marketing must embrace real-time, personal and mobile communications

Marketing is core to any company whether it is consumer facing or business to business. However, the practice and theory of marketing has changed dramatically over the past few years, and companies that do not embrace personal, mobile, real-time strategies could be missing out. Arguably only the agile will survive.

The business world recognizes the need to lever marketing techniques which involve social media, are accessible to the user on mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones, and have a more personal feel than traditional ‘broadcast’ style advertising. But many business people feel they are some way from using such techniques effectively.

An Economist Intelligence Unit research report asked Chief Marketing Officers and senior marketing executives around the globe about the future of marketing. It found that there is a shift underway that places marketing at the center of managing the end-to-end customer experience. Today just over a third of marketing professionals say they take this role, but 75 percent think they will have it in three to five years.

new paradigm

The report, The rise of the marketer: Driving engagement, experience and revenue, also highlights the importance of digital engagement – and the current skills gap. It notes that marketers want to recruit people with digital skills, and invest in technologies that will foster engagement through social networks and email. A headline from the report is that just over half of respondents believe the Internet of Things and real-time personalized mobile communications will revolutionize marketing by 2020.

This strong faith in digital might sit awkwardly with the difficulty that many organizations have in determining the return on investment they get from social marketing. Social Media Examiner’s most recent yearly report on the sector points out that only 37 percent say they are able to measure their return on investment (ROI) in social media activities.

Yet the commitment is strong enough for a drive to relocate the marketing function within the organization, both physically and ideologically. Many no longer see it as a cost center and subservient to sales, but instead as part of the mix that’s required to drive business forward.

And there is more than one way of looking at ROI. Charting the specific ROI, for example, of IKEA’s app which lets people insert products into photographs of their home, might be difficult. But factors like longer term satisfaction of customers with their purchases if they’ve been able to virtually see them in situ before purchase, and the draw to this ‘try before you buy’ system when faced with several different stores to choose between could be deal-makers for customers in the short, medium and long term.

There is enough faith in the power of digital and social marketing for that to be a key driver in rising marketing budgets. The recent Econsultancy Marketing Budgets 2015 Report says 79 percent of organizations plan to increase spend on digital marketing technology.

using social for more

Sitting alongside a relocation of marketing within the organization comes a myriad of new ways to engage existing and potential customers without necessarily mentioning products but always with an eye on building brand awareness and loyalty.

Often the strategies used are far removed from traditional marketing, making marketing less obvious, softer, more subtle. Even those campaigns like Coca Cola’s personalized cans and Share a Coke selfie campaign, which feature the product heavily, are not actually about the drink itself. It is a million miles away from the old ‘taste test’ style advertising.

Twitter is not always an easy lever, but it can be very successful. US company Old Navy’s annual $1 Flip Flop Sale traditionally generates a lot of in store activity for the company. Last year Old Navy stepped things up a gear with its ‘tweet for your feet’ campaign. Vending machines gave away flip flips in exchange for tweets bearing the hashtag #FlipFlopHurray. The campaign generated 9,000 hashtagged tweets, 12 million social media impressions and 170 million earned media impressions (i.e. gained through promotion rather than paid advertising).

More traditionally, perhaps, UK DIY chain B&Q has a web site crammed with ‘how to’ support including guides and videos. Marketing director David Hutchinson has said that the marketing team of 80 comprises brand communications, in-store marketing, design studio and PR, reputation, and community help and advice and includes fifteen digital experts.

new strategy for a new age

Successful marketing in a society which embraces social media and real-time, personal mobile technologies is far from straightforward. Great campaigns, which can go viral, are nirvana, and they need careful strategic planning, a new kind of marketing team which understands digital and is fully integrated into managing the customer experience, and the confidence of an organization not to regard marketing as simply a cost center.

Find out more about the digital customer experience