New Media, New Imperatives

While the fundamentals of marketing have not changed with the onset of the new media, the dynamics definitely have. Consequently, a host of new perspectives and imperatives have emerged that marketers need to embrace. The more important amongst these are as follows:

“People Power”: In cyberspace, people not only listen, they talk. As they converse with each other about their interests and about products, they play a role in the marketing of brands.

Take Coca-Cola for instance, some years back it was estimated that 80% of the brand’s communication on YouTube was user generated.

This shift in power from the corporate to the consumer has had a profound impact on marketing. It opens up a new world of opportunities and threats, and creates a host of new perspectives or priorities such as social listening, social cloisters, misinformation, co-creation, crowdsourcing and permission marketing.

To harness the power of ordinary people, marketers need to listen and engage with these consumers, and collaborate with them in ways that channel their affinity for a brand towards creating brand value.

Staying Engaged: It does not matter whether you lead consumers or follow them, so long as you are with them. This is immensely important at a time when your market is in a state of flux, and consumers’ behaviours are changing.

Cyberspace has transformed the way consumers engage with brands, such as the way they seek information, how they buy products or the manner they advocate a brand. It has altered viewing preferences, transformed media experiences and amplified voices. What people are watching, saying and doing in cyberspace is influencing their buying decisions.

The nature of these influences is no longer adequately captured by conventional marketing constructs such as the purchasing funnel and the consumer decision journey. Engagement is non-linear and multi-faceted, and the touchpoints have changed.

Marketers must embrace the new touch points. They need to develop cyber properties that attract consumers by providing useful information, and they need to invest in efforts to foster word-of-mouth.

Managing Word-of-mouth and Buzz Marketing: The persuasive power of word-of-mouth outweighs that of advertising, and social media greatly amplifies it. User-generated content, whether in the form of reviews, opinions, advice, rants or complaints, garners greater credibility than the messages advertised by marketers. To manage their impact, marketers are devoting considerable resources to influencing analysts, bloggers and other influential consumers. Companies like Dell, for instance, are spending more on advocacy than on conventional media.

Heightened Accountability: The shift in power from the corporate to the consumer has intensified accountability for all brands. As mentioned earlier brand messages can become contagious and spread like a virus — possibly yielding extraordinary gains or possibly causing irreparable damage. The need for marketers to promptly respond to their consumers has heightened, and many of them have committed resources and set-up processes to do so within hours. P&G for instance, uses an automated social listening platform called “consumer pulse” to scan comments on the internet, categorize them by brand, and post them to the relevant individual. Moreover, since in the global context, consumers transcend time zones, online customer engagement/service can never sleep.

Market Globalization: Digital has re-defined market globalization. By providing easy access to information and by means of e-commerce, the internet has more effectively perforated geographical market boundaries. More than ever before, marketers are competing in a global setting. It is easier to communicate to a global audience and sell to distant markets, and it is harder to rigidly localize the marketing mix.

Marketing to Individuals: On the internet, marketers personalize and channel advertising and other messages and stimuli, to the individual. Moreover, considering the extent of information about ordinary people that it possesses (see targeting), the net allows marketers to finely target their messages thus increasing the effectiveness of their communication.

Media Convergence: Whereas earlier brand communication used to be primarily confined within conventional media silos, now marketers need to adapt to the convergence of media. To get their message across they must synchronize the flow of brand communication across multiple media channels. Besides, considering that much of their online media is owned, marketers are producing content at a faster pace than ever before.

“Data Power” (Metrics and Analytics): The internet adds a rich new stream of data that reveals extensive information about consumers and their behaviours.

Through web analytics, marketers can track an individual’s progress down the prospecting funnel, from a lead to an enquiry, enquiry to prospect, and prospect to customer, yielding a wealth of information that reveals the impact of their marketing mix and assesses the health of their online properties.

The effective use of data improves traffic and conversion rates, yielding improved business performance through increase in sales and superior customer experiences.

For sectors such as financial services, analytic techniques are being used to quantify risks, enabling businesses to weed out risky transactions.

In addition, data empowered and technologically enabled systems and processes are yielding gains in productivity, leading to significant cost reductions.

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