Developing an Integrated Digital Marketing Strategy: What Supermarkets Can Teach Us
It is no secret that you can drive traffic to your website using search engine optimisation, pay-per-click, display advertising, email, affiliate marketing, social media, video and so on. These channels allow you to pay, albeit in various ways, to increase the number of users who visit your site with a view to increasing sales or driving awareness.
However, driving traffic to a site is only the first stage in the process of delivering that result. Even in the most simple conversion funnel, there are many factors that can influence a user’s behaviour, some of which we can control and others we simply can’t.
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With that in mind, creating an integrated digital marketing strategy should be approached much like you would any other process. You decide what it is you want to achieve, define your method for measuring success, start the process and once complete, assess how successful you were. What you learn can then be used to improve your success rate in future tasks.
Digital marketing does have one major advantage – it is measurable. We have all heard the reference to it solving the John Wanamaker problem – “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don't know which half” – but what does this actually mean?
Data is good – knowledge is better
With today’s analytics and tracking packages, we can record every user journey in minute detail. We can look at where users go and what they do and we can do this (anonymously of course) across our own and third party websites. This means we have increasingly more data to analyse in order to measure and attribute success: what is now being coined “Big Data”.
Data analysis itself is not new and certainly not new to marketing. Indeed, the International Association for Statistical Computing (IASC) was founded in 1977 with a mission to “link the traditional statistical methodology, modern computer technology, and the knowledge of domain experts in order to convert data into information and knowledge.”
The supermarket: king of data analysis
Image source: marketingweek.co.uk
Supermarkets have been analysing data for years and using it to make decisions about everything from when to order stock, to what price to charge for each product. Tesco launched its Club Card in 1994 (four years before Google was founded) allowing them to “effectively track individual customer behaviour.”
Users searching online are fundamentally the same as those in physical stores; the difference is in the way in which they interact with their digital environment. In a physical store, users are affected by a myriad of factors and although those factors differ, the same applies online. Savvy digital marketers, like supermarkets, are able to measure these factors and to use their expert knowledge to make decisions that benefit their own or their client's business.
The advantage of an integrated approach to data
One could easily assume there is a direct correlation between the volume of data collected and its statistical significance, in other words the more data the better. However, what is still happening online is that data is collected and analysed in silos, meaning many decisions are made based on only one small piece of the picture.
In order for data to deliver its true potential it should, wherever possible, be viewed in relation to the wider data set. Online this means moving away from measuring channel success separately, towards an integrated approach to data, across all channels.
Once cross-channel data is available in one place (a data management platform) it should be possible to make more accurate decisions.
What can we do with multi-channel data?
Data collected cross-channel, giving a clear and unbiased view of a particular metric, activity or performance can be used to make decisions and to measure the success of those decisions.
Additionally, with the advent of adaptive decision making for content and advertising creation, as well as real time bidding for media purchasing, this data can drive an automated, programmatic marketing plan, constantly testing, learning and optimising.
The tools now available to manage campaigns online offer increasing levels of detail and complexity but, much like any tool, the results are dependent as much on how it is used (and by whom) as they are the tool itself.
Multi-channel data is particularly useful when looking at conversion optimisation. For example, re-marketing has grown massively over the last two years but many brands and customers still question the value of bombarding users with ads for a product they may have recently viewed. The value of data in this instance is in making decisions not just about what product to show, but when to show it, how many times, on which pages, on which days of the week, at which time of day, and so on.
Intelligent marketing using knowledge to interpret and utilise data is key to long-term success, both for marketers and their brands. Digital agencies should be working with their clients to help them through this complex process, to identify goals and work out how best to utilise the tools available to deliver success.
For more information on what can be achieved with data check out Digital Marketing – It’s About to Get Personal
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