Posted on Saturday 9 April 2011 by Ulster Business

Google webpage on laptop

Being Communications Managing Director Peter Ellis explains why start-ups and small businesses should be thinking about how to put the customer first in their digital marketing

Digital marketing - the promotion of brands using all forms of digital advertising channels to reach customers - continues to cover an ever broadening spread of expertise. These include Website Usability and User Experience, Email Marketing, E-commerce, Mobile Marketing, Search Engine Marketing, Online PR and Social Media Marketing, Online Advertising and Affiliate Marketing. Unquestionably, digital marketing is the fastest developing area of marketing. And for start-ups and growing small businesses, there are benefits to be reaped through reviewing the opportunities that digital technologies provide, as well as how they can impact customer behavior and customers' online engagement. Any online approach should always begin with the customer. Understanding who the customer is, how the marketplace works, and how they use the online channel is just as critical to making a success of digital marketing as it was for traditional marketing. However, all too often businesses aren't sufficiently agile to take advantage of these new digital opportunities. The frustration is caused by many factors. In particular, understanding how the Web can help businesses ‘hear' the customer and leverage the insights revealed.
"Understanding who the customer is, how the marketplace works, and how they use the online channel is critical to making a success of digital marketing."
To successfully manage your company's digital channels it is worth being aware of the current trends in digital marketing, trends that endorse the premise that the customer is indeed still king in the digital world. They include:
  • Customer-centricity and customer insight - mass customization where all customer types are treated as individuals
  • Customer engagement - increasing how many times the customer interacts with your online brand
  • Digital marketing optimization - improving the efficiency of your digital marketing through reaching more of your target audience at a lower cost, and converting more
  • Web 2.0 and customer participation and conversations - using the newest technology to help listen to customers, and help customers achieve their goals.
Developing how your business uses the internet for marketing research and as a customer listening tool is vital. The use of websites, email and social network communications are an easy and convenient means of soliciting feedback, essentially representing sales insights from the ‘front-line' - insights which can effectively help shape the future services or product offerings of a business. And for those who have been early adopters of digital marketing, there are some review questions to ask in assessing whether your online activity is customer-centric:
  • How satisfied are my visitors? Do I know?
  • What do my visitors come to my Website to do?
  • Are they completing what they set out to do?
  • If not, why not? If yes, what did they like best about the online experience?
Sam Decker, formerly E-commerce manager at Dell, who helped develop the customer-centric strategy for Dell's $8bn US consumer business, has stressed the importance of this activity by referring to ‘customer oxygen'. He says: "Your company needs to breathe ‘customer oxygen.' The word ‘oxygen' is important, because it reflects the idea that the customer's perspective should infuse just about every business decision you make each day. This oxygen should flow from the CEO and beyond, as a customer-centric culture affects every division, department and function." So, it may come as some relief to know that even in the new digital world, human experience and listening skills are still key to making a success of digital marketing and delivering positive customer experiences.


Follow us

Subscribe to Ulster Business Magazine

View Our Digital Library

A L Top 100 2019 button