Advances in digital are transforming marketing in many ways. Digital marketing is often narrowly viewed as use of social media applications like Facebook, Twitter, Linked in, Instagram, blog posts and others. The applications are used to create greater market buzz for the individual and a company’s products and services.

New technologies like augmented and virtual reality are also gaining popularity. They help improve message quality. These help consumers get a real life feel of a product which in turn helps in the buy or not to buy decision making process.

Urban ladder – a home and office furnishing India based startup uses virtual reality to present to their customers a real life feel of how a particular furnishing would look in a particular location at the home or office.

These like others are message or message aiding delivery tools. However, for a message to be effective it has to be directed to the appropriate market segment. It has to be relevant to the consumer. It should promote building of a brand – individual, company or product. The messaging has to be socially, culturally, geographically and politically appropriate too.

These attributes if these have to be fulfilled take us to processes that need to be put in place before a message is conceptualized. Messaging has to be appropriate to prevailing market scenario and customer preference. If the customer is placed at the center of corporate strategic thinking, then products too will have to be created or redesigned to customer need. This will have a direct impact on business operations.

All this can be achieved through digital marketing. Some term it as a spearhead to business transformation.

Razorfish India CEO Charulata Ravikumar no wonder describes her company as one that helps it transform business. I heard her participate in a panel discussion on marketing at the recently concluded Surge 2016 conference held at Bengaluru India. We had a one hour chat post the event. She gave me an overview of marketing and transformational methodologies that Razorfish deploy for their customers.

Razorfish - India CEO

Razorfish – India CEO

Razorfish is a Publicis group company. Publicis is a 10 billion Euro marketing and transformation French group.  The group, according to its website has 77000 people on its rolls.

To assist in marketing lead business transformation, Razorfish deploys a range of off the shelf and proprietary digital tools. These help understand and analyze business environment, competition, market and customer need and preference. Both empirical and qualitative data on a company, its products and services are collected and assist in the analysis.  The company sometimes collaborates with other digital and management transformation companies like Accenture to offer a customer an end to end company transformation service.

Google Trends, Google Alerts, social media listening applications like Hootsuite, Adobe Social, and are some of digital tools deployed by them. While Google Trends and Alerts give broad company and market trends, the social media listening tools help capture customer speak. The market buzz around a company, its products and services is obtained with the help of these applications.

Competition intelligence gathering tools are additionally deployed. Competitor data is secured by gathering and analyzing meta data from the competitor company web sites. Business intelligence software like ComScore, Nielsen Net ratings and Spyfu give an insight on public perception on competitor products and services. Spyfu helps analyze adwords used by a rival company. The tool helps identify those adwords that are linked to the highest return generating products and services.

Google Keyword Planner gives insights into customer intent, the challenges faced by the customer, his need, preference for specific products and services. The analysis provides a good insight into customer overall purchase behavior.

The above mentioned tools rely on artificial intelligence technology. Machine learning continuously upgrade outputs for the users of these tools. Marketing analysis find this particular useful. It helps gain access to steady stream of up to date data on competitors, products and services.

Meta data analysis tools are used to get insights into market and customer intent, behavior, preference and geographic distribution. Customer demographics become available too.  This is supported by traditional methods like online surveys and data from industry specific proprietary databases.

Once the business, market, competitor, customer behavior and preference have been analyzed the stage is set to put the transformation plan in place. The strategies and changes to business processes follow.  Appropriate customer centric front end messaging can now be designed. Traditional advertisers, media planners, designers, distributors, public relations people, front end disseminators – print, audio, video, internet step into the act at this stage.

Traditionalists are often seen to question digital marketing. Can not a field sales force give the company ear to the ground feedback?  If the customer base for a company product and service line is large adopting traditional methods is both expensive and has physical limitations. In multinational businesses feet on the street business intelligence gathering will not just be prohibitively cost but also be insufficient.

Internet and universal access to digital tools has democratized news and opinions both.  Customers and companies both can on their own access information and obtain real time feedback on a product or service on offer.

Tastes and preferences are evolving all the time. Many of the modern age digital companies like Uber, Ola, AirbnB etc. are using digital tools extensively. They are able to rapidly respond to emerging preferences. Traditional companies and well established brands are already facing the heat.

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Sudhirahluwalia, Inc