De-fragmenting Digital

Most clients have a web agency, an online media agency, an online advertising agency… Some have an email delivery platform, or an email marketing agency, SEO and PPC specialists. And then the advertising agency or the sales promotion agency do tactical stuff (virals and vouchers, gobbling money to little useful gain). You might have some of these, or work for one.

Most clients spend lots of time getting their agencies to improve what they’ve got by 3%. That’s a 3% better website, or a 3% better performing ad campaign. It’s all, from what I can see, very tactical, very incremental, deeply fragmented.

But we’re in a recession, and it’s just not good enough. There’s a huge opportunity to think again, to take stock and look around at what’s possible today, not what was possible five years ago when you started on the road to improvement. Today customers expect to have a voice, they expect you to listen to their needs, observe their behaviour and deliver them relevant, timely brand-engagement-inducing nudges and touches, wherever they are, online or off.

ECRM offers a slightly different way of looking at things, provided you define eCRM as a strategic approach rather than an executional method. It requires that you head back into the customer data, evaluate all the touchpoints you currently have – the website, ads, emails, SMS, social media – and create a strategy that is designed not to have the most engaging website, but the most engaging customer journey. This way you become channel-agnostic, and digital execution becomes subservient to how you relate to your customers, not the other way round.

It’s worked particularly well for companies like McCain Foods who’ve turned digital on its head and are now having a single conversation across several different channels. Brand engagement with brand resistors has gone up from 14% to 63% in ten months, which is staggering.

Using a top-down strategic view doesn’t mean getting rid of your agencies, it just means they’ll all be working to a single over-arching strategy, rather than just doing the best they can do in their niche. It means you get a coherent plan that can be delivered as usual through segmented email or segmented microsites, but is flexible enough to incorporate new channels (like social media) as they emerge.

All digital de-fragmentation takes is a little strategic thinking, but what it leads to can be revolutionary.

This post first appeared on my Revolution Blog on BrandRepublic.