The Changing Face of Online Marketing
Remember the early days of internet marketing? It seems old hat to us now but back in the 1990s marketers had to deal with a real culture change as they learned to work with the web.
For the first time, for instance, a reader's response to an ad could be recorded as a click. Embedded links in emails brought new life to direct marketing. Micro-sites and landing pages gave brands new shop windows for customers.
It is fair to say that while most marketers embraced these changes with enthusiasm, for many they also involved a long and arduous process of adjustment. Unfortunately that process of adjustment needs to begin again.
Everything has changed in terms of timing, delivery and consumption. Today's new media is, if anything, as different from its predecessors as new media in the 1990s was to its non-digital ancestors.
Take timing, for example. While the advent of email brought greater immediacy to marketing efforts two decades ago, traditional digital communications still involved significant time delays.
An email newsletter would land in an inbox that was, likely as not, located in a workplace and only accessed during office hours.
Email worked more quickly than snail mail, but you could still count on few hours' delay before getting a response. The transition to a mobile connected society has changed that, however.
According to Nokia, more people are now reading emails on their phone than on their PCs, and in a typical day 84% of mobile users check email at home, 80% do so at any point in time and 74% even do so while queuing.
This completely changes the way you need to think about response and follow up.
If previously it might have been prudent to wait a couple of days before your follow-up activity, in today's always-on digital environment you might find your customers do not remember your first message if you delay too long.
Similarly, you need to have your campaign fulfillment materials and mechanisms ready from the word go, since your customers may be demanding a response within seconds of your mailer going out.
Furthermore, given the rapid-fire nature of today's online conversations you would be advised to have a good idea beforehand of how you want to direct the interactions with your customers.
Do not count on a sale taking weeks or months any more. Plus it is no longer enough to rely on a single channel, such as email.
Your customers are striking up digital conversations on Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Skype, Twitter, WhatsApp and any number of other platforms.
By ignoring even a few of these you could be cutting your brand off from potential engagement opportunities, like speaking Chinese in Japan.
Last but not least, you need to be aware that your customers are no longer only consuming the content you provide... they are creating content of their own.
In terms of your brand, what your customers are saying about you is just as important as what you are saying about yourself.
Fail to engage with what your customers are commenting on and you risk letting them dictate your marketing strategy.
If this sounds like a potential threat, it is certainly true that you ignore the current shift in digital communications at your peril. But it is also the case that there is a massive opportunity here, too.
Never have your customers been so open about themselves and about what they want from you.