Create your own buzz: The promise and practice of digital marketing

Companies must combine digital marketing efforts with traditional approaches, making the sum greater than the parts. Doing so will require three capabilities: getting marketing investment priorities right; developing transparency across all channels; and developing a truly “digital-ready” organization. Getting this right can deliver a 10 to 30 percent improvement in the efficiency of marketing budgets.

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Create your own buzz The promise and practice of digital marketing

Contacts

Düsseldorf Roman Friedrich Partner
 +49-211-3890-165 roman.friedrich @strategyand.pwc.com Frankfurt Timo Benzin Principal +49-69-97167-459 timo.benzin @strategyand.pwc.com

Milan Luigi Pugliese Partner +39-02-72-50-93-03 luigi.pugliese @strategyand.pwc.com Moscow Steffen Leistner Partner
 +7-985-368-78-88 steffen.leistner @strategyand.pwc.com Mumbai Jai Sinha Partner +91-22-6128-1102 jai.sinha @strategyand.pwc.com

New York Christopher Vollmer Partner
 +1-212-551-6794 christopher.vollmer @strategyand.pwc.com Sebastian Blum Principal +1-212-551-6109 sebastian.blum @strategyand.pwc.com Paris Pierre Péladeau Partner
 +33-1-44-34-3074 pierre.peladeau @strategyand.pwc.com

São Paulo Ivan de Souza Senior Partner +55-11-5501-6368 ivan.de.souza @strategyand.pwc.com Vienna Klaus Hoelbling Partner +43-1-518-22-907 klaus.hoelbing @strategyand.pwc.com

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About the authors

Thomas Künstner is a partner with Strategy& based in Düsseldorf. He leads the firm’s digital media practice in Europe, and assists leading telecommunications and media companies as they seek to define winning strategies for the digital future. Timo Benzin is a principal with Strategy& based in Frankfurt. He works primarily with companies in the media and digital space, specializing in growth strategies, advertising-driven business models, direct and online marketing, and operating model improvements. Sebastian Blum is a principal at Strategy& based in New York. He works with major telecommunications and media companies to devise strategies for digital marketing and transformation. Christopher Rischard was formerly a principal with Strategy&.

This report was originally published by Booz & Company in 2013.

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Executive summary

More and more consumers of all ages are actively participating in an increasingly digitized world — buying and selling, socializing, seeking out information, and entertaining themselves online. In this environment, it can be daunting to clearly understand where, how, when, and through what media to reach your customers — and at what cost. Overwhelmed by the need to market products and services in a digital world, most companies end up chasing the wrong trends. Instead of correctly understanding what works best for them, they look over the fence at what everyone else is trying to do. But succeeding in digital marketing requires a bespoke solution — what works for one company may fail for another. Marketers must learn to create their own buzz. Expertise in digital marketing can no longer be viewed as an adjunct to traditional marketing efforts and so best left to specialized advisors. Instead, companies must put together complete programs in which digital channels are fully meshed with traditional ones, making the sum greater than the parts. This will require three key foundational capabilities: getting marketing investment priorities right; developing transparency across all marketing channels; and developing a truly “digital-ready” organization, with the resources, expertise, and technologies at its disposal to put together a comprehensive marketing strategy. Companies that get this right can expect to see a 10 to 30 percent improvement in the efficiency of their marketing budgets.

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Digital capabilities

The digital revolution is rapidly changing how consumers interact with the world. More than half of the globe’s population can now access the Internet through their smartphones. Facebook has registered a billion users, 40 percent of whom access the social media site through their mobile devices. This degree of connectivity would seem to be a marketer’s dream come true, given the opportunities these new digital channels offer to communicate and interact with consumers — and to sell to them. Yet this very abundance of opportunities, options, and channels — and the army of advisors and intermediaries willing to help navigate them — is what makes digital marketing so challenging. As a result, many companies looking to benefit quickly find that they have lost control over their digital marketing activities, with little understanding of how much time and money they devote to them, and no visibility into the return on their investments. It is essential for every marketing organization to take a step back and reassess its digital marketing plans in light of its overall marketing and sales objectives. It is also crucial to think more carefully about the foundational capabilities it needs to regain control over its digital marketing efforts. These capabilities can be divided into three primary areas (see Exhibit 1, next page): • Investment priorities: Develop a market-back perspective on where to put your digital marketing investment budgets, taking into account your particular marketing objectives and the needs and online behavior of your target customer segments, while making sure to avoid overinvesting in the latest hype. • Cross-channel transparency: Understand how every marketing channel (both traditional and digital) performs and works with the others. This is critical in maintaining control over the marketing budget and reaping the maximum return on investment.

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• Digital readiness: Achieve the maximum benefit from digital marketing by creating a marketing and sales organization that can effectively support ongoing innovation in a multichannel world. Every marketing program involves making decisions about how and where to invest time and money, and this is especially critical in the digital world. Indeed, the ability to decide where not to invest is perhaps the most important capability of all.

Exhibit 1 Three foundational digital marketing capabilities

Understand market requirements - How do customer segments match up with digital behavior segmentation? - How many segment-specific go-to-market approaches are required? - What is state-of-the-art digital marketing in your industry? Is it a “must have” versus a “nice to have”? - Which new digital channels are ultimately needed?

Manage the marketing and sales mix - How should you allocate your marketing budget across the multitude of new digital channels? - How do traditional and digital channels influence each other? - How should you balance the marketing budget between traditional and new digital channels?

Lay the foundation for marketing and sales operations - How should you structure marketing and sales organizations in the digital age? - How can you better deliver the necessary innovation in digital marketing, given the limitations of the traditional organizational setup? - What type of “culture” is required to stay on top of the digital marketing revolution?

Investment priorities

Cross-channel transparency

Digital readiness

Source: Strategy& analysis

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Setting market-back investment priorities

Until recently, marketing to consumers involved a limited number of paid media channels — television, radio, print, “out of home,” and the like. The effort to plan media campaigns, buy time or space in these channels, and monitor the results was typically outsourced to large advertising and marketing agencies. Companies simply allocated budgets for these campaigns following the advice of their agencies, and measured their success using relatively blunt performance indicators like consumer awareness, purchase intent, and sales. Today, however, the old approach no longer suffices. New digital platforms must be understood and managed more as “owned” media, over which marketers can exert a much greater degree of control. Centered on marketer-created content, these channels are designed to attract, entertain, and educate consumers from initial awareness all the way through to the after-sales experience. Companies are increasingly acting as advertising agencies themselves, especially in social media campaigns. They view their customers as an audience with whom they interact in real time. Managing this relationship well can bring increased customer intimacy and insight, and much faster marketing cycle times. Such digital campaigns require a deep degree of involvement from marketers, as these channels demand much more individualized and product-specific approaches than traditional mass-media investments do. If they are managed poorly, the damage may be greater than any potential benefit. Like “owned” channels, performance-oriented “paid” channels that may require a significant financial investment, such as search advertising, must also be managed and monitored with more involvement.The most successful companies will establish well-structured and carefully coordinated in-house processes for search engine optimization and search engine marketing run by dedicated teams. This ensures that campaigns are coordinated across functional and business units, ensuring the selection of the most effective search words and precise timing of all activities.

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The many marketing opportunities available through digitization only multiply the risks companies run in trying to put together a successful program. There is much biased advice to be had from any number of advocates for one channel or another. As a result, companies will often initiate too many uncoordinated projects with no real control over or visibility into the entire effort. In addition, the well-known successes of digital marketing may lead marketers into benchmarking their efforts against top-tier players such as Amazon, Citi, Dell, Intuit, Target, Tesco, and Zalando. But that’s often a mistake, because few can match these companies’ decades-long experience in often complex environments — and most companies have no need to match these standards to succeed in their ecosystems. The result is too often a vicious cycle of trying harder and harder, with less and less to show for it. There is, however, a way to avoid these pitfalls: Take the customer’s point of view. The customer The major benefit of buying an in-stadium advertisement during the 2010 World Cup final between Spain and the Netherlands was that as many as 3.2 billion people might have watched it. Of course, there was no way of knowing who was watching, how any of them reacted, or if they cared at all — unless the advertiser was willing to conduct lots of primary market research. And even then, the findings would have been anything but scientific. Something like this is known as a broad-gauge approach: Reach as many people as possible, on the assumption that your customers are somewhere in the crowd. Digital marketing requires a narrow-gauge approach. The key to success lies in making the right investment decisions to reach the right people at the right times. That, in turn, requires gaining as much insight as possible into who those people are, how they behave, and the specific touch points they prefer at each stage of the customer journey. Doing this well requires smartly segmenting your customers. But even a crude behavioral segmentation of “digital natives”; “immigrants,” who are relatively new to the online world; and “outsiders,” who have yet to participate online, suggests the degree of complexity marketers face. Digital natives are likely willing to consider just about any digital channel, and can probably be reached through the latest innovation. It is notoriously difficult, however, to influence their buying habits because they tend to think that they are just a click away from an even better deal. Meanwhile, there are still millions of digital immigrants and outsiders who use digital marketing or sales channels only selectively, for specific products and services, or not at all. Publishers of electronic games need to be just as careful about the digital channels
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they choose as marketers of retirement homes do. It is also critical to remember that the online audience is diverse and will continue to become more so, with older consumer segments entering the digital world in increasing numbers. The point is that though marketers traditionally segment customers by a product orientation or value perspective, marketing in the virtual world demands understanding the online touch points, preferences, and habits of particular customers. Getting this right is a two-step process: 1. Identify the most important customer segments, given the company’s product and brand portfolio. Which segments currently generate the most value, and which offer the greatest potential for growth? 2. Conduct research to determine how relevant different digital and traditional marketing channels are for the top-priority segments at different stages of the customer journey. Do these segments behave consistently online, preferring the same channels and touch points, or will different marketing strategies be needed for different segments? The knowledge gleaned from this analysis will help companies customize their programs to match the right channels to the right customers; devise their investment strategies for setting up and expanding specific digital channels; and then put together the right mix of budget allocation, people, technology, and capabilities to reach them. Many telecommunications incumbents, for example, find it difficult to capture their fair share of the youth market even though this industry would seem to be able to connect with them easily. The youth segment does comfortably adapt to new digital channels, especially social media, but massive investments in a sophisticated social channel would not be sufficient to attract these consumers unless all the other parts of the marketing mix, both online and off, and the go-to-market strategy are adapted properly at the same time. In fact, such a move might end up being harmful; the failure to build an adequate “delivery” capability could generate strong negative reactions that would inevitably be multiplied on the very social media the operator was hoping to benefit from. In short, companies need to make sure that their multichannel strategy is coherent and that all the parts are working toward an agreed-on goal. In the online world, customers are very demanding and very fickle, and successful companies must be prepared to change their strategies rapidly. Some companies may find it helpful to turn to outside agencies to help craft and carry out flexible approaches. Others, however, may feel that they can respond more quickly by taking greater ownership of the process — subsidizing bloggers, building and updating their own Facebook pages, and broadcasting on Twitter.
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Whether you choose to develop internal capabilities or work with outside partners, getting digital media right requires gaining a better understanding of your current customers and using those insights to seek out new ones. For example, marketers at Intuit carefully studied where users of their TurboTax tax preparation software were engaging online, and assessed their sentiments about the product. Then they developed a range of well-managed and curated online and social media offerings on those same channels to help generate highly targeted leads. The competitive environment A proper analysis of your customer base can help set up the next step in digital marketing, which is to understand the company’s competitive environment and calibrate the strategy and investment priorities needed to match it. The key here is not to develop a strategy that is too sophisticated and too costly to implement, given the market and the customer base. It is critical to be able to distinguish between the “table stakes” required — given your particular industry, market, product mix, and even the digital maturity of the relevant geography — and the current state-of-the-art marketing strategy. Indeed, a successful digital marketing effort depends just as much on knowing where not to invest as it does on knowing where to invest. That means determining the level of channel proficiency needed to reach the desired customers most efficiently, given your industry and the current competitive environment. Many companies already understand the importance of reaching certain customer segments via dedicated brands with segment-specific channel mixes and touch-point strategies. For instance, KPN, one of Europe’s leading telecom operators, decided that its main mobile brand couldn’t be all things to all people. In an attempt to segment itself, it founded Yourfone in Germany, a Web-centric mobile brand specifically geared toward a younger, hipper customer base. These customers see their mobile phones as one of their most important lifestyle products. Because younger customers tend to be highly active on social media, Yourfone developed a brand, a look and feel, a portfolio of handsets, a mix of subscription plans, and a social media presence designed to speak directly to them, and it made Facebook the centerpiece of its sales channel mix. Within the first few months, the brand’s Facebook page developed into a vibrant sales and services community that KPN has also integrated into its new-product development.

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Creating cross-channel transparency

The virtues of digital marketing are leading marketers to reduce their budgets for traditional channels, especially in print — but to some degree in television as well. Attractive as new digital channels are, however, companies should continue to take a comprehensive approach to their marketing efforts, based on an understanding of the limitations of digital marketing, and the value of getting the right mix of digital and traditional marketing channels. And they must be able to generate the metrics needed to give them a complete and transparent view not just into the new digital channels but into the combined results from every channel they use. Companies that put too many of their marketing eggs into the digital basket run several risks. Despite the attractiveness of being able to measure and account for the results of online marketing, the data can be misleading if not analyzed appropriately. Though search-based advertising and other performance-based advertising methods can be measured quite accurately, marketers looking to digital channels for general awareness and branding opportunities will likely find such media as online and mobile display ads much less compelling, given the lack of directly measurable sales impact. And while the ad technology industry is continuously developing new ways of measuring the effectiveness of individual digital channels and campaigns, the more channel-specific these metrics become, the less comparable they are from channel to channel. At the same time, research shows that trying to optimize spending across isolated channels can be a mistake. E-commerce companies could continue growing their traffic by increasing their search engine marketing budgets, but at a decreasing rate of return. Only a holistic view across different channels can help to find the most effective mix. Go Daddy, a leading domain registration and website hosting company, follows just such a broad, cross-channel strategy. It relies entirely on traffic to its websites to generate sales of its various Internet domain registration, site hosting, and e-commerce services. It has developed a rich ecosystem of cross-linked online properties, invests heavily in
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Companies should take a comprehensive approach to their marketing efforts, based on the value of getting the right mix of digital and traditional marketing channels.

search engine optimization and management, and has fully developed its social network presence. Nevertheless, in order to drive brand awareness and massive spikes to its website, it airs expensive Super Bowl ads every year — its only television advertising spend. And it works: Go Daddy fully understands the spillover from TV to online traffic and sales, because it can actually quantify it. Most companies would do well to develop a marketing strategy that optimizes the mix across a variety of carefully chosen, complementary channels. And most companies appear to want to do this on their own — 86 percent of marketers who responded to a recent Strategy& survey said they were definitely planning or very likely to build up the needed capabilities internally. Doing so, however, requires that they consider both how much to invest in each channel in order to generate the desired traffic targets, and how the specific combination of digital and traditional channels will boost value. Indeed, marketers and agencies alike have come to see media mix optimization and measurement as critical conditions for success in the multichannel digital advertising world (see Exhibit 2, next page). For marketers to optimize the mix of channels they use, they must establish a high degree of cross-channel transparency into the performance of both their digital and their traditional marketing channels. Companies can take one of two approaches to creating this transparency: a top-down approach using an econometric model, or a bottom-up approach using attribution (see Exhibit 3, page 14). The econometric approach tries to relate the marketing spending precisely to specific sales goals to better understand the “true” return on investment gained from each individual marketing channel, and how each of the channels used affects the others. Advanced practitioners of this approach typically develop a complete logic tree of key performance indicators, enabling marketing spend to be tracked to online visits, clicks, conversions, and order size as well as offline activity and sales. By deciphering the customer journey and the role and influence of different channels in the marketing mix, companies can allocate their budgets along the path to purchase in a much more granular way. The key is to understand and track the cause-and-effect relationship between budgets allocated to marketing channels, such as TV and print, and sales made or action taken in response channels, such as online shops, and allocate budgets accordingly. That will ensure the most effective flow of traffic down the marketing funnel, from awareness to consideration to conversion.

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Exhibit 2 Managing the media mix is the top challenge for marketers

Media mix optimization Net reach/audience fragmentation ROI confirmation Impact analytics Pricing models Customer journey (attribution) New channels—online video Data integrity Technology complexity New channels—mobile/app New channels—social Privacy restrictions Technology obsolescence

42% 42% 37% 32% 22% 20% 20% 19% 17% 17% 13% 12% 11%

47% 46% 49% 47% 53% 54% 47% 43% 44% 44% 50% 43% 37%

Very critical Important

Top challenges in the new multichannel world Advertisers, agencies, sales houses; n=156

Source: Strategy& survey, “The Future of Digital Media Buying,” in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria, 2012

The attribution approach, on the other hand, tries to optimize the marketing budget along the path to purchase taken by modeling and simulating typical paths to purchase and by assessing the relevance of touch points for different customer segments. Once awareness has been created through a TV spot, a magazine ad, a billboard, or an online banner, for instance, the customer journey has just begun. Customers will follow different paths to a purchase and attribute different degrees of relevance to different touch points in their purchase decisions. Digital natives might research the product on comparison sites online, ask for opinions in their social network, and consider online ratings while physically checking out the product in bricks-and-mortar stores.

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Exhibit 3 Marketers can employ two different approaches to understanding the impact of their marketing budgets

Econometric approach Top-down measurement and mix optimization across marketing channels - Econometric modeling of channel budgets and sales impact, such as multivariate time-series regression - Correlates events such as TV spots with measured incremental impact in other channels - Measurement of top-level spend and sales metrics across channels over time to understand correlations - Usable across all online and offline channels - Creates view into “true” ROI—the incremental impact of a channel, including spillover, as basis to allocate incremental budgets - Root-cause/impact analysis and budget simulations

Attribution approach Bottom-up allocation of budgets to channels and customers along the path to purchase - Business rule–based attribution of incremental credit to each channel given, desired impact - Differentiates relevance of contacts— intensity and quality of touch point and position in customer journey - Measurement of channel and userlevel data, such as digital markers and brief surveys - Originates from digital channels, but increasingly accounts for traditional channels as well - Budget allocation along path to purchase based on attribution models and customer quality - Allows specification of maximum cost per order for each customer based on expected customer lifetime value

Analytical approach

Measurement focus

Optimization lever

Source: Strategy& analysis

A senior citizen, on the other hand, might prefer to bring a printed e-mail promotion into a bricks-and-mortar retailer. These variations in the customer journey, touch point preferences, and buying behavior of different kinds of consumers mean that attribution models must be built for each kind. Not all channels and touch points have the same value for all customer segments — or the same investment requirements. Leading marketers typically use a combination of these two approaches to gain the greatest insights, reconciling the results so that they can allocate budgets to different channels dynamically, depending on where the greatest return can be achieved. With the help of a variety of IT tools, marketers can:

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• Make decisions about the best channel mix more comprehensively. Better data transparency, “real” metrics, and a clear understanding of spillover between channels enables marketers to make strategic budget allocation decisions without relying on agencies or other advisors with their own agendas. More objective data allows for improved budget negotiations with clients and partners, and a greater degree of trust. • Adjust dynamically to changes in customer behavior and demand and the competitive environment. Budgets can be shifted rapidly based on near real-time information. • Manage cross-channel trade-offs more effectively. Scenario simulation based on real data leads to efficiency gains across the entire portfolio. • Reduce complexity in measurements. Fewer, more transparent crosschannel metrics (such as cost per thousand, cost per action, and ROI) allow marketers to follow the customer journey across channels and thus allocate and optimize budgets comprehensibly, while offering high-level, channel-specific performance monitoring and problem identification. Exhibit 4, next page, illustrates an optimized channel mix based on a combination of econometric and attribution approaches, and demonstrates the importance of a holistic approach to getting the right balance of investments among channels. The bar on the left shows the optimized channel mix, while the one on the right indicates the media channel that buyers claimed was the most influential in their purchase decision. In this example, just 28 percent of the marketer’s customers claimed that the main trigger for their decision was a television ad, yet it was most effective for the client to allocate fully 69 percent of its budget to TV. That’s because TV is very effective at creating the high level of awareness and interest that can drive potential customers to search engines. A large share of the 40 percent of customers who said their purchases were triggered by the “paid” search link categorized as search engine marketing conducted their searches as a result of a TV ad they had watched. Though traditional media such as TV and print are relatively expensive marketing channels, they contribute significantly to the efficiency of much less expensive digital channels. Systematically considering these types of spillover effects helps marketers avoid overinvesting in those less expensive channels, and thus running the risk of getting decreasing returns on their budgets.

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Our experience shows that setting up the required competencies and processes in-house and rigorously applying the available tools can provide new perspectives on how to allocate and optimize the marketing mix. Companies that can develop a strong analytical expertise can expect to see a 10 to 30 percent improvement in the efficiency of their marketing budgets. The specific amount, of course, depends on where they are when they begin the transformation: their initial level of sophistication and the degree of data availability and transparency.

Exhibit 4 Budget allocations for an optimized channel mix plan

Low cost per order

1% 0% 18% 4% 9%

4% 17%

Affiliate Search engine optimization

40%

Search engine marketing Display Print TV

69%

8% 3% 28%

High cost per order Channel budget Gross orders*

*The percentage of orders originating in each channel, as reported by customers. (Percentages may not add up to 100 due to rounding.) Source: Strategy& analysis

E-commerce channel mix plan

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Becoming digital

The benefits of moving to digital marketing are clear, but making the transition will be no easy task. Getting there requires that companies devise a completely new strategy that encompasses both offline and online marketing channels, together with a coherent set of marketing capabilities that can support the strategy. How marketing and sales are organized must be rethought as well, and all of it must be underpinned by a corporate culture dedicated to being digital. The key is integration. Just as digital marketing assumes a holistic approach to all possible marketing channels, companies themselves must take a united view of the new opportunities. Competitive necessities In addition to the capabilities already discussed, companies determined to become proficient in digital marketing must develop several additional critical competencies and roles, including the following: • Analytical decision making: Companies must be able to collect and analyze the large sets of data needed to gain transparency into the personalized needs of customers in every channel, and then to make campaigning decisions based on those insights. This capability requires expertise in developing the IT assets for fact-based data analysis. • Customer engagement: Here, companies must be able to design, execute, and monitor their customers’ digital experience to drive interactive participation. This will require the ability to create content, deliver it to consumers, and track the results. Leading marketers are setting up internal content teams, led by chief content officers, that operate as small media companies to ensure the development of consistent, targeted, and relevant content — ranging from product descriptions to ratings — along with related entertainment content. • Technology management: New digital channels based on new technologies continue to emerge — and with them, new ad technology
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platforms. As the options become more complex, companies serious about digital marketing should establish a permanent chief marketing technology officer. • Partnering: Companies should not expect to be able to put together the expertise needed to carry out complete digital marketing activities on their own. They must develop partnership capabilities in order to interact successfully with a variety of suppliers, including software developers and online ad agencies among others. Organization Traditionally, companies organized their marketing and sales departments into separate entities. It was the task of marketing to understand the markets for the company’s products and their price requirements, generate awareness and purchase intent, and drive traffic to the various sales channels. It was the responsibility of sales to convert this awareness and traffic into actual revenue. This model can still be found even at companies with substantial e-commerce channels, where marketing is responsible for generating traffic and sales is responsible for the online shop and conversion rates. But this model is no longer sufficient, because the lines that separate marketing and sales activities are blurred in the digital realm. It is a highly integrated and interactive experience that allows companies to follow the full customer adventure from initial online or offline contact all the way through to the placement of an order and the after-sales experience. Top marketers are already rethinking the boundaries between marketing and sales. For instance, some have begun structuring their efforts along key customer segments, rather than product lines or sales channels, and giving each customer segment group end-to-end responsibility for the strategies and methods they use to reach that segment, and the results they achieve. Culture Reaping the full benefits of the digital age requires a corporate culture that supports new ways of thinking about customers and customer behavior, and is committed to faster, more analytical decision making. It means creating a customer-centric marketing culture, where facts drive strategies, and to which the entire company, from top management on down, is completely committed. This transformation is critical; otherwise, to paraphrase Peter Drucker, traditional culture will eat the new digital marketing and sales strategy for lunch.

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Conclusion

Marketing in the digital world is fast becoming a necessity for every company in every industry. Consumers are adopting new technologies with alarming speed, and their buying behavior is changing just as quickly. The result is a revolution in the way consumers interact with companies and brands, and all marketers need to get ahead of the curve by building up foundational capabilities by themselves. Failure to do so will give their marketing efforts about as much buzz as newspaper publishing has today while spending a lot more money on new channels.

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This report was originally published by Booz & Company in 2013.

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