I remember, a few years ago, digital marketing was mainly a website-related activity; a mere adjunct to a company’s marketing efforts. Today, I would say it includes all activities that provide information to consumers via digital tools, never mind the channel. In case of CG companies, it could be a YouTube video about a new product or a mobile app that offers in-store discounts, or a second screen medium related to the television ad running during your favorite show.
I find that the changing business, technology and consumer landscape is impacting digital marketing, and I see companies veering towards four new strategies. One is greater marketing-IT alignment. Businesses are realizing that a close linkage between marketing and IT is a must for digital market success. So a loyalty card is no longer just a discount tool for marketing, but an opportunity to collect and analyze huge data chunks of consumer and shopper behaviors and preferences across all channels.
I also find more brands leveraging digital to enhance consumer experience. ‘Engage, engage and engage’ seems to be their refrain. They are drawing out an integrated strategy and working to arrive at the best combination of mobile apps, social media pages and other digital tools to have an ongoing, meaningful, two-way conversation with the consumer, enriching their shopping journey. Another development, I see, is the retailer figuring prominently in the brand’s scheme of digital. CG companies are using their own data to help retailers in product placement, promotion and pricing. In other words, digital is enabling traditional marketing.
There is one more kind of alignment that CG companies are working on. Until now, most companies were operating in data silos. Now, I see attempts to integrate data across functions, from product innovation to manufacturing, supply chain and logistics to marketing. Some have even set up a separate Business Intelligence (BI) department with representatives from all functions. I see this as a game changer not only for marketing, but for the entire business.
Now, digital marketing means huge investments, and I’m particularly interested in how brands apportion their digital marketing dollars. The Wipro-Forbes’s study of CG companies threw some light on the matter: big data integration into the business, social media marketing, shopping and consumer insights, and mobile and customer experience topped the investments table.
I read another survey report that says digital marketing constituted 28.5% of the total marketing budget in 2013. But what really excited me was the Forbes study finding that 78% of CG companies expect their digital marketing spend to increase next year with 15% expecting a significant jump. I believe that with the Internet of things (IoT) and other technological advancements, budgets will shoot up even further in the years to come.
Today I see different brands at different places in their digital transformation journey. A few have truly transformed while many have made considerable progress. Some are active and incrementally testing and advancing. A few however are uncertain and cautious, still looking for digital marketing opportunities. Where are you in your digital journey? And how do you plan to take your digital marketing efforts to the next level?