Let’s imagine that you run a nursery school in Victoria, BC, and you create an online presence for your customers to locate and engage with you. It may be tempting to call your website Crecheuniverse.com. However, a simple check using Google’s Keyword Planner tool would show that in the past six months, the number of unique searches for crèche in Victoria, BC, was dwarfed by searches for childcare by a factor of 10!
Even this early in the website planning process we have gone to the customers, looked at what they are actually doing, and changed our product appropriately. Market reality provides a more sound basis than market research for making crucial business decisions, such as website naming.
Similar listening tools exist for all digital channels, and in each section of this book you will be introduced to the most effective tools for understanding your customers’ actual online activities. You may ask—does that mean that market research is redundant? Of course not. We have differentiated between these two activities in order to highlight the extent of the shift to consumer control. A smart approach is to combine the best of both of these activities into a single cohesive strategy, using one to validate and support the other.
What are the 3i Principles?
The 3i Principles—Initiate, Iterate, and Integrate—these form the foundation for all IDM Methodologies, and are key to any successful marketing strategy.
Principle 1: Initiate
The initiate principle of digital marketing states that the customer is the starting and finishing point for all digital activities. The answer to all questions is “let the customer decide.” Many people are too quick to jump into managing digital channels. They setup blogs, websites, and social media profiles and start publishing nonspecific content about themselves, their companies, and their products. They fail to realize that digital channels are not broadcast channels in the traditional sense of the term. In fact, they are interaction channels that facilitate a two-way conversation. By taking the time to find out what your customers are doing online, your digital activities will become radically more effective.
“Your customers are speaking online. Are you listening?”
Principle 2: Iterate
Within minutes of publishing an ad, we can see what the click-through rates, response rates, and conversion rates are. More importantly, the content or design of the ad can be changed a limitless number of times in response to user actions.
This ability to publish, track response, and tweak accordingly is the greatest strength of the Internet and produces the second of our 3i principles—iterate. This principle emphasizes the importance of tweaking a digital marketing campaign in response to user iteraction. Each digital marketing channel is most effective when you apply an iterative process, and the more iterations of the campaign you apply, the more effective each becomes.
There are some key implications of this iterative process. To begin with, the first published idea is not necessarily the best. The mythical advertising mogul who devises a killer campaign is a thing of the past. Why? Because your customers are better at describing what they want than any advertiser is. Remain open to what your customers are doing in their interactions with your campaign and be prepared to change it.
Your campaign can, and will, improve over its lifetime. Next, the length of the iteration depends on the channel. For example, if you send a weekly email newsletter you will review open rates and click-through rates within a day or two of sending your newsletter. You will then apply those insights to your next campaign in terms of what did and did not resonate with customers. So your iterative loop for your specific email marketing campaign will typically be a week long.
Principle 3: Integrate
Integration as a principle is crucial to effective digital marketing. It works at three levels:
Integrate your Effors Across Digital Channels
Integration across digital channels is about using information gleaned through one channel to improve the effectiveness of another digital channel. It can be as simple as sharing information learned through search engine optimization with your email marketing team. Take our crèche versus childcare example: When including Victoria, BC, parents in an email marketing campaign for a crèche, using keywords like childcare will help to improve your open rates. Thus, sharing insights learned through one channel can drastically improve the effectiveness of another.
Integrate your Digital and Traditional Marketing Efforts
Integration of digital and traditional marketing involves using information gathered from your digital marketing efforts and integrating it into your traditional marketing strategy. For example, when writing the script for a radio ad you should use the same keywords that resonate with customers using search engines. Any opportunity to learn from your customers can be shared across all channels to improve the effectiveness of all of your communications and marketing campaigns.
Integrate your Reporting Sources
Companies who engage with digital marketing obtain an abundance of data about their customers. However, it is important to gather data in a way that allows you to make good business decisions. An integrated view of your customers is a good place to start. Luckily, a lot of the work can be done for you by using a tool such as Google Analytics. For example, this tool can provide you with detailed information on the source of the traffic coming to your website.
- What percentage of your site visitors come from email versus social media versus display verses paid search advertising?
- Which visitors convert more quickly?
- Where should you be increasing your digital budget and where should you be reducing it?
Making business decisions based on the true value of your digital marketing is a crucial step in implementing and justifying your digital marketing strategy.
So let’s take the leap together! Let’s discover what digital channels can do for us, and—more importantly—for our customers.