STEP TWO: Review your marketplace opportunity

Q. Marketplace reviewed for growth opportunities and threats?

To develop a sound digital strategy today involves understanding a more complex, more competitive buying environment than ever before. Previously, marketers have talked about marketplace and situation analysis, but these terms hark back to previous times when life and commerce were simpler. Traditionally we call the business environment a company works in a ‘marketplace’, but today, it’s becoming more common, particularly amongst US investment circles, to talk about ecosystems describing the different types of media, websites and other digital platforms that digital channel users interact with.

What is it? Online marketplace or ecosystem
The dynamic interactions and dependencies between different digital media using different digital technology platforms such as mobile. These form the media options for reaching and interacting with online audiences.

With an introduction to the different media options for the modern digital marketplace. Understanding these options is essential to reach and influence your audience. With the rise in importance of social media and online PR, we’re seeing more companies change their method of budgeting and reporting to reflect the types of sites where audiences spend their time online.

The trend is for businesses to review their investments in media buckets of Paid, Owned and earned, which each give opportunities to reach and influence audiences.

Strategy Recommendation 11 Get the investment balance right between POE media
Digital strategy requires you to set the right balance of investment across POE media. It poses questions about how best to measure the returns from social media and PR and set investments at the right level.

The intersection between these new “channels” is shown by this diagram. It’s a great way to think about your online representation:

The main types of media channels you need to consider today as part of a digital strategy are:

  1. Paid media. Simple. Paid or bought media are media where there is investment to pay for visitors, reach or conversions through search, display ad networks or affiliate marketing. Online retargeting is important to persuade people to convert who have already interactedwith your website or social media to take the next step and buy. Offline traditional media like print and TV advertising and direct mail remain important, accounting for the majority of paid media spend.
  2. Earned media. Traditionally, earned media has been the name given to publicity generated through PR invested in targeting influencers to increase awareness about a brand. Of course, it’s still an investment. Now earned media also includes word-of-mouth that can be stimulated through viral and social media marketing and includes conversations in social networks, blogs and other communities. It’s useful to think of earned media as developed through different types of partners such as publishers, bloggers and other influencers including customer advocates. Think of earned media as different forms of conversations between consumers and businesses occurring both online and offline.
  3. Owned media. This is media owned by the brand. Online this includes a company’s own websites, blogs, mobile apps or their social presence on Facebook, Linked In or Twitter. Offline owned media may include brochures or retail stores.

It’s useful to think of a company’s own presence as media in the sense that they are an alternative investment to other media and they offer opportunities to promote products using similar ad or editorial formats to other media. It emphasises the need for all organisations to become multi-channel publishers.

You can see on the diagram above that there is overlap between the three different types of media. It is important to note this since achieving this overlap requires integration of campaigns, resources and infrastructure. Content on a content hub or site can be broken down (atomised) and shared between other media types through widgets powered by program and data exchange APIs such as the Facebook API.

Define your marketplace map

Your online marketplace where you compete for engagement and commerce is shaped by the needs of customers and how services are provided to them through the competitors, intermediaries, influencers.

A business owner or marketing manager who has worked with a company for a while will know their traditional marketplace inside-out, but perhaps not their online marketplace. This can be quite different in terms of customer needs and behaviours, influencers and competitors for interactions and sales.

Since the online marketplace is less familiar and constantly evolving we suggest you create a marketplace map to understand your main customer behaviours, competitors and influencers. This is essential for consultants and agencies working with a new client or new marketplace.

Strategy Recommendation 12 Create a marketplace map to summarise your understand- ing of the dynamic online marketplace.
Put the customers’ current use of technology and how they will interact with your brand at the heart of your strategy.

This visual explains the main players in the marketplace you need to review.

Chaffey et. al. (2012) Digital Marketing: Strategy, Implementation and Practice FT-Prentice Hall. 5th edition.

Then you need to drill-down to review the different marketplace influences in more detail.

Review main marketplace influences

Q. Main marketplace influences reviewed?

A. Our customers

Always start with the customer, their characteristics, behaviours, needs and wants. Your analysis should define:

  • Options for segmenting and targeting. You should apply your traditional segments, but also consider the new microtargeting options available online
  • Ideal customers. Characteristics summarised in named personas (covered in the targeting section) are useful to get started, think about demographics, searching and product selection behaviours and unmet needs
  • Target search behaviours. Search marketing is still really important as a driver of leads and sales so make sure you have good quality keyphrase analysis and an idea of how you are reaching demand – your share of search.
What is it? Keyphrase analysis
Keyphrase analysis involves identifying the keyphrases your customers are likely to use when searching for your products or services and the sequence they use before conversion. Potential keyphrases to be used for promotion are then selected.
Strategy Recommendation 13 Ensure you have good visibility of customer search behav- iour against results delivered.
Define target groups of target keyphrases and develop content strategies to reach these audiences.

The marketplace map layout below is our suggestion on how you can summarise customer interactions with online players, particularly when search is a big part of their customer journey.

Source: Chaffey et. al. (2012) Internet Marketing: Strategy, Implementation and Practice FT-Prentice Hall. 5th edition.
B. Our market

Market description. Focus on actionable needs and trends – are you meeting them, what are they – this insight is useful for other teams and you should find out what other teams know, what exactly is growing in the market, is there evidence you can draw from.

C. Our competitors
  • Benchmark online marketing mix. Benchmark against competitors for your customer personas (covered in the targeting section) and scenarios against the criteria given in the strategy section, in particular their marketing mix.
  • Benchmark digital communications channel. For key digital tactics like SEO and social media marketing, it’s also important to benchmark against competitors.
D. Intermediaries, influencers and potential partners
  • Customer use of online intermediaries. Review customer use of different types of sites which may influence their decision for example, search engines, specialist news sites, aggregators, social networks and bloggers.
  • Influencer strength. You can monitor your reputation across different influencers
E. Wider macro environment

These are the big picture strategic influences. We recommend you don’t go into too much depth on these, instead review the influence of the main macro factors for digital, that’s social, legal and technology in the context of customer analysis and competitor benchmarking.

  • Social – how have consumer attitudes changed?
  • Legal – checking your online marketing activities comply with privacy and online trading
  • Environment – is your approach ethical and sustainable.
  • Political – can you take advantage of government funding schemes?
  • Technology – review of the latest technology.
F. Our own capabilities

Once you have looked outwards (often missed), only then should you turn inwards and look at your own capabilities which can be summarised as part of the strengths and weaknesses on a SWOT. Using capability review frameworks is a great technique to summarise the current use of digital marketing in an organisation and where you want to be.

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