Musings from GroupM: Is Your Company A Digital Marketer? Are You Sure? - Jeff Ratner - MediaBizBloggers

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Cover image for  article: Musings from GroupM: Is Your Company A Digital Marketer? Are You Sure? - Jeff Ratner - MediaBizBloggers

Do you believe that your company is a true digital marketer? Of course you do. After all, you have your web site, you use banner ads, you've purchased online video and you've launched a Facebook page. A click–through rate above .1 percent makes you the envy of your peers. You're Web 1.0, 2.0 and charging ahead – you've bought it, owned it, and even earned it. When it comes to digital marketing, you're covered, right? Maybe not.

Despite taking all those steps, you still need to ask yourself whether your company has fully leveraged the value that digital channels can bring to the marketing mix. The problem is that many companies fail to take full advantage of the marketing possibilities offered by digital channels. They understand and appreciate digital's ability to target consumers surgically, track buyer behavior and optimize plans, but they have yet to take the transformative steps necessary to be considered a true digital marketer. Simply put, they're digital advertisers—not digital marketers. And there's a big difference between the two.

Let's take a short quiz to see how your company stacks up:

· For your last digital campaign, how many different banner creative executions (not sizes) did you run?

· When you shot your last TV spot, did you ask the ad agency to develop assets beyond a 30-second or 15-second spot?

· Has your legal team developed policies and review processes around social engagement, dynamic ad creation, and content development?

· Is your customer service tied into your web site, social monitoring tools, and POS systems?

· Have you developed a consumer data driven targeting and retargeting strategy?

· Are your consumer touch points understood and followed across the web? Into retail?

· Do you listen to your consumers by monitoring conversations about your brands and your competitors' brands on the web?

· Do your agencies think holistically about the additive value of all your consumer touch points?

If the answers to these questions make you squirm, then chances are you're not yet a digital marketer. But don't worry—you're not alone.

Experienced and successful digital marketers, companies that have either grown up digital or have made the revolutionary changes in infrastructure and marketing practices, enjoy significant ROI for their efforts. This includes reduced marketing expenses, incremental revenue streams, and improved customer loyalty. These companies have learned to leverage new communications channels to create positive consumer engagement and have put it at the core of all marketing efforts. They guide their brands, not manage them, empowering and learning from their consumers. Successful digital marketers have realized that they can no longer hide from their consumers and allow a print ad or a 30-second TV spot do their talking. They embrace the transparency, and intimacy that digital communications enable and leverage these to foster dialogue and advocacy. The speed at which digital communications moves enables them to test and learn, motivate and react. Information that used to take millions of dollars and weeks and to disseminate can now travel across established communities in lightning speed. The idea that "content is king" is no longer just the mantra of publishers, but has now become the rallying cry for successful digital marketers.

Here are a few excellent examples of companies who have successfully made the transition from digital advertiser to digital marketer.

· NIKE. NikeTown stores in cites all over the world host running clubs where athletes of all levels of skill meet at the store to go for a run together. Although traditional marketing support for these clubs has been limited, hundreds show up each evening. Email, blog posts, and WOM have been the primary drivers of the success of these growing social and financially rewarding gatherings.

· SONY. Sony produces online video tutorials for all of their latest gadgets that users can easily access. The videos—which are leveraged by their customer service agents and used to train retail staff—are an alternative to the printed user manuals that traditionally accompany each product. The abundance of this content and its distribution on YouTube and elsewhere is not only a useful resource for those who have already purchased, but are also an effective outbound sales tool that has been seamlessly incorporated into Sony's SEO strategy.

· SPRINT. Sprint has built a community of interest within the Microsoft Network around small businesses. The company's small business initiative, known as Business on Main brings news, tools, and networking opportunities to this growing and resource challenged target segment. In doing so, Sprint has created the perfect avenue to have an ongoing dialogue with this audience and thereby create an opportunity to market their products and services.

· BEST BUY. Best Buy's much talked about Blue Shirt Nation and TWELPFORCE are representative of the fantastic transformation of a company into a digital marketer. Social networking tools were used to share knowledge, best practices and customer insights across their sales force and managers. With Twelpforce, Best Buy is leveraging the instant connectivity of Twitter to provide customers with instant technical support from their thousands of on-floor experts.

In a marketplace where creating differentiation becomes increasingly difficult, these companies are using digital channels to break through the clutter, test new strategies and ideas and have learned how to create and leverage their assets. In so doing, they are successfully creating new opportunities for meaningful engagement for customers and prospects.

Can you say the same about your company?

Jeff Ratner is Digital Director, North America, for Maxus, a GroupM media services agency that is part of WPP.

Read all Jeff's MediaBizBloggers commentaries at Musings from GroupM - MediaBizBloggers.

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