Integrated Digital/Direct Marketing Offers Life Beyond Direct Mail
The bad news: The digital marketing landscapeis fickle, changing almost daily. The good news: Direct marketers, trainedto focus on the customer, are uniquely qualifiedto meet the digital challenge. Here are a few tips for creating integrated direct/digital marketing campaigns like a DM pro.
Back in 2004, I attended a conference on digital printing and had an epiphany that my team’s livelihood (as well as my own) as a print production agency was vulnerable. Traditional marketers were just beginning to come to grips with the idea that the Internet was changing everything. Then and there, I developed a philosophy of “adapt or perish.”
How we ‘went digital’
Our agency added marketing-strategy and creative services – first through outside partners, and later through additions to our staff. We bought shares in a Web development company to help us with all
the coding that the building of Web applications requires. The transition is ongoing, but if nothing else, those moves have given our agency an opportunity to thrive. Did I have an exact idea of what our results would be? No way. And I still don’t. However, I’m happy to tell you that you do not need to have all the answers before you begin your own transition to digital. The best thing you can do is take your first steps – and keep going.
What the heck is an integrated marketing campaign?
Since our transition, we have accomplished a number of fully integrated marketing campaigns. From my experience, they are like snowflakes: No two are exactly alike. Any number of channels might be used – but there is no set number. Fully digital campaigns (ie, those without a broadcast, nonelectronic outdoor, or mail component, etc.) are wonderfully measurable (something we direct marketers live and breathe every day) and often quite involved.
Like any good direct marketers, we always begin by establishing what we will be measuring at the end of the campaign. How do we drive customers to the various digital outlets – such as LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook? We sometimes use blog posts to drive SEO; we often use SEM to help us understand what to do in SEO; and we create campaign landing pages or (on occasion) personalized URLs (pURLS) to offer visitors a planned Web experience when they answer a survey, enter a contest or watch a video created especially for the campaign.
Based on what we’re learning in our ongoing transition to digital, here are three survival tips to take to heart:
Embrace mobile. The mobile aspect of marketing is taking center stage – as smartphone users keep their devices within grabbing distance at all times. The great thing about working in the mobile space is that we are as experienced (or inexperienced!) as all the other firms out there! Marketers know that user experiences in mobile (and tablets, too) have to be different than those on a desktop or laptop. Direct marketers are extremely well-suited to help clients achieve success in the mobile space, based on their trained focus on the customer.
Look outside borders for brand-new opportunities – and start now! We just launched our first integrated marketing campaign for China’s giant search engine Alibaba.com. I felt it took forever, but I am told that getting there in less than 2 years was a “real accomplishment.” The point here is that a change in direction takes time to achieve – but you can do it!
Our campaign for Alibaba.com integrates infographics, surveys, sweepstakes, events, social media, and whitepaper content we’ve created on their behalf. We’ve used email, display advertising and social
media to generate interest and excitement. But I gained agreement from our client from the start that their objectives were aligned with good, old-fashioned direct marketing principles.
Alibaba.com is doing little or no brand advertising. They have a really cool platform that few Americans are aware of – and that is the marketing challenge. We’ve planned video creation with distribution via social media for a future campaign. And we’re rolling. (Quite a step forward for a print production agency!)
When you get to a fork in the road – take it. (Sorry. I couldn’t resist a little Yogi Berra reference.) The proverbial bottom line is this: In order to make headway in direct/digital marketing, you need to dive in all the way without knowing how deep is the ocean. Since you already know how to swim (you have the best training around – as a direct marketer), just keep the shoreline in sight, and your focus on the customer. That way, your company is bound to expand its marketing horizons.