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Published: January 27, 2014


How to Choose the Right Digital Marketing Model

The Menu of Capabilities

These digital marketing models are not industry-specific. In fact, companies in the same industry can choose different digital marketing strategies with which to go to market. For example, in the telecommunications industry, Vodafone aligns most closely with the Digital Brander model, Verizon functions as a Customer Experience Designer, KPN/E-Plus is a Demand Generator, and Orange is a Product Innovator. Each of these companies has focused on a different set of capabilities to bring its digital marketing strategies to life, and each capability entails building the right combination of processes, tools, knowledge, skills, and organization.

There are eight basic marketing capabilities, which are more or less relevant depending on which of the four digital marketing models a company applies. (Of these eight, the first four focus on building insights and the last four focus on activation based on those insights.)

  1. Segmentation and needs assessment, or the use of digital research tools to analyze transactions, identify customer pain points, and interpret non-transaction data (e.g., social media). By better understanding how specific subsets of customers assess, purchase, and use products, the company can more directly target advertising, promotions, and content along the path to purchase.
  2. Measurement, or the development of consistent metrics across the full path to purchase (i.e., at home, on the go, in stores). This capability also includes metrics for consumer engagement across paid media (e.g., advertising), owned media (such as the company website), earned media (coverage in other publications), or shared media (e.g., consumer stories on Facebook or YouTube). Implemented correctly, these metrics can help quantify ROI across the digital marketing program.
  3. Real-time decision making, such as regular monitoring of social sentiment and brand health that enables adjustments during marketing campaigns or across owned media or in-store merchandising to improve effectiveness.
  4. Personalization and targeting, or the creation of a singular view of the consumer across sales channels and digital touch points through the integration of multiple data sources—household data, shopping behavior, mobile data, and Web analytics. Companies can also augment this customer profile with social media data to improve target marketing and specific offers.
  5. Optimizing content, or the dissemination of branded content through multiple direct-to-consumer platforms (e.g., websites, mobile, social media) that are easy to search and navigate. Optimized content helps the company engage consumers and drive registration and sales across a variety of formats, so that it can better provide relevant products and services to those consumers for specific occasions or phases of life.
  6. Innovation, such as the leveraging of social media for richer consumer insights that fuel innovation and product development. Besides improving the product itself, these insights and innovations can enhance the customer’s experience with the product.
  7. Social influence and advocacy, or the provoking of consumer engagement to create and share content, while also mining this social sentiment to further improve consumer engagement. Companies with strong social influence and advocacy can encourage consumers to create and share content about the brand within their social networks, and then use the resulting insights to optimize their marketing communications and other aspects of the experience.
  8. Omnichannel experience, or the implementation of marketing programs across channels. This capability also entails investing in technology, analytics, and talent to support seamless mobile, social, and e-commerce experiences, allowing consumers to engage with the company wherever and whenever they want. Omnichannel experiences also include integrated marketing programs with third parties, along with broader media and trade-promotion strategies.

Building the Right Capabilities

It’s virtually impossible to be great at all of the key digital marketing capabilities we’ve identified. That’s why each company must focus only on the capabilities that align best with its digital marketing model. In other words, there is a link that connects the company’s strategy, the digital marketing model it needs, and the marketing organization and marketing capabilities required to succeed with that model. The capabilities necessary to succeed as a Digital Brander will be different from those required by a Demand Generator. This is not an ironclad relationship—there are multiple paths to success, and even companies pursuing the same Demand Generator model, for instance, may choose to emphasize different capabilities. But in general, certain models require that the company have a specific set of supporting capabilities (see Exhibit).

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