Are we failing to create digital impact?

Creating a balance between sales optimisation and marketing

When did you last run a campaign that sought to engage a market, to really engage and inspire potential customers rather than focusing on selling to those already in buying mode?

We were discussing this several months ago and talked to Imran Farooq, another Smart Insights contributor who also trains marketers. We were saying it seems that many digital marketers today, and marketers more generally, don’t seem to run campaigns so much outside of what is really day-to-day optimisation and sales promotion, so prompting the questions why is that? And, are we right?

When we think of campaign planning at Smart Insights, we consider campaigns to be platforms that sit on top of day-to-day marketing where the focus is sales and optimising marketing around generating sales today. The day-to-day activities are what we (and many others) call business as usual (BAU), where we’re looking to generate enquirers and potential buyers and then convert them to sale, naturally. So what’s the problem?

My issue with the BAU/optimisation approach is this – most of your site users are not looking to buy today, they don’t care about you, they care about them. And they care about their problem, question or idea. I’d suggest mobile is only going to drive that trend further. Are you really marketing with that conversation in mind?

The analytics guru Avinash Kaushik highlighted this challenge well.

So what do you think? Do you, or if you’re a consultant or agency your clients, get the balance right – please select one option from the poll or add to the comments. Thanks!


Tactical campaigns are just one side of the marketing coin

This natural tactical and promotional obsession, that’s inherent in digital marketing is only one side of the coin. The much-needed techniques for BAU, such as link building, email optimisation or improving click-through on a web page most often have a siloed perspective. Even social marketing is most often tactic and technique orientated – “I have to get a Facebook page to get Likes“. Delving into the detail for optimisation is great and essential – we love it, but it’s sales promotion, and yet we’d suggest that maybe just 10% of your opportunity is in buying mode today, you’re missing the connection with the 90% who you need to inspire enough today in order to earn permission to sell to, tomorrow.

My recent post on marketing with the human touch covered this too.

Think about the advice in digital marketing that we read, I’d suggest 90% or more of it centres on sales channel optimisation and channel integration and even the strategic advice remains channel or tool orientated. No wonder then that digital marketing remains the domain of tactical specialists (for now!), this despite it tactically underpinning modern marketing.

I suggest that the digital optimisation mindset is great for those that are ready to buy today and it’s mostly sales promotion – engaging and inspiring the large audience looking to solve their own problems is actually marketing?

Channel based marketing and BAU

From a digital marketers’ perspective this is where we naturally start. It’s critical and cannot be left neglected and unmanaged as it was in the early days of Internet marketing, it needs its own budget line and focus. We’re talking measurement, monitoring tactics and improvement. It’s a huge space of involving techniques to improve a number of areas with sales promotion firmly in mind:

• Natural search and link building

• Advertising including paid search

• Social interactions (reactions more specifically)

• Site performance and optimisation

• Email and lead conversion

It’s not that this is any less needed, I’m suggesting it’s simply half the job.

Prior to digital marketing pretty much all marketing was campaign orientated in waves, made up of ‘above the line’ and then the more tactical ‘below the line’ for direct marketing and promotions. It seems to me that digital created the potential for a day-to-day sales promotion process, one that is fuelled by the focus on analytics? So, have we lost something because of this?

Integrated campaigns that inspire

These are traditionally the domain of brand managers, PR’s and marcomms people. Campaigns are the way to impact a market to create change, they’re typically tied to business strategies such as launching a brand into new markets, generating interest around new products (permission to sell!) and even overcoming a threat for a new market entrant. Either way there’s a focus on someone, somewhere for a specific reason.

Adapting or updating tactics, such as extending PPC campaigns and updating the creative about a new launch, simply cannot cut-it.

Consider great campaigns that do it well…

  • Old Spice – above the line led with a very small initial push on TV that moved into a very tactical social campaign spanning Facebook and YouTube specifically. The genius beyond that targeted creative is the brand engagement that ran for weeks and months afterwards, that good it cleaned up at Cannes (isn’t that traditionall awards for above the line creative – how times change?).
  • Lynx – time and again Lynx know how to inspire their audience outside of the point of purchase, most recently with Fallen Angels, a heavy TV and press campaign that also included experiential marketing in Waterloo train station and a sophisticated Facebook app where the user could become the chosen one for Kelly Brooke, naturally. Loads of Facebook interaction = lots of sharing.
  • O2′s guru campaign launched recently off the back of TV and press over a 10 day period, it’s plan is to connect tech experts with everyday people to share tips and ideas on using the new fangled technology (smart phones, really), the guru’s will be able to at the end of an SMS from O2 with a tip, as well as taking questions via Twitter. It’s not so well done as I see it, but the ideas there to integrate at least.
  • Dell, I get fed up of repeating this as a case study, that says it all maybe, but they promote like demons on the one hand, ruthlessly and classically sales promotion, yet they also reinvigorated their brand through social media marketing for customer retention using social media tools and more recently taking it to a whole new level with their command centre.
  • It’s not all big-brand TV either, before you say it! Some B2B marketers do an amazing job, software company Eloqua who mix BAU and digital optimisation around their software product with much wider content orientated campaigns that create the inbound effect, using creating info graphics and high quality e-books, their latest (the playbook) drawing industry big-wigs and enabling (as I see it) Elqoua to ‘stand on the shoulder of giants’. Clever

The opportunity for digital marketers and companies

Of course, it’s integration – to be able to execute year-round bread-and-butter BAU digital optimisation with sales today in mind, and then also change that perspective altogether and consider the needs of a prospective customer, with their the goals and their purpose in mind – a big difference that I cannot stress enough! A focus on people, over tools and tactics.

How do explain this to sales people and your boss? From a pure sales perspective your extending the sales funnel upwards with an inspire and nurture mindset, generating what are cooler ‘leads’ that we may call fans, for sake of argument. The relationship with those fans is the marketing opportunity, the engagement with them earns the permission to sell later.

You can inter-weave both of these elements together in a communications process, it can be kept really simple, after all campaigns don’t have to be world-beaters every-time, you’re just focussing on someone, for a reason. I’ll post on this next time. Until then – what do you think, do you agree or have I got it totally wrong?

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  • http://www.cxfocus.com Tim Leighton-Boyce

    Thank you, I think you’re raising some very interesting thoughts in this post and your previous one.

    I’d certainly agree that most of the activity I’m involved in analysing has the focus on the final “buying” part of the process and the immediate returns which come from it. We’re conscious of the other, earlier, part of the overall process of someone becoming aware of a need, becoming more aware of it to the point where they might start doing some generic searches and so on — but it’s much harder to get to grips with that aspect on line. Much of that process is still the domain of the (siloed!) traditional channels.

    This is not desirable. We know it’s not right. But it practicalities and budgets reinforce the status quo and so progress is very slow.

    On a related point: this area of discussion tends to place much emphasis on the promotional aspect of marketing — the pushing of messages out to potential customers. Again and again on-line marketers seem prone to ignoring the huge bi-directional advantage of on-line channels.

    If we put as much emphasis on listening to our potential customers as we do on trying to make them listen to us, we would hear more about the needs which they have and which we are not fulfilling. On-line is a great source of market intelligence and new product ideas. Find out what people need. Make it. And then make sure they know you have it.

    We spend too much time focussed on just the last part of the last part of that process.

    • http://www.smartinsights.com/about-dave-chaffey/ Dave Chaffey

      Hi Daniel and Tim,

      Thanks for your comments, Danyl is away this week, so I thought I would thank you and add a word or too, although I can’t add too much to what you’ve said!

      I worked with Dan on this post and think you’ve got what we wanted to say. What we were saying within digital marketing we often spend a lot of time trying to make things efficient and using the power of analytics to help us do this. A classic example is landing page optimisation and also checkout optimisation. A lot is written about these and sure you can make big improvements. But changing the layout, tweaking messaging or call-to-action on these pages can only make so much difference.

      We’re saying that digital marketers should be involved in helping make the overall process more effective. As you both suggest this is about understanding customer needs, creating demand, refining the proposition, i.e. optimising the top part of the funnel, not just the last part.

      Dan, the REAN/RACE frameworks are a nice way of looking at this. Definitely more Reach required, but it’s really not the process so much but what the brand can offer which goes across all activities.

  • http://www.smartinsights.com Danyl

    Thanks for those comments, Tim. Not easy to solve is it, especially since processes around digital marketing are already engrained. It’s complicated by a move towards, as you say, having to be a next generation business anyway where customer insight informs production and marketing.

    Interesting times!

  • http://www.barker.dj dan barker

    hi, Danyl, how are you? I enjoyed reading the post.

    I read 2 different themes:

    1) ‘Branding vs Direct Sales’
    2) ‘Siloing Channels’

    I think a nice way of abstracting both is the ‘REAN’ model (or your ‘RACE’ model)? If you look at it that way, I think what you’re saying is that among your clients you see too much ‘Activity & Nurture’ & not enough ‘Reach & Engagement’?

    dan

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