Digital Marketing for CMOs – rocket science or a piece of cake?

digital marketing for cmo - rocket science or a piece of cake

In 2016, I completed a decade long career in the world of digital marketing and advertising. Over the years, I’ve seen the nature of client queries & problem statements changing quite dramatically. From a very simple one liner like “We want to do something in digital” to “How can we generate leads through digital?”, and the most recent one, “How can we do digital transformation of our business?”.

Arguably, brands in India have evolved significantly when it comes to their receptivity towards digital marketing. Still, there is a sense of fear about digital marketing practices in the minds of business owners and CXOs, majorly due to wrong perception and poor knowledge imparted by a series of small time vendors / consultants  & agencies they’ve met in the past.

I won’t say that the fear is completely out of context. Digital medium has indeed grown at a breakneck pace, both in terms of the audience adoption, the excessive use of tech in marketing and the massive data generated by digital devices.

digital-marketing-channels

This ‘never seen before pace of growth’ in the Digital world eventually turned the digital marketing landscape into a complex mesh of related and unrelated choices of tools, techniques, media channels, platforms, ad formats and marketing metrics.

Till now, a lot of brands were operating in a single, well defined template of producing one TVC, one print ad & one radio jingle in their entire marketing calendar. Their world was pretty straight forward (not taking anything away from the mainline agencies), until digital shook the entire landscape with its never ending options and opportunities.

Google-Algorithm-Upate-Timeline

Nothing seems to be at rest in the digital world. The biggest discovery platform – Google, changes its search algorithm almost 3-4 times in a year. If you are a marketer who understands SEO & SEM, you would perhaps know what that really means from a content creation standpoint.

With platforms like Facebook, Twitter & Instagram becoming a way of life, social media marketing suddenly became the most important priority for all marketers (big or small). Apparently, strategy for social media engagement is the most abused thing in our business. Not many brands actually know “why they are doing what they are doing?”.

Mobile further added a complex dimension of location & personalisation (UI & UX) to the digital marketing process. Customer experience on WAP & App is now looked upon as the biggest strategic project.

Programmatic Luma Landscape

Programmatic ad tech also added a tonne of new set of questions in the minds of already confused marketing teams. The number of 3rd party stakeholders involved (DMP, DSP, SSP, Exchange, Networks, Publishers) with their insanely complex terminology and even more complex execution process, programmatic has enough arsenal to scare a NASA scientist.

However, with all its complications, digital is still looked upon as the next big platform for innovation by many brands.

Simplifying Digital Marketing

I think there is a way in which you can simplify digital marketing strategy for your brand. As a CMO, here are some simple go-to steps that’ll get you going instantly in your digital marketing strategy because you would start asking the right questions to your agency:

Discoverability

  • Always check the status of your brands discoverability in the search engines.
  • Ensure your SEO vendor has deployed the SEO best practices.
  • Create as much content about your product/service/brand. This would ensure that you start getting the right audience on your website.

Analytics

  • Use the analytics data from your website to find out more about your audience.
  • Serve more content which is generating more audience visits and active visits on the website.
  • Find out the segments you should target in your future campaign based on organic search results.

Digital Marketing KPI

  • Your marketing KPIs would vary from business to business, and especially based on the type & stage of business you are.
  • Don’t just say that you want to “sell your products”, that is business goal.
  • Your marketing goal should be to reach out to the right targeting audience, ensure they spend as much time as possible with your brand and eventually leave their contact details to know more / transact online / visit your store. All these goals can be measured.
  • Type of digital metrics
    • Vanity Goals – Impressions, clicks, ctr
    • Performance Goals – CPC (cost per click), cost per visit (CPV), cost per active visit (CPAV), cost per acquisition (CPA)
    • Business Metrics – footfalls, final sales or lead conversion

Digital Media Mix

  • Here’s how you can match your primary goals with the relevant digital channel:
    • Branding : Banners, Rich Media & Video in Desktop & Mobile
    • Lead Generation : PPC, SEM, SEO, Native Ads, Email Marketing
    • Driving Footfall : Email, Mobile, Social Ads
    • Sales: PPC, Affiliate Marketing
    • Engagement: Content Marketing

There is no doubt, while the conventional media industry like Television, Print, Radio & Outdoor were living in their fool’s paradise, digital became the new poster boy of all marketers.

However, when it comes to the Indian market, despite their positive intent, most of the brand teams are still trying to adapt in the cutthroat world of digital marketing.

Digital trends for multichannel retail

Multi Channel Retail and eRetail

With the number of e-retail startups entering the landscape, soon retail brands would find it difficult to differentiate the value proposition. Though ecommerce would be driving incremental revenue, for complete business transformation, retail would be focussing on multichannel optimization in the coming years.

According to Neoworks – the ecommerce people:

The focus of retail multichannel improvement will be on people and services, rather than technology and processes. Retailers are asking “how are customers engaging with my brand?” and “how can we design services that will meet the needs of our customers?”. The answers to these questions come through research and data analysis.

Below are some of the Multichannel Retail Trends for 2016 that have dominated various conferences in the last 1 year:

Data storytelling through Business Intelligence

How can we narrate our brand story through data? In short, how can my current data help me take better decisions for my brand? In 2016 we should expect more investment in business intelligence tools and data mining.

Every brand is trying to make some sense of their business data which is piling up at the speed of light. A decision on which data is relevant and which data is just noise is the first step that companies need to take if they want to make sense of all the data that they are capturing.

Need for understanding customer journey during different buying stages

Research evidence has always helped business leaders to make better decisions. In 2016 more retailers will be investing in research to incorporate the voice of the customer in product development and service improvement.

Questions like ‘How should the brand behave in terms of range of products, price, supply chain and services?’ are common areas for voice of the customer analysis.

From a business perspective, the focus on understanding the customers by listening to them and then using the information to market differently, sell differently and support differently as well as redesign processes is becoming a key differentiator for retailers.

Change happens through people, not through technology or processes

Einstein once said:

I fear the day when technology will surpass human interaction, the world will have a generation of idiots.

And he was spot on right. Technology needs to address the pain only till the point it is not pain in itself.

More than technology, for an organization to drive change, they need vision, skills, incentives, resources and an action plan. If one of those elements is missing transformation is not possible.

Successful organisational change is an adaptive process that requires the coordinated efforts of a wide range of people at all levels of an organization that are collectively seeking the same positive outcome.

Integration of the high street with the online e-commerce businesses

Most retailers have a multichannel strategy but only a few are going above and beyond the basic services such as wifi, contactless payment and click and collect.

While Line busting which is a wonderful way to manage your POS (Point of sale) is yet to take off in a big way, clienteling and endless aisle are becoming increasingly visible on the high street around the globe.

Multichannel service design

Service design is an interdisciplinary approach that combines many different tools and disciplines. In 2016 more retailers will be developing humanised services designing customer journeys that are alive and interactive.

Companies that understand the opportunity will support customer needs more effectively. Offering a differentiated and consistent customer experience can strengthen loyalty and generate sustainable value.

Multichannel Reality for Small Business Retail

Traditional stores will certainly exist ten years from now, but they will not look the same as today. Many traditional retailers will disappear as competition remains fierce and input costs continue to rise. Others will fail because of an inability to adapt or to change their business model to a multichannel reality in which boundaries between the online and physical worlds disappear.

The future winners among today’s bricks-and-mortar retailers will be those that take the future seriously and are good at managing change.

Digital Trends for Travel Brands in 2016

travel trends 2015

Digital trends in the last one decade have shown a massive paradigm change in the entire value chain starting from the local travel operator to multi million dollar enterprise company. Travel is arguably the most evolved vertical in the eCommerce space. After all, it doesn’t take much time for a customer to swipe his credit / debit card once he is convinced about a travel offering.

On one side, Social Media rise has positioned itself as the biggest contributor in the net new revenue growth for travel business, newer platforms are taking scale & customer experience to a new level in the online travel space.

Here are some of the key trends that will impact travel industry.

Mobile and some more mobile

  • Within online travel sales, the mobile channel, including sales made through smartphones and tablets, is expected to see the fastest growth over the forecast period. Global mobile travel sales, including both sales made through intermediaries and direct sales, are expected to record a 40% CAGR between 2013 and 2018, reaching US$350 billion.
  • Behind this sharp growth is the rising trend among consumers to use smartphones and tablets not only for searching for travel products but also to book them. Over the forecast period, consumers will become increasingly accustomed to finalising bookings on smaller screens, while travel companies will make bookings and payments through smartphones more convenient, and average sizes of smartphone screens will increase.

Travel in APAC

  • Asia Pacific is expected to drive global online travel retail growth in the 2013-2018 period, recording a 16% CAGR. Thanks to this rapid growth, Asia Pacific is expected to account for 24% of global online travel retail sales by 2018. Over the 2013-2018 period the penetration of the online channel in travel retail sales in the region is expected to increase from 24% to 38%.
  • Japan and China are by far the largest online travel retail markets in Asia Pacific, at US$15 billion and US$14 billion in 2013, respectively. India is the third largest market in the region, at US$7 billion in 2013, and is expected to record a 14% CAGR over the 2013-2018 period.

The rise of MTA’s ( Mobile Travel Agents )

  • The shift from desktop to mobile internet access is having a significant impact on the travel industry, making smartphones and tablets an important booking channel, as well as customer service tool. Always-connected travel consumers expect to receive customer service, and also the opportunity to make additional bookings, not only before the trip but also during the trip.
  • The rising importance of mobile devices means an increased focus for travel companies on the period after the booking and throughout the whole travel experience. This is expected to result in online travel agencies gradually changing their business model to become mobile travel agencies (MTAs).