Getting Started in Digital Marketing

Five Steps to Getting Started in Digital Marketing

Digital marketing is an overall term that covers all of your online marketing efforts. Businesses are increasingly using digital marketing tools such as Google search, social media, email, and their websites to connect with their current and prospective customers.

Why bother? Why not just spruce up the brochures and run some ads? Because, marketing is about connecting with your target audience in the right place and at the right time. Today, that means that you need to meet customers and prospects where they are already spending time – on the Internet.

Here are the 5 steps to getting started with Digital Marketing: 1) start with deep knowledge who your customers are and why they will buy your product or service, 2) develop a compelling website, including content that informs and entertains your customers, 3) drive traffic to the website through search, email, and social media, 4) convert that traffic to leads and sales, and 5) measure, refine, and repeat. SCORE uses these basic steps with our clients, and they will be covered in our upcoming webinars

Your website is the foundation of your digital marketing. It’s the piece of real estate your business owns on the Internet, where you can tell people about your company and drive purchase decisions. But building a pretty website isn’t enough – you need content.

Content, such as a blog or newsletter, is used to move your website visitors to the next stage in their buyer’s journey – making them a buyer, a subscriber, or a prospect. To achieve this goal, you must add calls-to-action (CTAs) to your content, such as providing free access to more in-depth materials – How-To’s or webinars – or by running quizzes and contests with prizes.

Next you need to make sure you optimize your website so that it generates a constant flow of visitors. Your favorite search engine has free tools and tutorials to get you started in search optimization, including generating traffic from local searches.

Your content provides material for email campaigns and social media marketing, the next steps in digital marketing. Emails connect directly with your targets and can be a very cost-effective way of generating traffic to the website. Social media allows you to interact and provides you with brand visibility online. While there are a wide array of social networks, most start by focusing on the “big three”: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

This traffic is just the beginning – now start converting your website visitors into prospects and sales. To do this, you’ll need to come up with offers for your prospects and a form for visitors to provide their contact information.

Finally, you’ll need to measure, adjust, and iterate the whole process. Some marketing metrics you should watch closely include click-through rates, the conversion rate of your landing page, and the number of new leads and sales an offer generates.

Congratulations you are now ready to go back to step one and do that again! Is this easy? NO. Is it worth it? YES! You must market to customers and prospects where they are spending time – online.

The Evolving Customer Journey

The Evolving Customer Journey

In 2009 McKinsey published what, to me, was a seminal marketing article on the customer decision journey, which was pictured as evolving from the familiar sales funnel to a series of loops leading to customer involvement and customer loyalty.



Since 2009, I have been pestering my marketing classes with this figure, while the concept of the non-liner, inner loop has evolved considerably – just see the sample list of references below – to include several inner loops of involvement and advocacy. With the immediacy of social and digital marketing media, customer involvement and advocacy have become the norm.

So, we seem to now accept the fact that the sales funnel is too simple a model, and we acknowledge that the job of marketing is to do more than simply heap awareness in the top of the funnel and hope that it trickles down to sales. (Perhaps – the Super Bowl commercials seemed to be all about awareness at $4.5 million per 30-second spot.)

Now what? How do we apply all of the traditional and digital marketing tools to walk/nudge prospects through steps of the customer journey? How do we support engagement and advocacy and to keep passive brand loyalists in the fold?

Uhhh, the answer is elusive and seems to be “it all depends.” But, we must 1) identify classes of customers via traditional segmentation and through analysis of group behavior (big data) on the net, and 2) figure out what combination of Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/etc. plus TV and radio are most effective at influencing customer journeys. Otherwise we have made no progress from the bad old days of not knowing which 25% of our marketing efforts had the intended effect, and we are placing billboards on Youtube instead of the highway.

Of course I exaggerate! We have much better tools and analytics – check out Google link below and see for yourselves. And, furthermore, developing and testing tests of marketing campaigns can now be done much more quickly and easily. But the job of marketing has also become much more integral to strategic and tactical success, while also becoming much more complicated.

And it is much more fun.


Prof Goeltz




Radio Shack as a Platform

Radio Shack as a Platform

A blog from Digital Tonto, referenced below, talks about the fact that successful offerings are not just products, they are now platforms that support value-added ancillary products and services. These ancillary offerings come from a supporting ecosystem and often add considerable value to the original platform. Think Apple. And Facebook. To quote the Digital Tonto “A competitive product is no longer enough, you also need pervasive platform.”

I was always fascinated with the ZAGAT business model, and Zagat is a platform. Now we have Yelp, UrbanSpoon, Tripadvisor, and even Zagat as digital and mobile platforms.

This train of thought and the downward spiral of RadioShack – see the article in Business Week this week – raises the question of whether the retail industry can benefit by being regarded as platforms. If Radio Shack had thought of themselves as a platform for the electronic/digital customer experience, could they have evolved and prospered? With 7000 locations they could have evolved from resistors to CB Radios to HiFi, then moved to mobile phones and, currently, the Maker movement and 3-D printing labs.

At least two things would have helped Radio Shack – management who saw the handwriting on the wall and a brand name that was extendable. Brands that are too explicit – Pizza Hut – make evolution and adaptation more difficult. In the old days we called this concept brand extensions, but the brand has to be extendable or at least have the potential of being repositioned.

Can Sears be rebranded or repositioned as a platform for value-minded customer experiences? J C Penny? If so, they also need to make the customer experience enjoyable. Think of places that you actually like to shop. In my case it includes Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Wegmans, and the Apple store. The list does not include Sears and JCP. Or A&P.

Or Radio Shack…


Read more:


Digital Marketing – Twitter is Not a Strategy

Twitter is Not a Strategy*

And neither is Facebook, Vines, Instagram, or any other digital social media tool or set of tools. Yet the first inclination of a company new to the world of digital marketing is to have a Facebook page and a Twitter account and post some pictures on Instagram and then proudly report that they have a digital marketing strategy. This reminds me of when everyone had to have a web page, and then we had to do banner ads, and then email blasts and the search engine optimization. Those weren’t strategies either.

A digital marketing strategy starts with the same thing that it always has – an offering, a brand, and positioning, and then crafting messages that are focused on specific customer groups to influence customer behavior. The messages are still crafted to support specific customer actions, depending on where the customer is in their purchase and experience journey.

But then all heck breaks loose if we don’t recognize that in digital marketing:

  • The concept of market segments has been replaced by ever-changing and overlapping affinity groups.
  • The brand essence and the positioning can change depending on the focus on different affinity groups.
  • The customer journey is no longer linear but is an ongoing process of engagement before, during, and after purchase.
  • The digital channels require constant attention with branded content and customer interaction.
  • And finally, once we set it in motion, our digital presence is largely out of our control.

The last point bears repeating and is the most difficult to embrace. In prior iterations of the marketing function – from production to sales to marketing and then to customer focus – we were in the drivers seat and spend a LOT of money (e.g. more that $5 billion a year at Ford Motor Company) to push awareness and the close the deal.

Now the customer has a lot more control over the information flow and over the brand message. And unless there is an integrated digital strategy, we have totally lost control over our brand equity.

Next Up – the steps in developing a Digital Marketing Plan.


* See TWITTER IS NOT A STRATEGY – Rediscovering the Art of Brand Marketing, by Tom Doctoroff, Palgrave Macmillan Trade


Managing and Leading in the Digital Era

Managing in the Digital Era

In the Digital Era, managers and leaders must be willing to embrace change, give up control, and become more like player/coaches and guides. Why? Because the knowledge of what is going on and what it means has been pushed to much lower levels across all functions than before the Digital Era. We are beginning to understand marketing in the Digital Era, but are just starting on HR, for example. How we recruit, select, train, retain, and reward millennials is nothing like it was five years ago and will undergo further change.

And we are just beginning to understand that in the Digital Era, alignment of the entire organization around focused objectives, such as the customer experience, has become much more feasible and much more critical. This means that leaders must be evangelists for the changes and for making the organization “digital ready.” Did you see the bit about Lego employees getting digital driver’s licenses?

At the top of the organization, the leaders must promote the wholesale adoption of digital, interactive tools by the organization for intra- as well as inter-organizational use. The only thing that I can think of that compares is the Six Sigma craze, where many organizations trained every level on how to achieve minimum defects. But here, the Digital Era is not a consulting trend – it is a very real change in the way business is conducted. And it is just getting started.

The good news for college graduates is that you are already “digital ready” and can help make these changes in any organization. A recent graduate took a job in an insurance company as a receptionist. Six months later she was in charge of the web site and the digital properties. One year later she was in charge of marketing and was leading the digital marketing changes.

Stay tuned. There is a lot going on here.

Comments? Fire away. Digitally.

Prof Goeltz

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

Strategy is Dead? – No, Not Really

In a recent blog posting on, Rick Smith states that the practice of strategy as it is taught and practiced is DEAD.

I suspect that he is exaggerating to get us talking and thinking, but my interpretation and summary of the article along with my thoughts:

  •  Incrementalism has been disrupted by disruption – that is, it is no longer sufficient to make incremental improvements.

My Response: This is nothing new. Disruptive tech and disruptive global competition has been around for the last 20+ years.

  • The past is no longer a good predictor of the future – the future has been clouded over by the rapid changes in technology and society.

My Response: The future ain’t what it used to beIt never was. Each successive generation of consumers and companies has always been different than the past.

  • Competitive lines have dissolved completely – competition and competitors can come from anywhere.

My Response: OK, you have a point. But competition has always come from both inside and outside of the industry.

  • Information has gone from scarcity to abundance – knowledge used to be the strategic discriminator.

My Response: But, all resources go from scarcity to abundance. It is not the abundance of information that results in competitive advantage, but what the firm does to convert the information to knowledge.

  • It is very difficult to forecast option values – big decisions are increasingly risky.

My Response: The future has always been dim. We are just smarter about how little we know.

  • Large-scale execution is trumped by rapid transactional learning – the ability to execute a big program, like six-sigma, is no longer as valuable as flexible and quick responses to market and environmental changes.

My Response: Yes, but we still need large-scale programs PLUS rapid testing of strategies. But, I agree that the pace of change has certainly picked up!

The author says that strategies today are guided more by the actions and reactions of the employees, not by the strategists and senior management. Along those lines a recent academic article proposes that losing middle, operations management is more damaging than losing senior management.

In my opinion, this has always been the case. Today’s strategy practice is just more rapid and riskier than it was in the past – middle management and the front lines know more, a lot more today, about the changing environment than senior management.

But I do agree that companies are doomed if they predict the future based on the past and believe that incremental improvements will win the day. Examples may include Dell and Sears and, perhaps, even Yahoo.

In summary, to win at strategy today, companies must have both a long-term direction and be making numerous low-cost experiments that keep them abreast of the changing environment. Examples? Google? Amazon?

Your comments and thoughts?

Let me know. Prof Goeltz



Bermiss, Y Sekou and Murmann, Johann Peter, The Impact of Functional Background and Top Executive Mobility on Firm Survival (April 22, 2014). UNSW Australia Business School Research Paper No. 2014 STRE 02. Available at SSRN: or

The Tim Cook Miracle at Apple Inc.

And it’s not the Apple Watch.

The current issue of Business Week features an interview with Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple Inc. The story is not about the Apple Watch or the other recent announcements, although the Apple Watch is a central element of the article. It is about how Tim Cook changed the culture at Apple from a company of silos and secrets to one of collaboration. This was accomplished in just three years – the miracle is that it was accomplished at all, let alone in such a short period of time.

The change in culture might best be understood in terms of an article from 2007 (yes, I really do keep articles from that far back) that is about organizational archetypes of innovation. The authors developed four different archetypes based on a survey of 90 companies across industries and 14 countries.

Archetypes and company examples are:

  • The Marketplace of Ideas – Google
  • The Visionary Leader – Apple
  • Systematic Innovation – Samsung
  • Collaborative Innovation – Facebook

As you might surmise, everything about the Visionary Leader model is different from Collaborative Innovation – a different type of leader, staff, internal processes and structure, and culture. Also remember that any effective organization is a system where all of the elements are aligned and self-reinforcing. Changing any one element without changing the others is a recipe for organizational chaos.

Mr. Cook used the Apple Watch as the change agent, a high-visibility and high-risk project of a large cross-disciplinary team that included hundreds of engineers, designers, finance, and marketing people – a very different approach than the previous model of small, secretive teams that did not even know what the other teams were working on. Perhaps Apple pride in what they do is the real secret ingredient in Apple’s culture.

Bravo, Tim Cook. A few other bits in the article were also interesting to me. The watch was envisioned in a lab after Jobs passed away, perhaps indicating that innovation is embedded throughout Apple, not just resident in the former CEO. The other interesting tidbit was that Cook waited a year to act, observing and absorbing while allowing the organization to mourn the loss of Steve Jobs. That was also a very smart move, in my opinion.


Let me know. Prof Goeltz




Competition is For Losers?


You can tell when a new Biz Book is about to be published – I heard about this book on NPR, then a review appeared in the WSJ, and it popped up on GoodReads, and on Business Insider. The author is even scheduled to appear in Philadelphia!

All before the book is released on 9/16/14.

The headliner in the WSJ was particularly striking – “Competition is For Losers.”

Hey Professor, I thought that competition was good, that freedom to compete was the foundation of capitalism, that competition forced out the weak and kept prices in the vicinity of the optimal, equilibrium price. Competition leads to the “creative destruction” that Shumpeter touted as the entrepreneurial engine of growth in capitalism.

All authors exaggerate to make a point, but the point here is that capturing the most value occurs in making the first viable product or service and therefor capturing the most value. Think Apple iPhone and Google search. Zero to One. Do not think of the airline industry where profits are dismal and have been for ages, ever since competition was unleashed by deregulation. One to N, in the author’s language, copying and imitation, does not lead to capturing the most value.

The authors state that the next “big things” will not be the same as the last ones – it will not be a PC, or an iPad or a search engine, but something entirely new. It is worth noting that the iPad and IBM PC were not the first models of tablets and personal computers to appear, but that they were the first attractive, scale-able models.

Will the Apple Watch be a Zero to One product? Why?

Is this what Michael Porter has us looking for in the Industry 5 Forces analysis?

Let me know what you think. Prof G



USA Burger and Soft Drink Industries

burgerAre we over-burgered? Is the quick-serve burger industry reaching the maturity-to-decline stage of its life cycle in the US? How about the soft drink industry?

Several recent articles (see below) would lead one to conclude that the burger business is fried in the USA, and that the soft drink industry in the US has gone flat (ouch, stop that!). This is not new news to the industry – McDonald’s has 66% of its revenues from overseas markets, while Burger King is expanding overseas, and Yum Brands long ago saw the growth opportunities in foreign markets.

And the trend is picking up speed, as measured in same-stores sales. For example, McDonald’s same-store sales rose 2 percent in Europe and 5.4 percent in the company’s Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa region in January 2014, while USA same-stores are declining.

These are the symptoms, but what are the drivers behind decreasing US sales of Big Macs? It could be that there are just too many places to get a burger, and that we are just tired of burgers. There are over 200,000 fast food locations in America. However, every tavern, bar, and American-themed restaurant in any sector of the industry offers a burger. There are at least 20 places that I can buy a burger within 20 minutes of my house. Burgers are big, Mack.

Plus, 5 Guys has grown from five outlets in the Washington DC area in 2003 to over 1000 locations today. We apparently still like our burgers, so maybe we are tired of fast food that is not all that good for us. For example, Coke and Pepsi have seen US sales fall every year since 2005. Maybe the falling sales of burgers and soda are health related.

Health concerns are not news to the US fast food industry. In 2012, McDonald’s worked with mothers/bloggers to define the health issue and attack it with new menu offerings and social media. To solve this problem, McDonald’s continually experiments with healthy food options. But progress is slow – salads are just 2% of McDonald’s sales in the US.

Perhaps Coke and McDonald’s, and to a lesser extent Pepsi, suffer from a fast-food case of the Innovator’s Dilemma (Clayton Christensen) – they are so dependent on the current customer’s needs that they can’t or won’t invest in future needs. Innovation in any industry tends to come from the new, smaller companies – in the drink industry in 2007 20% of the revenue and 50% of the sales growth came from small, regional brands. Coke and Pepsi can keep on buying up small brands. However, McDonald’s does not have that option, with its large investment in real estate.

Analysis is fun – what should McDonald’s do? Options for McDonald’s in the US could include:

  • Ignore the slowing in the USA – focus on growth markets overseas;
  • Innovate, but do so slowly to keep and expand the base;
  • Reverse innovate – bring some of the innovations and trends from overseas back to the USA;
  • Expand offerings – McBrunch anyone?
  • Diversify – start a more-upscale fast casual burger joint – e.g. buy or imitate 5 Guys;
  • Redesign the darned restaurants – a redesign of a store in California resulted in a 20% jump in revenues.

Are these the only options? Which one or what combination is best?

What do you think? Let me know. Prof G