Technology has changed so much in the past five years, making it impossible to make accurate predictions in the future. Not so long ago, few would have thought that apps and social media would transform the way consumers look for and interact with brands and that smartphones would replace PCs as the main source of searching for information. Welcome to our new digital world.
With such rapid change, businesses are being forced to think on their feet. Larger companies may rush into employing separate digital teams to deal with unfamiliar tasks, including how to gain followers on social media. However, having numerous followers means nothing if there is no strategy on how to interact with them.
Herbie Dayal, CEO of KMI Brands, regards having an engaged following on social media platforms as more important than a huge reach of disinterested followers. “Don’t feel the need to spend lots of time and money creating profiles on every social media network. Choose the platforms that work best to represent your brand and most importantly, the ones that your target audience uses regularly.”
For beauty brands, Instagram is perhaps the most effective because it is so visual, while Twitter is effective for maintaining brand exposure and Facebook for targeting a specific audience, particularly the older market.
Companies that are starting out on their digital journey will probably need to have a separate digital team, maintains Sean Singleton*, managing director, of digital agency Your Favourite Story. “I believe to be a truly digitally-led company, digital expertise needs to be embedded in the whole company and not a separate function.”
The biggest mistake Sean sees companies make is not continuously optimising everything they do. “It’s important to have a test and learn approach, which means getting things done quickly, making mistakes, but learning and improving. This sometimes is quite hard in a large traditional corporate structure,” he points out.
Ultimately, marketing for the digital age is all about understanding how consumers have changed and adapting to it. Herbie believes the content on digital channels can be deeper and longer, therefore providing a touch point to continue telling the campaign story beyond a traditional advertising format (eg a 30 second TV ad).
However, treating online platforms in isolation to other touch points is a big mistake. “Whatever campaign is created, digital platforms are only one channel among others (whether that be traditional advertising, in store or PR) and content therefore needs to be created and tailored for all relevant touch points,” Herbie advocates.
He adds: “One important thing to say is that no amount of digital or other marketing will make up a vacuous product offering. Get the product right and the marketing can follow.”
Keeping up to date with fast-moving changes in digital is essential. Herbie recommends keeping the right mix of competencies in internal teams and ensuring they are regularly engaging with the right external bodies, via networking events, training or industry specific communications. Sean also stresses the importance of investing in staff, in terms of training, and strongly recommends attending conferences like in-cosmetics.
*Herbie Dayal and Sean Singleton are speakers at the in-cosmetics Marketing Trends presentations, which take place in London on 4-6 April.
AUTHOR: Imogen Matthews is a cosmetics industry consultant at I M Associates