Chaos. If there’s a single word to encapsulate today’s digital environment, that one clinches it. The dizzying pace of change has been hard to keep up with (never mind get ahead of) from every perspective: Channels and platforms. Devices and tools. Customer behaviors…and expectations.
For marketers, the challenge is to understand how to best manage the chaos, and that is a do-able proposition. It takes a strategic orientation that is grounded in five key tenets. Making these the basis of your approach will result in a powerful pathway to better customer engagement and better harness both the chaos and the power that digital represents.
1. Your customers, engaged - your story, amplified
The digital environment is a milieu characterized by shared ownership in your brand by you and your consumers. You can’t control what’s being said about your brand here, so focus on what you can control: what it stands for. The better its promise and positioning are focused, defined, and communicated internally and externally, the better you will be able to encourage consistent storytelling about it by your customers.
2. Know the customer “fragments”
Digital tends to create a marketplace of people with multiple personalities, which makes the challenge of targeting much more complex. An individual may have multiple identities on Twitter, share their professional persona on LinkedIn, and on Facebook, reveal another persona.
Telling the right brand story requires an understanding of the multiple dimensions of the individual, and figuring out which one you want to connect with.
Just remember. Your audiences are allowed to have multifaceted online personalities. Your brand, however, can’t afford a fragmented identity.
3. Don’t rush to follow
Digital is a relentless and omnipresent environment that has dramatically altered how we consume and share information. It can be overwhelming. If you respond well, you can capitalize on the opportunity to make your brand a bigger part of customers’ lives -- but you must be very clear on your digital strategy. There’s a risk of getting caught up in (and overextending your resources on) the hot new channel or capability of the moment.
Understand which insights matter by truly listening to and assessing the data to design a strategic approach that is aligned to your brand and your target customer. Remember: Missteps are less tolerated in this realm, as there is a permanent digital footprint.
4. Integrate the CMO and CIO roles
Digital intensifies the need to break down organizational silos. It takes both marketing and technology know-how and capabilities -- bound by respect for the medium -- to envision and activate the most effective digital strategies.
Marketing and technology capabilities must work together to create the best possible outcomes. This means that marketers and their IT counterparts must increase their understanding of the interplay between technologies, how they work, and how they are best utilized to create customer experiences that drive the brand and business forward.
5. Measure not for Klout, but business impact
The impact of digital strategy is measured in ways that traditional media is not -- via a stream of data that can be analyzed to continuously fine-tune and refine approaches for maximum impact. Ultimately, however, metrics must connect back to business impact. But the reality is that nothing in digital exists on its own.
Mobile links to social media, which in turn may link back to a company Web site. The trick is to ensure that linkage models are being used to measure the effectiveness of the digital strategies -- especially considering the fuzziness of some digital measurements (like Klout and “liking”). It’s better to link those digital measures to traditional ones like awareness, consideration, and conversion.
The explosion in digital has created an exciting and challenging environment for society and culture. The marketer’s imperative is to learn how to manage the chaos to grow deeper customer connections and successful businesses.