There is no such thing as digital marketing

This might seem like a somewhat controversial claim to make on a site called “Brighton Digital Women”. And of course I’m not claiming that marketing through digital channels doesn’t exist – the internet’s definitely real, I’ve seen it. What I mean is rather that we’ve gone beyond the stage where marketing could – or should – be separated into digital and non-digital, online and offline.

Days gone by

The days when digital marketing was a niche area that warranted a small and separate team are far behind us. According to Ofcom, 80% of UK adults now have broadband, 72% use social media, and 61% access the internet through a smartphone.  It won’t be long before every major appliance in your home is connected to the internet – 29% of UK TVs are there already. Digital technology is a ubiquitous part of day-to-day life. Consumers don’t distinguish between online and offline activity – they engage with the digital and non-digital simultaneously, and they expect a seamless experience.

Consumer journeys, for example, may begin online and end in-store (or vice versa), via any combination of talking to friends, reading newspapers or magazines, checking social media and forums, reading online and offline reviews and seeing online or offline adverts. 45% of consumers usually check out products in physical stores before buying online, whereas 38% usually do their research online and then buy in-store.  If our customers are using multiple channels to discover our products and interact with us, why are we as marketers confining our teams to one channel in isolation?

According to Forbes, 98% of marketers say that offline and online marketing are merging, yet companies and agencies are still treating them as entirely distinct entities. Although the breakdown has begun. adam&eveDDB, for example, drew mixed reactions from the marketing press for replacing the word “digital” in job titles with the word “interactive”. Some commentators (Mark Ritson among them) claimed that this was simply switching one word out for a synonym. However, I’m inclined to agree with Alex Hesz, adam&eveDDB’s newly renamed Executive Interactive Director, that these words do not mean the same, and that this new title distinguishes between marketing that interacts with the consumer and the use of broadcast channels, both of which can be a mix of digital and non-digital.

Go natural

At Leapfrogg, too, we have dispensed with the Social Media and Content team, and replaced it with Natural Engagement – moving beyond the use of particular channels to investigating all opportunities to engage with consumers throughout their consideration, purchase and advocacy journeys.

But once the titles have been jazzed up, what does this mean in practice? Looking at campaigns as a whole from the beginning is the first step – having a concept and a strategy that communicates your message and adds value to your customer in a holistic way before you get to the tactics (and the digital-or-not nature thereof). Smirnoff have done some amazing work combining online and offline interaction, including a cross-digital and offline treasure hunt, and consumer opinions generated online and offline used to create real-world nightclub experiences (with TV, print and online coverage). Love them or hate them, furthermore, those meerkats get everywhere – from the comparethemeerkat.com website (where originally you could actually compare meerkats) to social media to TV ads to Baby Oleg toys. A purchase from their website even gives you a code for 2 for 1 cinema tickets that you can use in the actual real world.

2 become 1

Beyond creative ideas, though, utilising your customer data effectively is vital to enable you to understand and support those customers throughout their journeys. There are so many ways to connect the touchpoints – from the simple (online and offline data capture, online coupons to be redeemed in-store) to the more technical (social dynamic remarketing, geo-targeting beacons) – and more are developing every day. There is no excuse for separating your team into digital and non-digital – we are all marketers now.


Allegra ChapmanSocial measurement: what’s a ‘like’ worth?

Come to our June meet up where Allegra herself will be hosting discussions on this theme. Before and after we like to stick around and catch up and chat, we’re a friendly bunch so grab a drink and join us.

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Allegra Chapman is the Natural Engagement Manager at Cobb Digital, developing social media and content strategies to help organisations build relationships with their customers.

You can find Allegra on Twitter: @Allegra_Chapman


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