Opinion: The sad age of marketing

The author explains how offline and online channels should point to each other

Aug 05, 2019 10:45:00 AM | Article | Shoury Gupta

There’s no question that digital marketing has become a vital part of any organisation’s marketing plan. A recent report found out that one-third of businesses plan on introducing a digital program and nearly half of them already have. Unfortunately, the same report found that 50 per cent of companies that are using digital marketing have no plan on how to do so. A recent report by Social Media Examiner stated that 92 per cent of the marketers used social media for their business. However, 88 per cent wanted to know how to measure their return on investment for social media activities.
Across the globe, majority marketers in FMCG organisations pioneered the consumer insights field and did it the old-fashioned way. They met with people and visited their homes and families. They engaged with them at exciting events and activations. As great as online is, there is untapped value in really understanding of consumers using real-world, offline data elements. In point of fact, 94 per cent of FMCG sales happened offline in 2016.
Just because we have a cookie or an email address and we are trying to link them through probabilistic methods, it does not mean that as marketers we have a holistic, trusted identity. In fact, since most online data elements are not tied to the real, offline world, they rarely give you the full picture of the customer.
While many organisations claim they have data, the data quality is still questionable. Online identity is not static, with over 75 million people changing their phone carriers every year, 45 million changing their phone numbers, 60 million people moving and over 2 million people legally changing their names. A research found out that 60 per cent of data is out of date in less than two years. 70 per cent of companies worldwide are increasing their online marketing budgets while only 20 per cent are increasing their budgets for offline marketing.
As marketers, we should be worried. I fear at times that I don’t have the data (or enough of it) that I need to compete with other brands. With so much focus on short-term transactional goals, real rewards of data-driven marketing have still not been reaped. In a world surrounded by data, we as marketers have an unprecedented opportunity by complementing it with their own brand identity. With a fuse of art and science, customer engagement can be driven to a whole new level.
“Marketing has now become transactional. Gone are the days when marketing was inspirational.”
According to how marketing works, consumers do not make purchase decisions based on a single ad or message alone. The marketing rule of seven states that consumers need to be exposed to a message seven times before purchase. It is important for brands to speak the same language across these seven instances. The offline and online channels should point to each other.
(The author has previously held marketing roles at U2opia Mobile, TrulyMadly and Delhi Daredevils.)