Thursday, 31 May 2012

The Unpardonable Sins of Digital Marketing Strategies

Posted by Cosmos Star Consultant on 00:39 with 11 comments
Savvy marketers worth their metrics are faced with the never ending dilemma of choosing the best toolset that’ll help them achieve their business goals. The onslaught of digital media has only served to thicken the plot. Conventional display banner ads, social media habitats, reputation bombs, it’s like a mine-field out there. As if the complexities of running a business weren’t enough already, marketers have to pick and choose the best approach even as the goal posts are moving constantly.

Mistakes are not that uncommon in a dynamic scenario such as this and some even go on to help uncover invaluable business insights. But there are a few alleys that no self respecting business should ever be visiting. The Unpardonable Sins of Digital Marketing Strategies are a welcome reminder of the dangers out there and how important it is to avoid them.

Tracking correctly:          

One of the biggest virtues of advertising in the digital medium has been the precision with which visitor interactions can be tracked. But most businesses limit themselves out here. They fail to realize that it isn’t enough to get visitors. It is one thing to attract a large number of visitors and another to figure out, who among them is adding to your bottom-line. This is why, it is important to track not just the impressions, but also the conversions in particular. Such an approach helps to sift through and weed out the ineffective elements, thereby strengthening the marketing strategy further.

Targeting Spread:

Marketers that take to the digital wave, often make the mistake of spreading the net out into the distance. While this is good as a standalone practice, one would be surprised to know the potential that may lie, right below their very eyes. There is often latent demand among the captive audience on the local scale and businesses often fail to capitalize on it. Some argue that the very premise of digital marketing is to widen the audience base and it is true to a large extent. However, this does not mean that one should ignore the local demand. Marketing strategies must evolve in ways that allocate resources in areas with the highest demand, irrespective of whether they are close or far.

Hoisting the Flag:

The popularity of organic searches is leading the change in search engine rankings and businesses that deploy their entire arsenal of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) weapons are the one that stand to benefit. And when it comes to stockpiling weapons for the arsenal, ‘Google Places’ ranks at the top of the charts. Any business worth their reputation should hoist their flag on this amazing outpost and claim their dues with respect to what is being said about the business.

Happy Landings:

Designated landing pages have been one of the preferred tools that marketers use to drive up traffic to the site. As has been discussed above, conversions are the key and efforts that simply drive up the visitor numbers is, more often than not, an exercise in futility. Site Usability audits go a long way in helping to map, analyze and offer solutions that should provide ways in which the conversion rates can be improved.

Effective Handlers:

So you’ve put in the efforts, managed to avoid the pitfalls discussed above and are now reaping the benefits in the form of increased interest from potential customers. All this will come to naught if the back-of-the-house personnel decide to fire away according to their own whims and fancies. Standardized operating procedures governing each and every step of the lead handling process go a long way in offering a consistent and stable response to each, individual inquiry, thereby improving the chances of doing business.

Publicity:

Some famous personality once said that there is no such thing as bad publicity. Hate to prick that balloon but word-of-mouth publicity is proving to be a potent tool that can make or break a business in this increasingly connected world. Impeccable customer service is no longer just another buzzword but, it has in-fact, transformed into the critical piece of the profitability equation.

Bouquets and Brickbats:

A customer who is happy with a product or service may or may-not choose to talk about it. However, he/she will tom-tom it to the world if they have to, if indeed, the provider has faltered in the delivery process. This is the harsh reality of the world that marketers face everyday. Reputation and goodwill that take decades to build up can be shattered in a matter of minutes, hours or days. The near-instantaneous sharing capabilities of the online habitat mean that news and especially the bad news will travel like wildfire. This is why, responsible marketers prefer to take charge of the bouquets and brickbats in the digital domain and improve ways in which the good things can be amplified even as the brickbats are handled in an effective manner.

The verdict on the Return on Investment for digital marketing strategies may still be under evaluation but few marketing managers would ignore the importance of putting their best foot forward. Brand success is increasingly becoming a technical challenge, one that needs to be met head-on, albeit in a well prepared manner.

 

Monday, 28 May 2012

Email vs. Social: Making sense of the Digital Media Divide

Posted by Cosmos Star Consultant on 00:26 with No comments
As the race for marketing supremacy went digital, brand managers around the globe took off at a blistering pace, trying to establish the next outpost on the digital domain. Resources were allocated and spent without batting as much as an eye-lid as everyone was caught up in the frenzy of chasing the next shiny thing.

A fear of sorts seemed to have formed a firm grip over them all, a grip that constricted their strategic think-tanks and afflicted them with tunnel syndrome. It appeared to prevent them from focusing on the very basics of brand strategy, the very foundation on which one builds the edifice of a brand that has the unwavering trust of its fans.

The lure of the social media life and it’s so called phalanx of ‘benefits’ has failed to hold ground with at-least one particular brand. Just as things appeared to be reaching a fever pitch, the largest automobile manufacturer in the U.S. – General Motors sprung a surprise on everyone. It announced that it was pulling the plug on ad spends across Facebook. Having been pretty much the advertising platform of choice for brands big and small, this single announcement has shaken everyone up from their reverie and got them to rethink their decisions. As the first serious cracks in the digital bubble make their appearance, brand managers are starting to wonder about the alternatives.

The urge to come up with the next best thing has so enslaved strategists, that the solution (s) they seek might be lying in plain sight, yet somehow have failed to recognize it for its benefits. For long, the humble email had held pride of place in the savvy brand manager’s arsenal. Most brands have been running email campaigns for a long time and have reaped the benefits of having built up a captive and loyal fan base. But as the glitz and glamour of social media took over, email marketing got relegated to the sidelines. Marketers, instead of ploughing more funding into this lucrative option, chose to side with a vehicle whose return on investment figures are still rather hazy.

In-fact, recent surveys are pointing out to a 30% contribution factor for email marketing, to the company bottom-line. A performance this solid and dependable is only but a distant dream for the digital upstart.  Most brands admit that they do not have a dedicated team of resources for email marketing initiatives and manage to allocate a shade less than sixty minutes out of the entire day to such activities. This far, a majority of email marketing initiatives have taken the one-size-fits-all route to click-through-rates.

To get closer to those coveted conversion numbers, marketers are going to have to go personal. Brands need to take into consideration the quality and strength of the relationships that are built through sustained email marketing efforts. All that is required are a few directed efforts at personalizing the message and fine tuning it to suit the interests of pre-selected groups, in a way that each one is delivered an individually customized experience. Thus, market segmentation tactics that take into account the multiple needs of a diverse range of customers hold the key to achieving those desired results.

With Social Media still at the early stages of development, brands would do well to shake off the lure of ‘likes’ and ‘follows’, and focus more on strengthening a foundation that has existed for years.

More reason why, the time seems ripe for Email Marketing to begin its next onslaught and show the upstarts what it’s all about.

 

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Top Digital Challenges that Marketers face today

Posted by Cosmos Star Consultant on 04:41 with No comments
Today, more and more marketers are switching to digital and keeping aside a lot more for digital compared to the past decade. This shift is also picking up the pace among industries that were in the past unwilling when it came to adoption. The economic slump of the last few years forced many brand marketers to try digital; once they have been on the other side of the "Great Digital Divide” and sampled the new better and more effective metrics, there's no going back. These smarter newer metrics are based on actual users' actions, rather than audience sizes, and are almost live and up to date making them a better choice over the old school system. Then again, many still have very logical and practical questions for making the transition.

 

Following are some of the challenges that most marketers face today:

1)    Metrics, analytics and ROI of the digital marketing programs: Adoption of digital tactics is the tough part since they are new and so much different from conventional channels. What are the right metrics to use and how do we even start to get at a return on investment (ROI) with these metrics? Testing and benchmarking is another important aspect of digital marketing - e.g., what's a good cost per thousand (CPM) or cost per click (CPC)? What kind of return should I be expecting and what should I do if I'm not getting it?

2)    Merging Digital with traditional is the tough part: A lot of companies today are taking a go at it and trying their best to keep their secrets safe. Experiments cannot last too long and the results need to be visible and should make an impact. In most cases, they haven't. But going forward they are looking for ways to make digital and traditional marketing tactics work better together and drive real business returns.

3)    Allocation of budget to digital: The adoption of any strategy takes time and yielding those results take a lot longer (especially if you are experimenting). Making the transition to digital gets a lot more difficult because of this and this forces many brands to stick to traditional resulting in minimal funds allocated to "digital". The wider the gap between the dollars invested and sales, the harder it gets to take that nail-biting decision to invest. In traditional media, there is precedent that suggests spending this much extra should lead to this much lift in sales.

In digital, few such precedents exist yet. This is why if you are in charge, you need to come up with a strategy that can translate users into sales; visible sales that will give you a chance to show your boss that it works. Moreover, you will also need to make sure that your digital strategy works for a sufficient amount of time and that it can be reused or supplemented when necessary.

4)    Change and adapt or keep losing out: Yes all things digital move and change at a really fast pace; also, most will tell you that so will your budget need to, in order to follow suit. What ‘most’ will not tell you is that digital always moves in one direction, and that’s forward. Changes always happen for the good for improving results which is why change in digital is good and adapting to it from time to time is vital. But again that does not mean that you chase every new tool that comes your way. Pick only what you need and let the rest go by. With digital, changes can be made in real-time and getting the results can again be quick; helping you adapt and mould your strategy as it progresses.

The bottom line is that one should never be afraid because if you won’t adapt to the change around you—others surely will.