The move to break digital marketing out of the marketing department is on. But so far it’s been challenging to make this vision—and the higher ROI it brings—a reality.
•Lead with the business value, and strong support will follow.
•The line between marketing and sales is blurring—and that’s not a good thing.
•A strategy is about positioning your organization differently in the market, which social, mobile, and big data can do.
The common approach is heavy on platforms, hashtags, and the best time to tweet, but light on true business integration. The result is more followers, downloads, and data, but few outcomes that earn respect from the business, placing marketers in a precarious position as the desire for a hard ROI from these digital initiatives becomes mainstream.
An alternative approach has been to reinvent traditional business functions as highly social, highly mobile, or big data friendly, forcing leaders in these areas to adopt new business processes. This approach has also largely been unsuccessful since these managers have neither the experience, skills, and in many cases the inclination to reinvent. As a result, duplicate functions are created (think social customer service) and an organization’s digital initiatives become further isolated from the business.
Some companies have been successful at achieving tangible results—integrating big data, social media, and mobile technology into one another and into the business, bridging the growing gap between digital marketing and the rest of the organization. Consider the lessons that can be learned from how these top-performing digital brands went against the grain.
Present A Solution The Business Can Understand—And value
If you want to win the hearts and minds of business leaders who are held accountable for bottom-line results, then stop asking them to get on the social bandwagon and start talking their language.
The Starbucks mobile app is a good example. People think of it as the most successful mobile wallet app in the world (and it is), but it started as a way to make in-store operations more efficient by all but eliminating the wait time while a financial transaction was completed at the cash register. With over 10.5 billion cups of coffee sold in North America each day, the savings was massive.
This example will quickly gain the interest and support of even the most antiquated operations manager. The integration of social into mobile, big data analytics, and cross-channel experience can all be promoted and integrated into the initiative, but lead with the business value, and strong support will follow.
Digital Marketing Isn’t Sales—But It Can Help Sell
The line between marketing and sales is blurring—and that’s not a good thing. Marketers aren’t sales people, just as friends, fans, and followers often aren’t necessarily customers. Talking as if increasing followers, engagement, and sentiments are the ultimate goal will only weaken these initiatives in the minds of decision-makers.
Instead, do what customer identity platform provider Janrain does by clearly defining who are customers and who are prospects with a social community. This increases the number of opportunities the sales department can pursue—something they are always seeking. This type of social analysis requires big data, and big data connected traditional enterprise data, but sales people don’t care about data. They care about dollars.
Make Social Truly Strategic
One of the biggest mistakes social practitioners make is crafting an approach to the market and then calling it a strategy. Calling it a strategy while debating platform choices, content frequency, and ad word campaigns puts traditional leaders off.
A strategy is about positioning your organization differently in the market—which social, mobile, and big data can do. This is what Dunkin’ Donuts did by launching a series of inventive social campaigns that rebranded the company and solidified it as the coffee of the average Joe—overcoming a major drawback of the franchise model.
The strategy is rebranding the organization to increase customer loyalty. Social media is the vehicle and allows social practitioners to create an omni-channel experience, integrate their campaigns into sales, operations, and the entire supply chain. These digital initiatives can be of strategic importance. Positioning them as vehicles to achieve success will help others responsible for traditional areas of the business to get behind the corporate objective quicker than they would your personal initiative.
Integrating big data, social media, and mobile into one another is as much about how practitioners talk about and position these initiatives amongst their fellow corporate leaders as it is about using these initiatives differently.
Even in organizations where big data, social media, and mobile are tightly integrated into one another and into business, digital marketers still perform the same daily tasks, but they also spend more time out talking to other business leaders about what these initiatives are and how they can help even the most traditional departments be more successful. And that type of dialogue—talking to managers about how they understand and interact more closely with consumers—will inevitably produce the tangible results executives are looking for–without the chaos or cost of reinventing the organization.
About David F. Giannetto
David F. Giannetto (@dgiannetto) is SVP at Salient Management Co. and the author of “Big Social Mobile, How Digital Initiatives Can Reshape the Enterprise and Drive Business Value.” He helps executives, audiences, and organizations understand and employ today’s latest trends, techniques, and technologies.