So You Wanna Know About eMarketing?

I have just finished writing my latest eBook, “So You Wanna Know About eMarketing?”. Having a little experience now with writing books, conventional or eBooks, I know this means that I’m about two thirds of the way through the process: one third = research, one third = writing, one third = corrections and rewrites. So I’m not sure I’ll get it posted this side of Christmas. I’ve also committed to writing an article based on the book for Market Leader and that has to be ready for January. This may all get in the way of my planned, long vacation.

Blog posts are much easier so I thought I’d give you a précis of the new eBook just to keep you going. It covers 3 topics:-

What is eMarketing and why is it different?
How to develop an eMarketing strategy
How do eMarketing Agencies work – who (if anybody) should be your lead agency?

In order to get to a definition of eMarketing I marry a definition of marketing (the process of adding value to get people to pay more for your stuff) and a perspective on digital.

In defining digital I stress that it is much more than a ‘New Media’. This is typical old school thinking of the sort that treated the challenge of creating ads for the new media of television in the 1960’s as ‘radio ads with pictures’.

Digital (effectively the internet) is not one thing, it is several – a distribution channel, a communication tool, a medium, a forum, an aggregation mechanism. It is effectively a highly social exchange where everyone transacts with everyone (not just business with customers) and the currency can be shared ideas, attention, information not just money.

So, if marketing is about adding value by business for people, and digital is an exchange where value is created and shared by everyone with everyone then eMarketing is:-

The process of optimizing value for all parties in the digital world.

eMarketers are different because digital is very different in many ways. I go into quite a bit of detail on this but the summary is:-

Users are more impatient and promiscuous, and much more functionally oriented. Technology is central. Creativity, strategy and tactics are merged in a more complex world of options. Everything behavioural can be, and is, measured. This creates a very different mindset especially because it is so quick and easy to experiment. It is a fundamentally social world where it pays, literally, to treat people with respect, the way you’d like to be treated. You do indeed require permission to market.

When it comes to developing an eMarketing strategy I pose 6 questions (because I have always seen strategy as the search for answers to questions e.g. what is my market, who are my competitors and customers, what are my core competencies?). Not sure how much sense this will make without the full explanation but here they are:-

  1. What are you trying to achieve in terms of value exchange and with whom? (If an ecommerce business – what is your business model?)
  2. What is this worth to you and how will you measure it?
  3. What is your programme to experiment, optimize and learn – how much budget do you need to keep back for this?
  4. Have you included technical in the team?
  5. Have you considered all the options (tools, tactics, channels) to give the best chance of ‘creative strategy’
  6. How will you manage the learning loop and deliver innovation?

I also highlight 4 key reflexes you need when developing an eMarketing strategy:-

Functionality – slippery, impatient customers demands things that deliver and digital competitive advantage is much more weighted to this.
Content – most of the time, what people want delivered is great content e.g. information, advice, tools and entertainment. No-one is going to go on to the internet just to see your great brand web site unless it delivers functionality and content.
Search – eMarketers spend a lot of time on this because if you can’t be found you’re wasting your money.
Buzz – momentum, the sense that a brand is the coming thing, has always been vital to successful brands. Apple have it, Microsoft don’t. Toyota has it, Ford don’t. You’re either hot or you’re not. In digital this kind of buzz is vital and consequently innovation (based on experimentation and increasingly collaboration) is the sine qua non of digital.

Finally I argue that there should be no such thing as a ‘lead agency’, only a lead client. So unless one’s need is purely digital – and it rarely is – I do not try to argue that an eMarketing agency should be your lead agency.  What I do argue strongly is that:-

eMarketing should always be at the top table.
eMarketing should be separate from, not subsumed by, your Ad Agency (even if they are owned by the same group).

My defense of these statements is based on two things.

  1. The nature of digital requires it to be addressed right upfront and to be part of developing the marketing strategy rather than an after thought.
  2. The way digital agencies work mean that they have a unique perspective to offer and they cannot be ‘mixed in’ with, or report to, other types of agencies.

So there you have it in less than 900 words (the full version is 15,000 – bet you can’t wait).

Any comments gratefully received but not too many otherwise I’ll never get it finished!

2 Responses

  1. Blackett


    Congratulations on some truly good advice – if the other 14,100 words add as much value as these then you have a very special book!

    There’s a bit that, for me at least, is missing and that those thinking of their digital strategy may like to consider. As you point out, the ‘digital’ world is essentially a social one – and for me this requires your brand to be available and responsive in this environment.

    Too many big companies have clearly contrived their web presence as something to hide behind rather than participate in. So us poor customers find it hard to find a way to talk to someone, get soulless responses to email enquiries, and generally get pushed away. Bean counters have spotted that talking to customers in their language (or even individually) is expensive, and thus sacrifice a potential relationship.

    My view is that maintaining a digital presence requires you to participate actively in the social milieu, not try to hide from it. This requires you to have editors and content creators free to speak, write, create on behalf of the brand 24/7 – not just in response to events, but to initiate things too. Quite a challenge in a world of cast iron brand guidelines/ processes and even more cautious lawyers!

    Hope this is helpful – look forward to the finished article.


    • mark s

      Thanks for this ‘Blackett’ – you make a really good point.

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