Sunday, December 8, 2019
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Mapping the future of marketing digitally

I was worried. There was this complete stranger – a woman in her 70s — sitting beside me on the park bench and she was trying to get my attention.

I kept ignoring her until she leaned over and touched my shoulder. I had no choice but to close my laptop and face her. To my surprise, I found the stranger smiling apologetically at me. All she wanted to know was how to search for a ‘local dental clinic’ on her new smartphone.

I gladly accepted her smartphone and helped her with the search, all the while explaining the different options that kept popping up. After some time, it was quite clear to me that the lady was only interested in knowing two things: which is the closest dental clinic and whether there were any negative reviews.

It was quite clear to me that digital marketing is influencing offline purchasing behaviour in more ways than we ever thought. In fact a survey by Google found that 89 per cent of consumers research online before walking into a store to make an actual purchase.

This means a small business with a smart digital strategy can put its brand in front of thousands of shoppers and start influencing their buying process well before they get to know their competitors. The process is called ‘Digital Metamorphosis’ and can be very powerful when carried out in its entirety. Here is the overview of the entire system:

Step One: Take stock of your brand

Map your digital industry landscape including your competitors, target audience and digital scope. Discover the digital depths of your competitors by looking at their website, their ‘search engine optimisation’ (SEO) strategy, search strategy, social presence, mobile compatibility and local online presence.

Step Two: Develop a smart digital strategy

Sit and chart your brand’s digital strategy that includes an SEO plan, a search advertising plan and a social media plan. The plan has to include a generic SEO plan based on brand keywords and also a tactical SEO plan based on long tail keywords.

Your social media plan comes directly from discovering which sites your target audience visit the most and not based on industry rumours, while your search advertising plan stems from keyword research and consumer behaviour.

With the drastic increase in GPS and mapping-enabled smartphones and the prominence of map results on search result pages, local search is rapidly becoming a critical marketing channel.

Of consumers who use a search engine on their smartphone to find local information, 77 per cent end up contacting a business and 44 per cent make a purchase. Needless to say, these are hot leads. To capitalize, ensure that all of your campaigns are geo-specific and mobile compatible.

Step Three: Go viral strategically

In today’s digital environment, it is not enough to be present on search, social, mobile and local – you need to go viral. You need to create interesting content and package it in a way that it gets shared and goes viral.

For example, Oreo used power outage at a Super Bowl to launch a tongue-in-cheek ‘You can still dunk in the darkness’ campaign. It was shared by millions on social media. A simple video that Dove created called the ‘Real Beauty Sketches’ went viral on YouTube and viewed by more than 114 million times and uploaded in 25 languages.

In many ways, digital has levelled the playing field for all players. You no longer need a multi-million dollar campaign to reach a massive audience. All you need is a well-thought out digital strategy and a viral idea to catapult your brand and dominate the marketplace… almost overnight.

— The writer heads WSI UAE, a digital agency.