The global economic situation, current supply and demand, and the high competitiveness of markets means that companies have a very specific portfolio of products, and they mustthereforeprovide added value to differentiate themselves, creating better awareness, engagement, and positioning.
The market rules and regulations force us to redesign and optimize strategies against budget control, by combining an efficient action plan to strengthen the activity of the sales force with complementary alternatives to traditional marketing, along with the need to be prepared for a constant cultural change.
In this current scenario of unmet needs for all the stakeholders involved (producers, distributors, sellers, buyers…) seeking solutions andan optimized operational plan is required, combining offline elements along with the innovative online element of the digital universe, of great importance for decision-making.
If Stephen Covey – author of the best seller: “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” – were still alive, he would have established the following 7 habits for an effective Digital Marketing plan:
1. To know the Blended Marketing
In the quest for solutions, voices can be heard clamouring for the conversion of the traditional business model into strategic models, conveyed by digital Marketing, but the question: is it sufficient to transfer the traditional model to a Digital one? The answer is an unequivocal NO. This explains the existence of the Blended Marketing Model -where the Traditional Business Model (Offline, Business as Usual) and the Digital Business Model (Online, Multichannel Model) coexist-, building up a coherent narrative through numerous channels – off and online – to create an integrated brand experience.
From 2020, all sectors will develop nuanced strategies with a better use of the strengths and weaknesses of different digital and non-digital channels, in a more integrated way to what has been done so far. It is therefore important to establish an 8-step pattern of action, identifying the key steps towards the path of multichannel models:
- Traditional segmentation
- Introduction of digital variables
- Digital Customer Profiling
- Analytical procedures
- Multichannel decision-making
- Roadmap planning and implementation
- Tracking results
- Return of Investment measurement
2. Appropriate Microsegmentation
Performing digital actions does not necessarily mean being digital, because it implies a more complex network and stakeholders. It goes from the general population to the segment, from the general behavior to the particular habit, and from global actions to preferences of each profile. The implementation of a new – digital – segmentation axis lets us see the three-dimensionality of traditional scenarios and a more competitive, new strategic vision of the business.
A reasonably good digital segmentation is managing at least 30 digital variables, enriching the traditional customer segmentation to carry out the Blended Marketing Plan. The microsegmentation process is as follows:
2.1. Traditional segmentation:
where all the variables from the database used in the traditional customer segmentation are selected and evaluated to obtain an accurate picture of potential customers, called the “traditional 9-box grid” which distributes all the target customers in two axes (Traditional Market Potential and Affinity / Sales associated with our Product)
2.2. Set the digital coverage:
to properly plan market research, it is recommended to crosscheck the current coverage (customers contacted) with non-contacted customers, to establish strategies and tactics to increase coverage without additional costs, measuring all the chosen digital variables related to digital affinities and preferences.
2.3. Digital Customer Profiling:
identifying digital microsegments, where we identify customers with the same digital profile in different segments of the 9-box grid, which allows the inclusion of those customers with specific digital habits or affinities into the same activities, thus optimizing the investment in cases where highly receptive customers are identified for one type of activity and not another, and therefore maximizing the impacts per activity, making each approach undoubtedly more profitable by using the most appropriate channel for each customer. The digital customers profile is evolving and the digital variables measured are changing. Therefore, a regular evaluation is necessary to analyze these changes, the evolution of the Digital Profile, its implications in the Marketing and Sales Plan, budget allocation, and Return of Investment and Reputation measurement.
All the variables, digital and non-digital, will be analyzed statistically and weighted, for the spatial distribution of customers in their corresponding final segments, as shown in Table 1.
The traditional segmentation data may then be contrasted with the information resulting from the Digital Customer Profiling. The traditional actions can then be adjusted to the new innovative variables and the tactical plan for Marketing and Sales adapted more efficiently , where online digital actions- coexist with traditional – offline ones,, henceforth expressing the new functions of the Sales Force in a new manner..
3. To optimize Investments with proactivity versus the digital customer profile
Optimizing Investment should remove managers from their comfort zones into an area of change and learning, because it is these very managers who will change the digital strategic vision for Marketing and Sales to a greater extent, where a methodological procedure with the following analysis is a must:
- Measurement of the Impact Quality Rate (IQR) for each channel, device or application, allowing associations and comparisons of customers with the same/similar digital profile. The variables that characterize each channel, device and/or application will be decided by consensus and will have a specific assigned weight, which could be modified, if required, as shown in table 2.
- Characterization of each Channel, Device or Application (CDA’s): defining a number n of values that characterize each of those channels, devices and applications.
- Unit Costs Analysis by contact: direct, indirect, and associated costs for each CDA and the number of total contacts for each CDA needed to cover all digital profiles with affinity to that CDA, as shown in table 3.
4. To pilot a Digital Route Plan with Internal and External Synergies
Selling in a smarter and more effective way is possible when multidisciplinary teams (Marketing, Sales, Market Intelligence, IT and specialized consultants) analyze this information for decision-making and the implementation of channels, taking into account both the digital and the traditional profiles.
A more efficient and more effective sale is possible, by prioritizing the usage and implementation of the appropriate channels / devices / applications according to the specific digital profile, the objectives of the Marketing / Sales Plan and budgetary restrictions, contemplating the analysis of IQR’s, CDA’s and associated costs as added values to the traditional plan of those profiles that still request non-digital channels. A Pilot Plan requires a constant, cumulative measurement of digital profiles and their corresponding actions, comparing two segments resulting from different digital profiles, which also include traditional, non-digital profiles.
5. Think about winning: trends and digital services against competitors
The first decade of the 21st century saw Market Analysis, Business Intelligence, and Sales Force Effectiveness (SFE) abandon the current tendency of demonstrable causality. Any observed behaviour or result is not only a change between two measurable points that are distant in time, but also addresses specific variables influencing customers and their changing environment, along with personal reasons that are modified at some point, where digital can provide more information and value.
An IBM market research focusing on CEO’s, cites that 75 percent of the rating was focused on needs and understanding of individual customers and the response time to market needs. This type of individual understanding and the speed of response can really only come from developing a Digital Business Intelligence Department, aimed at social technologies and their integration into the business, where the Digital SWOT Analysis is an indispensable piece for the best cost-effectiveness of the strategy, contributing the knowledge of the competition in tendencies and digital paths.
6. Leadership, renewal and cultural change.
These skills must first be understood for the evangelization of any digital manager..
Resistances, fears, ignorance and insecurities are the factors currently driving innovative decisions. Having highlighted the strength of the synergy, importance must also be given to consulting, partnerships, alliances and collaborations, through which many companies have achieved growth and become more flexible with the timing imposed various market situations, enabling a rapid and more successful that of their competitors, whilst exploiting a methodology as a complementary tool for the sales force and support for marketing teams.
The cultural change – Change Management required – must necessarily also progress, and confirms the need for a more accurate segmentation by new analysis of the Digital axis, developing new analytical capabilities to understand the customer by Sales and Marketing, reconverting the strategy, the approach, and the messages, according to each segment, towards a more accurate and customerfocused targeting.
7. Combine Return of Investment with Return of Reputation
Although the previous six habits enable a digital manager to achieve the desired objectives, actions can be implemented to measure not only the impact on sales but the impact on reputation (including digital reputation).
The Digital Reputation Return measurement is a catalyst for innovation. The available technologies associated the product strategy, measuring Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and other metrics that monitor and measure activities in a more exhaustive and enriching way than at present, provide valuable new information.
Online Reputation means the opinion or social consideration users have of the online experience offered by companies and products. It is alive; it is alterable and changeable in time. It can be reinforced or damaged, and bloggers and Community Managers can be catalytic pieces of a new game board. The repercussion and the scope of online reputation is another factor of success in the Digital Marketing Plan, which should measure the actions undertaken by the subject of the digital offer, the information generated by others and accessible through services available on the Internet and the actions undertaken in the relational field of the subject, which also uses social media to express an opinions, reflecting direct experiences, impressions and perceptions about products, promotional actions, vendor style, company culture, etc., which assist in modulating actions, messages and communication styles.
The proliferation of smartphones and other mobile devices, through their ubiquitous connectivity -which will continue to innovate in 2020-, together with advances in the practice of relationship management, can provide another boost to the digital marketing potential, since the content and style may be adapted to customers, integrated with social channels, multimedia content, and will bring a wider perspective of making businesses, while continuing to implement traditional actions through the usual channels.
In conclusion, the most reasonable position is to implement pilot projects, to check efficiencies, demonstrate effectiveness, evangelize with positive results and thus determine the next steps, scope and objectives.
These new concepts will transfer the focus to Marketing from 2D management to 3D management, based on new technologies and communication systems and, finally, accelerate the blurring of the traditional boundaries between in-person actions and virtual ones. As products are changing, so will the manufacturers, the prescribers, the final customers themselves, as well as other emerging players where the channeling of information will play a primary role in the polynomial of decision-making, message management, right segments, and right channels. We will not only advance with the possibility of measuring the return of investment, but we will be competitive digital marketers, efficient and effective, instead of being recognized charlatans of the digital field, who by the way, like Orson Welles, never pay for their mistakes.