The era of the digital environment and digital convergence has opened up new opportunities for marketing. The age of individualisation, networking, and digitisation, along with the evolution of consumers in the virtual domains is posing new challenges for the marketers. In this digital age, it is imperative to revisit marketing strategies and adapt them significantly to contribute to the marketing value chain. Digital marketing runs on following three principles.
The 3i Principles—Initiate, Iterate, and Integrate—form the foundation for all digital marketing Methodologies and are key to any successful marketing strategy.
Principle 1: Initiate
Our greatest challenge as marketers is shutting up! Digital truly is for dummies, in the sense that every question you may have about the budget, resources, strategy, and channels are answered by the consumer—if only we would listen!
The initiate principle of digital marketing states that the customer is the starting and finishing point for all digital activities. The answer to all questions is “let the customer decide.”
Many people are too quick to jump into managing digital channels. They set up blogs, websites, and social media profiles and start publishing nonspecific content about themselves, their companies, and their products. They fail to realise that digital channels are not broadcast channels in the traditional sense of the term.
In fact, they are interaction channels that facilitate a two-way conversation. By taking the time to find out what your customers are doing online, your digital activities will become radically more efficient.
Your customers are speaking online. Are you listening?
Principle 2: Iterate
Within minutes of publishing an ad, we can see what the click-through rates, response rates, and conversion rates are. More importantly, the content or design of the ad can be changed an endless number of times in response to user actions. This ability to publish, track response, and tweak accordingly is the greatest strength of the Internet and produces the second of our 3i principles—iterate.
This principle emphasises the importance of tweaking a digital marketing campaign in response to user interaction. Each digital marketing channel is most effective when you apply an iterative process, and the more iterations of the campaign you apply, the more effective each becomes.
There are some key implications of this iterative process.
To begin with, the first published idea is not necessarily the best. The mythical advertising mogul who devises a killer campaign is a thing of the past. Why? Because your customers are better at describing what they want than any advertiser is. Remain open to what your customers are doing in their interactions with your campaign and be prepared to change it. Your campaign can, and will, improve over its lifetime.
Next, the length of the iteration depends on the channel. For example, if you send a weekly email newsletter you will review open rates and click-through rates within a day or two of sending your newsletter. You will then apply those insights to your next campaign regarding what did and did not resonate with customers. So your iterative loop for your specific email marketing campaign will typically be a week long.
Principle 3: Integrate
Integration as a principle is crucial to effective digital marketing. It works at three levels:
Integrate your efforts across digital channels. Integration across digital channels is about using information gleaned through one channel to improve the effectiveness of another digital channel. It can be as simple as sharing information learned through search engine optimisation with your email marketing team. Take our crèche versus childcare example: When including New York parents in an email marketing campaign for a crèche, using keywords like childcare will help to improve your open rates. Thus, sharing insights learned through one channel can drastically improve the effectiveness of another.
Integrate your digital and traditional marketing efforts. Integration of digital and traditional marketing involves using information gathered from your digital marketing efforts and integrating it into your traditional marketing strategy. For example, when writing the script for a radio ad, you should use the same keywords that resonate with customers using search engines. Any opportunity to learn from your customers can be shared across all channels to improve the effectiveness of all of your communications and marketing campaigns.
Integrate your reporting sources. Companies who engage with digital marketing obtain an abundance of data about their customers. However, it is important to gather data in a way that allows you to make good business decisions. An integrated view of your customers is a good place to start. Luckily, a lot of the work can be done for you by using a tool such as Google Analytics. For example, this tool can provide you with detailed information on the source of the traffic coming to your website. What percentage of your site do visitors come from email versus paid search advertising? Which visitors convert more quickly? Where should you be increasing your digital budget and where should you be reducing it? Making business decisions based on the true value of your digital marketing is a crucial step in implementing and justifying your digital marketing strategy.
So, let’s take the leap together! Let’s discover what digital channels can do for us, and—more importantly—for our customers.