Marketing In The Digital Era

Why is the title Marketing in the Digital Era? Why not just Digital Marketing?

If we talk about Digital Marketing, we tend to focus on the wonders of social media as marketing tools and conclude that marketing has changed as result. But the basic function of marketing has not changed – it is still the job of marketing to design and deliver offerings that add value to targeted customers. What has changed in the Digital Era  is the nature and reach of the marketing function, making it the lead organizational process for many organizations. The Digital Era allows marketing to cut across all of the functions of the organization and include interactive communication with all elements of the extended value chain on a global basis. Whew!

What really excites marketers in the Digital Era is the ability to address micro-segments and individual customers, and then to interactively communicate and track those customers. With a digitally ready organization, the entire organization can focus on satisfying that customer and micro-segment. Before this, traditional marketing was a one-way push/pull designed for an average customer in a broad segment. But this is still too narrow a focus.

Where to start with marketing in the Digital Era? Companies should first study their customer decision journeys. In most markets the customers are moving from a linear decision model to an on-going, circular search for new information and interactive feedback via social media. Customers are not just buyers – they are now critics, influencers, and even designers of features and functions.

Once the journey has been defined, and perhaps influenced, then the firm can decide where in the journey to focus and what they want to accomplish. These are the “touch-points,” which can be matched with various digital channels, such as Pinterest for ideas, bloggers on Twitter to narrow choices, then friends on Facebook for specific recommendations, and reviews on Amazon for further consideration.

Choosing the right touch-point and the right digital channel depends on a host of factors, such as the stage of the product life cycle, but here the concern is where to have the most impact. So the third step is to define the company’s digital marketing model, such as digital branding or product innovation. Then the digital marketer must determine what capabilities exist and what must be developed to successfully deploy the marketing model to influence the customer at different points on the decision journey.

So Marketing in The Digital Era is much more complicated that having a Facebook page and a Twitter account. We have to start with the changes in the customer decision process, then evaluate where and what we want to influence in the decision cycle, and then focus on our strengths, for example as branders or innovators. It is a lot more work, but the payoff can be enormous for those marketers willing to be smart and continuously learn in the Digital Era.

Comments or questions? Let’s hear from you!


Prof Goeltz



What is the Digital Era?: Social Science Book Chapter | IGI Global.

Digitizing the consumer decision journey, Edwin van Bommel, David Edelman, and Kelly Ungerman. McKinsey & Company, June 2014

The Eight Touchpoints of a Customer’s Consideration Phase/ Alex Gonzalez, February 25, 2014. MarketingProfs plus conversations and an online course with the founder of Denovati Dr. Courtney Shelton Hunt

Developing a global digital strategy. October 2014. Johnson & Johnson’s vice president of digital strategy, Gail Horwood. McKinsey & Company