Five ways to navigate the changing digital landscape

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Online marketing is changing too fast for many marketers to keep up. From the explosion of location-based promotions to daily deals sites and the growing use of QR codes, there are many opportunities available in the digital space. Yet marketers much approach them wisely to reap their rewards.

Jeremy Daly, the director of digital planning at Euro RSCG, has been at the forefront of the digital space for a decade and a half, building the digital planning department at Agency.com prior to joining Euro. Before that, he developed online strategy for clients including Del Monte, British Airways, LG and Mars.

DirectConnect spoke with Daly about what marketers need to know as they look at the quickly evolving digital landscape.

Do not try to do everything at once. “A common mistake I see from marketers who haven't been working in the digital space long, is they try to do too much too quickly or think that social media can address every problem they have with their business,” says Daly. Instead of an unfocused dive into social media, he recommends marketers try very specific, targeted campaigns, especially when trying to establish an online presence. Daly gives the example of a car brand client.  “One aspect that popped really highly for new car owners is the emotional moment where they get the car and want to share the picture on Facebook,” he says. “It's a specific moment and anything we could do related to that is going to get more mileage than a really broad social media campaign.”

First, listen to the consumers. Before cooking up a marketing campaign to roll out on social media, Daly recommends looking at how consumers are currently interacting with the brand and its competitors. “Look at how you can have a more meaningful role,” he says. “People are likely already engaged in some way with the brand, so find something specific that shows you understand them.”

Focus on proactive community management. “Marketers should be scouring the Web, so if someone says something negative about the brand they can try to correct them,” says Daly. He says this is particularly important for service-related companies, but expects that with the growth of location-based marketing, it may become more prevalent for retail as well. “If someone's at Macy's in line and they tweet about the wait, the store may have people standing by who can respond to that and help them out,” he says.

Make the community about more than the brand. While addressing customer complaints and celebrating positive brand experiences are valuable uses of social media, marketers should think of ways to make their digital efforts speak to broader passions and concerns. Daly points to Pepsi's “Refresh Everything” volunteer platform as an example of this. “There wasn't an easy, transparent and accessible way for individuals to quickly create a cause and mobilize people to raise money,” he says. “Pepsi took this leadership role and guided people.” He points to Triscuit's “Home Farming” initiative as another example of effective online community building.

Own the phone. With the rise of smartphones, consumers are getting more comfortable comparison shopping while in a store, which makes it increasingly important for brands to compete on more than price. “It's not enough to get them into the store, marketers also have to own their phone,” says Daly. He points to Gap and Coke as brands that have effectively run location-based promotions that connect with consumers through their iPhone or Android phones, and adds that smart marketers will want to follow their lead. “Pretty soon, you're going to walk into the retail store and they will hit you with a poster or sign that says ‘check in now on Foursquare or Facebook and you'll be eligible for ‘x' amount of offers.'”

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