Yes it’s another one of those “it’s dead” posts, but while I am not a fan of sensationalism, I do need to grab your attention. And do it quickly, given my top reason for believing that a digital marketing strategy is fast becoming surplus to requirements…
1. Online, we have a shorter attention span than a goldfish
Human behaviour online is such that, more often than not, our attention moves on to the next thing before we’ve even had a chance to digest the last. So there’s a real risk that if marketers spend too long strategising, your efforts will be wasted – because in the 3-6 months you spend planning a campaign you’ll miss the boat. Marketing almost needs to be turned on its head and become reactive rather than pro-active. Think speed, agility, creativity, imagination, opportunism and you’ll get immediately why Oreo’s Dunk in the Dark campaign is still used as a text book example of newsjacking. B2B marketing’s brilliant equivalent is Norton Antivirus software.
Norton’s quick-thinking marketing team took a current news story and created a simple piece of visual media that was funny, perfectly suited to the social environment for which it was created, and totally in keeping with the brand. It went viral instantly. Brilliant.
2. By 2040 we will reach a point of technological singularity
Technological singularity is the hypothetical moment in time when computer processing power will become faster than the human brain and superhuman artificial intelligence will prevail. Will technology do our thinking and understand our needs and responses even before we do…?
3. Testing is more important than strategy
Any planners amongst you are probably cringing at this point, and while I’d suggest we still need to plan how we deliver communications into the digital space, I strongly believe we should be spending much more time failing fast and learning faster. Every single communication should have testing built in. Learn from it, refine it, optimise it and test it again – everything, from an email subject line to the content of video.
4. Better marketing will be defined by better data management
With strategy there are often too many assumptions based on information from reports and surveys that take a segment of a “typical audience”. Companies with joined up data management and analysis can discover far more truth about their audience, their behaviours and preferences, and with enough agility, can act on those insights in real time. The single customer view is still the ultimate goal. No one in my opinion is there yet, but it will come.
5. There is no time for strategy
Technology is moving too fast, human behaviour is in flux… In fact the only thing we can be sure won’t change is change itself. Even the way we access information is ever changing. We’ve gone from big screen to small screen, to wearable screen
…And that’s all in the last 10 years. Companies that spend more time talking and less time innovating will lose the race and quickly become irrelevant. MOI will soon launch its own innovation lab (watch this space).
6. Everything is digital so nothing is digital
Latest prophecies suggest that all marketing will be digital, therefore the term digital itself will be redundant. While I think we are definitely closer to this and there is a definite shift in digital maturity of many businesses, there will always be organisations and instances where something physical – from direct mail, to events and experiences, is still a requirement.
7. Strategy is simply the wrong word
Often I’m asked do we need a separate strategy for individual channels. My answer is always based on PR Smith’s SOSTAC model. That is, your channel – whether that’s digital or not, forms part of SOSTAC’s tactics, actions and controls – all of which answer to the strategy to reach the overall objectives. What’s SOSTAC? Here’s what it stands for in brief, but you can read more about it at businessballs.com):
S – Situation Analysis (where we are now)
O – Objectives (where we want to go)
S – Strategy (how we’re going to get there)
T – Tactics (the details of strategy)
A – Action (implementation – putting the plan to work)
C – Control (measurement, monitoring, reviewing, updating and modifying)
8. Digital is about the delivery
It’s actually the content we should be more focused on. Get good at story telling. Everyone loves a good story – because everyone is programmed to. We personify abstract shapes, we seek ourselves in objects around us, we make ourselves the main character of every story we hear. And that’s just perfect for your brand. Tell a great brand story and you can influence how your audience behaves towards it, because everyone you tell your brand story to can be the hero. To your customers, your company can seem less like an organisation and more like a friend with whom they have things in common. Looked at it this way, it’s easy to see why the John Lewis ads evoke such a warm response from viewers.
9. Budgets will shift from strategy to business intelligence
The data explosion has meant that marketers have become more focussed on real-time data, on its analysis and on using the insight to inform business decisions. According to Gartner, Big Data spurred $34billion in global IT spend in 2013 and an Infogroup study revealed there is now a far greater focus on data analysis than on data collection (45% and 11% of respondents respectively seeing these as their biggest data-related challenge). So it follows that the key personnel focus will shift from strategists to analysts. So strategists may need to retrain – or rethink.
10. Digital will just disappear
While I’m not a fan of buzzwords or phrases, the “frictionless digital experience” is probably a good way to describe where digital is going. Products under development include 1mm2 chip devices embedded into pills and tablets that, once swallowed, can begin a process that relays information to your mobile phone about when your next dose is needed. People with diabetes could soon be managing their blood sugar via smart contact lenses that monitor the glucose levels in their tears. Digital technology that is, effectively, completely unnoticeable by the user.
11. BONUS: Digital as a service
For me, marketers should think of digital as a service. A service that gives our audience something of value, that they can use. I think there are still too many examples of the brochure-ware web, where organisations think we can just display content and customers will come running. That’s simply not the case. Try the “so what?” test. If your digital communications don’t answer that, then they haven’t done enough. Why should your audience stop and listen to what you or your brand has to say? There has to be something in it for them. But digital as a service doesn’t necessarily mean some everlasting useful thing that sits on the user’s home screen and they interact with it every day. I’ve seen some great uses of tactical mobile apps, that really deliver against objectives.
So are you convinced about digital strategy? Next time you’re tasked with sitting down to write your digital marketing plan, maybe your strategy should be no strategy at all…