socialmedianotenoughEarned Media was the big buzzword in the recent past. After Facebook is increasingly becoming a paid media channel, and many companies look back on more sobering experiences, a more holistic understanding of consumer communication is coming again to the fore of marketing executives.

Today’s businesses are facing new challenges as reflected in the following: 

There is no simple equation

The range of social media is impressive and our society is still getting digitally more active. Even the numbers floundering in the older age groups will belong soon to the past with the naturally induced cohort effects. The new possibilities in the online dialogue, the ostensibly convenient distribution of content and messages, as well as the chance of a viral extension, cause many fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies to really rethinking their mix of communication with consumers. Often with a sobering experience.

Operating owned media constantly with current content, that offers additional benefits, is overstraining many marketers. Besides that, many have to realize that some brands are simply not suitable for profiling the target person in the network, making the development of an active fan community with relevant range significantly more difficult for them than for others. The communities, often built up with promotional deals, fall soon after the start again into sleep and become inactive, making it obvious that usually nothing works without paid media.

Every consumer is analog, too

Many online studies created the idea of a digital consumer, but unfortunately, they hide the fact that usually merely digital behavior is described, that always corresponds with analog consumption influences. We know by now that overall only around about 10% of online word of mouth is effective. The conversation with the sports buddy, or the advice of colleagues during the lunch break, is still more important. Experience curves show further that the influence of offline and online - depending on the business model and brand - is not to be underestimated. Besides, it is relatively transparent how many potential customers are supplied via the Google search. However, it is also certain that the Google search is often triggered by offline activities.

Bridges outrank shores 

The understanding of consumer behavior, with respect to “research online - purchase offline” (ROPO) and vice versa, is becoming inevitably the center of attention. How the consumer is accompanied as well, depending on the business model or brand, in the online and offline world where bridges in communication have to be built timely. Moreover, the holistic view on the consumer influences, and the resulting buying behavior for the domestic market, the brand, the business model, and then the orientation on the frequently cited best cases in the branded goods industry, rather helps. With the budgets in mind, more complex touch points must be properly selected and linked offline and online.

Social Media is out - Total Media is in!

On one side, there is the rapid growth of communication channels, on the other hand, dollars and cents can be spent only once. Well, the dilemma is not new. Since the boundaries between above the line and below the line turn out to be artificial in their effect on the consumer, the distinction between online to offline makes little sense, too. Therefore, the questions arise: What touch points play a role in the decision process, in which phase of the purchase decision and what is their relevance? In addition, who realizes this true holistic perspective with all the necessary specialization in business?

Fact is that analyzing a measurable customer journey easily in the network is not enough. Only in connection with the analog influences on behavior an effective and affordable strategy can be developed. The art is once again to omit the unimportant.

The answers to these questions can only be delivered by the consumers, by analyzing their digital and analog touch points. However, this is just the answer to the ‘where”. Without the exploration and analysis of the “why”, it will not be possible to derive any effective communication.

After all the hype, many conclude that the focus needs to be directed again to a holistic communication strategy, and I hope the short write-up made clear the why.

By Daniela La Marca