Digital Is No Longer The Future. It’s The Now.


“The era of digital marketing is over. It’s almost dead.”

Marc Pritchard – Director of global brand building at proctor & Gamble expresses that digital marketing is no longer a separate entity. Instead, it has become integrated into the building blocks of the marketing process.

Recently, I was asked to give a presentation on digital marketing at the University of East Anglia. I geared my talk around one key understanding – how Traditional marketing and digital marketing have become one with each other.

So what exactly is the fundamental nature of digital? Digital is measurability.

Henry Ford is one of my favorite entrepreneurs. Ford single handedly built one of the worlds greatest motor corporations, growing an industry that stretches globally with a multitude of assets now valued at around 200 billion. Ford once said; “Half of advertising is a waste of money, we just don’t know which half”. – Like traditional business, this quote has now become outdated. As a millennial, I was fortunate enough to be immersed in digital from my early teens. Now a digital practitioner, I understand that the beauty of digital is that everything can be measured. It can be analyzed, re-practiced, compared and most importantly, improved.

This is what we do on a day-to-day basis, At L’Oreal; I am able to compare work 3 months ago with a campaign launched 3 days ago. This year, I am responsible for both Lancôme and Giorgio Armani’s digital execution of Christmas across the UK. I plan on building a thorough analysis of revenue and interaction statistics from all emailing campaigns sent out over Christmas 2014 to set myself benchmarks. I will then execute my plan for Christmas 2015, carry out the same analysis and potentially steer the future of digital marketing in a different direction.

In essence, we are now able to identify which half of marketing is a waste of time, abolish that half and strategically replace it. Fantastique! But how exactly do we do that. Well, this is where data becomes a key component, digital and data go hand in hand. Every two days we create as much data as we did from the beginning of time to 2003. Yes, hard to believe I know. Throughout high school, I would hear my teachers rambling about the inevitable, how ‘marketing is becoming a numbers game’, little did I know, this was the birth of marketing’s 5th ‘P’, digital came creeping in.

When we talk data, we tend to split data types into two data types – categorical and numerical. However, in the modern day, data doesn’t have to be this technical; the only data that you use when working for a consumer oriented business is the single type that is relevant to making more money or brand equity.

I do not work with big data; I do not know how to algorithmically expose true data from its uncharacterized origin. I like to understand the fundamentals; however the data that I use when building customer relationships is characterised. The nature of our work in the 21st century is that characterised data is not necessarily read like words on a page, it is still stored in mass and therefore we need to know how to segment it accurately, something many companies fail at.

Now taking that under your belt, let’s explore how data is used in digital marketing – Imagine you own a coffee shop with a website. You have managed to build a database of 3,000 people that includes a variation of customers, most of which do not actually buy your coffee. This database contains email addresses, recorded on an Ipad at a point of sale or on a website sign up page. This is known as customer relationship management (CRM). The coffee shop can then use this customer data, breaking it down into smaller segments to target similar characteristics and send a personalised message that is relevant to the consumer. This is an easy example of how data can be used to increase business output.

Is the concept of building a customer relationship new? No. We have been able to record this data for decades; Business folk could probably find the earliest forms of CRM on a caveman’s wall if they were creative enough! The only thing that’s changed is how easily we are able to build a relationship now on a mass level. The concept of data driven CRM is easy; it’s the theory of understanding your customer so that you can effectively interact with them. We as the future are supercharging data, we are stretching its capabilities and we are continually wanting more from it.

Digital marketing is no longer the future, it’s the now. We work with data, we build customer relationships, we analyse the process, remove, re-evaluate, improve and do it all over again.

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Why are we all so perplexed by integrated marketing communications?


Integrated marketing communications (IMC) is becoming increasingly more important with technological advances; it is however misinterpreted by many academics. IMC‘s evolving concept from 1989 has changed dramatically with the direction of business. Why? There is no specialty to it’s perplexing dynamic. IMC is so hard to define as the theory is a both a concept and a process.

So what is IMC exactly? Well, there are many definitions. IMC defined by Tim Duncan, A famous author in field of marketing, defines IMC to be the strategic co-ordination of all messages and media used by an organization to collectively influence its perceived brand. And if you were wondering, co-ordination refers to long term and strategic orientation of consumers. Now what does this mean? If you look at Duncan’s definition, it states that the ‘co-ordination’ is between all messages and media used by an organization.

All good and well, what is the concept behind IMC and how what does it actually do? Well, according to Harvard Business Review (HBR), ‘IMC is to manage effectively the mediated impression of and direct encounter with the brand so that synergism ensues among all the interrelated elements of IMC, including research and development, manufacturing, price formulation, channel arrangement, consumer service management, marketing message construction, and communication program execution.’, in a nut shell, IMC theory practices the use of synergy to create a congruent brand image through all business practices.

It all seems very simple, and it is. However, the problem arose with defining and clarifying IMC is due to its age and the direction that business has swerved. So prior to establishing that it’s both a concept and process, what does this mean? So concept is abstract, like a concept car – a great idea, but not possible to manufacture on a large scale. It was an unrealistic venture back in the mid 1900’s to have a congruent and consistent brand image across a campaign or entire organization. Therefore it could not be practiced. However, what do we have now? We live in an incredibly advanced world with technology, dramatic innovation and an economy that is growing. This is what makes IMC now a process. It is a tool now used by marketers as a series of actions or steps taken in order to achieve a particular end. The ‘end’ being a profitable brand image through integrated consistency. So, IMC has actually just grown. Where it was once a disabled concept, now it can be used because of the tools marketers have around them.

IMC was originally comprised of two principles. The first was that the campaign message is designed to speak and voice something, which is very generic indeed. The second principle is that the campaign will be designed in an attempt to elicit a measurable, behavioral consumer response, which can be measured. Communications professional – Kliatchko, elaborates on his theory of IMC and how it has evolved to be more of an effective tool in business operations, therefore not only a concept. His views are similar to my own, that it is split up into ‘old’ and ‘new’ concepts. The old being the two fundamentals (Stated above) which come together to create whole consumer orientation, and the new which is the rise in technology that has allowed the ‘old’ theory of integrated communications to actually be carried out.

What once was a strategic approach to planning and brand message consistency through channels, now has become a better perceived, specialized and more formal practice which is oriented around the three pillars of IMC. These three pillars established a benchmark of this very generic concept and process. The three pillars are Audience focus, channel focus and results driven. This is a modernized framework of IMC, and at least is set gaining recognition. However, this doesn’t make it bulletproof to critique and misinterpretation, this is just another academic opinion that will change again over time.

This is one of the easier areas to hypothesize. IMC is hard to define and practice. This boils down to its ability to be a concept and a process. The age of IMC means that it was once a concept, which could not be practiced. Now however, advancing capabilities in technology and communication mean that it has become an extremely popular process. But lets be honest, most organizations are integrating their marketing communications regardless of the definition. They are creating an image just like the ‘innovative leader’ we see apple to be. But they don’t even know it because it’s just what the market has demanded.

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