytics consulting firm. We have a built a technology platform that enables marketers run campaigns across various digital marketing channels from a single unified dashboard. We have built our proprietary tracking system that facilitates real time tracking of customer journey across channels. Through real time API from channels, we are able to derive the data related to channel touch points like clicks, impressions, cost, etc. The technology then uses this data to calculate real time ROI numbers.

What are some of the major challenges that digital marketers face today?

I will highlight two of the challenges. First, keeping pace with the fastest changing industry in the world. Digital marketing is arguably the fastest changing industry in the world, today. Every day a new channel comes up, 99.9% of them fail but the 0.1% that succeed can take your marketing results to a different level. Marketers need to not only keep a tab on various channels but also run continuous tests across the more promising ones. Identifying the “winning channels” is difficult but a key success factor.

The other challenge is the lack of digital marketing talent.This is becoming a bigger issue every day. Consider this, less than 1% of employable workforce has had any exposure to digital marketing and out of that less than 0.001% have moderate or high working expertise and knowledge of digital marketing. These estimates pertain to a sophisticated digital media market like United States. Identifying, training, testing and retaining these experienced digital marketers is not easy.

What is your view on the use of social media channels for marketing?

Social Media channels have become increasingly important for digital marketers. For the initial few years, marketers tried to apply the same direct marketing success metrics to social media channels and needless to state were disappointed when they were not successful. However, as marketers start understanding and appreciating the impact and influence of social media as an engagement enhancer, and use appropriate metrics – social media has become a whole new world of endless opportunities. Social media marketing should be considered an integral part of the digital marketing mix.

NetElixir has been working with retailers in the digital marketing space in North America and Europe since 2005. Do tell us about the experience and share some interesting examples.

We have had quite a few interesting experiences. One that comes to mind immediately - On June 19, 2007 the Google adwords account of one of our clients – a large apparel retailer – got hacked into. The attack happened at around 3am PST (pacific time) – in 10 minutes their ad had got over 64,000 clicks (hits)!! Thankfully, our account team works 24×7. We were able to track this (within 10 minutes) – make necessary changes in the account – coordinated with Google team in Mountain View to apprise them of this un-precedented hacker attack- tracked down the company that was responsible for this – got a full refund for fraudulent clicks from Google – set up a brand new account since the existing account was in investigation mode. And by the time our client reached office at 8am PST, everything was in order. I highlight this because of two reasons – a) digital marketing can be “risky” if not managed well and real-time.  b) having a pro-active partner who is well supported by the channel teams is imperative (not every partner can wake up a channel team at 3 in the morning and get things fixed)  c) without the right technology to alert us about any deviation at the granular level – real time – quick account team action would have been impossible.