Building your Digital Strategy for Execution | Perspective

Just continuing from where I left in my previous post

And I want to begin this post by quoting the legendary Sun Tzu:

“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory, tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” 

Whether you are a digital marketing manager or a Digital Strategist working for an agency, this post is to remind you the importance of digital execution.

For now, lets just go back to the most fundamental questions.

Do we really need a digital strategy?

And if we really need one, when do we know that it’ll work?

One of my personal learning after pitching digital to clients globally is that any digital strategy is nothing but a powerless, pointless presentation till the time is executed.

Why Digital Strategies Fail?

Why Digital Strategy Fail

According to a C-level survey conducted by EIU, close to 1/3rd of the C-level executives believe that “lack of project management skills lead to failure in the strategy implementation.

As a marketer or a digital agency, we don’t realise that a strategy is not really a thing till we have a person and a team who could bring it to life.

Merely a bold vision & mission statement for your digital marketing at the beginning of every financial year is not sufficient till we really have a roadmap to work towards.

Perspective to Digital Strategy Execution

Tactics vs Digital Strategy

I quoted Sun Tzu in the beginning for a very specific reason, he mentioned about the importance of tactics in strategy, and often many digital marketing teams mis-interpret campaign tactics as digital strategy.

Honestly, there is a very thin line of difference.

In many problems, execution strategy is the real strategy itself. For example, if an e-commerce client is using Google search & Facebook in their marketing plans, it can’t be called as a “Digital Strategy”, as there is no rocket science there. Whereas, how you choose to use audience targeting & Re-targeting in Search and Social is the real “digital strategy”. ( Also Read: Difference between Targeted & Re-Targeted Ads )

Digital Strategy and Measurability

Any strategy without a measurable goal is like a shuttle without an orbit in an endless space.

In fact, I am one of the firm believers that the strategic process should complete, only after you have identified the most relevant metrics. Metrics lends a purpose and a stress test for your brand’s marketing efforts.

Every piece in your digital strategy can focus on pushing your brand closer to the metric, otherwise you might end up doing a thousand things but still would not find out its relevance or impact to your brand.

Digital Strategy and Technology

Top marketing challenges

According to hubspot research, close to 1/4th of the marketers say that ‘Identifying the right technology’ is a major hurdle.

Remember, nothing in this digital world can be executed without keeping your focus on its technology implications during the strategy process.

Your digital strategy is as good as nothing if you have not thought about every technical nuance related to your idea.

In fact, most of the digital strategies today are “technology first“.

Understanding of technology could well be the deciding differentiator between the usual and staying ahead of the curve.

Digital Execution

Even the best of the digital strategy would fail if the person or the team (agency) is not competent to create its roadmap.

Pritchard’s speech (from P&G) was a wake up call to the entire digital agency fraternity, that things are not going in the right direction. While digital has grown at an exponential pace, but very few agencies have understood on how to integrate the solution for the brand.

When it comes to digital as a medium, below are some of the common challenges faced by all CMOs:

  • How to take the brand philosophy in the digital media without compromising brand safety & relevance?
  • How to measure the impact of digital advertising dollars on the brand?
  • Why do we need so many agencies / vendors to land one single solution?
  • Why there is such a huge talent gap between the strategy and execution teams in digital agencies?

 

Building Perspective – The First Step In Digital Strategy

The Context

Creating future ready digital strategy is on the top priority of every brand today. Here’s what you need to know to create a solid foundation.

Below graphic (source: Global Web Index) is an indication of the times we are in. In a nutshell, 65% of our media time, across audiences (in India) is spent in Online and close to 1/3rd of our digital life is spent on social networks.

Time Spent By Media Channel

 

What has really changed after Digital?

First

Gone are the days when the products were discovered in TV commercials or Newspaper Ads (refer to below graphic), according to GWI report, 50% of the global audience discover any brand on a Search Engine.

Search As Brand Discovery Channel

Second

There is a significant shift within the younger audience (18-24) segment towards social media as the new discovery channel. (see below graphic)

Social Media As Discovery channel

Social networks are now just 6 percentage-points behind search engines as the number one port-of-call for product research.

Third

A Sample Digital Customer Journey Map
A Sample Digital Customer Journey Map

SOLOMO (Social+Local+Mobile) have altered (and continuously altering) the consumer journey for all product categories.

The conventional linear journey of Awareness > Consideration > Preference > Purchase may not be able to capture all the possible decision making touch points as audience is now searching outside the funnel.

Lets take example of Automobile, thanks to the wealth of information available today through digital and traditional channels, consumers are better informed than ever—even before they actively look into buying a car.

According to BCG, 57% to 67%, depending on the country) settle on not only the make but the actual model they want to buy in the prepurchase phase.

What does digital strategy really mean?

According to Wikipedia:

Online Marketing  is an umbrella term for the marketing of products or services using digital technologies, mainly on the Internet, but also including mobile phones, display advertising, and any other digital medium.

In many ways, digital has blurred the lines between online and offline.

Hence, digital strategy is:

identifying insights about your audience, competition and category to deliver a seamless brand experience across all relevant touch points for achieving specific business objectives.

First 3 steps to infuse ‘Digital Thinking’ for your brand or agency?

Remove the line

As marketers & strategists, we can no longer be obsessed about creating television commercials only.

Our customer does not see above the line, below the line or online, lets just “REMOVE THE LINE”. It means remove the silo mentality and focus on delivering a quality experience to our audience.

Data is the new king

There cannot be any “strategic” point of view if it is not backed by data. Giving higher priority to your data in shaping your business & marketing strategy goes a long way in “future proofing” your brand.

Understanding of the metrics

“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.

~ Alice In Wonderland

While data is important, knowing the digital metrics, i.e. what you want the data for is equally important. What is also important is that evaluating digital metrics is a continuous process and not a one time exercise.

4 Things you must know as Digital Strategists

  • What is your expectation from digital? (Sales, Brand Awareness, Reach etc.)
  • What is your overall business goal? (Market share, Overall Revenue etc.)
  • Do you see digital as a separate line of business?
  • Who is your digital audience?

 

Digital Media Strategy – The Past, Present & Future

digital media strategy - past present future

Digital Media Strategy – The Past

Back in mid 2000’s, digital media strategy was just an excel crunching and data munching job. It was nothing more than a cost optimised ms-excel plan. Almost all the plans followed the same construct, lots of rich media innovations, roadblocks & tonnes of banner impressions.

Back then, even the clients had little expectations from the media planners. The term ‘Media Strategy’ was considered to be an oxymoron. Marketing folks were extremely selective while discussing their overall marketing strategy, leave alone the business strategy.

While the term performance marketing was existing, but then very few planners could show how the cross channel funnel works.

All the above points left a lot room for human bias and made the entire planning process highly dependent on the whims and fancy of media planning teams.

But guess what, times have changed.

Digital Media Strategy – The Present

With the rise of search, data analytics, biddable media, RTBs and programmatic buying platforms, complexion of media plans has changed.

Growth of RTB Programmatic in new age Digital Media Strategy
Growth of RTB Programmatic in new age Digital Media Strategy

The growth & adoption of programmatic is enormous in the western markets like the US (see above graph). More than four-fifths of agencies and brands already purchase display ads programmatically. And even greater proportion of publishers are pursuing programmatic channels as part of their sales strategies.

 

CMO queries on digital media strategy

Even the metrics for media planning have seen quite a lot of transformation. Today, most of the CMOs are more than interested in knowing how their digital activities are performing?

Discussions around basic web analytics (page views, bounce rates, etc.) have given way to more complex marketing analytics metrics.

The new marketing metrics include customer life time value (LTV), brand uplift, share of voice, engagement rates, conversion attribution etc.

With the rise of smart devices, cross device strategies became extremely crucial for all CMOs. As a result, marketing teams have understood the need of having a scientific, data driven wireframe for their digital media strategy.

These wireframes have clearly defined goals, metrics and attribution methodologies to create a comprehensive digital media approach.

The conversations in the marketing corridors are changing everyday. Digital agencies & digitalmedia planning teams have to learn to talk in the same language.

Digital Media Strategy – The Future

So what is the new language of digital media planning?

The answer is DATA!

In future, marketing teams would be more than eager to bring their digital media partner into a strategic roadmap discussion. Are media planning agencies ready to to drop their archaic hit and trial planning methods and focus on new age analytical approach?

As a digital media planner, one has to look into different data sources at all stages of strategy planning. These data points would cut across marketing and sales, online and offline, consumer and partners etc. Any sustainable digital media strategy must connect all these dots together.

Digital media planning would no longer be restricted to a few selected channels like display, social and search. On one side, number of channels are increasing and on the other side, the lines are continuously blurring between digital and media strategy.

Is your digital media planner ready for the future?

How to approach Mobile Marketing Strategy as a CMO?

Mobile-marketing-strategy-for-cmo

Let me tell you something, if you are a CMO who is creating the mobile strategy for the first time, then only god can help you.

Guess what, the fault is not yours. Mobile marketing space has become increasingly complex and confusing for even the best of digital professionals and building an integrated mobile marketing approach for the company is no child’s play.

As a CMO, the most important thing to do before building your mobile marketing framework, is to get the right facts on table so as to see the future strategy in the right perspective.

Here’s how a CMO can approach his mobile marketing strategy:

Mobile Marketing Strategy Framework

Curate the right Mobile Trends

Mobile is one of the hottest topics in the digital parlance, and it would continue to remain critical until AI takes over. Every platform owner (like Google & Facebook) or market research agencies (like KPMG & Nielsen) offer their biased point of views w.r.t mobile strategies.

The idea should be to hand pick the most relevant trends that suits your nature of business.

Also see : Mobile Marketing – A quick guide for chief marketing officer and digital agencies

Defining Consumer Journey in Mobile

Consumer Journey in Mobile
Consumer Journey in Mobile

 

The consumer journey of various categories can be different but what matters for a CMO is to ascertain the touch points that needs mobile first makeover and optimisation. Once you define your brand’s consumer journey in the digital space, keeping in mind the mobile trends, you must map your mobile objectives in that journey.

Deciding the platforms

Once the CMO has identified the mobile objectives, choosing the platforms would be an easy deal. But there are times when marketing teams fall in the trap of choosing between what adds value vs what adds vanity? For e.g. B2B business need not create a consume facing app just because apps are the flavour of the day.

Also read: How to choose between Mobile App vs Mobile WAP 

Choosing Marketing Channels

A combination of your chosen platforms and your end marketing objectives would further help in defining your mobile marketing channels. If you have taken the App route, you have to build an acquisition / App download strategy followed by an App usage strategy.

Most of the performance marketing companies or affiliates do not bother about the app usage. App usability is not even there as the last metric.

As a CMO, you must see it at all times that your digital agency and affiliates are not compromising on the user targeting so that the usage data does not go too diagonal.

If the focus is your responsive website, you must create a mobile first marketing plan across all channels including search, display & social.

Creating Mobile Content

Your brand’s content must resonate with your audience mobile usage. If the trends are in favour of social media content, you must create more liquid or shareable content to increase your organic reach and engagements.

Choosing your Mobile SEO keywords is perhaps the most difficult exercise and needs more intricate planning over a period of time. You have to depend a lot on your google analytics organic data for building the roadmap for Mobile SEO.

Short form video content is must-have for social ads as it increases your advertising ROI. ( Read : What type of content should you create? )

 

 

4 Mobile Marketing Strategies that would actually work in 2017

mobile marketing strategy 2016

Year 2015, was perhaps the most important year in the mobile marketing industry, an year when mobile devices officially ended the 2 decade long dominance by desktops.

People around the globe settled down to a new “mobile way of life”.

Mobile is primary digital device for all demography segments
Source: BCG Center

Data from BCG study calling out loud and clear, that mobile devices are the primary digital device of all age and demography segments.

Over 53% of tier 1,2 & 3 use mobile as their primary device.

Google also acknowledged this fact in one of their PR releases pertaining to mobile vs desktop searches. Google’s search chief Amit Singhal said for the first time, more Google searches were completed on mobile devices than desktop computers.

All of this point us (the advertisers and marketers) in one single direction. We can, no longer continue to ignore mobile as a key channel in the marketing mix. However, there are several challenges (especially for the small & medium advertisers) when it comes to using Mobile effectively as a marketing channel.

Here are few mobile marketing tactics which are most logical and almost hygiene to make your digital marketing work in 2016.

#1 Mobile Marketing is most Social than ever before

Mobile vs Social Media in 2016
Source: WARC Asial Survey, 2015

77% of the marketers (also identified as one of the 2016 digital marketing trend in my previous blog post) said that mobile is used most frequently with paid social media marketing.

This data is also in sync with the the below numbers shared by Facebook Audience Insights, which says 122 Mn out of 132 Mn people access Facebook through  Mobile.

Facebook India Audience Data 2015-16
Facebook India Audience Data 2015-16

Clearly, this shows that your social strategy should go through a “Mobile First” prism in 2016. What that means really is when you design your social content or when you create your paid social marketing plan, do skew it more towards mobile audience.

#2 Mobile Marketing is more about native content and less about advertising

Mobile Content vs Mobile Advertising - Trends 2016
Source: WARC-MMA Survey Report, 2015

The current trend might be in favour (almost tilted) of paid social advertising as the key mobile tactic, but this will change soon and the trend is already visible. According to the WARC-MMA survey, mobile display advertising would lose its share by 2020 to Mobile Content (or native advertising).

Also Read : Reasons Why Mobile Native Advertising Beats Desktop Native Advertising 

Apple has already allowed ad blocker apps to run on its safari browser.  Though iPhone’s overall market share is limited, but this would still cause significance dent in the overall mobile display pie.

#3 Give your website a “Mobile First” makeover

Regardless of the type or stage of the brand, having a unique mobile first experience is something which would become a de-facto standard from here-on.

More so after the Mobilegedden update by Google.

In order to take better decision on your mobile first approach, also read “Mobile Web vs Mobile App

Responsive website might be thing of the past for many digital first brands in 2016 as they continue to chase and build deeper consumer experience using Mobile First Strategies.

#4 In-App would grow but Mobile Searches would remain the key performing channel

With the growing popularity of mobile apps, to which a lot of digital pundits would say it offers a superior user experience than conventional websites, start-ups tilted (almost shifted) their product and business models towards the app at the expense of desktop and mobile websites.

To add to this, many investors regarded the number of app downloads as one of the indicators of a start-up’s performance. Entrepreneurs and marketing heads rushed to blindly maximise their app downloads. Since then, tonnes of app marketing companies opened shop in Bangalore and Mumbai.

Soon, however, it was evident that they didn’t necessarily result in high growth.

Now, as apps lose their novelty and vanity both, and as smartphone users uninstall apps to clear up memory (uninstall rates are as high as 90% in some cases), these companies are revisiting their mobile web strategies.

The winner? Google, which retains its dominance of online ad spending.

Hence, digital brands should get a sharp focus on getting their mobile keywords strategy in 2016. Yes, there is a difference of “intent & location relevance” in the audience search list.

Digital Strategy Template – for startups & small business

drawing business concept for startup digital strategy

Prologue

Building a Digital Strategy Template, is on the wish list of almost each and every individual in the digital advertising business, every tech entrepreneur, existing startups or marketing communication teams in corporates.

But can we really create a generic strategy template? Lets find out.

People in the traditional advertising would definitely know about the role of a “strategic planner“. They are the genius brains (inside every advertising agency) who create the “brand story”, who add their midas touch by wearing a strategic hat and making sure that each and every part of the brand messaging goes through a quality prism.

The problem is, there was no such concept of a “Digital Strategy Planner” for a very long time. Fundamentally, planning & strategy in the online space was restricted to “Media Planning”. The ad agencies & the marketing team never really thought about “digital strategy” from an integrated customer outreach standpoint. It was more of a “media oriented approach” where the only objective was to optimize cost per user acquisition.

Unfortunately, social media ended this madness but added some new madness of its own. With Facebook & Twitter taking over the digital world like a storm, conventional media publishing models got massively disrupted. Audience started discovering new content on the social platforms and as a result, a lot of small publishers had to shut down their operations as bulk of the marketing spends started to move into social platforms because client’s objective shifted from just acquisition to engagement.

The Need

As a digital marketing consultant, I’ve heard this from so many aspired entrepreneurs in different startups meets, there is no single approach using which they can prepare their digital strategy to promote their SAAS product or to increase their app downloads or prepare a basic customer acquisition plan while they are bootstrapping it.

A lot of startup marketing teams see “Digital Strategy” in silos and not as an integrated marketing approach which is critical to build a consistent communication & brand experience across all audience touch points.

Who can use this document?

  • Early stage – Mid Stage startups
  • B2B Marketing Teams
  • Digital Ad Agencies
  • Digital Marketing Managers
  • App Developers

In this presentation, I’ve tried to cover very practical approach on how to break down your digital strategy process into stages that cuts across identifying & segmenting your target audience, choosing the right digital marketing channels and creating the marketing metrics to track your performance.

Building Platform Strategy | How to decide between Mobile Website vs Mobile App?

mobile responsive vs native app

Even after so many years, a lot of people usually get confused between Mobile Website vs Mobile App and most importantly, which one is relevant to your business. The decision however, is actually not that difficult. Just so that you can understand this in a more logical manner, lets go to the bare basics.

What is a Mobile Website?

The mobile web refers to access to the world wide web, i.e. the use of browser-based Internet services, from a handheld mobile device, such as a smartphone or a feature phone, connected to a mobile network or other wireless network. ~ Wikipedia

Statistics have significantly tilted towards mobile adoption globally and there is no doubt that mobile users are exceeding desktop users on the Web. (see below graph)

mobile users beating desktop users
mobile users beating desktop users

After recent algorithm changes made by Google, I don’t think there is any option of not having a responsive website anymore. It even make a lot of business sense considering majority of the content is consumed through mobile browsers and the number is bound to increase at exponential pace in future.

However, do you really need to build a native app for your business?

What is a Native Mobile App?

Native apps are installed through an application store (such as Google Play or Apple’s App Store). They are developed specifically for one platform, and can take full advantage of all the device features ~ Techopedia

According to a report by Flurry Analytics, App usage has sky rocketed in the last 2 years and there is just no comparison with mobile web:

apps dominating mobile web
apps dominating mobile web

Native Mobile App benefits

  1. Offline Mode: Once the browser is closed, mobile website is of little use to anyone. Unless you are a huge brand in your category or your SEO rankings are really good or your social campaign is super rocking. Mobile App, on the hand allows you to download key content on the mobile which can be accessed without internet connection.
  2. Control: Because users have to download and install the app, businesses have more control over their presence on a device than they would with a mobile website, a mobile app can be closed or inactive, but still work in the background to send geo-targeted push notifications and gather data about customer’s preferences and behaviors.
  3. UI/UX: Native apps are build for a specific platform like iOS or Android or Windows and can be installed from respective App store / Play store. Although a lot of people consider this as a drawback since considerable amount of time, effort and resources is required to customize the app in its UI and UX. But the benefits clearly surpass the challenge because it offers tremendous opportunity to the developer to build personalization capabilities for the app users native to respective mobile OS.
  4. Device Features: One of the biggest advantage of the native apps is that they can take full advantage of all the device features — they can use the camera, the GPS, the accelerometer, the compass, the list of contacts, and so on. This is something you can never achieve in browser environment due to massive to-an-fro data processing which is required at the backend.
  5. Experience: For an experience that is well polished, fast response, and simply feels nice to the user, native apps are the go to solution.
    • Generally, web apps include elements from the browser such as the search and navigation bars which clutter the experience. When using a smaller device this means less space for app specific controls.

    • Native apps respond more fluidly to user gestures such as swipes and pinches.
  6. Engagement & Loyalty : Native apps allows you build repeat engagement with your customers / audience, you can focus your energies towards creating quality content and deliver powerful experience because you are not worried about your SEO rankings.

Conclusion

Mobile Website vs Mobile App
Mobile Website vs Mobile App

In order to decide if you want to develop a native app, you need to consider the following points:

  • How important speed and performance would be for the product / service you are trying to sell to your customers? e.g. gaming apps which needs huge amount of performance for graphics which is not possible to produce in a browser environment.
  • Does your communication needs engagement through any of the mobile device features? e.g. apps that require camera settings, directory listings that need your map location etc.
  • If you want your web service to be Internet-enabled, i.e. if you believe that there will be constant to-an-fro of data with the server. e.g. e-commerce apps which need continuous internet connection for faster transaction.
  • If you want your app to support multiple mobile platforms and devices and if yes, how many. See your web analytics, may be majority of your audience coming from a particular mobile device. ( Also Read: how to track mobile visitors in GA? )
  • Your budget, vs. the estimated cost of developing your app.
  • If you would like to monetize your app in the future

[poll id=”2″]

Facebook Fan Acquisition has become irrelevant In Social Media?

stop worrying for facebook likes

The above presentation would come as a slap on the face to many “Social Media Gurus” (especially here in India). The beautiful part about this presentation is that all the points mentioned in this presentation are sheer common sense and does not comply with any ” marketing strategy template”.

I would like to quote a very famous statement made by Rene Descartes,

“Common sense is the most widely shared commodity in the world, for every man is convinced that he is well supplied with it.”

Since the days of orkut (and now Facebook, twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and many more), marketers have forced themselves to believe that ‘the money is where the audience is‘. By the way, that is not entirely incorrect. However, the very idea of a brand engaging with the audience is highly over rated & misnomered (BTW, did I say anything bad about the digital or social media agencies yet? Hell no! 🙂 )

How many times, as social media marketers, we genuinely think about the sales or business objectives of the company ahead our present marketing objectives? Often the approach used by the agencies is based on a common template which created for all the clients. This leaves little room for debate around how should the business objective be linked to the social media strategy.

It is becoming increasingly programmatic and how,

Step 1: A marketing manager creates a social media brief.

Step 2: He gives it to the agency.

Step 3: Who (the social media agency) comes up with a plan.

Step 4. Agency waits for an approval.

Step 5. The agency executes the campaign.

Step 6. The final report (with weekly, monthly likes, followers, retweets) is shared.

Step 7. Invoice reaches the client’s desk.

Step 8. Mission accomplished.

Sorry for being so dramatic. No offence to any digital or interactive agency. I think there are quite a lot of media companies with some fascinating talent who are trying their best to do great work in the space.

Also read: The Good, Bad & Hilarious world of Social Media

But lets come back to the main point.

Do brands really need to get over obsessed about the term engagement? I know most of you may not agree with me on this point, but it is practically impossible for audience to engage with so many brands. Facebook defines engagement rate as the percentage of people who saw a post that liked, shared, clicked or commented on it.

But is that engagement worth spending your precious time, money & resources?

In his article “5 Tips for a Better Facebook Brand Strategy in 2015“, Peter  Stringer-Vice President, Digital Media at Boston Celtics wrote about the Facebook’s definition of audience engagement:

But the first two of those (metrics) are basically worthless. Post likes are meaningless. OK, not completely, as a post’s likes do impact its organic reach, but realistically, a like is a one-second long, one-click engagement. How valuable is that? Do you remember the last post you liked on any platform?

facebook-engagement-is-not-the-only-metric

One of the biggest misunderstandings about Facebook likes is the assumption that once a person “likes” your page, they are going to keep coming back for more. A “like” on a page doesn’t guarantee that they will ever come back to that page and participate or even read any updates. According to an AdAge article , only one percent of fans on the biggest brand pages actually engage with the brand at all

Top reasons why people unsubscribe from facebook pages

Most of facebook likes are just casual observers or lurkers. This leads to a one-sided conversation led by the brand, or frankly no conversation at all. One of the major reasons.

The whole idea of increasing the number of likes and treating it as a mantra for social engagement success is absolutely B*ST. I am saying this because unfortunately this is how most of the social media professionals are talking these days. Needless to say, when so many people say the same thing, clients (most of them) believe it to be true. But is it really true?

According to a research published by a Denmark firm, Komfo:

Engagement is not the only social media marketing KPI, reach & fan penetration is another critical element in this puzzle. According their findings, smaller communities perform better (see below) on Facebook both when it comes to fan reach and engagement.

Facebook community page engagement metrics
Facebook community page engagement metrics

You can read their complete findings here.

No wonder, social platforms, notably Facebook, are starting to shift away from the airy talk of “brand engagement” and instead offer more nuts-and-bolts ad offerings. Engagement.

If you liked my post, do subscribe to my newsletter.

PS: opinion expressed in this post are strictly personal.

Increase online sales in 4 easy steps

4 steps of online sales
One of the toughest tasks for any digital publishing or media company is to increase their online sales year on year. Technology has changed the way media business sells its offering to its potential clients. Gone are the days when your brand name was more than enough to achieve your online sales targets.
CMOs have become way too tech savvy now which puts the conventional, charming, cold-calling sales & BD specialist in a tight spot.
Lets face it, you cannot fool the client over few pints of beer or cups of coffee (well, not every time at least 🙂 ). The usual charm tactics of old days can take you only so far ahead.

An online sales person’s biggest battle is to find out, what does the client really wants?

Here is a simple sales checklist that would help your sales team step into the brand manager’s shoes, and eventually increase online sales:

Building Accountability

Let me re-phrase this from pre-sales standpoint, it actually means “Intent”. If your proposition offers a bland promise of delivering x no of impressions, y% click-thru & z% conversions, Reach/ SOV etc. etc., it will not get the marketing teams excited because 99.9% proposals have the same offering.

At times it is advisable to follow the rule book, just to be on the safe side. But, in order to shine in the heap, you need to build & highlight the accountability metrics in the form of showing Intent towards achieving all marketing objectives stated in the RFP brief document. Your pre-sales efforts should be to make the client believe, that all your efforts are clinically focused towards delivering a strong value to the brand.

Relevant Experience

Lets just say, nobody wishes to put their marketing dollars in the hands of a layman. It is normal human behaviour to reduce the risk by following/doing something which is tried & tested. Today, when client has so many options, they always want to opt for the safest option first that can deliver the results. No wonder brands like Google are the biggest beneficiary of that mindset. Hence, it is highly recommended to showcase your strengths in the respective category and even if you do not have any past experience in that domain, you must demonstrate it visually through some past case study as to how you delivered those metrics for some other brand.

Knowing the Customer

Get this thing in your head, every client wants you to come prepared with your research on the basic target audience of the brand. They want you to know, not just the nuances about your own product but also the basic elements of audience segmentation. In the world of media, marketeers are paying millions of dollars, just to interact with the right audience, hence it is absolutely vital for them to know if you have a clear understanding about their market. During your Pre sales research about any prospect(brand), make sure you have created a ready to use guide about the client for reference purposes. This would include the most basic level information about the brand i.e. their core target audience, list of products, info about their most recent ATL, BTL, Online, Mobile, Social Brand/ tactical campaigns along with any other company information/development. You never know when it would come to your rescue during the marathon client meetings.

Technically Yours

If you are selling a perfume, you can glorify its fragrance only if you understand the sense of smell. I guess Technology is no different, your words would mean nothing unless you demonstrate your love and passion towards technology through Technology.

Your Sales team members should not just be knowing about the product, they should believe in their product and should be perceived as ad-tech specialists by one and all. Remember, they are your true brand custodians at all times.

Digital Marketing Strategy for Accounting Firms

digital marketing for chartered accountants

We all know Accounting is a serious business. Chartered accounting firms can make a huge impact in anyone’s business not just by managing their books efficiently but also by offering brilliant tax & finance related advice to the business owners & decision makers. But the challenge of finding newer clients & growing one’s business is an uphill task for any small firm or individual.

Continue reading “Digital Marketing Strategy for Accounting Firms”

Digital Marketing Strategy for B2B

Getting your basic digital marketing strategies in place is always a challenge for any product marketing team, especially if it is targeting a niche B2B client. Most of the marketing managers, follow the tried and tested approach of generating leads through various sources like Tele-marketing, events, digital, BTL and pass it on to their Sales force (in a hope for conversion).

During this entire process of lead generation, though the Chief Marketing Officer would be extremely happy with the end result, the Sales head would be dying to kill the Marketing manager since he has fed his sales team with huge amount junk prospects.

Perhaps, this is one of the reasons why a lot of tech companies hire Project/ Program managers who can put some method to this madness into the Marketing process. Here’s one such simplified ready-to-use approach which can be used by all B2B Marketing teams, Sales force of SMBs, Product Marketing and Independent Consultants.

Choosing your Audience

Targeting the low hanging fruits, laser focus on customers that can highly benefit from your product due to the very nature of their business, e.g. for an organisation who sells Cloud solutions, companies/ individuals who have decentralised operations, distributed organisation, require remote access to information & have need for collaboration would be perfect bet because your product can answer their core business challenge.

Preparing the Marketing-Cum-Sales Pitch

Sell an experience to your customers not a product, demonstrating that your product is tailor made for them. At no point your marketing/sales messaging should imply “buy me because you need me“, instead it should be “buy me only if you like me after you experience me“.

B2B Partner Marketing

All Marketing teams should get one thing clear, your sales force knows more about your audience than any Market research report. They are the true brand ambassador to the customer and know each & every pulse in the market. Before you freeze upon your marketing plans, always try to include your partners & sales teams early on in the marketing process leveraging their business expertise dealing with the customers and through that make your communication more relevant.

On the other hand, one of the best ways of marketing your product to the customers is by making your partners & sales teams an extended marketing force. It should be one of the key talks of marketing team to helping your partner to sell better through effective communication & by using latest technology & tools.

Digital Marketing through B2B Influencers

Imagine if a CEO of a company has 3 products in front of him, all of them answers the same problem, one of them is yours, what would you do?

In this situation, often people trust referrals or live examples.

    • Play by influence, along with your product demo, provide your sales force customer specific case studies in which product already benefited to people in same business that they drive.
    • May the most popular brand wins, make sure your social media efforts are firing on all cylinders, all the time.
    • Optimise your social campaign, such that your customer has heard about your product through some social forum.

Digital Marketing Automation for B2B

A lot of business & marketing teams may not realise, that now your website is lot more than just a URL on your visiting card. It can become your virtual salesforce, but only if you would want it to behave that way. Your website should not just talk about your product but also about scenarios in which your product is beneficial to your customers. Increasing engagement on the website by showcasing more business relevant & audience re-usable content is super critical in today’s digital era.

Remember, your offices may be closed, your telephone lines may be down, but anyone can find you from anywhere through your website and when they stumble upon you, your website should behave as a good host. A lot of Marketing automation tools like Eloqua & Marketo would empower you to create a virtual marketing manager available 24*7 to churn quality prospects for your sales force.

Digital Marketing through Social Media

Reciprocate your efforts on the social media channels by creating discussions around the key challenges faced by your customers and how you are working together with them to improve upon your product.  Create an environment, where customers can talk their heart out about their experience ( good or bad ) with your product. Trust me you will be lucky to find 100 such customers who are willing to talk about you without purchasing your product. Keep sharing ideas with your customers around how to get the best out of your product.

Digital Marketing for Maximising Closures

Minimise the # of steps between lead generation & Opportunity generation, I call it Marketing optimisation. Think about it, what’s the point of doing lead generation if it lacks any intent to sell to the customer. In demand generation, we capture the intent to purchase and not just a lead.

This is possible only if you have the necessary intelligence about the prospect customer from the experience he had about your product during marketing, which you can pass on to your sales force. Just passing the customer info details for cold calling would not suffice.

Marketing manager should also capture customer inputs like level of interest in the product, product experience ( if any ), customer’s key business challenge, knowledge level about the product etc.

If all this can be handled at the level of demand generation, sales would be able to maximise conversions by customising their conversations to suit the client’s requirement.