Thursday, December 10, 2015

Digital marketing - rules of engagement

One thing marketing in the Internet [or digital] age does not lack is jargon.

As systems and software permit "tracking behavioral metrics online" we can be delivered a whole load of data about individuals. With a joined up system we can review past purchases, searches, page views, actions taken and lots more and apply all this stuff to evolve digital marketing strategies. But just because a campaign reports response rates to several decimal places, it does not follow that figure is real. Mathematically it will be correct of course, but what actually happened may be quite difernt.

Just because I leave a trail of searches and page views around the Internet, does not mean I am actually about to purchase a product. But that expensive digital marketing software someone sold you will trigger various actions, in particular presenting advertisements everywhere you now go as part of an engagement strategy.

Engagement is another popular jargon term for stalking a customer or prospect  who by online actions has been flagged up as a potential buyer.  So wherever you now go online the advertisements follow, offers pop up, emails arrive. It's all about personalisation. At one time it was much simpler. Companies had salesmen that 'engaged' with the customer. B-2-B marketers regarded these as being their target audience and looked for others like them as potential prospects who read specific trade magazines and attended particular trade shows. So the marketing team advertised in the journals the target audience read, posted press release to the  editors and exhibited at trade shows. The enquiries these activities flushed out were passed on to the sales team as leads. In the industrial sector the company typically sold a basic product which for many b-2-b's could last for years before a replacement sales opportunity might crop up. Happily much of this stuff needed accessories to work effectively - always a good thing to sell to a captive market as margins were always higher than on the base product. Consumables offered another profitable source of revenue and then the maintenance contract. All good opportunities to keep the customer engaged and bring forward the time for a replacement base product was purchased by talking about new models during visits.

As field salesmen were phased out in many companies that personal customer contact went to in-house teams who were less well placed to build the same rapport a good salesman could create. I was always impressed when out on the road with some of our salesmen how they could turn a 'no' into a big order. Also salesmen actually got to see how customers used the products - if acted on a good source of market intelligence. I am surprised how in many companies today the internal sales force seem more at home selling via email exchanges rather than using the phone. Meanwhile prospective customers are engaged in the early stages of researching products based on their own trawling round the web, which seems to be assumed includes social media sites and even closing the sale through an online purchase. And into this mix comes digital marketing software tools which aggregates all this stuff.   

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