Digital marketing. Let’s not forget what we already know. 26 August 2015

Last week, a financial services client asked me what were the key things I would advise them to think about when approaching digital marketing.  We get asked that so often.  My response is that there is no difference in how you communicate digitally to how you communicate non-digitally.  They both have the same rules, but sometimes I think we get so lost in the technology that we forget our basic marketing tenets.

However, the immediacy of digital and its ability to quickly amplify messages means that it does require a certain amount of delicacy and care in how we approach it.

There is so much advice available about how companies can make the most of digital.  So much freely given regarding what language to use, behaviours to exhibit, technologies to use.  And yet, I find that much of it can be distilled down into four fundamental themes: audienceegomessage and promise.

So what did I advise him? 

1.    Know your audience

Getting a deep understanding of your audience should be at the core of any digital marketing strategy.  Understanding their behaviours, the challenges they face (individual, corporate, sector, macro & micro-economic etc.), the customers they are seeking to appeal to and the audiences they, in-turn, want to attract and inform, their values, personalities, and stated purpose in life – understanding all these traits will inform your own strategy and improve its effectiveness.

Listen to the digital conversations your audiences are engaged with.  Observe their online behaviour. Use this knowledge to shape your own approach and evaluate your own marketing activity.  And, remember to keep listening and observing, make a habit of it, and continually evolve what you are doing.

Examine all the intelligence you can obtain, mine your own database for clues, do some research.  The more you can source and review – the richer your own strategy will be.  The more confident you can be that it will work.

2.    Ego. Know thyself.

What truly makes you different from your competitors?  Why should customers buy from you? Why should audiences trust and believe in you?

Identifying what makes you unique and differentiates you from your competition is paramount to your success.  Know your own strengths and weaknesses, and then turn this knowledge into strategy.  Use digital to amplify what makes you standout.

But, make sure what you say about yourself is believable, genuine and means something.  Customers are not fools and can see through any amount of spin you might like to put on your business.  Don’t forget that in the global, digital, marketplace there are many more businesses that would be eager to know your customer – don’t give them a chance.

3.    Keep your message clear and simple

Organisations that do things well often have one thing in common.  They have a consistent approach to their online brand communications, and they keep their messages simple and relevant to the audiences they are appealing to.  Whether your messaging is targeted at your customers, investors, employees, regulatory or legislative bodies, your suppliers or the public at large – make sure it has meaning and relevancy.  Keep your message clear, succinct, and memorable.  Don’t get lost in the digital noise that fills the Internet.

Be relevant to the channel you are using.  What sits on Facebook doesn’t necessarily work on Twitter or LinkedIn.  One size rarely fits all.

Put yourself in the shoes of your audience, are you interested in what you are saying?

Online audiences are continuously being bombarded with brand messages trying to reel them in and get them interested.  How easily it is to turn them off.  Bombard audiences with messaging that isn’t relevant, is long-winded and doesn’t have a strong call-to-action and you leave them cold. 

4.    Be strong, keep your promise.

By it’s nature, the digital ecosystem is transparent.  Want to know what a company (or individual) is up to?  Type their name into Google.  Almost immediately your audience can find out everything they need to make an informed decision about you.

Make sure you live up to the brand promise you are making. Deliver the goods.

Digital is a very unforgiving channel.  Be consistent in how your brand lives online (and offline now we mention it). Customers will scrutinise everything you do and everything you say – and boy will they let you know when they don’t agree with it.  Just look at the number of infractions we read about every day. And don’t forget that the Internet is like a big game of ‘rumours’ – something that at first glance would be considered to be small and relatively insignificant, can soon grow into a major incident.

In these days where behaving in a manner that displays trustworthiness, and will give customers reason to trust you is so vitally important – brands need to make sure they do nothing to destroy trust and irrefutably damage their reputations.

I don’t think I am saying anything remarkable. Any good brand owner and marketer worth their salt will already be doing all I have suggested.  There is nothing really special about digital anymore; it is now so entrenched in our everyday lives that it has become normality.

Of course, it has increased the pace at which we do things, the speed at which we can get our messages out there and the need to be flight of foot, quick to react and respond – and we do need to try and keep one step ahead of the new threats and opportunities it surfaces.  But the old rules still apply, don’t they?

Digital marketing or just marketing.

David King
Group Marketing Director

If you would like to know more about how our team could transform your brand, as we have for many of our clients, please contact David on +44 (0)20 7739 8899.

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