The "Third Platform" is Where the Money is

under Digital Marketing.

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digital marketing 2Welcome to a new age in marketing optimism.

According to a new study conducted by IDC, the tech industry can expect to see marketing budgets increase between 1.5 and 2.5 percent overall by the end of the year. But the real news out of that study is this:

"Third platform" marketers can expect budgets to grow by six times that, between 8 and 12 percent.

What is the "third platform?" IDC defines it as the marketers who embrace technologies like the cloud, mobile, social media, and Big Data. There's also a lot of talk about content marketing being one of the top 3 strategies CMOs should be implementing and perfecting.

It's not all rainbows and unicorns, though, even as the economy bounces back and we enter this new era of advanced marketing. Growing marketing budgets also mean growing competition. It seems like a new marketing channel is born every day, and enterprises that fail to incorporate them cohesively could end up toppled by sleeker strategists.

All Marketing Needs a Digital Component

It no longer makes to think of "digital marketing" as a single channel, a group of channels, or as a separate part of your marketing strategy. Virtually every good marketing campaign requires a digital component. According to IDC's report, by the end of 2016, more than 50 percent of marketing dollars spent by the tech industry will be going to digital marketing:

digital marketing

Put another way, it's not about embracing digital marketing. It's about marketing in a world that has gone digital.

SEO, content marketing, social networking, big data, mobile, email, and PPC are all very different channels or tactics, and must be appreciated as such. But they must also be integrated to form a complete whole. Failing to understand either one of these ideas can be detrimental.

It starts with understanding what each channel is for:

  • SEO and search engine advertising are platforms for attracting people who want something specific, but in different ways. Search ads bring commercially driven visitors who are looking for a specific thing to buy. SEO typically attracts users who are looking for information about a specific subject, who might not necessarily be commercially motivated. It's generally higher up the funnel. SEO is not synonymous with content marketing, but it often depends heavily on it.
  • Social media is about serendipitous discovery, not customer retention. While social media has a small impact on customer retention, it works better as a first touch channel. People use the platform for bite-size, entertaining, funny, actionable, inspiring content. This is the kind of content you need to share on social networks in order to have any visibility in them. You can link from this bite-size content to your more in-depth content to drive referral traffic.
  • Email is the best customer retention channel available, but you generally shouldn't use it exclusively for commercial messages. Users need a reason to open your emails even if they aren't looking to buy anything, or they will most likely unsubscribe.
  • Text messages are another great platform for customer retention, but they should only be used for brief, time-sensitive messages, and at a maximum of once per week.
  • Big data is an emerging technology and not all businesses can currently leverage it in full. However, businesses should be taking advantage of at least some of the capabilities they do have available such as email segmentation, targeted advertising, analytics, split testing, and market research.
  • Apps can be a powerful way to engage customers and enhance customer retention but they should be used properly. Content apps tend to be massive failures even when massive media businesses try to launch them. People like apps they can use, apps that serve a functional purpose, or at least that entertain them.
  • Marketing cloud tools help unify various channels and store related data and histories in the same place, blurring the lines between CRM, analytics, big data, customer service, and all other marketing channels.

Be prepared for the integration of these disparate technologies and strategies, because it's coming whether you like it or not.

Image credit: Eshed Gal-Or