5 Simple Truths to optimize your digital marketing

Truth is ot there

Over the last few post-recession years, Digital Marketing has gained immense respect. More and more businesses, whether or not prepared, are more inclined than ever to adopt digital marketing strategies. In some these cases, it’s more common to see businesses jumping into the Digital wave, just because “others are also doing so”.

It can be argued that these businesses are more likely to be eluded in their endeavors. A quick check into their efforts often reveal that most of these businesses fail to capture the simple truths of digital marketing.

The truths are driven by common sense, yet prove to be solid foundations for doing digital business. Here we go…

Truth #1 : Marketing Methods stay constant; Means vary.

Before you embark on your “digital strategy” stop and think: What would you have done to market your goods or services, if online / digital world was not there? More likely, you’d have still mapped your customers, addressed their needs / wants in a language they listened to, and delivered through a channel which they were familiar / comfortable with (not just media, but on ground channels too).

Well, the good news is that in Digital world, Technology has made it easier to do all the above, in lesser amount of time, and greater efficiencies. The only things that have changed are:

  1. The additional blue-screen window shops – i.e. the PC, Mobile, Tablets, etc. through which customers interface with the digital “properties” – to do your selling, and
  2. Plenty of real time technologies (in hardware & software) to convince your customers or make yourself heard.

If done well, your conversion rates have more chances to improve through digital efforts. So the Marketing rules are the same; processes and technologies differ.

Truth #2 : Website needs the respect of a Showroom

Many brick & mortar businesses, esp. the ones which are new entrants in the Digital world, often are myopic about the roles a website is supposed to perform – e.g. whether it’s information dissemination, or ensuring “online presence” only, or offering product experience, prestige / reputation management, e-Commerce. or even all of these together.

A website is almost an online equivalent of your retail showroom. Therefore, similar to the development of a brick & mortar showroom, there could be thousand different ways to develop an online showroom. As such a website needs similar kind of attention, if not more. The bonus is that once done, a website could go beyond the scope of retail showrooms, by aggregating endorsements or user experiences, which improve the image of the corporate brand.

Truth #3 : Free Experience leads to free Customers

A retail showroom can’t survive if it fails to attract customers. A higher store footfall increases chances of increasing customer conversions. And an important driver of footfall, is the window dressing. Many customers love “window shopping”. They love to spend time in front of the massively decorated shop windows, get interested in the products displayed, and consider exploring them inside – in terms of variety in designs, quality, as well as affordability.

The same is true for online / digital marketing. Many seasoned brick & mortar businesses often realize very late that it’s very important to generate high traffic for a majority of the website pages, organically. And, one of the simplest methods to do so, is to have a free rewards based activity on the website which would not only engage prospects with the products / brand, but also motivate them to revisit the site a number of times.

I came across a few stationery design services, whose websites maintain high page visits by just offering a few free templates. With the tools available on the site itself, any visitor can use them to create his own design – absolutely free! The templates are changed every few months; so the interest level is kept alive.

Truth #4 : Engagement is directly proportional to Acceptance

A visit to any jewelry showroom often reveals the depth of engagement the sales officers establish with their customers. It’s expected, because of it being a high-involvement category. Interesting to note however, design choice is very subjective; and so is the price one pays for it! Knowing this, the sales officers keep the customers engaged enough to keep their interests alive, which eventually translates into a sale.

The same is true for digital marketing, even though it may or may not involve a high-involvement category. Once of the important aspects of digital strategy is to develop myriad methods to keep the prospects engaged with the brand. Even though social media plays a major role in this, the website too have immense potential to keep visitors engaged, and navigate from page to page. Simple layouts, easy navigation, bold shapes, and overall a wider canvas often attract non-prospects to take interest.

More the interest generated on these pages, more is the engagement, and more is the possibility of adoption, when a product is offered.

Truth #5: “The only thing that’s changed is everything”.

One important truth about Marketing is that over time, consumers change, the domain change, products get updated, and even brands change, to make in order to be more relevant.

In many instances small businesses that keenly adopt digital marketing, considering it as a passport to higher business growth, fall short in their endeavors. They fail to recognize that every aspect of Digital Marketing is on a constant roller coaster ride to Change – esp. since technology changes every 3-6 months. Therefore, it’s important to take note of changing trends routinely, and plan in advance for the next 12-24 months.

This is perhaps where an offline retail showroom differs from an online one! While it’s okay to continue with the look-n-feel and presentation of offline retail for even 2 years, an online showcase may become obsolete in just 1-2 months! Therefore one needs to routinely keep on changing the looks, content, presentation, products, pages, etc. Each and every element of digital marketing is on a beta – always!

Keep Fresh! Keep Relevant! Keep changing… everything! And follow these five simple truths in your digital marketing.

Does your Design deliver?

Spectrum Eye B&W Macro

Does your Design deliver

In the marketing world, very often “graphic design” and “Design” are used interchangeably. The reason is quite simple – “graphic design” is one of the most visible faces of marketing, thru packaging, online, offline, etc. As a result, anyone driving his marketing operations from the commercial hub of any city, would come across numerous “Design” houses, offering everything in the name of “Design” solutions. What they actually deliver is just “graphic design” solution.

A few days ago, I was looking for a Design house to develop a new packaging for a cosmetics client. I met at least three “Design Boutiques”. My initial discussions revealed that they are just graphic design houses, offering Mac iterations / experimentations on some forms of random concepts. They pitched in by adding how their solutions “would attract various age groups, be easy to produce” etc. The whole rigueur of concept development behind Design was completely missing!

The core problem lies in our basic understanding of Design as a function, which continues to be limited. In our society, perhaps the word “Design” has been commoditized to a large extent. Design has become more of hype, and less of an enabler. It has also become an easy vehicle for newbie practitioners to make a quick buck early in career. And if those early rewards are handsome too, we have yet another bright talent losing an opportunity to carry forward the responsibility of Design.

Majority of the creative practitioners perhaps ignore the “accountability” part of Design. Hence while we have an explosion of “Designs” in our daily lives, we fail to see how yet another Design helps us more – even in terms of art or aesthetics. How many times we see “Design” playing a key / driving role in the creation of or aiding to the brand / product concept – esp. among smaller local brands?

At its core, Design is supposed to solve a problem, set in motion a certain feeling about the product or brand among its users, and be overall, simple in its every manifestation. Some good examples are Ikea, Ideo, Apple, etc. (in products) and Amazon, Google, etc. (in user experiences).

And in its ability to solve a problem, the practice “Design” has evolved into an independent faculty of “Design Thinking” – which, simply put, is the application of Designers’ orientation and approach to management processes. More and more societies and economies are utilizing this faculty to solve behavioral problems – be it on social, academic or even commercial levels.

Considering the deluge of designs and designers alike, I feel it’s the right opportunity for communication practitioners to re-look at our craft through the eyes of Design thinkers and solve the “perception” problems associated with our brands. Doing so would eventually develop newer attitudes and behaviors, which would in turn help our brands to be more meaningful to their adopters. It would also do well to liberate our static and limited consciousness associated with Design, into something more divergent and powerful.

Design can differentiate, not by creating yet another set of graphic elements or visual identity or even a new campaign, but perhaps by giving a solution to the needs and wants of consumers.

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