The Official Release of iClick's "2023 The Practical Guide to Omnichannel Digital Operation"
Brands are poised for the prospect of a full recovery in 2023.
Against the background of the pandemic, markets have endured three years of uncertainty and pervasive concerns about drops in consumption. The pandemic has also completely reshaped traditional spending habits. These changes in consumer behavior have indirectly pressured brands to accelerate their journey toward digital transformation. Since the beginning of the pandemic, spending power has improved and is gradually getting stronger. There is now a critical window for brands and enterprises to develop their digital operations.
Digital operations is not a novel concept. It is often presented as a “perfect turnkey solution” by major platforms and service providers to promote their own products, rather than as a detailed strategy with clearly defined methods, targets, results, and models. The winds of “involution” (内卷) are blowing into the field of digital operations, and the landscape is changing at an unrelenting pace. In the past, brands were starting from scratch, adding new verticals and digital marketing channels to seize new opportunities. Now, most brands already have a solid digital foundation to build from, and top performers are already advancing by leaps and bounds.
The advancements in marketing digital technology and integration of artificial intelligence-generated content (AIGC) have shifted digital operations from "addition" to "multiplication", including changes to infrastructure and organizational structure, driving traffic, integration of public and private domains, construction of a consumer data system, data-driven operations...
Each one of these "multipliers" is vital!
We will lay out a set of practical guidelines for global digital operations and dive into the details of organization, system, data, content, traffic, users, and more. Rather than focusing on just the concept, our roadmap will help you navigate the various platforms and tools available.
iClick's practical insights and expertise are derived from years of serving over 3,000 customers, including large corporations and medium-sized enterprises. Together with a summary of best practices and case studies of leading companies, we introduce our predictions for 8 major growth opportunities in global digital operations for brands and enterprises in 2023:
The endless deluge of marketing messages and information put out by brands is causing customer fatigue. Unique content with strong brand messaging, optimized based on user interaction, has the potential to boost organic growth with positive feedback and increased engagement. Successful campaigns include “Mad Four Literature” (疯四文学) and “Mcdonald's Disciples” (麦门).
Through the use of AIGC innovation, KOL collaborations, and user topic guidance, brands can generate their own BGC\PGC\UGC in the form of text, video clips, live streams, NFT, and others.
With the growing focus on customer experience, consumers' expectations for brand content are at an all-time high. Consumers expect personalized content. The practice of publishing a single version of content is no longer effective. Brands must use data analysis to customize their unique content based on the different platforms, types, and pipeline stages of their users.
Delivering personalized and customized content, and interpreting the brand with diversified value is the core of brand building and helping brands differentiate themselves from competitors.
Digital channels have brought brands and consumers closer together. Brands are no longer abstract concepts, but an entity with which consumers can communicate and interact.
A "person" is required to represent the brand and communicate directly with consumers, so that consumers feel that the brand understands itself. This person with the personalized official account could be a worker who is relatable to the public, the chief operating officer, or another persona to acts as “the face of the company”.
In addition to real people, there is also IP shaping. Many successful brand personalities, brand images, and even brand assets originally started with an IP personality, such as the familiar M&Ms. Technologies such as VR, the Metaverse, and virtual characters provide a richer soil for the development of personalized IP. Personalized operations will be key to breaking through the homogenization and oversaturation of marketing in the digital age.
Content, IP, and seeding content each have their important positions within digital marketing.
Through seeding or capturing a small audience, a brand can grow from 0 to 1. Some have even devised a fixed formula: 5,000 Xiaohongshu (小红书) articles + 2,000 Zhihu (知乎) articles + Li Jiaqi (李佳琦) as an influencer = a new brand. For brands looking to scale from 1 to 100, or even larger, the cornerstone role of advertising should not be underestimated. Even well-known brands such as Apple, Huawei, and Coca-Cola still invest a lot of money in advertising every year with a hard-sell approach.
Performance advertising is driven by traffic feedback to achieve precise niche marketing, triggering the instant conversion of consumers.
Brand advertisements penetrate the mainstream, repetition and frequency reinforce brand recognition, strengthen consumers' top-of-mind recollection, and flatten the forgetting curve.
Despite crowded advertising channels and digital traffic on the decline, organizations can still build a strong brand and overcome market fluctuations with a reasonable efficiency ratio.
Over the past four or five years, the "seeding" (种草) economy has become extremely popular.
Linking brands or products to content on social media and using KOLs to create viral content can quickly trigger discussions and grab the attention of target consumers. Seeding has become an essential way to boost brand popularity, but brands still face problems of consumer fatigue and diminishing attention spans.
The skyrocketing of East Buy Holding Ltd (东方甄选) has demonstrated the possibility of opening up an "involuted" field to an ocean of possibilities. Faced with the rapid evolution of the industry and the accelerated shifting of consumer interests and preferences, brands must be continuously updating their strategies in KOL selection, content creation, and platforms.
Displaying different content to address the different pain points of different demographics, targeting seeding, and more impactful content are ways in which brands will break through the traditional user communities, and will be the future focus of brand content marketing.
Online brand building and offline sales channels have been the strategy of most brands in the past.
During the pandemic, the digitization of offline channels was a "self-help" measure that brands had to take to survive. Now, brands are actively choosing to adopt digital technologies to support offline channels, such as stores, to enhance the customer experience and maximize brand awareness. When planning a marketing communication strategy, brands must not only focus on the C-end (consumers) but also invest in the B-end (offline channels).
The so-called "bC" integration aims to bind the marketing activities originally only aimed at C-end consumers with the interests of the B-end and improve the degree of coordination at the B-end. The most classic example of a successful case is Eastroc Beverage (东鹏特饮). Stores were incentivized with a box of red envelopes to put products up on the shelf as quickly as possible. Setting rewards for opening the box served as a win-win model in which both the consumers and the stores benefitted. Encouraging stores to actively promote products to consumers significantly increased product sales.
By integrating the digitalization of channels with "bC", brands can leverage offline channels to strengthen their connection with consumers, collect C-end customer data to form accurate personas, and continuously optimize their marketing strategies.
The trends of live streaming are changing. In addition to the competition and differentiation of top influencers, personal broadcasting is also on the rise.
In comparison to the short-term, punchy bursts delivered by influencers, the value of personal broadcasting is not limited to GMV. Its essence is to first build the channel for brands to reach consumers directly, so that brands, products, and consumers connect in real time.
Based on the logic of transformation, brands can use a matrix of different accounts together with a high-frequency posting schedule to achieve blanket coverage of target demographics. Professional vertical influencers can help to provide consumers with improved user experience and service delivery.
Based on the logic of product promotion, brands can use "slow TV" (慢直播) or pure content marketing to deliver content in an independent and controlled way, reinforcing the core of the brand, and gradually nurturing the fans assembled in the live broadcast to become "fans" of the brand.
Finally, as a long-term and stable channel, personal broadcasting has the ability to overtake traffic hotspots. The soaring numbers of viewers achieved by searches of KanS (韩束) and Honxing Erke (鸿星尔克) are classic examples.'
Since the beginning of 2022, more than 10 million companies have deployed “private domain traffic” (私域) strategies. It is evident from the development of the industry that "going private" has changed from a strategic foresight to a consensus among brands.
The essence of private traffic is user-centric. The use of WeChat and other platforms help to build a deep and lasting relationship between brands and users. It is indisputable that brand marketing must still be user-centric outside of private domain traffic, often referred to in the industry as the “public domain traffic” (公域私). With breakthroughs in cross-platform ID recognition technology, both private and public domain users can be unified to form an integrated digital marketing chain.
In a global scenario, users will recognize a brand and their impression will be strengthened step by step through multiple, non-sequential touchpoints, including advertisements, seeded content, official websites and accounts, offline stores, e-commerce platforms, and community recommendations, all of which are traceable through a link.
Global integration is the connection between online and offline, public and private traffic so that all user touchpoints can be used to inform business operations.
Changes in the market, forms of media, consumer behaviors, and other factors have caused the focus of product marketing to change repeatedly. This has profoundly affected the growth of the ToB industry.
It has long been assumed that B-end consumers are enterprises and organizations with rationality. For this reason, ToB marketing has been relatively pragmatic and conservative. However, in reality, information gathering and decision-making ultimately fall into the hands of specific "people".
ToB takes reference from ToC's rich marketing methods and ideas. For example, Dell Enterprises applied ToC to its private traffic. They first used public domain media to launch scenario marketing advertisements, embedding private traffic QR codes to drive target customers to WeChat, and further guiding them to official accounts and small programs. Check-ins, welfare activities, and community content all help to drive decision-making and facilitate long-term repeat purchases.
It is these types of integrated and innovative marketing methods that will inject new vitality into and spur growth in the ToB industry.
Many opportunities and challenges exist in the global digital operation of brands and enterprises. If you want to seize these 8 major opportunities, you will need the help of a systematic and practical methodology to achieve real growth through real action!
As an enterprise service technology company that has been deeply involved in marketing and digital operations for many years, iClick has supported numerous success cases in various areas of its global digital operations. To this end, we have used our extensive experience to compile practical strategies, insights, project plans, and replicable methodologies into a "2023 Global Digital Operations Guide" to be shared across the industry.
Our guide serves to help readers interpret, from a practical perspective, the construction and implementation of a global digital operations system for brands and enterprises. It also addresses questions and challenges encountered in real-life scenarios.
Download iClick's "2023 Global Digital Operations Guide" here to learn more useful insights!
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