Communications January 2016

Digital is dead, long live digital marketing

The key of your communications strategy

January is always an interesting time of year. We hear from experts around the globe about the Next Big Thing, and discover predictions for marketing trends over the following 12 months.

There are discussions about enhancing value over volume on the social content side; the mobile world; and broadcast media versus the Internet.

We are also hearing about marketing automation, Big Data and analytics, and the technological “stuff” surrounding the industry’s landscape.

Unfortunately, with the level of diversification we are seeing in the industry, it is very difficult to keep track of what is going on and where we are heading.

The general consensus is that we are living increasingly in a digital world with digitally savvy consumers. Consumers spend more time than ever on the Internet for decision-making, and we are at a point where we need to shift gears in the way we think about marketing activities.

Consumer decision-making has diversified more and more in recent years. Much of this is due to the ubiquitous mobile technology that serves as a gateway to all the information in the world.

Deloitte’s 2013 survey (US sample), “The New Digital Divide”, indicated that 84% of those surveyed use digital media for shopping-related activities before and during a visit to a shop. Moreover, 75% of pollees indicated that the material they had been exposed to on social media influenced their shopping behaviour and helped increase brand loyalty.

These findings follow the purchasing trend of what has come to be known as the Research Online Purchase Offline pattern. In addition, the point of conversion is going online, as we see more success with e-commerce platforms as the purchasing location of choice.

The obvious success of Amazon, Alibaba and Rakuten is hard to deny; individual brands have online shops that are gaining a lot of traction.

We have reached a point where digital consumer decision-making has to be taken seriously. According to Google’s 2012 research, The New Multi-Screen World Study, we are now living in a multi-screen world in which consumers use increasingly portable devices to consume content. The communication touch points are becoming increasingly unpredictable.

Consumers can make a decision to purchase something on the train to work or on an e-commerce site during their lunch break, and have the product delivered to their doorstep by the time they reach home or, if they prefer, pick it up at the shop on their way home.

This should be considered a natural transition for the existing marketing communication mix—and by no means treated lightly.

The stakes today are too high not to incorporate digital as part of the central driving force for brand communication and storytelling. In effect, the digital marketing strategy as we have known it has ceased to exist. There is only a marketing strategy—and digital will be implicit.