Trends in Digital Marketing and Business Strategy

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Technology, data and design are key to successful organisations, supported by the right culture, what are the latest trends?

Curiously, while speaking of customer experience CX and their ‘journey’, there is little focus upon customer driven strategies or CGM customer generated media content that is informed, logical, authentic and economic?

‘From Prateek Vatash of Econsultancy via AMI Australian Marketing Institute – Digital Intelligence Briefing – Executive Summary

Econsultancy’s 2018 Digital Trends report, published in association with Adobe, is based on a global survey of 12,795 marketing, creative and technology professionals in the digital industry across EMEA, North America and Asia Pacific.

Now in its eighth year, the research looks at the most significant trends that will impact companies in the short to medium term. As part of this year’s study, we have also identified a number of top-performing companies in order to identify how they are focusing their activities and investments differently compared to their peers.

High-performing companies are those organisations that exceeded their top 2017 business goal by a significant margin, and who have also significantly outperformed their competitors.  Key insights from the research include:

 

Companies continue to focus on the customer experience (CX), as well as the content required to facilitate this. Organisations committed to CX are shown to outperform their peers.
– Asked about the single most exciting opportunity for the year ahead, optimising customer experience (19%) again comes out on top, ahead of data-driven marketing that
focuses on the individual (16%) and creating compelling content for digital experiences (14%).
– Organisations with a ‘cross-team approach with the customer at the heart of all initiatives’ are nearly twice as likely to have exceeded their top 2017 business goal by a significant margin (20% vs. 11%).
– Just under two-thirds (62%) of companies agree they have ‘a cohesive plan, long-term view and executive support for the future of [their] customer’.
– The top strategic priority for organisations in 2018 is content and experience management. Almost half (45%) of companies surveyed rank this as one of their three most important priority areas for the year ahead, with a fifth (20%) stating that this is their primary focus.

 

We are entering a ‘design and creativity renaissance’, with top-performing companies recognising the importance of these capabilities to complement data and technology excellence.
– The survey has found that just under three-quarters (73%) of respondents say their companies are investing in design to differentiate their brands.
– Organisations describing themselves as ‘design-driven’ are 69% more likely than their peers to have exceeded their 2017 business goals by a significant margin (22% vs. 13%). – – Similarly, organisations where creativity is highly valued are 46% more likely to have exceeded their 2017 business goals by a significant margin (19% vs. 13%).
– Organisations that ‘have well-designed user journeys that facilitate clear communication and a seamless transaction’ are 57% more likely to have significantly surpassed their 2017 business goals (22% vs. 14%).

 

Investment in technology and related skills is paying dividends, with integrated platforms fast-becoming a prerequisite for success.
– A lack of integrated marketing technology reduces the chances of providing a seamless customer experience and can also be frustrating for marketers and other employees who want to go about their jobs without unnecessary restrictions in their ability to acquire, retain and delight customers.
– In terms of their tech setup, 43% of organisations report a fragmented approach with inconsistent integration between technologies. Top-performing companies are almost three times as likely as their mainstream peers to have invested in a highly-integrated, cloud-based technology stack (25% vs. 9%).
– Digital skills are vital for a range of marketing tools and platforms. Almost three-quarters (73%) of respondents agree that their companies are ‘combining digital marketing skills with technology’. Companies doing this are nearly twice as likely to have surpassed their 2017 business goals by a significant margin (20% vs. 11%), according to our analysis.

 

AI set to play a growing role in helping marketers to deliver more compelling real-time experiences.
– When asked about the themes and technologies they are most excited about over a three-year time frame, ‘delivering personalised experiences in real time’ is by far the most popular choice across all regions, with more than a third (36%) of company respondents, and 40% of their
agency counterparts, selecting this option.
– Top-performing companies are more than twice as likely as their peers to be using AI for marketing (28% vs. 12%). Only 15% of companies are already using AI, but a further 31% are planning to do so in the next 12 months. Looking only at respondents with annual revenues of more than £150m, the proportion of organisations using AI increases to 24%.
– Analysis of data is a key AI focus for businesses, with companies keen to create insight out of the vast quantities of often unstructured data being generated by customers’ activity. On-site personalisation is the second most-commonly cited use case for AI.’

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Digital vs. Traditional Marketing – Kotler

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Digital vs. Traditional Marketing – Kotler

Digital marketing facilitates WOM word of mouth and horizontal communication within any target market with the customers being central in strategy and outcomes, complemented by more detailed ROI, and requiring more analysis of digital or e-consumer behaviour.  The digital marketing strategy should be viewed as the system or software development lifecycle is, along the customer journey, based upon user or customer input making the system live, dynamic and relevant.

What are the differences and similarities between traditional and digital?

Philip Kotler – Traditional to Digital Marketing (Image copyright Marketing insider Group)

Following is a summary of Philip Kotler’s Marketing 4.0 from The Marketing Journal (Kotler, Kartajaya & Setiawan 2018)

‘Marketing 4.0 is the sequel to our widely-recognized concept of Marketing 3.0, which calls for brands to touch the human spirit.

Digital technology is increasingly moving at the heart of most modern businesses today. As OECD states, digital economy is fast percolating a wide range of industries, from bank­ing, energy and transportation to media and health. No wonder thus how often we hear of the word ‘dis­ruption’ in the context of business.

Moving towards marketing 4.0 requires balancing our use of machines and devices with human contact to strengthen customer engagement.

 

From Traditional to Digital Marketing

As we move from traditional to digital, market­ing has undergone fundamental transformation in the way its various elements are incorporated. Let’s take a look at the four most critical shifts:

From ‘Segmentation and Targeting’ to ‘Customer Community Confirmation’

For brands to be able to penetrate these com­ munities and get their messages across effectively, they need to fit in naturally – acting as friends, showing care and genuine concern to address cus­tomers’ needs and wants. In essence, the process of segmentation, targeting and positioning is made more transparent.

 

From ‘Brand Positioning and Differentiation’ to ‘Brand Characters and Codes’

In this age of digital marketing, a brand needs to be dynamic and versatile in what messages it delivers and how. But what should remain consis­tent is the brand’s character and codes, regardless of the content of the messages that it delivers. The brand’s character – its raison d’être- is what defines its personality, it is what makes the brand stand true to its core, even if the outer imagery is flexible – think Google (with its ever-changing Doodles) or MTV – how they remain flexible with their varying designs, yet solid as brands.

 

From ‘Selling the 4P’s’to ‘Commercializing the 4C’s’

In view of greater connectivity in the digital economy, armed with increased customer partic­ipation, we reckon the emergence of a new set of marketing mix, the 4C’s – co-creation, currency, communal activation, and conversation.

Traditional customer service revolves around treating customers as kings, but in the collabora­tive customer care approach, they are viewed as equals. While customer service would focus solely on addressing their concerns while still attempting to stick to strict guidelines and standard operating procedures, collaborative care would put genuine effort into listening and responding to the cus­tomer, consistently following through, on terms agreed upon by both company and customer. In the connected world, this collaborative process is more relevant to customer care wherein customers are invited to participate in the process by using self-service facilities.

 

Integrating Traditional and Digital Marketing

Industry observers have been debating for a while whether traditional marketing is dead, in view of the rising influence of, and marketing spend in, digital marketing. What we believe however is that digital is not supposed to replace traditional marketing. Both are meant to co-exist and have their own roles to play across the customer journey.

Traditional marketing is still quite effective in building awareness and interest in brands, but digital marketing plays a more prominent role as customers go on to build closer relationships with brands. The goal of digital should be to drive action and advocacy, and in view of greater accountability, the focus should be on driving results, as opposed to traditional marketing where the focus should be on initiating customer interaction. In essence, Marketing 4.0 aims to help marketers identify and prepare for the shifting roles of traditional and dig­ital marketing in building customer engagement and advocacy.’

 

What does this all mean?

  • Digital marketing should not be viewed simply as a technical channel for budget allocation, while it includes community, word of mouth or horizontal communication with social media channels.
  • Underlying brand character remains the same but with constant customer participation and collaboration as per the 4C’s customer generated content, authenticity, horizontal communication via word of mouth, and reinforcement of the message.
  • Digital should complement traditional marketing’s building awareness and interest with customer interaction, also analysis of customer engagement, decision and action to inform ROI well.
  • Marketing strategy (development) should be viewed as a dynamic system, not unlike the systems or software development lifecycle (SDLC) for the duration of the customer journey.
  • Any system must to be based upon the needs of all stakeholders including customers, personnel, and users by continuous feedback for analysis (of outcomes) to inform improvements (including ROI).

 

For more blog articles about digital marketing and consumer behaviour click through to blog Education, Training and Society.

References & Bibliography:

Kotler, P, Kartajaya, H & Setiawan, I 2016, Marketing 4.0: Moving from Traditional to Digital, Wiley, New Jersey.

Kotler, P, Kartajaya, H & Setiawan, I 2018, ‘Marketing 4.0: When Online Meets Offline, Style Meets Substance, and Machine-to-Machine Meets Human-to-Human’, The Marketing Journal, viewed 6 August 2018, <http://www.marketingjournal.org/marketing-4-0-when-online-meets-offline-style-meets-substance-and-machine-to-machine-meets-human-to-human-philip-kotler-hermawan-kartajaya-iwan-setiawan/&gt;

 

 

International Education Market Research

Recently there have been articles about international students’ motivations and well-being on their journey of discovery through international education, a significant industry.

Such articles are relevant in that they do not criticise or dog whistle international students by describing them as ‘immigrants’ or suggesting they purposely short visa and immigration systems for long term or permanent residency.

In addition to reflecting increased international mobility and prosperity in developing nations, such insights should be imperative for all service-based marketing, especially digital carrying word of mouth or WOM.

Word of mouth is the most influential marketing channel as it is based upon experience of friends, family and peers with a product or service, the most trusted channel.

The message for marketers in any industry, especially services, is never make assumptions or rely upon headline or indirect data, but your customers too.  Marketing brand, reputation etc. requires constant feedback, monitoring of well-being and word of mouth while leveraging the same authentic feedback via social media, couched within a digital marketing strategy.

 

What we know about why Chinese students come to Australia to study

Hannah Song in The Conversation:

In 2016-17 Australia’s third largest export, international education, leapt from A$23.6 billion to a record high of A$28 billion. Within the higher education sector, the highest intake of international students is of Chinese origin.

Behind these statistics are the individual stories and aspirations of Chinese students’ parents who provide them the financial resources and emotional support. Yet, we know so little about why it matters so much to their parents, and what long-term impacts overseas study has on them and their families when they return home…

….Focusing on a shifting landscape of education in Shanghai, I undertook a longitudinal pilot case-study of four bilingual kindergarten-secondary schools to investigate the aspirations Chinese middle-class parents have for their children’s education.

….If Australia is to remain a destination for world-class education, we need to be far more self-reflective and long-sighted about what Australian international education offers: global citizenship and transnational mobility. We need to listen to the voices of an increasing middle-class in China.’

Student journey through international education

International Students (Image copyright Pexels)

‘’It’s stressful being an other’: The mental health woes of international students

Emily Baker in The Conversation:

Moving to Australia has, in Daniel Kang’s words, been a mix of challenges and little blessings. The Australian National University student has found room to breathe and develop. Walks through the abundant bush help clear his head. Generally, the experience has exceeded his expectations.

But moving from Singapore to Canberra has also carried difficulties. It can be stressful being an “other”, he said. The 22-year-old has at times been very lonely…

The most recent student experience survey from the federal government’s Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching found undergraduate international students rated their experience at Australian universities 75 out of 100 per cent – slightly below the 79 per cent awarded by domestic students.

But separately, many international students report stress. They report social isolation. The very fact of being an international student in Australia – the experience of being alone in a new country, subject to financial pressures, navigating a new culture, and adjusting to a new academic system – is considered to make an individual at greater risk of mental ill-health.’

 

Any institution, business or organisation that neglects its existing customers to inform quality and marketing strategy development, maybe asking for trouble while relying upon PR and sales?

In the case of international education the most valuable resources are accessible onshore and on campus, i.e. enrolled students and their networks.

Focus Group Feedback – Qualitative Data Analysis – Grounded Theory & Coding

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Focus Group Feedback – Qualitative Data Analysis – Grounded Theory & Coding

 

Potential respondents must have the ethics of research explained before any interview or feedback, not only verbally at start of an interview or related interaction, but inclusion on a briefing document explaining study and research, storage of data, along with ethics.

Focus Group Interviews

 

Focus interviews, individual or via a group, based on psychoanalysis, can be very adaptable, allow expression of body language, in addition to concept checking or informal communication which would be precluded by the written form.  However, there are disadvantages, interviews can be very time consuming to conduct, transcribe, code and analyse when using open questions to elicit perceptions, attitudes and experience of the research area, plus they can be subjective or prone to bias.  On the other hand, they are useful to explore same perceptions etc., then importantly, used to inform a valid survey or data collection instrument or further research (Bell, 2005).

 

Types of interview include structured e.g. answering survey face to face, semi-structured and unstructured, the latter allows good quality data to be offered.  The unstructured interview can offer an opportunity for an industry person to explain and elaborate on issues that have emerged organically, that would have otherwise remained unknown and ignored (Ibid.).

 

Focus Group Interview Feedback Respondents

 

The ‘Focus Respondents’ for this research study included two former international students now professionals with digital literacy, two international education marketing (and admissions) managers for large multinational education providers and two more senior ‘Focus Respondents’ who manage within international education, but without formal marketing background.

 

‘Focus Respondents’ were asked open questions based upon the literature and round the information search process with any critical issues, key words, processes or phenomenon to be expressed, not in long narrative for full transcription, but abbreviated for notes and action coding.

 

It was explained to focus respondents, to give them structure or context, that the general focus was decision making behaviour process, represented by a five-stage model:

 

Purchase Decision Making Model

 

Five Stage Purchase Decision Behaviour Model or Process (simplified)

  • Recognition of Need
  • Information Search
  • Evaluation of Alternatives
  • Purchase Decision
  • Post Purchase Behaviour

(Kotler & Keller, 2012).

 

From same focus interviews regarding information search or discovery process, the research elicited factors or latent variables, then quantified by survey to analyse for significance of these factors in ‘optimal marketing and communications’.  These factors and construct can then be used to develop an information seeking construct and a useful template for industry.

Next step is to deliver survey to a hopefully significant sample population to then ground any marketing strategy development.

 

Reference List:

 

Bell, J. (2005) Doing Your Research Project. (4th Ed.). Maidenhead: Open University Press.

 

Kotler, P. & Keller, K. (2012) Marketing Management. (14th Ed.) Upper Saddle River: Pearson Education – Prentice Hall.