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Digital Is a Philosophy: A New Looking Glass for Common Digital Tactics

  |  December 8, 2011   |  Comments

Get a fresh perspective on search, social media, and mobile marketing.

Following last month's column on "Implementing Digital Is a Philosophy," let's explore how "digital" can also provide a new perspective on various digital tactics that are widely used today.

Search Marketing to Search as Research

Instead of thinking of search engine marketing (SEM) and search engine optimization (SEO) as just other ways of driving more traffic to your website, what if we thought of "search as research"? See the charts and examples here: Search As Research. The keyword "chocolate covered cherries" has the most search volume around Christmas while "chocolate covered strawberries" has the most searches around Valentine's Day. This can inform demand planning and product manufacturing for a company like Godiva. @GlennGabe shared another interesting example where "baby bedding" has more than 16 times the search volume of "infant bedding." By selecting the right synonym, the site enabled a lot more of the right customers to find their products. Finally, looking at Google related search or Google Instant, users can see what others are searching for, for each keyword or phrase. These insights can not only help in content creation or tailoring marketing messages, but can also provide continuous customer research as these searches evolve over time to reflect the information needs of target customers.

Social Media Marketing to Social Amplification

Instead of thinking of social media sites as another place to shout your brand message at people and their friends, what if we thought of it as "social amplification"? If you have a good product and there is a reason for people to talk about you - e.g., a competitive difference or competitive advantage - then they may talk about you. Obviously, it's well proven that brands shouldn't manipulate people to talk about them or pay people to do so. And further, they will probably not use the words you want them to use (i.e., approved brand terms). But good or bad, they will talk about you. And when they talk about you in social media, it sticks and will be visible to all. Think about the positive examples of JetBlue amplifying its launch of #AllYouCanJetPass on Twitter and Netflix getting feedback from its 2.1 million fans on Facebook; or think about the negative examples of "Motrin moms" or "Domino's."

Social amplification goes well beyond just the typical social media sites du jour. Positive reviews of Canon's digital cameras on Amazon will continue to pay dividends for Canon whether or not it has any marketing campaign going on. Positive reviews on Yelp help new diners discover a restaurant even if it had no marketing budget. So instead of just sticking banner ads on Facebook, what if the restaurant politely asked for reviews, which then become permanent, indexed by search engines, and provide continuous free, "marketing-like" benefits to the restaurant?

Mobile Marketing to Universal Access and Advocacy

Instead of thinking of mobile marketing as a way to spam people 24/7 just because they have their mobile devices with them at all times, what if we thought of it as a way to serve customers wherever and whenever they need it? And in doing so, earn their advocacy. Mobile marketing has been one of the fastest growing areas of digital marketing. But too many advertisers are still thinking of it as a way to push out mobile display ads or SMS marketing messages. The problem is that many consumers see these tactics as even more of an invasion of privacy - e.g., when they get an unsolicited text message to their cellphones, even if it's from a vendor they already buy from.

What if a manufacturer of a home theatre system provided something useful like a "how-to video" that was properly search engine-optimized and also optimized for mobile devices. A user standing in a store might find that video via their mobile device and decide to buy one system over another similar one because the useful video showed them how to install and wire it up properly. Finally, when users check in (e.g., on Foursquare) at their favorite restaurant or update their status with a rave review of it, their friends and others who follow them may become aware of the restaurant where other forms of marketing may not have reached them. And further, if the poster is respected as a foodie who knows the best restaurants, those followers may even put that restaurant in their consideration set right away. Few ads these days have that kind of power.

If loyalty and advocacy can impact the awareness and even the consideration of new potential customers, then we can even turn the typically linear purchase funnel into a cycle - see the chart "Unified Marketing Framework." The mobile devices that enable modern users to be always connected, always informed, and always on can now play a significant role in driving awareness that even the most targeted push ads cannot.


Given how the landscape has been changed by digital and how modern users' habits and expectations have been permanently changed as well, it's worth taking a fresh look at the above marketing tactics and seeing how you would do them differently if you thought about it from this new perspective.

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Augustine Fou

Dr. Augustine Fou is the senior digital strategy advisor to CMOs, marketing executives, and global brands. Dr. Fou has over 15 years of Internet strategy consulting experience and is an expert in social media marketing strategy, data/analytics, and consumer insights, with specific knowledge in the consumer packaged goods, financial services/credit cards, food/beverage, retail/apparel, and pharmaceutical/healthcare sectors.

He is a frequent panelist, moderator, and keynote speaker at industry conferences. Dr. Fou is also an Adjunct Professor at NYU in the School for Continuing and Professional Studies and at Rutgers University at the Center for Management Development, where he teaches executive courses on digital strategy and integrated marketing.

Dr. Fou completed his PhD at MIT at the age of 23. He started his career with McKinsey & Company and previously served as SVP, digital strategy lead, McCann/MRM Worldwide and group chief digital officer of Omnicom's Healthcare Consultancy Group (HCG). He writes a blog "Rants, Raves about Digital Marketing" and can be found on Twitter at @acfou.

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