Like many areas of life, success in digital starts with your mindset. When you shift from thinking about digital as a channel to thinking about digital as a platform you approach it differently. It’s not just about reaching people, it’s about enabling them.
Digital Marketing offers the tantalising possibility of reaching the right person at the right time, with the right message. But that promise too often translates into brand spam online, where marketers are competing for snippets of consumer attention, likes, and shares without fully realising the transformative potential of the medium.
We can do better in the digital context. And it starts with having a mindset that more appropriate for the medium. I think this mindset is one of enabling rather than of reaching.
Think of your day so far. When you woke up this morning, what did you reach for? How did you know what the weather was going to be like? How did you get to work, plan your day, liaise with colleagues, chat to your family, order food or listen to music? Digital permeates our lives, and we use it to get things done.
Digital is intimate in a way that no other medium can ever be. Let me go personal for a moment to illustrate. When I found out my mom had cancer, a few weeks ago I group-called my three brothers from WhatsApp. This everyday application made it possible for four of us to absorb the news together.
We trust our tools to the extent that they get out of the way and help us get what we want. I think this is a good guiding principle when it comes to advertising and marketing in the digital context.
A silly but relatable example is the insomnobot-3000 from mattress company Casper. They’ve created a “friendly, easily distracted bot designed to keep you company when you just can’t fall asleep.” It’s relevant to their product, gives people something to talk about, and was probably really inexpensive to develop in the first place. The big thing is starting with the intention to go beyond messaging to functionality.
Digital Story Making
We know that people don’t act unless we move them. When you’re buying media you can get millions of views, but to get real results, you have to do something that’s creative, that moves people.
This isn’t just about turning every campaign into an app. It’s also about harnessing the fact that digital gathers information at the same time as distributing it. It’s not a one-way channel. Data can be used to personalise media, to connect in a way that feels magical and alive.
One of my favourite data-driven campaigns is from British Airways, called “Visit Mum” that combined story and data in a way that is truly emotional, and that had a significant result for the business.
There is a magic to storytelling that has always existed in great advertising. Advertising in any format has always aimed to change our perspective. Digital marketing does this too, but it can go so much further. When we build functionality into our marketing, we can change the way that we purchase, move around, make decisions and interact with the world.
When we shift our mindset from thinking about digital as a channel to digital as a platform we can start to unleash it’s potential. It’s a magical combination of story, design and technology.