All too often a business’ website, email programme and social media activity are all exclusive of each other. This model of b2c and b2b digital marketing is fractured and inconsistent. Although the inconsistency may not directly damage a business it means these three channels are not fulfilling their business potential. The irony is that some businesses are spending a fortune on the three channels but if they are developed exclusively of each other a huge amount of potential revenue is lost. The key to the success of the three channels is synergy. By creating synergy between the three, it is likely that awareness of, and engagement with, the business will increase.
In an age where everything from newspapers to grocery shopping have become digitized, digital marketing has come to play a pivotal role in both large and small business strategy. Although an important medium for all businesses, digital marketing plays a pivotal role in client/customer interaction and business development for a small business, elevating the three digital channels to a position of absolute necessity for generating awareness and growth. This is not to say large businesses do not need these three digital channels but they have the luxury of being able to utilize far more marketing channels and have far reaching marketing capacity.
Creating synergy may be a time consuming and costly task for a large business but a small business can achieve synergy relatively quickly and inexpensively. The advantage small businesses have over large is, by their very nature, there are less employees, less decision makers, and far more opportunity to change things quickly. Large businesses are spread over several departments/floors/sites and so to effect real change and implement new processes is far more difficult.
Smaller businesses ability to effect change and implement new process is their great advantage over their larger cousins. If a small business lacks synergy between their website, email programme and social media and wants to synergise the three this can be achieved in a matter of days and weeks not months. The speed with which change can be implemented is a big money saver along with the fact that a smaller business is likely to have a smaller website, email programme and social media presence. They are also likely to have less affiliate marketing programmes to be liaised with in order to achieve change.
Carphone Warehouse (CPW) runs a game on its facebook page called Mobile memories.
The basic premise is a timeline of phones through the ages that you select and either lament owning or fondly reminisce about.
CPW works to promote Mobile memories and other games on social media via likes, apps, hashtags and via email (see below)
Once the game is completed a participant is invited to share their story on their facebook wall with links to yourmobilememories.com for friends to take part, or on twitter with a pre-composed post of,
The synergy is working pretty well so far with social media integration along with supportive promotion from email, such as this in a, “Catch up with our latest giveaways, gadgets, news and reviews” mailing.
Where CPW falls down is the lack of integration between all three channels.
The website has no easily accessible sign up form for latest releases or offers and has no promotion of their social media activities making it more a standalone entity than integrated digital channel.
Although there are some links to website from facebook and twitter, the majority of user interaction is based on sharing activity between different social media platforms. The games are built as facebook apps instead of built into the website. This approach concentrates user engagement on social media rather than website interaction. CPW has almost 400,000 likes along with more than 10,000 twitter followers but if these aren’t driven to the website to buy/upgrade/get accessories then what are they for?
An alternative approach to the Mobile memories game would be to integrate it with the website and then give users the ability share their memories on social media if they wish. The game can still be linked to from social media and email but the important difference is that the user is on the website not social media. This approach centres engagement on the website where the buying of products and services takes place. By centring interaction and engagement on social media instead of website CPW are potentially missing out on a huge amount of website traffic.
Better synergy between the three channels would complete the circle for their fans, followers and email recipients. The result would be easier access to all channels and better overall engagement.
Carphone Warehouse is prime example of the synergy between some channels and not others. My research has led me to the conclusion that most businesses certainly use the three channels but in some cases there is a distinct lack of cohesion between them. As I said before, the lack of synergy does not directly damage a business but it means a business is not exploiting the channels to their full potential.
All three marketing channels were born and evolved at different times and as a result, would have been integrated into a marketing programme at different times and with varying degrees of expertise of the implementer. These 2 factors create inconsistencies in the focus and a lack of cohesion from the outset.
Social media is the new kid on the block but for many it has become the focus of a lot of time and money by a lot of businesses (some believe a little too quickly). I say this, not as a jealous cousin (email marketer) but because money has been poured into attaining more likes, re-tweets or pins without the majority of people actually understanding why they are doing it. What does a like on facebook actually translate to? Given recent reports, are the likes on your facebook page even real people?
Social media has been the marketing buzzword of the past few years for businesses wanting to raise their digital profile. The proliferation of businesses focusing their digital efforts on social media may be due to a keeping-up-with-Jones’s mentality as a lot of businesses have a marketing eye fixed firmly on their competitors. There are of course those that see what their competitors are doing and mimic their approach. However without a codified approach toward a marketing channel the danger is that the marketer won’t know how to translate the channel into business.
This is not to say that social media does not have certain benefits. I believe it can raise your profile far quicker than other marketing apparatus. In a digital world where everyone is on the move and digital consumption occurs at an ever quickening pace, social media is by far the most accessible and digestible channel.
I believe the purpose of social media has been over-emphasised. Perhaps its advocates over-stated its abilities as a business generator and somehow convinced the rest of the world that they were right. It does keep you in touch with genuine likers, followers, pinners but prospects do not become customers based on social media alone. Social media is a precursor to website and email engagement. This is where synergy between the channels becomes paramount.
Some have raised eyebrows over the division of digital resources between social media and email. Email has a proven track record of conversion but social media’s is hard to determine. There are those that consider social media the greatest digital swindle since the birth of digital marketing but dismissal of social media is a very narrow-minded view. Social media should not be a standalone marketing pursuit but used in conjunction with other channels.
The term email marketing has long been tarnished with the spam-brush. Some people have pre-conceived ideas that no one reads marketing emails and actively dislike them. This pre-conception simply isn’t true as a look at the DMA’s Email tracking report 2012 highlights.
The reality is that email is a fantastic tool for dialogue between a business and a client/customer and is a proven method of maintaining and improving a relationship. I expect some businesses find the prospect of emailing their clients newsletters and updates quite daunting as they believe they risk being marked as spam or unsubscribed from. Nothing is certain in marketing but what many perhaps fail to understand is that if they provide their recipients engaging content, their subscribers will be more than happy to engage with their email and as a result, their website and other digital channels.
Finding content for an email programme needn’t be a daunting prospect. Content can be created from blog posts, press releases, business developments, new products and a whole host of other sources. A website is undoubtedly the best source for email content. The sticking point for some may well be that their website hasn’t been maintained to a high standard and is preventing a move toward email marketing.
The solution; get an email marketing strategy in the pipeline knowing improvements in website upkeep are paramount to its success. The two go hand-in-hand. If the website is maintained and content regularly updated then there will be plenty of content for email to use. A successful email marketing strategy will lead to greater traffic on the website and greater engagement with the business. The synergy between email and website will be continuous and as engagement with these 2 channels grows so will the social media engagement (and the trinity is complete).
I consider the website to be the lynchpin of a digital strategy. More often than not it is the first place someone will go when first hearing about a business. The website is linked from all social media platforms, email signatures, email marketing correspondence not to mention appearing on numerous Google searches.
As the lynchpin, the website should be maintained to a high standard. I see email and social media’s primary focus as raising awareness which results in website traffic. If the website is not maintained then the efforts of email and social media are all in vain as I expect the majority of web visitors to quickly disengage. The damage of a poor web experience lives long in the memory and is not easily remedied. On the other hand, the reputation of a positive web experience is worth its weight in gold. In the age of digital marketing and digital strategy, the most important marketing tool remains word of mouth. At the heart of every digital strategy should be the question of what people will tell their friends and colleagues. Although we have no direct control over other people’s word of mouth, we can do everything in our power to ensure a positive conversation instead of negative. At the heart of this concept is of course the synergy between digital marketing channels.
There needs to be synergy between email, website and social media in order to maximise a business’ ROI. There are far too many emails and websites featuring facebook and twitter icons that, when clicked on, reveal a lacklustre page that bares no relevance to the content on other digital channels. If this is the quality of your social media page then there was no real point in creating it and certainly no point in cross channel promotion. Unmaintained pages will only serve to demonstrate a lack of commitment and lack of innovation (not the most desirable of business traits). The same is true of a poorly constructed email programme; there is no point in embarking on a digital channel without having the desire and ability to maintain it to the highest standard. It’s all very well conquering one or even two of the channels but without commitment from all three the synergy model falls down. The unhappy result is customer/client disengagement from your digital channels and perhaps from your business.
Effective synergy of the three channels involves continuous and meaningful dialogue between those that maintain them. At risk of sounding like a business-type, everyone needs to be on the same page.
For a company to exploit the synergy to the fullest the channels need to be interwoven. The first steps are evident on most email correspondence. Both marketing and business signatures usually feature twitter, facebook and LinkedIn icons, as do websites, this is reciprocated by links to the website and sign up forms embedded in the other channels. Creating links between the channels is a first step. Subsequent steps involve cross channel synchronization of content releases plus cross channel promotion of content. These steps are the real driving force to better digital synergy and digital engagement.
Content is the driving force behind the synergy of digital channels. If content is decided, not with one channel in mind, but with digital marketing in mind then continuous synergy can be achieved. As the concept of synergy becomes ingrained within a digital marketing programme content is naturally woven across all channels.
The end result of synergising digital channels is a greater user experience, a direct result of which will be greater awareness and engagement. It’s the awareness and engagement that will ultimately provide increased revenue from a digital marketing programme.