Mining the ‘Digital Ecosystem’

For this week’s class, we read From Informaton To Audiences: The Emerging Marketing Data Use Cases, a Winterberry Group White Paper that surveyed marketers to see how they are “commonly deploying multichannel data to improve advertising and marketing effectiveness and efficiency.” By targeting four specific focuses, the Winterberry Group found not only a trends in the marketers they surveyed, but in U.S. marketing in general.

While advertising and marketing still attempt to increase sales, the avenues have changed dramatically as businesses comb the “digital ecosystem” for information. The four focuses are as follows:

  1. Audience Optimization — The case study featured in this section is one that I am very familiar with, and, in fact, is one that my husband was pushing as my research project. Catalina Marketing was a client of his when he was a business consultant with Arthur Anderson several years ago. They were one of the first to pilot the point-of-purchase coupons programs. Now evolving, they continue to track in-store purchases with online and offline sales data, which has generated up to 20 times the redemption rate of other coupon programs. They’ve effectively used their data to increase conversion.
  2. Channel Optimization — CO is geared toward using data to engage existing audiences at a richer level. Yes, blanketing the market with social media is nice, but drawing and keeping the audience on your website is a much more valuable in getting your message across.
  3. Advertising Yield Optimization — I can speak from experience on this one. The business my husband and I own, ForeverLawn of Tampa Bay, occasionally advertises in home product magazines. Our greatest concentration of clients currently are located in South Tampa, a predominantly wealthy area (our synthetic grass projects tend to be pricey). Firsthand, we have seen the rise in magazines specializing in high-end products. Circulation for these publications have increased (which is good for them) and response to the featured products has increased due to the targeted audience (which is good for us).
  4. Targeted Media Buying — Marketers are able to identify, “purchase” and target hig-value customers across channels, in rapid time frames.

Because the “ecosystem” is still so new and the depth of data still undetermined, there are some challenges to be met. Now, ad sales reps are going to need to be tech and media savvy in addition to skilled in sales techniques. Marketing data governance is going to become a priority in determining the “rules of the road”, especially in educating customers.

Data transparency is a critical component of the solution. Industry executives agree that consumers need to understand how their data is being used before they will begin to trust brand use of that data. The preferred response for most marketers is to allow consumers to opt out of some data use practices.

The new digital ecosystem is going to shift from solely focusing on broad advertising to drive the bottom line, to controlling the advertising and marketing process funnel from branding to conversion.

All of this information brings to mind several questions: To what extent will all businesses – large and small – be required to increase their tech and media savvy-ness in order to compete for customers’ attentions? Will small business owners lose out? What makes a good salesman now?

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6 thoughts on “Mining the ‘Digital Ecosystem’

  1. I think a good salesman still has the same tricks and tips he’s always had. He just knows waaay more about the client now. It’s much easier to develop that common ground, and to know exactly what kind of product the client wants, but the salesman still needs to sell.

  2. You raise a good point about small businesses. Now, I believe that ALL businesses need to be on the web now, small businesses included, but I don’t think small businesses are going to fall behind because of corporations’ data-driven strategies. In terms of marketing, corporations have had major advantages over small businesses for a long time now. They could afford to do larger, full-color ads in newspapers. They could afford radio spots and later television commercials. Despite all the high-visibility marketing that larger companies can do, there are still many thriving small businesses. Of course, some small businesses are in decline anyway, and… Well, there’s a lot that we could say about the state of small businesses today. I digress.

    I think small businesses are just going to have to develop their own ways to compete. I think they can remain viable by developing marketing strategies that make use of their strengths. This means having a web site, being visible on social media, and forming relationships with their customers on whatever social networks those customers are on.

    One ad agency here in Jacksonville is doing something really cool with local businesses: it’s called A Common Ground (http://www.foracommonground.com/). They’re starting with small businesses focused on home improvement, and the way it works is these businesses pay for membership in a certain zone of the city and in a certain industry (electrical, fencing, plumbing, etc.). A Common Ground then groups the businesses with one representative per industry per zone, and markets that group within their chosen area of the city.

    I think this service is a fantastic example of how small, locally owned, independent businesses can adapt to remain competitive now. On their own, these businesses will never compete against the big corporations. If you pit a big army against a small army and arm both with the exact same weapons, the big army is going to win. The small army has to get creative and utilize its unique strengths in order to stand a chance.

  3. I second Chris. I think a salesman still uses the similar techniques, but the platforms and use of data are much different now. Most people aren’t exactly going to door to door anymore but doing online targeting. Utilizing big data well would (I think) lighten the front-end load for a salesman, i.e. they are only going to speak with people who would probably be interested rather than just at random. They still have to provide compelling content to gain the interest of their audience but they are going about it much differently.

  4. Salesmen aren’t the typical human being we are use to anymore. Now on the internet, all ads and videos can be ‘salesman’ material. I think using old door-to-door techniques like Emily mentioned will not have a competitive edge anymore because those techniques will just get doors closed on them. Now its all about targeting the right people with the right message and I do think that smaller businesses with less resources will have a harder time gathering this info.

  5. What’s awesome is that a lot of tracking and monitoring tools out there are actually free or fairly cheap. So collecting data with your social media/online can be fairly affordable – good for small businesses. GREAT for large businesses. Good for small.

    A good salesman always has a better technique than the others and stands out by putting in the extra mile. I think what’s important to stress is a sense of honesty in your business and sales practices as that always captures the heart of the consumer but with obvious strategy from your new super cool data-monitoring.

  6. I think that small businesses will have to use data even more effectively than ever if they want to stay relevant and compete with larger companies. While large corporations will hire expensive agencies to deal with data mining, smaller enterprises will probably need to consider hiring fresh graduates or interns to help them get up to speed.

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