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Guest article: Ramakanta Panda: Digitally correct

By Ramakanta Panda , TCS, Mumbai | In Marketing | December 09, 2011
The medium of marketing can be traditional or digital, but the fundamentals do not change.

Prof Mohanbir Sawhney, McCormick Tribune Professor of Technology, was once asked by an executive from a large technology company: "How do we do good digital marketing?" His response was, "Do good marketing digitally!" Digital marketing still is marketing!

The rising dominance of digital marketing and the eagerness of marketers towards technology-driven marketing reflect the fundamental shift towards online and mobile interaction, coupled with the rising dominance of the social media.

This means that consumer expectations are rising day-by-day, and so do marketers' eagerness towards technology-driven marketing. In their eagerness to try new things, most of them forget how to guard fundamentals against the surge of technology. The medium of marketing could be traditional or digital, but we still need to have clear-cut objectives, a well-defined target audience, creative value proposition, and measurement metrics. Fundamentals do not change.

With the digital shift fuelling rapid change in consumer behaviour, marketers need to get their fundamentals right while engaging the target audience at the right moment, with the aid of right technology. In most companies, marketers have to cover a long journey to do good marketing digitally. Due to peer pressure, marketers are in a haste to go the digital marketing way and the following areas are often left unaddressed by them:

• Lack of data quality improvement processes to get customer segmentation right

• Inability to effectively link inbound and outbound activity for creating a single campaign view

• Lack of well-defined business-specific performance metrics to measure campaign performance

As a result of these missing pieces, marketers trying digital marketing for the first time, fail to maintain a uniform campaign messaging across all channels, and lack customer interaction. To address these issues, marketers need to have an integrated digital marketing environment, supported by the best planning, personalisation, modelling and optimisation tools, deployed to achieve the most out of the technology-driven marketing initiatives.

Let's take the example of online campaign management, an integral part of digital marketing, to discuss the above mentioned points. Every marketer faces difficulty to evaluate campaign effectiveness after a campaign has ended because the customer insight and campaign management is a highly data-intensive process and proves to be a challenge when you need to manage data from disparate sources.

We can address this problem through enterprise campaign management system integration and automation of data intensive processes. Business rules embedded inside the application reduce the data processing time and ensure data integrity. The built-in logic is employed for pre-defined kpi calculations to help generate customer insight reports. Moreover, advanced features like campaign behaviour snapshot allows the reporting and tracking team to transform data into actionable results at any stage of a campaign.

Campaign management applications with built-in business logic for data mining and statistical analysis gave analysts more time to focus on the core business of developing customer insight without bothering much on campaign report tracking.

The successful integrated digital marketing environment requires a potent combination of technology and strong marketing fundamentals.

Therefore, at an organisational level, digital marketing needs to evolve from the medium used to gain attention from random people, to a medium used consistently over a period of time to target specific groups. The tactics must be compelling, not just to attract the audience, but also to inspire and grow the audience base. Without proper planning and business goal identification, digital marketing remains a mere concept. Rather than spending time on creating fancy elements such as micro sites, social media communities, peer driven games, we should spend time to first identify the real business problem, which in turn, will drive the selection of required digital marketing technique. Some of the problems could be:

• Do we need to increase the website conversation rate to achieve higher revenue?

• Do we need to increase spends on e-mail and mobile marketing to reach the target audience effectively?

• Do we need to create brand awareness by running either organic or pay-per-click (ppc) based campaigns?

Digital marketing is an evolving domain, and as marketing priorities continue to shift due to the changing business priorities, it needs to be revisited time and again. With the 'digital' prefix attached to it, no marketer should think this as a domain of marketing which promotes only the science part of marketing, and forgets the human part. In the words of Prof Sawhney, we should try to do good marketing digitally, and not the other way round.

(The author is a marketing consultant at Tata Consultancy Services)