That’s the theme that comes through very strongly in the five features that make up this issue of Marketing Week’s Digital Strategy supplement.
For a start, there’s the question of what you’re trying to achieve. That’s relatively easy to decide if you’re a brand that sells online but, as David Isherwood of Renault points out on page 50, if you’re not there’s a grey area between what you’re doing in the interactive space and the physical results. So what kind of goals should you set? Is traffic to your website what matters, as it does for Joy Armitage at Cadbury, or is the buzz in the social space what’s important?
This leads into problems of measurement. Everyone in the digital space knows how much data the medium can generate; the phrase “drowning in data” crops up repeatedly. So how do you work out what metrics to concentrate on?
Increasingly too there’s the issue of integration, of making the various digital channels you’re using work as efficiently as possible with each other, and with their offline counterparts. In a sector that has for so long been dominated by the notion that all the credit for a transaction goes to the ad that delivered the final click, the need for a more balanced attribution of value to individual touchpoints is a challenge for everyone, from technology giants like Google and Microsoft through to individual brand managers.
And there’s the question of emerging technologies. How do you decide when to adopt a new platform? And how far do you go with it? Robbie Tutt, web design and development manager at Comet, takes a pragmatic view on page 53, saying that “we will get a Facebook page when we know what to do with it, what will add value and what will make customers want to interact with us.” But you may not have much time to figure those things out, as Asda’s head of corporate communications Dom Burch explains in the same article; “whether we were ready or not, plenty of our customers were already venting their frustrations on Twitter.”
“Deciding what you’re trying to achieve is relatively easy if you’re a brand that sells online, if not there’s a grey area”
Fortunately, some answers to these questions emerge from our discussions. The one everyone talks about is the importance of setting key performance indicators as a baseline to which all decisions can then be referred back. These can apply at any level, from an individual brand through to the entire organisation. Knowing what your ultimate goals are means you can find ways to measure them, or find the proxies that make the most sense. And having defined KPIs means not only can you start to tweak the various elements of your marketing and see what happens, as First Direct’s Paul Say explains, you can also start to develop strategies across the whole of your marketing communications.
Finally, once you know what your goals are, you can evaluate emerging technologies against them, as Alex Tait does at the Post Office. And the beauty is that, because for most brands the most pressing technologies will be in the social media space, one of the results will be the collection of customer insights that can be used to refine those goals, creating a virtuous circle.