5-8 slides

part 3 continuance

part 1 and 2 attached for support


book attached


Hanlon_Digital Marketing_AW.indd 4 12/10/2018 12:55

Sara Miller McCune founded SAGE Publishing in 1965 to support
the dissemination of usable knowledge and educate a global
community. SAGE publishes more than 1000 journals and over
800 new books each year, spanning a wide range of subject areas.
Our growing selection of library products includes archives, data,
case studies and video. SAGE remains majority owned by our
founder and after her lifetime will become owned by a charitable
trust that secures the company’s continued independence.

Los Angeles | London | New Delhi | Singapore | Washington DC | Melbourne

Annmarie Hanlon


Hanlon_Digital Marketing_AW.indd 5 12/10/2018 12:55

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© Annmarie Hanlon 2019

First published 2019

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Library of Congress Control Number: 2018966917

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ISBN 978-1-5264-2666-6
ISBN 978-1-5264-2667-3 (pbk)

At SAGE we take sustainability seriously. Most of our products are printed in the UK using responsibly sourced papers and
boards. When we print overseas we ensure sustainable papers are used as measured by the PREPS grading system. We
undertake an annual audit to monitor our sustainability.

This book is dedicated to Nick, who positively makes all things possible.

To my parents, who were there at the start but left before the ink was dry, Ar dheis
Dé go raibh a n-anam.

List of Figures viii

List of Tables xi

About the Author xiii

Acknowledgements xiv

Preface xv

Online Resources xvi

Part 1 Digital Marketing Essentials 1

1 The Digital Marketing Landscape 3

2 The Digital Consumer 24

Part 2 Digital Marketing Tools 49

3 The Digital Marketing Toolbox 51

4 Content Marketing 95

5 Online Communities 125

6 Mobile Marketing 151

7 Augmented, Virtual and Mixed Reality 181

Part 3 Digital Marketing Strategy and Planning 203

8 Audit Frameworks 205

9 Strategy and Objectives 225

10 Building the Digital Marketing Plan 249

11 Social Media Management 270

12 Managing Resources 294

13 Digital Marketing Metrics, Analytics and Reporting 309

14 Integrating, Improving and Transforming Digital Marketing 339

References 361

Index 386

1.1 A framework for analysing the pace of technology substitution 5
1.2 Application of digital disruption across industry sectors 13
1.3 Consumer-centric IoT business models 15

2.1 The scope of consumer behaviour 27
2.2 Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) 29
2.3 Typology of consumer communication (C2B/C2C) in the

digital age 32
2.4 Online customer service experience (OCSE) conceptual model 41

3.1 Digital marketing toolbox 54
3.2 Example of email marketing 56
3.3 Why email works model 58
3.4 Tweet from AdAge 69
3.5 ASOS off-page SEO 74
3.6 Model of blog success 81
3.7 The honeycomb model 84
3.8 Investing in social media 90

4.1 From keyword to long-tail keyword 98
4.2 The Furrow Russian edition 100
4.3 The Content Marketing Pyramid 105
4.4 Strategic content building blocks for awareness 106
4.5 Example of image used for brand awareness 107
4.6 Strategic content building blocks for conversion 108
4.7 Strategic content building blocks for retention 109
4.8 Paid, owned, shared, earned (POSE) media model 113
4.9 The TripAdvisor® content gate 119
4.10 Example of targeted content by Superdry 120
4.11 Content themes and content promotion framework 121
4.12 The Content Maximiser™ 122
4.13 Examples on the vividness to interactivity scale 123

5.1 Example of London Northwestern Railway Trains’ use
of Twitter as a customer service channel 141

5.2 Key factors in online community management 141
5.3 Community lifestages model 144
5.4 Example of customer complaining behaviour – directness 146
5.5 The place of social media in the customer complaining process 147
5.6 Example of double deviation by an organisation 149

6.1 The structure of an m-payment ecosystem 158
6.2 The elaboration likelihood model of persuasion 162


6.3 Mobile advertising effectiveness framework 164
6.4 How ad networks work to manage publishers,

applications and advertisers with an
advertisement library 166

7.1 Simplified representation of a
‘virtuality continuum’ 183

7.2 Technology Readiness Scale 186
7.3 Technological variables influencing telepresence 188
7.4 Lockheed Martin Mars Experience Bus 191
7.5 Typology of experiential value 194
7.6 IKEA VR kitchen app 195
7.7 Gatwick Airport augmented reality wayfinding

app using beacons 197
7.8 Conceptual model for an adoption framework for mobile

augmented reality games 199

8.1 Digital marketing audit in context 207
8.2 Ten Cs of marketing for the modern economy 209
8.3 Forrester’s 5Is 220

9.1 The TOWS matrix 230
9.2 The social media strategy framework 234
9.3 The acquisition, conversion, retention framework 236
9.4 The McKinsey consumer decision journey 238
9.5 Hierarchy of objectives 242
9.6 Business goals adapted into digital marketing objectives 243

10.1 The 9Ms of resource planning 258
10.2 Social media campaign planning process 262
10.3 Framework for digital marketing campaign objectives 263
10.4 Impact and effort matrix 268

11.1 Increasing levels of media richness 275
11.2 Classification of social media by social presence/media

richness and self-presentation/self-disclosure 276
11.3 Stage model of social media adoption 280

12.1 Line messaging system 296
12.2 The T-shaped web marketing skill set 297
12.3 The T-shaped web marketer 298
12.4 The Suitability, Acceptability, Feasibility (SAF) framework 304

13.1 Weak, acceptable and strong metrics 315
13.2 Flowchart of customer search loop 320
13.3 Example of web address using UTMs 325
13.4 When Facebook users are on site for a business to business

organisation 326


13.5 Strategic dashboard 334
13.6 Framework for the adoption and success of dashboards 336

14.1 Vanish Tip Exchange example 342
14.2 Communication goals 344
14.3 IMC conceptual framework 345
14.4 Example heatmap 350
14.5 Actual customer journey 352
14.6 Path to superior firm performance 359

1.1 Adopter categories and general characteristics 7
1.2 The move from traditional to digital marketing tools 10
1.3 Generational cohorts 11

2.1 Differences in customer acquisition for
traditional and digital consumers 28

2.2 Initial scale items for Perceived Usefulness and
for Perceived Ease of Use 30

2.3 Customer experience management 38
2.4 What we know about customer experience 38
2.5 Service blueprinting with examples 42
2.6 Aligning the customer journey and business strategy 43

3.1 Development of the digital marketing toolbox 53
3.2 Website purpose and function 61
3.3 Examples of HTML code 73
3.4 Personal data available via social media pages 84
3.5 The utility of social media for business 88

4.1 Content Marketing Strategy Framework 101
4.2 Content purpose blueprint 102
4.3 Digital persona elements 103
4.4 Storybox Selection™ 104
4.5 Content purpose blueprint and metrics 112

5.1 Timeline of online communities 128
5.2 Demographic features within online communities 134
5.3 Rules of engagement examples 142
5.4 How to manage different types of online complaints 148

6.1 Mobile marketing implications 152
6.2 Use of wearables for marketing 160
6.3 Mobile advertising options 163
6.4 Benefits and downside of programmatic advertising 168

7.1 Virtual and augmented reality timeline 184
7.2 Six dimensions of interactivity 189
7.3 Experiential value applied to retail examples of

virtual and augmented reality 194
7.4 Industry bodies 200


8.1 Customisation techniques 214
8.2 Reasons why customers make contact with organisations 216
8.3 Evaluation of British Airways’ current digital marketing methods 221
8.4 Digital PESTLE used as an evaluation of opportunities and threats 222

9.1 Themes and metaphors in marketing 227
9.2 Strategy models 228
9.3 Digital marketing strategy models 232
9.4 Application of the McKinsey consumer decision

journey to strategy 239
9.5 Business goals based on organisation type 242

10.1 Digital application of the 7Ps to ASOS and Boohoo 252
10.2 Strategy, digital marketing objectives and tactics 253
10.3 One-page digital marketing plan 254
10.4 Building the action plan 256
10.5 Digital media plan example 267

11.1 Overview of main social media platforms 271
11.2 Prominent features of the four social media tools 276
11.3 Summary of the 5C categorisation 278
11.4 Risk evaluation for an #AMA event 283
11.5 Social media monitoring and management tools 288
11.6 Midlands Air Ambulance Charity aligning the digital

marketing and social media strategy 292

12.1 The RASCI and RACI models 301
12.2 RACI roles and responsibilities example 302
12.3 Key considerations in the SAF framework 305
12.4 SAF framework scoring example applied to PetBnb 306

13.1 Twitter data 311
13.2 Metrics from traditional to digital 312
13.3 Financial KPIs 314
13.4 Metrics and how to apply them 316
13.5 Web analytic data elements 321
13.6 Social media analytics terminology 325
13.7 Email analytics data available 328
13.8 Management and dashboard systems 337

14.1 Message appeals applied to digital marketing 341
14.2 The 7Cs of integration 343
14.3 The 4Cs of cross-platform integration 348
14.4 Companies failing to adopt digital business 353

Annmarie Hanlon is a Senior Lecturer in Digital Marketing at the University of
Derby and a practitioner who works on digital marketing strategy and social media
projects with charities, household names and service businesses.

Originally a graduate in French and Linguistics, Annmarie subsequently gained a
Masters in Business Administration, focusing on marketing planning. She studied
for the Chartered Institute of Marketing Diploma for which she won the Worshipful
Company of Marketors’ award for the best worldwide results.

As an early adopter, working in ‘online marketing’ since 1990, she is a Senior Examiner
in digital strategy, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing, a Member of the
Marketing Institute Ireland and a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Marketors.
Annmarie is past winner of the Mais Scholarship and her research interests include
the strategic use of social media in organisations, differences in practice between
generations and the technology that makes it happen.

Follow her updates on Twitter @AnnmarieHanlon

Writing a textbook on digital marketing is achieved with a supporting cast of prac-
titioners and academics. As a hybrid part-academic and part-practitioner I am in a
wonderful and unique space with access to students as well as organisations of all
shapes. Whilst I would like to list everyone who has helped, this would be like the
never-ending speech at the awards ceremony! May I thank you all, you know who
you are #RoundOfApplause.

Special thanks are due to: Karen Jones at Aston University, who provided constant
motivation and helped with the content marketing and online communities chapters;
Adam Civval at Greendog Digital, David Peck at the University of Derby and Peter
Rees, an examiner in digital marketing, who all provided inspiration and ideas for
mobile marketing; Karl Weaver, the CEO of Isobar, who shared insights into program-
matic advertising; Richard Shambler, a long-established examiner in digital marketing
and an expert in the SAF framework; some of my former digital marketing students
now working in agencies and in-house: Joe Alder, Imogen Baumber and Jade Walden.

Thanks to those behind the scenes, including: Jonathan Saipe and Tracey Stern, who
deliver digital training at Emarketeers, Brian O’Kane at Oak Tree Press in Cork, who
inspired me to write my earlier practitioner books, Dave Chaffey, who encouraged
me to write a textbook, plus the plethora of anonymous reviewers who provided
fantastic feedback.

Translating the book from an idea to reality was made possible by the detailed
and dedicated SAGE team, ably managed by Matthew Waters, Delia Alfonso and
Jasleen Kaur.

Digital marketing is a journey that can take an organisation towards new markets,
discover new opportunities and protect the current landscape. In the digital marketing
journey you can choose to be a navigator or a passenger. As a navigator you explore
options, set the course and lead the way. As a passenger you can sit back and take
in the scenery or you can lean forward and advise the navigator.

Whilst digital marketing was established 20 years ago and is one of the fastest moving
and most exciting aspects of marketing today, there are fewer universities and colleges
providing digital marketing education. As a result there is still a lack of understanding
and fewer established frameworks to make it easier to adapt business practices and
adopt new ways of working. This book aims to provide that understanding and share
the latest concepts to apply in organisations, whether you are a student working on
a case study, or heading into your placement year, or juggling a part-time vocational
marketing module with work.

Students can think of this textbook as a digital marketing roadmap, a blueprint for
your digital journey, to enable you to become navigators rather than passengers.

The book contains three key parts. Depending on your knowledge you may start at
Part 1 or jump straight into Parts 2 or 3.

Part 1, Digital Marketing Essentials, equips you with a useful context to the digital
landscape. Discover the key concepts to understand how we arrived in this new world
and comprehend more about the changing digital consumer.

Part 2, Digital Marketing Tools, provides a rich source of the key components. It
starts with an overarching toolbox that explores all possible digital marketing tactics,
followed by more detail with dedicated chapters on content marketing, online com-
munities, mobile marketing and augmented, virtual and mixed reality. It is critical to
understand the tools available before embarking on a digital strategy.

Once you have comprehended the digital marketing tools, this is a good time to
explore Part 3, Digital Marketing Strategy and Planning. This part investigates digital
audit frameworks to ensure you are ready to develop the strategy and objectives,
before building the digital marketing plan. Newer issues, including social media
management, managing resources, digital marketing metrics, analytics and report-
ing, are included. The part concludes with methods of integrating, improving and
transforming digital marketing, enabling you to apply the knowledge and tools gained
though the chapters.

Enjoy the journey and let’s start the campaign to create more digital navigators!


Head online to access a wealth of online resources that will aid study and support

teaching, available at: https://study.sagepub.com/Hanlon. Digital Marketing:
Strategic Planning & Integration is accompanied by:

• Editable PowerPoint slides will allow you to easily integrate each chapter into

your lessons and provide access to figures from the book

• Kahoot! quizzes will help you test students’ knowledge and understanding
of the materials

• Instructor manuals for each chapter will provide further support when teach-
ing each chapter and encourage discussion in sessions

• A digital marketing strategy and plan template can be used to help students
get their project off the ground

• Downloadable templates can be added to course resources or printed out
for use in class

• Follow the links to SAGE journal articles selected by the authors to help you

supplement your reading and deepen your understanding of the key topics
outlined in each chapter

• Access links to helpful websites with lots of extra information to reference
in your assignments




1 The Digital Marketing Landscape 3
2 The Digital Consumer 24



When you have read this chapter, you will be able to:

Understand key issues in the digital landscape

Apply communications theories to a digital environment

Analyse technology change

Evaluate blockchain potential

Create a plan to become an opinion leader

When you have worked through this chapter, you should be able to:

• Manage online reputation using third-party tools

• Apply the search engines’ EU privacy removal process for unwanted content


The fast-changing digital landscape provides many opportunities for marketers. It is
important to understand key concepts such as ubiquitous computing and how the
pace of technology has changed. This chapter explains how traditional marketing
models like Diffusion of Innovation are still valid and apply to online opinion lead-
ers, as well as differences between generations.

We explore the meaning and impact of ‘digital disruption’ and ‘the Internet of Things’,
with new business models emerging to understand how this applies to consum-
ers. In a world where your personal information has value, you can discover more
about ‘big data’ and privacy issues that affect marketing plans. The last part of this
chapter considers bitcoin and blockchain and how this might influence the future of
data management.

The growth of digital marketing has changed the relationship between businesses
and customers. Scholars and practitioners agree that organisations are keen to use
digital marketing to engage with their customers and we have moved into a new era
where things look different.

The term ‘ubiquitous computing’ was originally coined by Mark Weiser, who was head of the
Computer Science Laboratory at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) when writing in
Scientific American in 1991 (Weiser, 1991). At that time Weiser commented that in the future
there would be computers everywhere and we would not notice their presence; they would
just be there.

Some decades later, we have computers at home and with us at university; they are embed-
ded in our mobiles, wearables, in cars, in outdoor billboards – everywhere. We have reached
Weiser’s vision that computers are integrated ‘seamlessly into the world at large’ (p. 94).

One of the reasons for these trends and the change in the digital landscape is due to
the acceleration in the adoption of new technologies. It took more than 50 years for
over 50% of US households to adopt telephones (imagine life with no phone!), nearly
20 years to adopt home computers, yet it took less than 10 years for the same group
to adopt smartphones.

In a pre-digital age, you booked a holiday by visiting the travel agents on the high
street. It was only on arrival at your holiday destination that you saw what the hotel
really looked like. Today you will go online, read reviews, see ‘traveller photos’ or
holiday snaps others have shared and ask questions of people who have actually
visited the destination ‘IRL’ (= in real life).


Writing in the Harvard Business Review, Ron Adner and Rahul Kapoor (2016) explored
the pace of technology substitution and suggested that the speed of replacement was
based on ecosystems. Old technology ecosystems may find product extension oppor-
tunities whereas the new technology ecosystems need to counter these challenges.
Within their framework there are four quadrants, as shown in Figure 1.1, which can
be described as:

• Creative destruction, where there are few challenges to the new tech and few
opportunities for the old tech, resulting in fast substitution.

• Robust coexistence, where the old tech fights back and brings out alternatives
and a gradual substitution takes place.

• Illusion of resilience, where the new tech moves in with few challenges.

• Robust resilience, where old tech fights back and new tech challenges, bringing
about a gradual substitution.











































IN THE 1990S






Figure 1.1 A framework for analysing the pace of technology substitution

Source: Adner and Kapoor, 2016, p. 66


It could be argued that there are limitations to this framework as the research was
based on a five-year study in the semiconductor manufacturing industry and adop-
tion of new products is not always based on product desire, but also availability.
In some countries it is harder to get a landline phone than a mobile. The landline
requires wires and major investment whereas a mobile network is simpler to deploy.
At the same time, growth in landline telephone ownership is declining sharply, espe-
cially in the G12 industrially advanced nations. Explore the latest statistics on the
Telecommunication Development Sector (ITU-D, 2017).

Activity 1.1 Analyse Technology Change
1. Working in groups, use Figure 1.1, the framework for analysing the pace of technology substi-

tution, to analyse the types of technology changes that you have witnessed in your lifetime.

2. What were the greatest changes?

3. Why was this?

4. Are there any difficulties ensuring all four quadrants in the framework are included?

How do we learn about new products or what influences our judgement to adopt new
technology? In 1944 sociologists and behavioural scientists Paul Lazarsfeld, Bernard
Berelson and Hazel Gaudet conducted a study to see how mass media affected voters
in the US election campaign for President Franklin Roosevelt (Lazarsfeld et al., 1944).
The surprising result of their research was that it was influencers, or opinion leaders,
not the media, that had the greatest impact. Influencers, who received the messages
from what at that time were mainly traditional newspapers and radio, shared this
with their ‘followers’.

The research was further developed by Paul Lazarsfeld and Elihu Katz who named this

the two-step flow theory of communications (Lazarsfeld and Katz, 1955) where the

media communication was received by the influencer and then passed to other


There were limitations to the two-step flow theory of communications. It was based on
one piece of research, which meant that it was not necessarily generalisable to other
situations. It may be that this was a set of exceptional circumstances that could not be
repeated. Another issue is that it was a simplistic binary model which assumed that this
is how mass media worked. As a result of these limitations, the model was extended
from two to multiple steps (the multi-step flow), which was developed by John Robinson
(Robinson, 1976) and was used as a basis for other communications theories.


A key aspect of the digital environment is that we have moved from two-step or
multi-step to a totally different understanding of communications with newer models
emerging, such as media richness (see Chapter 11, Social Media Management) and
uses and gratifications theory (see Chapter 13, Digital Marketing Metrics, Analytics
and Reporting), although at the same time some much older theories, such as diffu-
sion of innovations, have remained valid.

In 1962 Everett Rogers published a book entitled Diffusion of Innovations, which was based on
the two-step flow of communications and explored the conditions that increased or decreased
the likelihood of product adoption.

In this model, based on how a product gains momentum and spreads or diffuses through
a group, Rogers proposed five adopter categories – (1) innovators; (2) early adopters; (3) early
majority; (4) late majority; (5) laggards – which considered the time at which an individual
adopted an innovation.

The five adopter categories were ideal types fabricated to make comparisons, and Rogers
recognised these generalisations. There was criticism of the terminology – no one wanted to be
considered as a laggard, which was perceived as being a negative label. Table 1.1 shows some
of the general characteristics identified, which I have adapted to apply to digital marketing.

The one notable category is that early majority were seen as opinion leaders, an idea
which was identified in the two-step flow theory of communications and which reverberates
within digital marketing as organisations strive to seek those to influence product adoption.

Table 1.1 Adopter categories and general characteristics

Adopter category General characteristics % adopters of innovation

(1) Innovators Active information seekers, often
buying the latest gadget – who
in class has a pair of Snapchat


(2) Early Adopters Opinion leaders who are happy
adopting new products, seeking
information before others – whose
opinion do you seek in class when
buying gadgets?


(3) Early Majority Deliberate before adopting –
active blog readers who like to
gather evidence before deciding.


(4) Late Majority Sceptical and nearly the last
to adopt – they may still own a
feature phone.


(5) Laggards Suspicious of inventions and only
adopt when no choice – perhaps
the one remaining lecturer with no
mobile phone!



Rogers generalised that opinion leaders (see Key Term) were more cosmopolitan
than their followers. One prescient observation from Rogers was that opinion leaders
needed access to mass media and had to be accessible. Think about those opinion
leaders with mass followers on YouTube and Twitter – they meet these conditions.

Opinion formers are formal experts. They work in this area, may be qualified or professionally
trained and have significant specialist knowledge about the subject.

Opinion leaders are informal experts who carry out research and whose knowledge is
valued amongst family, friends and followers.

As Lazarsfeld, Berelson, Gaudet, Katz and Rogers observed, the opinion leaders, or
influencers, are key to spreading the word about new products and services. These
influencers are generating an income from their online following and, according to
Forbes.com (O’Connor, 2017), a paid-for social media post can be very lucrative, with
fees of $25,000 paid to a top yoga teacher (e.g. Rachel Brathen) for their endorsement
or $3000 to $5000 paid to a recognised fitness instructor.

The fees can be higher for specific social media platforms where they have greater
numbers of followers and fans, for example:

• $300,000 for a YouTuber with 7 million subscribers or more

• $200,000 for Facebook

• $150,000 for Instagram

In our digital age, as celebrities charge more and more to promote brands, brands
are turning to alternatives. We have seen the development of a new type of opinion
leader, the micro-influencer. Forbes.com suggested that ‘an Instagram user with
100,000 followers can command $5,000 for a post made in partnership with a com-
pany or brand’ (O’Connor, 2017, p. 1).

Carol Scott, whilst director of marketing at a specialist influencer company, described micro-
influencers as ‘everyday individuals with small, dedicated followings online’ (Scott, 2016, p. 1).

Writing in Adweek, Emma Bazilian provided a profile of a female millennial micro-
influencer: typically aged between 18 and 34 with 2000 to 25,000 Instagram followers,
attracting an engagement rate of 3% and higher. Their key topics were fashion,


beauty, travel or fitness (Bazilian, 2017). Bazilian added that the brand marketers
could employ these micro-influencers to promote and increase product and brand
awareness and specifically to:

• Seed products

• Promote sample products

• Share unbox videos

• Create ‘how to’ videos

• Develop ‘day in the life of’

• Share trending content

• Attend events

• Promote discount codes

• Host product competitions

Smartphone Sixty Seconds® –
Evaluate Your Influencers
On your mobile phone search for your favourite influencers. You might follow them on Instagram but
they may have additional social media profiles too.

• Find all their online profiles.
• Add up the number of followers on each.
• Find a sponsored post and share with classmates.
• Try to figure out what they were paid for the post and what impact you think it had.

Case Example 1.1 Eltoria Influencer
Eltoria is the alter ego of Simone Partner and, as an influencer, Simone is not an ‘IT girl’ or someone
who has a famous dad. She had a very different starting point and is a law graduate from the Uni-
versity of Reading, where she gained a 2:1 degree.

In the last year of studying law, Simone’s course included one non-law module and she opted for
‘entrepreneurship’ and for her assessment started the Eltoria UK fashion and lifestyle blog based on
her interests. At the time she was working at the organic skincare firm Lush. She enjoyed the module,
which was evidenced in her results – a first-class grade. After university she pursued a career in law
and her first job was in a big commercial firm, which she didn’t enjoy, so she tried a smaller legal firm.
However, in both firms she discovered that law was not a career in which she felt she could work for



the rest of her life. Having continued with the blog and subsequently winning many awards, Simone
realised that it could be a career option. The awards allowed Simone to take some time off and focus
on the blog to see if it could work.

Today Simone has generated an impressive following on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and
Twitter. She is not the average fashion blogger: she’s intelligent, her content is well written, with great
depth and analysis. Having been at university, she has had typical student jobs in retail stores and
understands the challenges faced by those who are working and studying. This may be one of the
reasons that she is popular with university students – she understands their situation.

In terms of a typical week, Simone records five to six videos and sometimes works for 12 hours a day
to complete the content for a brand contract. There is a lot of work that takes place behind the scenes.

Having created the brand, her website showcases the social media services provided:

• Social media support
• Sponsored blog posts
• YouTube partnerships
• Ambassador campaigns

See more at www.eltoria.com

Case Questions
• What do you think about micro-influencers like Eltoria?
• Did you realise serious lifestyle bloggers could be working 50 or 60 hours a week?


How did we make the move from traditional to digital marketing tools?

As technology has decreased in price, and with the development of the internet, digital
marketing has offered easier, but not always cheaper, solutions. Plus, new technology
has heralded changes in behaviour (see Chapter 2, The Digital Consumer), resulting
in the decline of traditional marketing tools, as shown in Table 1.2.

Table 1.2 The move from traditional to digital marketing tools

Traditional Digital Why the change?

Newspaper and
magazine adverts

Online adverts;
social media, PPC

Newspaper and magazine sales have declined and it’s easier to
target people online

Door-to-door sales

Email Door-to-door is expensive and we can now personalise offers to
existing customers via email

Company brochures Websites Printing brochures is expensive, so is creating websites, but they
are agile and easier to change as needed


Traditional Digital Why the change?

Traditional PR Online PR, blogs With the decline in newspaper and magazine sales, the number
of staff has declined too; online PR makes the process easier

Directories like the
Yellow Pages

Search engine

The default is to search online and voice search is growing, so
directories have become smaller and are rarely used

Community groups Social networks We live in a more mobile world where people move from home
towns to find work, so traditional community groups have
declined, but social media networks increased

The challenge is that not all generations have made that move, as we will explore
in the next part.

If you’re a student at university now, there’s a good chance that you’re a digital native.
You’ve been born into a time when mobile phones, tablets and wearables are the norm.
The research says that you rarely watch TV in real time, you’d rather view YouTube. You
don’t send letters, you use WhatsApp. You don’t use Yellow Pages, you ask Siri. As you’re
using a range of digital tools to talk, shop and share, some of the older generation of
digital immigrants are seeking your help to plan and organise their digital marketing.

The words ‘digital native’ and ‘digital immigrant’ weren’t invented by me; they are
part of a range of generational cohorts, which are shown in Table 1.3 with selected
reference sources for you to explore further.

Table 1.3 Generational cohorts

Term Birth years Selected sources

Baby Boomers Born mid-1946 to mid-1964 Porter, 1951; Hogan et al., 2008

Generation X Mid-1960s to the late 1970s/early

Coupland, 1991; Hamblett and
Deverson, 1964

Digital Immigrants Born before 1980 Prensky, 2001a

Digital Natives Born after 1980 Prensky, 2001b; Palfrey and Gasser,

Net Generation Born between 1982 and 1991 Tapscott, 1998

Millennials Born in or after 1982 Howe and Strauss, 2000

Google Generation Born after 1993 Rowlands et al., 2008

Generation Y Born between 1981 and 1999 Bolton et al., 2013

Generation C Born after 1990 Dye, 2007; Friedrich et al., 2010

Some cohorts cross into another generation. This is because there is no official
agreement on the terms, nor are they formally defined by government, but mainly
by researchers and consultants working in advertising who see the different
behaviours developing.


The terms ‘digital native’ and digital immigrant’ are considered by some as being con-
troversial and by others as divisive. The phrases are largely credited to Marc Prensky,
who was teaching groups of students and realised there was a marked difference
between the students who had always used technology and teachers who were new
to this. He described the situation as similar to learning a new language, where immi-
grants move into a new country and learn the language but it is never their mother
tongue, so they might always retain an accent. In the same way he thought that those
who had to learn about technology would retain this ‘accent’.

The work has been criticised due to the phraseology and as some people objected
to the labels. I’m a digital immigrant but love technology and as an early adopter I
could see how it would make life easier. Equally, I sometimes witness students who
are digital natives, struggling with newer technologies.

Looking at the most recent group, Generation C, Jessica Dye said this stood for con-
tent but commented in her website that it could stand for creativity, consumption
or connected. Roman Friedrich and his colleagues at the international management
consultancy Strategy& (previously known as Booz & Company) stated that the ‘C’ rep-
resented connect, communicate and change. The key factor is that this demonstrated
the lack of consensus with these terms.

Every era sees disruption from newer technologies that replace outmoded methods
of delivery, service, production or communication. The introduction of the internet
removed the need for the telex machine and soon replaced fax machines as methods
of urgent and business communication.

Although the phrase ‘digital disruption’ probably came about following the creation
of the law of disruption, named by journalist Larry Downes (Downes, 2009), we don’t
have an official definition, so we could describe digital disruption as ‘major mar-
ketplace changes or sector transformation, following the application of technology’.

Bain & Company, one of the world’s leading management consultancy firms, has
explored the application of digital disruption across industry sectors, as shown in
Figure 1.2.

Digital disruption started with the introduction of the internet and initially we had
‘brochureware sites’ or what Fareena Sultan and Andrew Rohm described as ‘the com-
munication of basic Web-site content’ (Sultan and Rohm, 2004, p. 8). We gradually
moved into online shopping, and today Amazon has extended the disruptive shopping
experience with the ultimate disrupter – the Amazon Dash Button, where shoppers
simply press a button to re-order specific products (Amazon, 2017).

The internet has evolved from super-slow dial-up to super-fast with data being retained
and easy to access. The internet has only disrupted our lives in the last few years,
with the rollout of broadband at consumer rather than business level, which enabled
faster and easier access for mass markets (see Discover More on the Past and Future
History of the Internet).


R&D Manufacturing Distribution Retailing
Sales &
















Oil & gas


Oil & gas



goods &


Tech &

goods &


Internet of


Digital data



Automation and
digitalization of


Figure 1.2 Application of digital disruption across industry sectors

Source: Bain & Company, 2015. www.bain.com/bainweb/media/interactive/disruption

Written by the who’s who in internet development, ‘The past and future history of the Internet’,
published in Communications of the ACM, provides great background information to the early
impact of the internet and how it evolved (Leiner et al., 1997).

All digital disruption is driven by technology, especially as it becomes smaller, faster
and easier to access. Examples of technology-driven digital disruption include:

• 1995: Amazon disrupted the traditional book-selling market

• 1997: Netflix disrupted the traditional video-hire market

• 2008: Airbnb disrupted the accommodation sector

• 2009: Uber disrupted taxi services

What is interesting to note is that some disruption takes years to gain scale. As an
example, Amazon is heralded as the next new easy-to-use online supermarket, yet it
has existed for over 20 years.


Activity 1.2 What’s Your Digital Disrupter?
1. Thinking about one of your favourite brands, what innovations could disrupt and change how

it works?

2. Describe and assess how disruption would bring benefits and differentiate the brand.

See Template online: Assessment of Disruption

The Internet of Things (IoT) (see Key Term) is one factor that has contributed to digi-
tal disruption. Understood as connectivity technologies where devices are joined up,
the IoT ecosystem relies on sensors such as barcodes and RFID tags (radio-frequency
identification) within a WiFi zone. From this it can identify physical properties such
as: Are there people in the building? How is your health? Is your heart beating at the
usual rate? What’s the date on the barcode? What’s the thermostat temperature? This
is combined with autonomous machines being accessed via a remote control source
such as an app on your phone or your wearable device.

Having identified the tags and what’s happening means that we are more intelligently
using the data. One commonplace example is a Satnav system that finds the fastest
way to your destination, suggesting alternatives routes to avoid congestion. Some
Satnav systems have greater connectivity where marketing is involved, showing the
nearest Starbucks, BP petrol station or McDonald’s.

IoT has developed dramatically in healthcare and medical devices, such as pacemak-
ers that can be adjusted while the patient is at home and the cardiac consultant is
in their office. This does scare some people (what if it goes wrong?) and there have
been rumours about issues with US presidents and their pacemakers being hacked!

In domestic situations we are already witnessing the start of how the IoT is develop-
ing, with devices like Google Home and Amazon Alexa that can connect to lighting,
heating and security within the house. This means if you leave the house and can’t
remember if you left the lights on or not, you can check the app and switch off the
lights. Equally if you’re arriving back late, you can switch on the lights, the heating
and the oven 10 minutes before you arrive home.

Based on a discussion group, Professor Peter Verhoef and many colleagues explored
consumer connectivity and they created a framework for a consumer-centric IoT, as
shown in Figure 1.3. This is a simplistic matrix approach where they have used two
variables – ecosystems and interactions – and from this identified four business models.

In ecosystems they have noted the idea of open and closed systems. For business
model (I), which is a closed system with utility, they used Amazon Echo as the exam-
ple. It is closed as it is only available in a specific geographic area, it is linked to an
individual or family account and it may be passcode protected.

Open networks are available to others, such as the smart meters which are shown
in model (II). This means that instead of the requirement to stay at home when the


electricity, gas or water meter usage is checked and recorded by an engineer, this
could happen remotely from the supplier’s office. Model (II) facilitates better energy
use as washing machines could be intelligently managed and switched on when there
is less power usage on the grid, or timed to complete the wash cycle five minutes
before the alarm clock goes off.

The group discussed levels of interaction between business and consumers. Business
model (III) is a closed system for use by consumers. In this example, they used Nest,
the technology company that enables consumers to connect devices and send com-
mands remotely from an app to switch on the lights, measure the amount of heat,
light and power used that month or check the security cameras.

Model (IV) explored consumers interacting with each other on a peer-to-peer basis.
So if there is a day in your calendar when you are not using your car, one of your
neighbours could rent or borrow it, and their example was Relay Rides, a firm that
enables this functionality in the United States, similar to Airbnb, but for cars.




Smart Grid





Relay Rides

Amazon Echo Nest


Figure 1.3 Consumer-centric IoT business models

Source: Verhoef et al., 2017, p. 5

It is an interesting model, which, in a utopian world, would work well, but there may
be privacy concerns about sharing your calendar with your neighbours – do you want
them to know when you’re away or at home all day?

Amazon Echo had challenges when initially launched as children were making pur-
chases via their parents’ Amazon accounts. Amazon has solved this with the option
to enter a passcode before confirming purchases. There are additional concerns about
the devices being hacked so that snoopers can monitor your conversations. The dif-
ficulties ahead may be about the fear of use and potential misuse of systems, rather
than the technology.

As the technology evolves and as we become more comfortable with its use and
security improves, we could use the IoT in other ways, for example:

• Scanning food into the fridge, which will tell you what’s needed for the menu
that night before sell-by dates are reached – less food waste.


• Regular items automatically re-ordered as the supplies run low – better manage-
ment of household goods.

• Changes in health or diet could trigger an automatic request for a medical
check-up – proactive healthcare monitoring.

In a background report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
(OECD) for a ministerial panel, the authors provided this definition:

IoT refers to an ecosystem in which applications and services are driven by data col-
lected from devices that sense and interface with the physical world. In the Internet of
Things, devices and objects have communication connectivity, either a direct connec-
tion to the internet or mediated through local or wide area networks. (Working Party on
Communication Infrastructures and Services Policy, 2016, p. 9)

Another aspect of the IoT is the industrial internet of things (IIoT). This considers
IoT on an industrial scale, where, within towns and cities, different elements are
connected, such as traffic lights and pollution sensors, drains and surface water out-
put, outdoor temperatures and heating systems. The typical aspects that contribute
to the IIoT are focused on improving energy production, healthcare, manufacturing
and logistics. This has become a recognised phenomenon and there is a dedicated
Industrial Internet Consortium, founded by organisations including IBM, Intel, General
Electric (GE) and other technology companies.

Part of the IIoT is the concept of Smart Cities, which have been described by Yasir
Mehmood and his colleagues as a ‘complex ecosystem characterized by the intensive
use of information and communications technologies (ICT), aiming to make cities
more attractive and more sustainable, and unique places for innovation and entre-
preneurship’ (Mehmood et al., 2017, p. 16).

The move towards the smart city concept is only possible with sensors, cameras and
mobile devices collecting and sharing data, part of which revolves around big data
(see Key Term). The issue is whether you, as a future citizen of big cities, are happy
being tracked, monitored and shared through an ecosystem.

There is a dark side to the Internet of Things, which is well described by researchers
David De Cremer, Bang Nguyen and Lyndon Simkin who highlighted potential abuses
at different stages from transaction, gathering knowledge, the ongoing relationship
and integrity. The main issues raised were (De Cremer et al., 2017, p. 150):

• Information misuse – abusing the data held about the customer

• Privacy issues – collecting health and personal fitness data and selling online

• Switching barriers – making it less attractive or difficult to switch providers

• Favouritism and discrimination – micro-segmentation based on shared customer


• Unfairness – discriminating against certain user types, such as higher prices to
Mac users

• Dishonesty – cross-selling potentially unwanted or unneeded products based on

• Financial penalties – only benefiting clients wearing fitness devices and penalis-
ing those that won’t

• Confusing customers – only providing complex pricing models

Activity 1.3 Create Your Internet of Things
1. In groups discuss what would help university life within the Internet of Things.

2. Consider what elements could be connected.

3. What benefits could this bring?

4. What concerns do you have about your Internet of Things?

The Internet of Things groups together big data (see Key Term) from a range of dif-
ferent sources. This can be both positive and negative, as we have previously seen.

Originally defined by two NASA researchers, Michael Cox and David Ellsworth, big data referred
to large data sets that computers could barely handle (Cox and Ellsworth, 1997).

Some years later, in 2001, Doug Laney published an article about the benefits of central
data warehousing due to big data. In the article he coined the concept of the 3V for big data:
Volume, Velocity and Variety. This was a great way to describe all aspects of big data as the
breadth and depth of data increased (volume), the speed of data (velocity) had increased and
different types (variety) of structured and unstructured data appeared (Laney, 2001).

Health insurance companies know your age, job role, where you live, whether you
drive far for work, your family composition, typical diet, height, weight, health
problems and where you visit on holidays. Some companies are also offering free
fitness trackers for cheaper insurance premiums, which allows them to assemble a
full profile of your daily life.


Social media companies including Facebook, Twitter and Google gather big data. They
have your personal profile details and can see your buying behaviour. This can be
overlaid with additional data from third-party sources. This data is fed back to data
specialists where the data is integrated, to better inform market research companies.

Two of the main professional data specialists are:

• CACI, whose database named ‘Ocean’ provides lifestyle and demographic details
on 48 million adults in the UK.

• Nielsen, another major data specialist, which has amassed data on consumers in
47 countries.

These companies are invaluable resources when you are a busy marketing manager
and want to target the right customers with the right message. As professional organi-
sations, they abide by strict rules of conduct. However, there are less scrupulous firms
selling data. Within five days of having my academic email address published on the
university website, my data had been scraped (see Ethical Insights: Web Scraping)
and sold on, which I realised as soon as I started receiving random emails from
companies inviting me to attend health and safety conferences.

Ethical Insights Web Scraping
Web scraping or harvesting means taking data from websites without the owner’s permission. It
works by using web scraping software to visit websites, identify email addresses and add to a local
database. The database is typically sold on as ‘new data’ and those making the purchase might think
these companies have permission to sell the data!

Whilst web scraping is not technically illegal, using the data may be and often results in getting
emails blocked and reported as spam.

The challenge with big data for consumers occurs when a company scrapes their
data or uses their in-house data for other purposes, such as selling to third-party
‘partner organisations’ who advertise potentially unwanted products or adopt shady
selling techniques.

There is specialist legislation, which is commonly referred to as ‘the right to be for-
gotten’, which enables individuals to remove unnecessary personal data from search

Writing in the Journal of Consumer Affairs, researcher Kucuk Umit noted that collect-
ing information that is ‘inaccurate, inadequate, irrelevant or excessive’ contravenes
the individual’s right to be forgotten (Kucuk, 2016, p. 522).


However, as this is based on European Union legislation (May 2014 Court of Justice
ruling) it can only be applied within EU states, which means that the information
may remain in other locations, such as the United States. To discover how the pro-
cess works, explore the search engines’ request forms for removal of content: Google
https://is.gd/righttobe and Bing bing.com/webmaster/tools/eu-privacy-request.

Unsurprisingly, when a challenge occurs, solutions usually follow soon after. One
solution, if you are unhappy with your online profile or if the search engines reject
your request, is to gain third-party help to remove unwanted content, for a fee (see
Digital Tool: Online reputation management).

Digital Tool Online Reputation Management
The right to be forgotten has created several new businesses, including online personal reputation
management tools such as:

• https://forget.me

Other legislation across Europe (including the UK) concerning data and privacy is
the General Data Protection Regulation, which was introduced in 2018 and has
changed how data is managed (see Key Term).

The General Data Protection Regulation, abbreviated to GDPR, has introduced major changes
in how data is managed. The Regulation means that organisations can only contact consumers
if they have explicitly given consent, so if you have allowed a company to contact you about
an online sale and they contact you about a totally different subject, the law is being broken. If
organisations mis-manage the data and it is accidentally shared, leaked or hacked, the fines
have increased dramatically. Maximum fines are 20 million euros or 4% of turnover, whichever
is greater. This could result in smaller businesses ceasing to trade if their data is not properly
secured and is shared.

You can find out more about the GDPR on these websites:

• DMA https://dma.org.uk/gdpr

• European Commission http://ec.europa.eu/justice/data-protection/index_en.htm


In 2009 a new form of digital currency was introduced to the world, a cryptocur-
rency called Bitcoin. Created anonymously, it works on the basis of peer-to-peer
financing. There are no banks, no third parties, no bank vaults, no cash machines
involved with Bitcoin.

Bitcoins are stored in a digital wallet which is kept on your computer or stored in
the cloud. You buy or sell Bitcoins on Bitcoin exchanges, such as Coinbase and
Gemini Exchange. You can buy Bitcoins in any currency and transaction fees are
smaller than standard currency exchange rates, which makes them popular for large
overseas payments.

Transactions are recorded online in a transparent register which is called a blockchain
and all transactions are checked electronically.

1. Visit the Blockchain support centre online: https://support.blockchain.com.
2. Read the Harvard Business Review article ‘The truth about blockchain’ (Iansiti and

Lakhani, 2017).

New Bitcoins are created by mining and an industry of Bitcoin miners has developed.
Bitcoin miners de-code online encrypted mathematical challenges using algorithmic
processes. In exchange for their work in finding and recording Bitcoins on the block-
chain, they are given Bitcoins. Becoming a Bitcoin miner requires hardware in the
form of super-fast computing systems as well as software.

There are downsides to Bitcoin as the whole process is anonymous, giving rise to
potential for money laundering as well as illegal or terrorist uses, and this has resulted
in many mainstream banks refusing to accept Bitcoin or closing accounts trading in
the currency.

Other downsides are that there are no guarantees if the coins are lost, and there have
been many scams with all aspects of bitcoins, from hacked wallets to software scams.

See ONLINE RESOURCE: Comparison of traditional currency and Bitcoin

Case Example 1.2 The Lost Bitcoins
James Howells, a computer engineer, was tidying up his old computers and accidentally threw away
a laptop containing 7500 Bitcoins in 2013, which was worth £750,000. Today it is more likely to be
around £40 million!

He spilt a drink on the device and decided to leave it for collection and removal to the household
waste recycling centre near Newport in Wales, only realising later that the hard drive contained his


digital wallet (McCormick, 2013). Howells visited the waste recycling centre only to discover that his
computer, along with significant amounts of other waste, was buried deep under metres of items,
somewhere in a space bigger than the size of a football pitch, and could not be recovered.

This case highlighted one of the vulnerabilities of bitcoins, that if stored on a device, there is no
way to retrieve them other than via that device. Since this time many bitcoin owners have backed up
their systems, just in case.

Case Questions
• Perhaps you don’t own any Bitcoins, but how do you back up your data?
• Have you lost data when a Macbook or laptop has failed? If yes, how did you cope with the

data loss?
• What might be the impact if your Macbook or laptop failed later today?

Whether Bitcoin has a future as a real alternative to traditional currency is debatable.
Payment specialists Consult Hyperion think it is unlikely as people would need to
be comfortable sharing all their transactions as well as needing to manage their own
Bitcoin security (Consult Hyperion, 2015). The bank BNY Mellon also thinks it is
unlikely, especially as countries including Iceland, Vietnam and China have banned
the use of Bitcoins (BNY Mellon, 2015).

Whilst Bitcoin is the best known, there are alternatives, such as Ethereum, Litecoin,
Ripple and many more. What Bitcoin has achieved is awareness of a new disruption
digital currency.

One technological innovation generated through the development of Bitcoin was
blockchain or distributed ledger technology (DLT). A blockchain is a distributed
database so no one person or organisation stores all the data, it is securely shared
over several systems, records all actions and is open for verification (Workie and
Jain, 2017).

Blockchain was initially aimed at securely recording all Bitcoin transactions but its
usefulness on a wider scale for ‘interorganizational cooperation’ was realised (Gupta,
2017, p. 3). There are experiments taking place at the moment to see how this type
of disintermediation (see Key Term) can work. The benefits of the DLT are:

• One single person does not control all the data

• Data sets are portable

• Records are transparent

• Greater data integrity as records cannot be changed later

• More efficient system


There are opportunities to use blockchain technology for:

• Medical records: Every specialist, every appointment, diagnosis, treatment and
prescription history could be viewed in one place. The doctor has the key; so
too does the patient and can share where needed.

• Education and training data: All results, certificates, accreditations, member-
ships and awards are in one place. The individual has the key and can share with
potential employers before interviews.

• Property records: A property passport could be established that lists all safety
checks, mortgages attached to the property, equipment installed (and removed),
planning permissions and ownership. The current owner has the encrypted digital
key that is handed to new owners when needed.

As a company, Blockchain is promoting itself as ‘the world’s leading software platform
for digital assets’ and has secured funding from major investors including Google’s
Venture Capital company Lakestar and Sir Richard Branson (Blockchain, 2017, p. 1).

There are drawbacks to blockchain technology too: supercomputers use a lot of
energy; some say as much as a small country! The database keeps growing and it
is getting slower; if you make a mistake, it is there forever and can’t be changed.
Once content is added, it can’t be corrected – whilst that has advantages, it is also a
disadvantage. It is also complicated and will take time to be used routinely by many
major companies.

Disintermediation is about removing the middle man or the intermediary. Researchers Manjit
Yadav and Paul Pavlou suggested that disintermediation was ‘the elimination or significant
curtailment of the role played by intermediaries’ (Yadav and Pavlou, 2014, p. 34).

1. Imagine you are working for an organisation with an older audience, mainly

digital immigrants. Write 500 words explaining the key changes in traditional to
digital marketing and what this means to them.

2. Create an outline plan to start a blog as an opinion leader. What tools or skills
would be needed? What would be the subject area? What types of content would
be included?


3. Analyse the Internet of Things in your environment, whether at home, work or
university. How are these items connected or how could they be connected?

This chapter has explored:

• The critical factors in the digital marketing landscape from ubiquitous computing
to micro-influencers.

• Why the move from traditional to digital marketing tools has occurred and the
difference between digital natives and digital immigrants.

• How digital disruption can change market sectors.

• Ways that the Internet of Things can be applied to consumers.

• How privacy and data need to be carefully managed in a marketing environment.

• The future potential of blockchain within business.


When you have read this chapter, you will be able to:

Understand consumerism and hedonic consumption

Apply the Technology Acceptance Model

Analyse the digital customer experience

Evaluate consumer power

Create a customer journey

When you have worked through this chapter, you should be able to:

• Construct an online customer journey

• Analyse the digital customer experience

• Create a service blueprint


In this chapter we will explore how digital marketing has introduced a whole new
era for the consumer. We can browse, compare, share and shop online. From owning
to renting, it’s all about delivering a successful customer journey.

We all study consumers – psychologists, sociologists, anthropologists, economists and
other experts. People-watching is a key part of consumer research: whether people
decide to buy or not to buy, how they choose, use and dispose.

We have moved from a time where companies made as many products as they could
and sold as many as possible in the mass production era, when there were few options
for shopping other than local stores. We are now in an era where we can access any
goods from any place at any time and often on any device. There is an emergent
culture of sharing what we have; from cars, to parking spaces, from spare rooms to
food. Plus we are more accepting of technology and see the usefulness it contributes
to our lives. So who or what is the digital consumer?

Let’s start with a definition of consumer from the Oxford English Dictionary (Oxford
Dictionary, 2017a):

• ‘A person who purchases goods and services for personal use.’

• ‘A person or thing that eats or uses something.’

That’s fairly straightforward. We all buy things and use them. At one level I’m a
consumer of salads and cappuccinos, at another I’m a keen consumer of handbags.
The salads and coffee are essential purchases to fulfil a need of not being hungry or
thirsty or tired. And the handbags. I don’t actually need any more bags. Each year
I say I won’t buy any more, but that year hasn’t quite happened. The handbags are
fun, make me smile and the whole process of selection and purchase is hedonic. So,
I am a hedonic consumer (see Key Term).

For a full history of consumerism, Steven Miles (1998) has a useful book: Consumerism –
As a Way of Life.

In the Journal of Consumer Culture, George Ritzer and Nathan Jurgenson (2010) wrote ‘Production,
consumption, prosumption’, which also described the evolution of these phenomena.

There are many excellent journals relating to consumers which you can explore online via
your university library system, including: Journal of Consumer Behaviour, Journal of Consumer
Culture, Journal of Consumer Marketing, Journal of Consumer Psychology, and Journal of
Consumer Research.


But the handbags offer a utilitarian benefit too (see Key Term). They store stuff. I
have different bags for different events with specific utilitarian benefits. If it’s a train
journey, I take a bag with a cross-body strap as it’s less hassle getting on and off
trains. If it’s a plane journey, I take a bag with a strong zip so everything doesn’t fall
out at the security checks. If it’s a day at the university, I take a big open bag to hold
the water bottle, books and other student paraphernalia. These functional attributes
are utilitarian benefits whereas the amazing handbag shape, the designer, the colour
and the materials are all hedonic benefits.


The Greek goddess Hedone represented pleasure and enjoyment and is the origin of the word
hedonism. Describing consumption as hedonic indicates that it provides delight. Hedonic
consumption is largely credited with having been placed on the marketing research agenda
by Elizabeth Hirschman and Morris Holbrook:

Hedonic consumption designates those facets of consumer behavior that relate to the multi-
sensory, fantasy, and emotive aspects of one’s experience with products. (Hirschman and
Holbrook, 1982, p. 92)

A hedonic consumer is thus a consumer who gains happiness from acquisition!
Utilitarian benefits have been described as the functional, instrumental and practical

attributes of the item (Chitturi et al., 2008).
For more on hedonic and utilitarian consumption see: ‘Pleasure principles: A review of

research on hedonic consumption’ by Joseph Alba and Elanor Williams in the Journal of
Consumer Psychology (Alba and Williams, 2013).

Michel Pham discussed consumer psychology, mainly concerning the way the research
has become detached from practice. He illustrated the scope of consumer behaviour
as being framed between consumer experience and consumer learning, which is
shown in Figure 2.1.

If we apply this in a digital context we might consider an online-only product, such
as online storage space. We are in an environment where we write reports, create
presentations, store images and collect content. All these online documents require
storage. You could store your documents on a PC, but the challenge is that you may
use different PCs or laptops – at home, at the university and in libraries. And what
happens if your main laptop breaks or gets stolen? That would mean your work was
lost too.

Thinking about the potential for things to go wrong, it is easier to rent some space
in the cloud.

The concept of ‘the cloud’ means we can access our materials at any time from a
remote or virtual computer, which enables ubiquitous computing (see Key Term,
p. 4).


Consumer Experience

Desire Acquisition Use/


Consumer Learning

• Problem
• Need arousal
• Deprivation
• Wants
• Wishes &
• Interests
• Tastes

• Search
• Shopping
• Selection
• Decision
making &
• Purchase
• Shipment/
• Gift
• Rental/leasing
• Borrowing
• Stealing

• Set-up
• Preparation
• Customisation
• Consumption
• Enjoyment
• Sharing
• Storage
• Maintenance
• Satisfaction
• Possession
• Collection
• Mental

• Discarding
• Re-using
• Recycling
• Reselling
• Donating
• Storing away
• Replacement
• Hoarding
• Consumption

Figure 2.1 The scope of consumer behaviour

Source: Pham, 2013, p. 414

Cloud storage options have expanded in recent years. Many people started with a small
amount of space in Dropbox that they rent with a free account. This is free-renting.

Dropbox’s aim was that as your storage needs increase, because you might hoard docu-
ments, rather than sorting out and deleting older copies, you will need to upgrade to
a paid-for plan. In this example, you never own the product, you simply rent, paying
either a monthly or annual rental charge.

This is an example of utilitarian consumption. You may not feel delighted subscribing
to Dropbox, but it is useful for online storage. Dropbox is trying to transform this into
a hedonic purchase with the idea of ‘gifting’ storage to a friend. I don’t know about
your friends, but mine would consider it odd if I gifted them online storage space!

There are alternatives to cloud storage. You could use external hard drives or USB
sticks. These could present the same issues as a hard drive. The Macbook or laptop
could freeze, may need to be completely re-set (return to factory settings) and I could
still lose the data.

The one area of material consumption that has completely transformed, from a traditional
acquisition of artefacts to digital consumption, is music. There was a time when people owned
vinyl records, then cassette tapes or CDs, whereas today very many of us don’t physically own
any music; we rent all the playlists we want via a monthly Spotify, Amazon or iTunes music

This can be described as ‘dematerialisation’, where we stop purchasing and owning material
items and instead rent or share (for more on digital music consumption, see Magaudda, 2016).


Imagine if that was a whole semester’s worth of work …

Other competitors to Dropbox are likely to be available to you right now. Your uni-
versity might offer OneDrive storage, Google offers Drive and Apple offers iCloud.
It’s all free storage space until you need more and it’s all online and accessible any-
where at any time.

The digital environment has provided consumers with access to more choice and
customer acquisition has changed, as shown in Table 2.1.

Table 2.1 Differences in customer acquisition for traditional and digital consumers

Acquisition steps Traditional consumer Digital consumer

Search High street or shopping mall,
items in magazines

We search online for products

We explore products our friends recommend on
social media

Shopping Physical visits to stores We use branded websites and comparison
websites to shop online

We use store apps for instant shopping

Selection See products closely and decide
whether to buy

We compare delivery times, costs, overall costs

We check reviews and ratings

Decision making
and choice

Decision making with fixed store

Based on ratings and ease of purchase we decide
and choose

We save items for later with ‘wish lists’

Purchase Involves queuing to pay One-click delivery systems, next day delivery,
delivery to lockers

Gift Requires additional effort to take
away, wrap, pack and post

Automatic gift options and reminders, purchase
from one address and delivery to another address

Rental Physically visit a store to organise
a rental agreement

We rent music, properties, cars and more, at the
click of a mouse

These changes in behaviour show our acceptance of technology, and back in 1989 this
was a major challenge. This was at a time when computers were being introduced into
the workplace, where there were difficulties in comprehending the benefit of these
devices. Your grandmother might have used a typewriter or even a telex machine.
Suddenly computers started to be introduced.

Businesses were having difficulty persuading companies to adopt this new technology
and Fred Davis, a researcher at the University of Michigan in the United States, was
exploring ways to predict system usage by testing the adoption of new technology
based on positive attitudes towards the perceived client benefit and the user experi-
ence. His measurement framework is called the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM)
(Davis, 1989) and it is shown in Figure 2.2.

TAM was originally designed to ‘explain computer usage behaviour’ (Davis et al., 1989,
p. 987), although more recently it has been adapted to measure the adoption of new


technology. The model considers positive attitudes towards two specific measures:
(a) perceived usefulness; and (b) perceived ease of use.

The origins of TAM can be found in the ‘Theory of Reasoned Action’ (see Chapter 10,
Building the Digital Marketing Plan), developed by Ajzen and Fishbein (1980). Davis
used this as the initial concept but wanted an easier model that could be applied
in the workplace. This feature is also one of the major criticisms of this model – its
simplicity, as it is seen as being too basic. TAM has been used by many researchers
in digital marketing who have added elements to make it more complicated and more
relevant to today’s environment. However, TAM is still recognised as a leading model
in explaining users’ behaviour towards technology and the original model continues
to be used and widely understood.

People accept or reject different technologies and Davis’ research explained that peo-
ple will use an application that they feel will help them perform their job better. This
was named ‘Perceived Usefulness’ and was originally suggested by other researchers.

At the same time, Davis stated, if the application is too difficult to use, the benefits
may be outweighed by the effort of using the application. This was called ‘Perceived
Ease of Use’. Davis explained that a TAM should discover the impact of external fac-
tors; and so the model starts with the external variables which could include items
such as individual or group training and user guides. The flow of the model is shown
in Figure 2.2 and this initial framing from the external variables contributes towards
the perceptions of usefulness and ease of use, which in turn lead towards the atti-
tude toward using the system. Finally, positive attitudes contribute to a behavioural
intention to use the system.



Ease of Use




Using (A)

Intention to

Use (BI)



Figure 2.2 Technology Acceptance Model (TAM)

Source: Davis, Bagozzi and Warshaw, 1989

The different constructs are measured through a series of questions to identify the
advantages, disadvantages and any factors associated with using the technology. It
requires some statistical input to take the model through to the final conclusion.

In his 1989 research Davis explored electronic mail (or email) and he asked
14 questions to assess the Perceived Usefulness and Perceived Ease of Use at a time
when it was more usual to use traditional mail. These are shown in Table 2.2 and
I have added bold type to the words electronic mail to indicate how these could be
replaced with another type of technology such as augmented reality, personal drones
or specific apps.


Thinking back to when Davis developed this model, many people were concerned
that computers would take away their jobs. The concern about email was that it
could replace the need for some letters and that people would not need secretaries
any more. This is partly true and what has really happened is that we have ended up
with a greater amount of communication instead of less and we have all developed
secretarial skills – typing correspondence, booking diary appointments and manag-
ing our contacts.

The issue is the fear of the unknown. We are witnessing this with the idea of robots
taking away other jobs. What is likely to happen is that robots will perform mundane,
repetitive tasks and employees in these roles will gain training to focus on other tasks.

Table 2.2 Initial scale items for Perceived Usefulness and for Perceived Ease of Use

Initial scale items for Perceived Usefulness Initial scale items for Perceived Ease of Use

1. My job would be difficult to perform without
electronic mail.

2. Using electronic mail gives me greater control
over my work.

3. Using electronic mail improves my
job performance.

4. The electronic mail system addresses my
job-related needs.

5. Using electronic mail saves me time.

6. Electronic mail enables me to accomplish tasks
more quickly.

7. Electronic mail supports critical aspects of
my job.

8. Using electronic mail allows me to accomplish
more work than would otherwise be possible.

9. Using electronic mail reduces the time I spend
on unproductive activities.

10. Using electronic mail enhances my
effectiveness on the job.

11. Using electronic mail improves the quality of the
work I do.

12. Using electronic mail increases my productivity.

13. Using electronic mail makes it easier to do
my job.

14. Overall, I find the electronic mail system useful
in my job.

1. I often become confused when I use the electronic
mail system.

2. I make errors frequently when using electronic mail.

3. Interacting with the electronic mail system is
often frustrating.

4. I need to consult the user manual often when using
electronic mail.

5. Interacting with the electronic mail system requires
a lot of my mental effort.

6. I find it easy to recover from errors encountered
while using electronic mail.

7. The electronic mail system is rigid and inflexible to
interact with.

8. I find it easy to get the electronic mail system to do
what I want it to do.

9. The electronic mail system often behaves in
unexpected ways.

10. I find it cumbersome to use the electronic
mail system.

11. My interaction with the electronic mail system is
easy for me to understand.

12. It is easy for me to remember how to perform tasks
using the electronic mail system.

13. The electronic mail system provides helpful
guidance in performing tasks.

14. Overall, I find the electronic mail system easy to

Source: Davis, 1989

In both cases, respondents rate the scale items which are subsequently ranked on a
‘highly likely’ to ‘highly unlikely’ scale, to deliver a statistically recognised measure.
The numerical analysis is great if you have access to statistical packages (and know


how to use them!) and if not, the model can be adapted and the questions used in
a survey format.

The Technology Acceptance Model is a good foundation to test the development of
new apps as it enables companies to create more useful and easier to use systems.
TAM was an antecedent of measuring user experience and the questions applied in
the original study are still valid today although they require some adaptation.

Activity 2.1 Application of the
Technology Acceptance Model
1. Think of a technology, an app or a device that has failed.

2. In Table 2.2 replace electronic mail with your selected technology.

3. Use the questions in Table 2.2 and score the items using a 5-point scale with ‘highly likely’,
‘likely’, ‘neither likely nor unlikely’, ‘unlikely’ and ‘highly unlikely’.

4. Analyse the factors: what is the overall perceived usefulness? And the perceived ease of use?

5. Which specific factors do you feel contributed to the failure of the technology, app or device?

6. Discuss with classmates.

Whilst we are more accepting of technology there have been other behaviours that
have evolved within a digital environment, including:

• Consumer power

• The rise of the prosumer

• Second screening

• Showrooming and webrooming

• Liquid consumption

These are discussed in the following parts.

The power has moved from company to consumer and we have seen an increase in
consumer power. Gillian Naylor, writing in the aptly named Journal of Consumer
Satisfaction, Dissatisfaction and Complaining Behavior, created a typology of con-
sumer communication in the digital age, shown in Figure 2.3. Its central focus is


how communications have moved from business to consumer (B2C) to consumer to
business (C2B) and consumer to consumer (C2C).


Company website
Company social

media site
Survey response

(online purchases,
bookings, check-



3rd party

88B, courts


Activists lrates

F2F social


F2F social

Social media

Social media





(-) WOM

Figure 2.3 Typology of consumer communication (C2B/C2C) in the digital age

Source: Naylor, 2017, p. 134

Naylor commented how ‘C2B and C2C Marketing communication is increasingly
played out in other media and in view of others’ (Naylor, 2017, p. 131). These shared
sentiments have given rise to different types of consumer power and she categorised
four types of consumer communications: voicers, activists, social networks (includ-
ing C2C) and irates.

Voicers can share opinions more easily via social media, instead of a binary consumer
to business route. Whilst activists can still seek redress from the courts for specific
remedies, their messages can be shared using hashtags and the cost of the legal fees
could be crowdfunded. Early social networks were considered by Naylor as friends and
family – we are not talking about Facebook here! So, in a pre-digital age, stories were
shared with co-workers, colleagues and other personal face-to-face networks (F2F).
Social media facilitated this content to be imparted to a wider audience online. This
model also considers word of mouth (WoM), from a positive and negative perspective.

The final group in Figure 2.3, irates, may have previously taken forms of direct action
to gain attention and ensure their point of view was heard. For example, students
could have marched, protested and organised demos to complain about specific
issues. Does this still occur or have social media campaigns become the new normal?

Naylor further described different types of communication methods such as phone,
letter, face-to-face (F2F), company website, social media and via third parties, and
within this the concept of user-generated content, noted as a way for consumers to
communicate and engage with brands. Chapter 4 considers the area of user-generated
content (see Key Term, p. 115) in more depth.


American futurologist Alvin Toffler is largely credited with creating the term ‘pro-
sumer’ in his 1980 book The Third Wave: The Classic Study of Tomorrow (Toffler,
1980). He combined the words ‘producer’ and ‘consumer’ to form ‘prosumer’, as
consumers had become producers of goods and services. There are many examples
of this, such as Wikipedia where individuals both add and consume content on the
site. This is one of the many reasons it contains errors – you or I can add content
that may or may not be accurate, true or relevant.

Other examples are user-generated content (see Chapter 4), where consumers post
images of products purchased, producing free advertising material for companies.

Case Example 2.1 Open Source
and the Prosumer
Most software sales models are based on a licence being sold. If you want to access Microsoft Office
or Adobe Photoshop, you need to buy a licence. You are a consumer, you pay your money and access
the product.

The opposite to this model is the Open Source movement, which advocates the development of
software ‘that can be freely used, changed, and shared (in modified or unmodified form) by anyone’
(Opensource.org, n.d., p. 1). The developers create and share free software and the rules state that
when you download it, if you adapt it to incorporate additional features you re-share it across the
Open Source platform. The software is still accessed by a licence, so you can be advised of updates.
This online community is self-managed and self-regulated so no one truly owns the software.

There are many competitors to Microsoft’s Office packages, including: Apache OpenOffice, LibreOf-
fice and NeoOffice. These packages may not have the full functionality of a full MS Office suite, but most
users only take advantage of a small percentage of the tools and they are popular with many businesses.

Second screening is also referred to as dual screening, media meshing, sofalising or
connecting media.

The concept is about watching a TV screen (or a programme via Netflix on your
laptop), whilst Facebooking friends on your mobile and using a tablet to search for
content mentioned on TV. This enables consumers to watch a programme whilst
searching for additional content about the programme and communicating their feel-
ings about the programme to friends – simultaneously.

See the paper ‘Who is on your sofa?’ by Doughty, Rowland and Lawson (2012).


The concepts of showrooming and webrooming first emerged in the practitioner
sphere and it took a while for academics to start exploring these ideas. This was
probably because the impact was greater in retail stores.

Showrooming involves searching in store and buying online:

Shoppers now frequently search for information in the store and simultane-
ously search on their mobile device to get more information about offers and
may find more attractive prices. (Verhoef et al., 2015, p. 175)

Webrooming involves searching online and buying in store:

The opposite of showrooming also occurs, which is now referred to as webroom-
ing, where shoppers seek information online and buy offline. In the past, this was
found to be a dominant form of research shopping. (Verhoef et al., 2015, p. 175)

A new concept of liquid consumption versus solid consumption has emerged, cham-
pioned and defined by Professors Fleura Bardhi and Giana Eckhardt (see Key Terms).

Liquid consumption: ‘ephemeral, access based, and dematerialized’

Solid consumption: ‘that which is enduring, ownership based, and tangible’

(Bardhi and Eckhardt, 2017, p. 582)

This is a step change, as previously consumption was simply consumption. Bardhi and
Eckhardt argued that the change has partly occurred with the increase in the digital
economy and that consumers, in some cases, place greater dependence on digital
access than physical ownership. Bardhi and Eckhardt also suggested that liquidity is
not to be celebrated and may be as a result of income, life situation and the ability
to move on quickly. Whilst this is a concept and has not been fully researched, one
area to consider is lifestages. Do people move towards fluidity as they age and start
to downsize and de-clutter? Is it only about lifestage or also point of view?

One other issue is digital clutter. It’s great adopting a fluid perspective, but how many
photos have you stored on Facebook? How many emails have you archived? As it is
easier to retain liquid possessions, do we ever review and remove, as we would do
with old clothing? What will happen to charity shops that feature heavily across the
UK high street if a generation moves towards liquid possessions? These shops, from


Cancer Research to animal charities, depend upon the acquisition of solid possessions.
This is certainly an area that requires more research.

Students often move between solid and liquid consumption. Some bring a carload
of possessions to university whereas others travel light, often due to necessity, with
a laptop, mobile phone and clothes. Those towards the fluid end of the scale can
access music and films online and their contacts and memories are stored in their
mobile phone.

A good star ting place is an academic paper entitled ‘Liquid consumption’ by Professors
Fleura Bardhi and G iana Eckhardt (2017), published in the Journal of Consume r

The online customer journey is the process customers take from searching for an item
to concluding with a purchase. This occurs offline as well as online and it is usually
considered as a linear process. According to Katherine Lemon and Peter Verhoef
(2016), this is in three stages, as discussed here:

• Stage 1 – Pre-purchase, where customers interact with the brand. There is problem
recognition, search and consideration which could include a login to LinkedIn
to check out a sales associate or the managing director or a look at the company
Facebook page to see what feedback is shared, or perhaps online searches on
review sites.

• Stage 2 – Purchase, which concerns all customer interactions during the purchase:
the online user experience, ease of purchase, delivery choices and confirmation
of delivery if relevant.

• Stage 3 – Post-purchase, which, according to Lemon and Peter Verhoef, comprises
behaviours such as usage and consumption – you bought it but did you use it? Did
you leave a review? Sign up for the newsletter? Share the purchase with friends?

Activity 2.2 Construct a Simple
Customer Journey
Assess your activity as an online customer. Consider a recent purchase and list your pre-purchase,
purchase and post-purchase stages.

See Template online: Assess the customer journey fundamental stages


But there are challenges! One of these is the terminology, because the customer
journey and the process of understanding the steps that customers take to complete
an action is described in different ways:

• Buyer journey

• Consumer journey

• Consumer decision journey

• Customer journey mapping

• User journey mapping

• Customer service encounter

• Customer experience (CX)

• Online customer service experience (OCSE)

• Path to purchase

• Service blueprinting

If you fast-forward to Chapter 9, Strategy and Objectives, you will see where I discuss
the McKinsey strategic model of the ‘consumer decision journey’; here I will explore
the differences and origins of these different terms.

Buyer journey
The buyer journey was one of the earliest phrases used, but considered the consumer
only as a buyer. We may primarily think of a customer journey as a visit to a web-
site to buy a product but, in some cases, no purchase is made because a customer
journey can be:

• Downloading a brochure

• Signing up for a newsletter

• Filling in a form

• Submitting information

• Registering interest or support

Buyer journey is more often used in commercial organisations where the goal is
simply a purchase.

Consumer journey or consumer
decision journey
The consumer journey or consumer decision journey was identified by the McKinsey
team, who developed a strategic model from the initial consideration set to the
post-purchase experience, moving away from traditional linear sales funnels (see
Chapter 9).


Customer or user journey mapping
Customer or user journey mapping is generally acknowledged to have been devised by
Barry Kibel in a book chapter where he suggested that results mapping could be used
as an approach for assessing the work of social, health and education programmes.

The process was to map, score, analyse and provide feedback about a programme
and the key factor was using a visual representation of the journey or process.

The journey starts with sharing the company name, through to registering for a newsletter.
This could be the journey that a student takes when checking out a firm for a placement.
In this example there are 12 steps, but they are linear. There can often be many more,
which include moving forwards and backwards in a messy and less ordered way.

When discussing customer journeys David Norton and Joseph Pine described them
as ‘the sequence of events – whether designed or not – that customers go through
to learn about, purchase and interact with company offerings – including commodi-
ties, goods, services or experiences’ (Norton and Pine, 2013, p. 12). The key here is
the concept of a sequence of events, regardless of whether the customer journey is
online, offline or multi-channel.

Customer service encounters
Customer service encounters were reviewed by Clay Voorhees and many of his col-
leagues, where they were keen to define the area in more detail (Voorhees et al.,
2016). Voorhees suggested that the difference between service encounter and service
experience was about the period of time the service lasted. An ongoing or continu-
ous service was an experience, whereas a specific service was an encounter. The
encounters were divided into three phases:

1. Pre-core service encounter – the time before the main service where the customer
engages with the firm and seeks information such as online reviews.

2. Core service encounter – the time at which the primary service is provided.

3. Post-core service encounter – the time after the service has been received where
the consumer reflects, assesses the service and may complete online feedback.

This definition is especially helpful for non-profit firms or government bodies, where
the aim is to gain information, submit forms or register details. The difference is the
idea of the service encounter rather than a sale.

However, this approach is similar to the customer journey described by Lemon and
Verhoef: there are three stages – before, during and after. Both are relatively sim-
plistic and linear models, although they work and are easy to apply, so are useful
places to start.

Customer experience (CX)
Customer experience (CX) has been studied by many scholars and there is no agree-
ment on what it means. It was defined by Chiara Gentile and colleagues, writing in


the European Management Journal, as ‘an evolution of the concept of relationship
between the company and the customer’ (Gentile et al., 2007, p. 397) and in the same
year, Christoph Meyer and Andre Schwager wrote in the Harvard Business Review
that customer experience ‘encompasses every aspect of a company’s offering – the
quality of customer care, of course, but also advertising, packaging, product and ser-
vice features, ease of use, and reliability’ (Meyer and Schwager, 2007, p. 118). Gentile
and her colleagues adopted a view of the customer relationship whereas Meyer and
Schwager took a pragmatic view of the whole product offer. Both definitions explain
customer service, from different standpoints.

Meyer and Schwager proposed differences between customer relationship and experi-
ence management and I have adapted their content, shown in Table 2.3, to focus on
the key factors they identified in customer experience management, as this provides
a good summary of key factors in customer experience.

Table 2.3 Customer experience management

What Captures and distributes what a customer thinks about a company

When At points of customer interaction: ‘touch points’

How monitored Surveys, targeted studies, observational studies, ‘voice of customer’

Who uses the information Business or functional leaders, in order to create fulfillable expectations
and better experiences with products and services

Relevance to future performance Locates places to add offerings in the gaps between expectations and

Source: Adapted from Meyer and Schwager, 2007

The work by Katherine Lemon and Peter Verhoef around the online customer journey
took place nearly a decade after Meyer and Schwager’s research. Lemon and Verhoef were
keen to build a picture of the body of knowledge in this area and investigated earlier
research into customer experience, summing up various definitions as ‘a multi-dimensional
construct that involves cognitive, emotional, behavioral, sensorial, and social components’
(Lemon and Verhoef, 2016, p. 70). The concept of a ‘multi-dimensional construct’ covers
many bases and ensures that the relationship and the product offer are combined.

Lemon and Verhoef provided a useful summary to explain what the research to date
had explained about the different topics within customer experience, and this is
reproduced in Table 2.4.

Table 2.4 What we know about customer experience

Topic What we know

Customer experience

• The customer’s dynamic external environment can have a significant influence
on customer experience

• Extreme crises can have a strong, negative and enduring effect on the
customer experience

• The economic situation (i.e. recession, expansion) influences the customer
experience across firms, and the drivers of customer experience may depend on
the economic situation


Topic What we know

Mapping the customer

• Service blueprinting can provide a solid starting point for customer
journey mapping

• Customer journey analysis should understand and map the journey from the
customer perspective and, therefore, requires customer input into the process

The multichannel

• Channels differ in benefits and costs, often making one channel more useful for
a specific stage in the purchase funnel than other channels. These differences
are, however, shrinking due to technological developments and diffusion of
new channels

• Customers differ in their preferences and usages of channels across different
purchase phases, and specific multichannel segments can be identified that
differ in terms of consumer characteristics

• Channel choices in the purchase funnel affect one another because of lock-in
effects, channel inertia and cross-channel synergies

The multidevice and
mobile journey

• Mobile device channels interact and may interfere with existing channels
• Mobile device channels offer new location-based, time-sensitive opportunities to

create firm-initiated touch points
• Mobile channels appear to be better suited for search than for purchase
• Mobile devices’ direct-touch interface appears to significantly influence the

customer journey

Customer experience

• There is not yet agreement on robust measurement approaches to evaluate
all aspects of customer experience across the customer journey; long-tested
approaches (e.g. SERVQUAL) may offer a good starting point

• Customer satisfaction and NPS perform equally well in predicting firm
performance and customer behaviour

• Transformations of metrics to account for potential nonlinear effects due to
theoretical notions, such as customer delight, are useful

• Customer feedback metrics focusing on a specific domain of the customer
experience (i.e. Customer Effort Score) are not strong in predicting
future performance

• Multiple customer feedback metrics predict customer behaviour better than a
single metric

Effects of touch points • When moving through the customer journey to purchase, customers use and are
exposed to multiple touch points that each have direct and more indirect effects
on purchase and other customer behaviours

• Although it is a complex and difficult endeavour, it is important to identify critical
touch points (‘moments of truth’) throughout the customer journey that have the
most significant influence on key customer outcomes

Customer journey and
experience design

• A seamless experience across channels through channel integration will create
a stronger customer experience

• The effect of an individual touch point may depend on when it occurs in the
overall customer journey

Partner and
network management

Internal firm

• When mapping and analysing the customer journey, it is critical to take the
broader service delivery system into account

• The benefit to the firm of taking a stronger role in the service delivery network
is to reduce uncertainty in customer experience delivery; this needs to be
balanced against the increase in costs and complexities associated with such an
expanded role

• As partner networks become more ubiquitous, choosing appropriate
governance models will be critical

Source: Lemon and Verhoef, 2016, p. 86, Journal of Marketing

Lemon and Verhoef mentioned three terms in Table 2.4 concerning customer experi-
ence which may need more clarification:

• SERVQUAL – a model for measuring service quality (see Parasuraman et al.,


• NPS – Net Promoter Score, which is a single-question survey asking customers
how likely they are to recommend the product or service, on a scale of 1 to 10.
The percentage of all scores of 1 to 6 is subtracted from the percentage of 9s
and 10s; 7s and 8s are discarded to provide a single score (largely credited to
Reichheld, 2003).

• Moments of truth – all points of customer interaction (largely credited to Carlzon,

See Template online: Analyse the customer experience

Online customer service experience (OCSE)
Online customer service experience (OCSE) is a newer concept, and writing in the
Journal of Services Marketing, Philipp Klaus from the ESCE International Business
School in Paris, created a conceptual model of online customer service experience
which was based on customers’ experiences with the online bookseller Amazon.
com (Klaus, 2013). His research identified 28 attributes, which were split into two
main areas – psychological factors and functionality, and these were supported by

The psychological factors included trust, value for money and context familiarity (how
close the experience is to an offline model).

The functionality elements are a useful checklist for overall website usability: ease of
use; communication; social presence; product presence (product images and descrip-
tions such as ‘look inside’); and interactivity.

The model is shown in Figure 2.4 and it may be that you think that this does not
include any surprises. However, it is the combination of the two areas that leads to
a better customer experience, which is similar to the initial descriptions discussed
earlier in this chapter, provided by Gentile and colleagues, who considered the psy-
chological factors, and it could be argued that Meyer and Schwager’s definition of
customer experience focused on the functionality aspect.

The OCSE model is another useful model for assessing the customer service experi-
ence and could be adapted as a checklist for business.

Path to purchase
Borrowed from computing terms, path data contains information about a user’s search
behaviour, interests and visits. In marketing parlance, the ‘path to purchase’ concept
is similar to a non-linear customer journey; the difference is trying to attribute the
elements or touch- points which have had an impact on the journey. Was it the email?
The pop-up offer on the website? Perhaps dark social (see Key Term) with a message
from a friend? If the specific steps can be correctly attributed this means that greater
investment can be made where needed.

Google, as a major seller of online advertising, was an early pioneer of sharing path
to purchase data and provides free access to aggregate data, to inform marketers
about latest trends and insights.


Online Customer Service Experience (OCSE)

Psychological Factors Functionality




with other


that a website
will act

openly and



price level,
low price



re�ects the

capability to




to feel

using the


reduces the




is the
assessment of

products in

to stimulate




the website
and its


re�ects the

with other

Figure 2.4 Online customer service experience (OCSE) conceptual model

Source: Klaus, 2013, p. 447

Digital Tool Google Path to Purchase
Google shares its aggregate data to inform marketers about shopping insights, trends and bench-
marks. To further explore shopping insights, go to:

• thinkwithgoogle.com/tools

Other academic researchers, Alice Li and P.K. Kannan, created a conceptual frame-
work for the path to purchase which combined the customer journey with stages
initiated by the firm to influence and direct the purchase (Li and Kannan, 2013). They
reviewed the channels connected to online purchases of high-involvement goods such
as consumer durables and travel services.

They used a linear model from the channels considered, which were identified through
search, so in the example of trying to find a flight, the consumer might search online
for flights and they may visit a firm’s own website, such as American Airlines or
British Airways, or they may use a flight search engine such as SkyScanner. If the
consumer goes backwards and forwards between the different sites, modifying their
search terms, to gain the best price, they are leaving a trail of cookies (see Key Term)


for the firms to add them to their online advertising campaigns. Ever noticed that
ad following you around when you’ve just looked at a website? It’s all based on your
online behaviour and this is the area that Li and Kannan explored further as ‘firm-
initiated’ behaviour. In some cases this may have been display ads, like the follow-me
marketing. But if a user responded to another channel, such as email, the firm may
have subsequently sent a nudge email to encourage the web visitor to return to the
website and complete their purchase.

Li and Kannan discuss the concept of ‘spillover effects’, which they explained as the
‘impact of prior visits through a given channel’ (Li and Kannan, 2013, p. 43). As an
example, I received an email that said ‘we noticed you left some things in your shop-
ping basket’ and I clicked on the email, to return to the website and complete the
purchase. The email has an impact on the final step in the path to purchase.

A web cookie is a small piece of data that is stored temporarily or for a period of time on your
device when you have visited a website.

There are two kinds of cookie: (a) session cookies, which are temporary whilst you are
browsing and do not store your data, and (b) persistent cookies, which remember who you
are. Persistent cookies remember usernames and passwords, automatically login to websites
and recall what is in your shopping basket.

Service blueprinting
Understanding customer journeys means understanding the process customers take
from identifying a need or desire for an item, to the conclusion and purchase. This
considers a single track, the customer view. Service blueprinting is another form of
process modelling but considers all the actors involved: the customers, staff, delivery –
any people or processes that contribute to the overall customer action.

In ‘Service Blueprinting: A Practical Technique for Service Innovation’ Mary Jo Bitner
(the professor who increased the 4Ps to the 7Ps) and her colleagues identified five
specific components for a service blueprint (Bitner et al., 2008), which are shown in
Table 2.5 with examples.

Table 2.5 Service blueprinting with examples

Service blueprint components Details Examples

1. Physical evidence Tangible elements with which
customers come into contact

Website, social media, email

2. Customer actions All actions taken by customers
as part of the process

See adverts, read social media
posts, order placing


Service blueprint components Details Examples

3. Onstage/visible contact
employee actions

Direct customer contact Email, online chat, social media

4. Backstage/invisible contact
employee actions

Non-visible interaction with

Order processing and management

5. Support processes Essential business services Uploading products to the database,
ensuring payment systems operate

Activity 2.3 Create a Service
Imagine you and your classmates are running a coffee shop.

1. Take five sheets of A3 paper and on each piece write one heading for each element of
the service blueprint: 1. Physical evidence; 2. Customer actions; 3. Onstage/visible contact
employee actions; 4. Backstage/invisible contact employee actions; 5. Support processes.

2. Split into five groups and identify the actions for each element.

3. Re-group and put the actions in order.

4. What did you learn?

5. How could using a service blueprint improve the customer journey?

Norton and Pine provided a detailed checklist which I have distilled into the key
factors and is shown in Table 2.6 (Norton and Pine, 2013, p. 14). This indicates the
best practice for developing customer journeys and adopts a strategic rather than a
tactical approach which will involve different departments working together.

Table 2.6 Aligning the customer journey and business strategy

Factor Explanation

Customers What do customers want and need and when do they need it? How can you
approach customers in a coordinated, cross-functional way?

Value proposition What do customers value – the product, the delivered service, the staged

Resources What resources are missing?

Channels How should disparate channels work together?

Revenue How do you increase revenue based on value created from the experience?

Cost structure How can you prioritize spending?

Technologies What technologies could enhance the experience?


The reason why we focus on customer journeys is to try to understand what works.
We attribute specific actions to specific results. For example, a promotional email
may result in a 10% uplift in sales. This type of activity can be tracked and correctly
attributed from start to finish. But this is a simplistic approach.

As we have seen in this chapter, consumers take different journeys when making a
purchase. They visit a website, then the social media, then they make a cup of coffee
and forget about the product. Three days later they think about the product again
and the customer journey continues. With the help of cookies (see Key Term above)
it is possible to understand what generated the final action. Therefore you can credit
which parts of the digital toolbox had an impact and correctly measure the market-
ing attribution. This makes it easier when allocating budgets to different aspects of
the toolbox.

One of the greatest challenges in the digital user journey is when the organisation
does not know how the customer arrived at the site – this is known as dark social
and is creating a headache for many analytical marketers (Cohn, 2013), so much so
that companies are having to find ways to address the issue (see Case Example 2.2).

Originally defined by tech editor Alexis Madrigal in an article on The Atlantic.com, dark social is
when a new customer arrives at your website, but you do not know how they heard of you – the
source of the visit. They are invisible on your analytics data and therefore cannot be attributed
to a specific campaign (Madrigal, 2012).

Dark social happens when friends and colleagues share details via private channels such
as instant messages, text messages, email and message boards instead of sharing in wider
social media platforms. This means that there is no analytic data (to show the source) in the
click through to the website.

Case Example 2.2 Adidas
Combats Dark Social
Adidas, the sportswear brand, faced a challenge with content being shared on private social chan-
nels, which meant they were unable to connect with customer groups. Florian Alt, the Senior Director,
Global Brand Communications from Adidas Football, decided to address the issue of one-to-one
conversations via instant messaging by creating hyper-influencers.

Called Tango Squads, these communities of influencers gain first access to new content that they
can share amongst their friends and followers. The aim is to build experiences and products for the


target audience. It also means all content can be tracked, all visits can be measured, all expenditure
can be attributed and justified.

Alt noted that Adidas needed to listen to what these influencers were saying to understand what
type of content works for them.

The programme has been launched in 15 cities with 500 people that are known as ‘hyper-connected
football creators’. There is a dedicated web page for others to ‘join the squad’ (www.adidas.com/

The concept has risks as elements of the brand are being handed over to third parties who could
abuse the content. Alt has recognised that it is important to allow influencers to talk about the brand,
but important that Adidas does react to their feedback.

Challenges with the influencer programme revolve around measuring dark social as none of their
current systems could do this. Alt stated that as messenger platforms were built for people to com-
municate on a one-to-one basis, it wasn’t possible to track the conversations. Other difficulties were
legal issues such as data protection, but at the moment the community was effective for the brand.

Success will be measured by the number of cities where the Tango Squad is active, along with an
increased number of hyper-influencers sharing exclusive content.

Watch Florian Alt talk about the Tango Squad and dark social on YouTube: www.youtube.com/

Combating dark social
As shown in Case Example 2.2, Florian Alt at Adidas has found a way of addressing
dark social. Other methods of ensuring that your hard work can be tracked and cor-
rectly attributed include:

• Create short and memorable weblinks – instead of a web link like https://www.
html?mc_cid=207f13a57c&mc_eid=eb6ecee5ea you may create a vanity URL like
this: http://bit.do/myspecs

• Create interesting content and place it on your blog with links to products. If the
content is unique, you can track all orders from this.

• Include sharing buttons in unusual places – not just at the start and the end, but
mid-way through articles and posts.

In 1969, Harvard professor Stanley Milgram and his student Jeffrey Travers conducted
an experiment (Travers and Milgram, 1969) where they handed out 296 letters to
people in Boston and Omaha, Nebraska with an instruction to deliver them to one
person – a stockbroker in a place called Sharon, Massachusetts. They had to send
the letter to someone they knew, close to the target person, to see how many people
the letter had to go through to get there. There was no address on the envelope,
just the name of the target person and the town. The participants were given a pack
of information and told to send back a postcard to the researchers every time the
letter was passed on. Eventually 64 letters reached the target person.


The average number of postcards received was 5.2, so the number of degrees of
separation between one random person and many other random people was said to
be six. ‘Six Degrees of Separation’ was later the title of a play in 1990 by an American
playwright and later a movie. It quickly became a meme, as in an online world, we’re
all connected.

The idea of six degrees of separation is based on the concept of living in a small
world where everyone knows someone who knows that person. Social networks like
LinkedIn facilitate these connections. As an example, on LinkedIn I’m connected
to John Horsley, the founder of the Digital Doughnut which is a digital marketing
community – that’s one degree of separation. John is connected to Barack Obama – so
this means that I’m two degrees of separation from Barack Obama, former President
of the United States!

The first online social network was called Six Degrees, founded by Andrew Weinrich,
but it failed due to the technology and infrastructure back in 1997 (Heidemann
et al., 2012).

Smartphone Sixty Seconds® –
Degrees of Separation
• Use your mobile phone to log in to LinkedIn and look at the Vice Chancellor of your

universit y.
• How many degrees of separation are there between you and the VC?
• Who in the class has fewest degrees of separation between themselves and the VC?

As digital consumers our lives have become surrounded by online tools, technology
and systems – from the moment we wake until the day is over. Can you imagine a
world without Wi-Fi?

Governments and businesses are harnessing digital technology too. The European
Union publishes an annual Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) and keeps a
scorecard of where European countries feature in terms of available connectivity,
digital skills, use of internet by citizens, integration of digital technology by busi-
nesses and digital public services (European Commission, 2017).

And now the digital genie is out of the bottle it’s difficult to give up our online lives.
As digital consumers, even if we adopt greater liquid consumption we’re unlikely to
give up second screening and showrooming.


1. Working in small groups, identify all online and offline steps in the customer

journey for (a) a food delivery app that you access via your mobile phone or
(b) a local coffee shop. Analyse where there are any possible difficulties and
make recommendations to address these issues.

2. Imagine you are responsible for introducing a new technology into university.
This could be a new payment system or a new library access system or something
else. Considering the users, identify three objections you are likely to encoun-
ter. Write robust responses to all the objections that could be used across social
media. Prepare a promotional one-page website to explain the new system.

3. Working in small groups, prepare a plan to complain about poor service from a
well-known brand. What steps are needed to gain attention from the brand? Be
aware that any comments that are untrue or malicious could result in legal action.

This chapter has explored:

• Digital consumers and the concepts of hedonism and utilitarian consumption.

• How the technology acceptance model can be applied to the introduction of new
apps, devices and systems.

• How changing digital behaviour from consumer power to prosumers, second
screening to liquid consumption, affects marketing.

• The key factors in constructing a customer journey have been addressed, with
many examples of the different terminology.




3 The Digital Marketing Toolbox 51
4 Content Marketing 95
5 Online Communities 125
6 Mobile Marketing 151
7 Augmented, Virtual and Mixed Reality 181



When you have read this chapter, you will be able to:

Understand the different components in the digital marketing toolbox

Apply the honeycomb model

Analyse website usability

Evaluate online PR

Create an SEO plan for video

When you have worked through this chapter, you should be able to:

• Construct successful emails for campaigns

• Use an email management tool

• Analyse a website’s usability and recommend improvements

• Create an SEO plan for video


In this digital environment, before getting out of bed and brushing their teeth,
Millennials are connected. They know the latest news, they know where their friends
are, they know what’s happening in their world. How much do they know about the
methods organisations can employ to harness this digital power for both positive
and negative purposes?

This chapter aims to enlighten you about the possibilities of what’s out there. At the
end of the chapter you may decide to switch off your mobile phone, pay by cash and
live completely off grid. But I doubt it.

In part, the digital marketing toolbox could be described as an online version of
Pandora’s box. The Greek myth claimed that once the box was opened evil escaped
into the world, but before all dark deeds left the box the lid was firmly shut, and
inside the box a good force remained; hope for the future. Online evil includes spam
(see Ethical Insights, p. 60), fake news, the abuse of social media profile data, cyber
bullying and trolling (see Key Terms, p. 82). The key is to be aware of all the pos-
sibilities and to do more good in marketing, as we will discover here.

Originally, digital marketing was called e-marketing, the ‘e’ being short for ‘electronic’
marketing and it was also known as internet marketing. Originally conceived by Sir
Tim Berners-Lee as a way of connecting computers to share data, the internet has
created its own ecosystem. We have expanded beyond internet marketing to a much
wider array of connected devices, hence the term digital marketing.

As digital marketing has evolved, it is still used for sharing data, but it has also
provided a rich set of tools, commonly referred to as the digital marketing toolbox.
This toolbox works for both individuals and organisations of all sizes. Whether you
are studying or working, the digital marketing toolbox allows you to discover, share,
manage and create information. This is a journey from information discovery to crea-
tion, or a digital information hierarchy.

How does the digital information hierarchy work for you? You might have an assign-
ment to develop a social media account and search online to assess whether Twitter
is better than Weibo or LinkedIn for this project. Browsing the internet, you find
many articles online that extol the virtues of different social media networks (infor-
mation discovery). Your friends have the same assignment and some are stuck, not
knowing where to start, so you send them some links to useful articles (informa-
tion sharing). As you start to discover more relevant articles and as your friends
start sharing more content you need a way to store all the information easily. In a
browser (Chrome, Safari, Firefox) you create a bookmark folder and name it ‘social
media #1’. Then you add all the weblinks as individual bookmarks to this folder and
also save your documents in the cloud (information management). This allows you
to easily return to each web page, months later, without remembering the name of
the individual web page, and to retrieve your content regardless of which computer
you are using or where.


Once you have gathered your data and made your decision, you can create a social
media account online and populate it with regular posts about how to set up a social
media account (information creation).

Digital marketing makes this information hierarchy much easier, but it hasn’t happened
overnight. To understand how digital marketing has evolved, I have adapted a timeline
based on a version created by internet education researchers Hooley, Marriott and
Wellens (2012), in Table 3.1. Their timeline did not include all the tools in the digital
toolbox, so I have added these and removed some of those less relevant to marketing.
This timeline is a helpful way to understand the evolution of different tools and you
will see that some of these were created in your lifetime.

Table 3.1 Development of the digital marketing toolbox

Year Digital tools Action Impact on marketing

1971 Email First email sent New skills needed to craft online

1989 Websites Demonstration of the World
Wide Web by Tim Berners-Lee

Not widely understood initially

1990 Websites Public release of the World
Wide Web

Companies initially created ‘online
brochures’ known as brochureware for
company websites

1990 Search

First search tool for the web
(Archie) was created

Opportunity to sell computers becomes a
realistic proposition

1993 Search

First web crawler (Wanderer)
was created

Businesses start to list product offers online

1993 Search

First graphical browser

1994 Search

Netscape browser launched

1994 Search

Development of first popular
search engines (Alta Vista,
Lycos, Excite and Yahoo!)

1995 Search

Internet Explorer launched

1996 Email Hotmail launched free email

Direct mail (postal letters) starts to decline

1997 Search

Google released Search functionality improves and search
engine optimisation (SEO) becomes a
marketing role

1997 Blogs First blog launched
(attributed to Jorn Barger’s
Robot Wisdom website)

As websites were cumbersome to
change, blogs became an alternative
communications tool

1997 Social

The first mainstream social
networking site, SixDegrees.
com, was launched

Businesses use data for online research
and opportunities to market to specific
groups online

2002 Social

LinkedIn launched Recruitment agencies realised the potential
of a large professional database; local job
ads start to decline



Year Digital tools Action Impact on marketing

2003 Social

Myspace launched Opportunities to promote products to
specific groups online

2004 Search

Mozilla Firefox web browser

Firefox offers ad-free browsing, so
marketers start to think more creatively
about online advertising

2004 Social

Facebook launched Companies create Facebook profiles to
connect direct with customers online

2005 Social media

Facebook launches first
social media advertisement

New skills needed to create short-form ad

2006 Social

Twitter launched Disintermediation develops as individuals
become their own PR consultants

2008 Search

Google Chrome browser

Google starts to become the default browser
and SEO becomes more challenging

Table 3.1 (Continued)

The impact of digital facilities has changed the way many organisations execute their
marketing campaigns. Newspaper and magazine advertising is at an all-time low and
letter writing has declined, although parcel delivery has increased. Business-to-business
exhibitions have reduced, with many taking place every two years, instead of annually,
as buyers can more easily search online for new ideas, products and suppliers.

First, we need to understand the contents of the digital marketing toolbox. Extracting
the tools from the timeline, I have created a visual representation of the toolbox, as
shown in Figure 3.1. There are seven digital marketing tools in order of when they
were launched to the world, starting with email and concluding with social media
advertising. The rest of this chapter will look at each of these elements, so that you
can better understand each of the toolbox components, create a digital marketing
plan and evaluate the different tools to use in your own projects.




Online PR






Figure 3.1 Digital marketing toolbox


Since its launch, email has become a powerful marketing tool. The technology research
firm The Radicati Group claim that ‘there are over 3.7 billion email users worldwide,
and this figure is expected to grow to over 4.1 billion by year-end 2021’ and they also
state that the ‘total worldwide email traffic, including both business and consumer
emails, is estimated to be over 269 billion emails per day by year-end 2017, growing
to over 319.6 billion emails per day by the end of 2021’ (The Radicati Group, 2017).

We all receive email daily, hourly and sometimes it feels like every minute! Students
receive emails from their university about module content, hand-in dates, events tak-
ing place, as well as reminders to return library books.

Thinking about why organisations use email, the purpose may be to: promote a brand;
nurture leads for the future; generate sales; or encourage engagement (such as liking
a page, leaving a review). This means that within a marketing strategy, email market-
ing can have specific, measurable and timed objectives for individual campaigns, but
what are the advantages and disadvantages of email as a marketing tool?

Aside from the purpose of email, it is an important marketing tool that provides
advantages to organisations as a method of communicating with customers. The Direct
Marketing Association explained the benefit of email (DMA, 2017):

Email remains the bedrock of digital marketing. It’s favoured by consumers and
95% of marketers agree that it continues to retain a very important place within

Reasons why email marketing is popular with marketers include:

• The email or content is delivered direct to the consumer’s mobile or desktop
and – unless it’s spam – it is not intercepted by a third party, as a letter sent to
someone in an office might be removed in the post room.

• The email process provides key metrics, so that you can see: who opened the
email; how many times they looked at the message; if they clicked on any links;
and whether they shared the email; if the email generated the required conver-
sion (such as a visit to the website, a sale, or the user sharing more details such
as an email address or company information). These metrics mean that every
single email campaign can be compared to understand what worked.

• Email is easy to share, as consumers can click on the forward button and send
immediately to a friend or colleague. How would I share a letter? I’d either pass
to a friend, or scan and email – that’s a lot of effort. Email takes the effort away
and simplifies sharing.

• Email can be tested so you can try to see whether image A or image B, or subject
line A or B, works more successfully. Email management tools can be automated so
that they send 10% of an email with subject line A and 10% with subject line B. Then
whichever is most successful – you decide what success looks like and this could be
number of opens, number of clickthroughs – is sent to the remaining 80% of your list.


Figure 3.2 shows an example of an email that is optimised for both desktop and
mobile, which means it is easy to read, regardless of device. It contains several calls
to action with detailed information as well as images.

Calls to action

Figure 3.2 Example of email marketing

Source: knomobags.com

Equally, there are disadvantages of email marketing, such as getting through all the
spam (see below, Ethical Insights).

Another challenge with email is producing relevant and regular content. Trying to
think of captivating headlines and finding words that trigger responses is nearly a
full-time role in some organisations.

Another factor is that email is often perceived as being ‘free of charge’ as there are
no immediate costs, as there would be if placing an advertisement. But this is not
the case. There are many resources required to deliver successful email, both direct
costs and indirect costs – such as people’s salaries to manage the process:


• Copywriters to create the headlines and content in the right style.

• Imagery may need to be commissioned or purchased online.

• An email software system, which might be free for smaller volumes of emails but
as soon as you send more than 2,000 emails a month, it can be chargeable.

• There is work needed to upload the content, add the correct list and schedule
the email delivery.

• Data controllers are needed – someone responsible for managing the data and
ensuring no rules are broken.

• Emails often send the reader to a specific web page or landing page. This means
some technical web help is needed to create these pages.

Another factor is numbers of email addresses. How many email addresses do you
have? The average person has at least two email addresses; one for work and one for
home. Students often have at least three email addresses; the one you set up years
ago with a funny name (but it’s now too embarrassing to share), your latest email
address as well as your student email address. Students are not alone in this, and
as consumers have multiple email addresses, the challenge is getting into the best
inbox – that’s the one that’s opened and checked most frequently.

Another critical challenge is the issue with safeguarding data, such as your email
address, name, address, purchasing history and possibly credit card data. Companies
have accidentally released personal information, resulting in big fines (see Key Term –
General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Chapter 1).

Email can include planned emails and triggered emails.

Planned emails
Planned emails typically include daily or weekly updates to drive the recipient to
take action, such as reading a blog, booking a ticket or other conversion activity.
Many planned emails are prepared in advance and organised on a specific schedule.

Triggered emails
Triggered emails occur when an event or activity has taken place. This can include:

• Visiting a website, adding items to the shopping basket but failing to complete
the sale

• Filling in an online form to request a download

• Completing a sale

• Making a donation

Triggered emails can be dynamic or automated and built into customer relationship
management systems. For example, when a customer makes an enquiry a specific


email is sent. If they respond within three days, they receive the next email in the
sequence and if they fail to respond within 10 days a different email is despatched.

Having considered the purpose of email, its advantages and disadvantages, it is
useful to know why email works. In 2013, researchers María-José Miquel-Romero
and Consolacion Adame-Sánchez held focus groups to look at why email works and
they created a theoretical model, shown in Figure 3.3. Their model was divided into
three sections: antecedents (what happened before); action (what happened); and
consequence (what happened afterwards). Within antecedents they considered that
if you know who is sending the email (H1); have positive associations of the sender
(H2); believe there is some benefit in the email (H3); are feeling good when the email
arrives (H4); and are in a location where you can easily open the email (H5); you are
more likely to open the email! Phew! There’s a lot to consider.


Knowledge of the


conditions at the time
of forwarding email

Perceived content
value for others

The need for


Positive associations
to the source

Perceived content
value for the receiver

Positiveness of feelings
when receiving the email

Appropriate environmental
conditions at the time of

email opening











Figure 3.3 Why email works model

Source: Miquel-Romero and Adame-Sánchez, 2013

In the third part of the model, Miquel-Romero and Adame-Sánchez explored how
likely you might be to share or forward the email, which was based on three addi-
tional conditions: again, if you are in a location where you can easily open the email
(H7); if you think a friend or colleague might benefit from the email (H8); and if it
is perhaps a while since you have been in contact or just want to say hello, sending
the email may be useful (H9).

Logically the model makes sense. If you know the sender, it is less likely to be spam
and if it is from a favourite online store, you might be keen to open the email. And
whilst we think about the way we can reach people at any place at any time with


email, if you are on the train and it is a complicated message, you might ignore, save
until later (and perhaps forget) or simply delete; this is why the idea of ‘appropriate
environmental conditions at the time’ is relevant.

The theoretical model from Miquel-Romero and Adame-Sánchez acts as a useful
checklist before starting a campaign.

Smartphone Sixty Seconds® –
Opening Your Email
• On your mobile phone open your emails.
• Find an email that you opened that was sent to you from an organisation, perhaps where you

have bought something or made contact.
• Why did you open the email?
• Consider the why email works model shown in Figure 3.3. How many of these conditions were met?

The main steps in planning an email campaign are:

• Capture data with consent

• Add into email system

• Segment lists into relevant groups or personas

• Create winning subject lines

• Build in instructions – calls to action

• Create content

• Test to see which subject lines or images work best

• Measure the results

• Update the database

Examples of popular email software systems, which start with free options when
smaller numbers are used, or offer a free trial, include: campaignmonitor.com,
dotmailer.com, emailit.co, and mailchimp.com. These email management sys-
tems usually work via a wizard, with a step-by-step approach to creating an email

Here is a list of steps involved in creating an email campaign using an online soft-
ware system:

1. Create a name for your campaign. Pick something you will be able to understand


Ethical Insights Spam
Legend tells us that the use of the word spam to mean rubbish email came from the UK comedy
TV show Monty Python’s Flying Circus. In the programme there is a scene where a group of Vikings
drown out conversation by singing the word ‘spam’ over and over again, louder and louder. This is
an example of noisy and irritating behaviour.

The Oxford English Dictionary (Oxford Dictionary, 2017b) defines spam as ‘irrelevant or unsolic-
ited messages sent over the internet, typically to large numbers of users, for advertising, phishing,
spreading malware, etc.’

Joe Alder, who works in a social media agency in Australia, researched spam in more detail when
he was a student at the University of Derby. Joe identified the five types of spam that were defined in
2006 by internet researchers in the UK and the USA (Moustakas et al., 2006):

1. Junk email – bulk sending of unwanted commercial emailing.
2. Non-commercial spam – bulk sending of unsolicited emailing without commercial interest, such

as chain letters.
3. Offensive spam – bulk sending of mailings with ‘adult’-oriented or pornographic content.
4. Spam scams – bulk sending of fraudulent mailings with the intention to invade the privacy of

the recipient.
5. Malicious spam – mass mailings that contain malicious programming code such as viruses and


As we discussed earlier, the first time that websites appeared was in 1990. A handful
of companies created basic websites which were little more than static brochures.
Today there are over one billion websites worldwide (Internet Live Stats, 2017). The
challenge is, with over one billion websites, ensuring your organisation’s website can
be found amongst all those pages. Interestingly, in a digital age where social media
is controlled by the social media companies, websites are one element of the digital
marketing toolbox which are totally under the control of the organisation.

2. Who are you sending this campaign to? You need to add recipients.

3. Who is sending this campaign? Say clearly who this is from. This is usually a
person or a company name.

4. What’s the subject line for this campaign? The subject should be easy to under-
stand; make it too cryptic and it’s more likely to be deleted.

5. Design the content for your email which includes words, images and links to
web pages, if relevant. There is usually a selection of themes to pick, based on
whether it’s a mobile, desktop or html-only email.

6. Confirm the campaign is ready and set the date and time to be sent. It’s a
good idea to be available when the campaign is sent in case there are any


Websites exist for many reasons and can provide dynamic insights into organisations.
They can share:

• The aims of the organisation (about us)

• Who works there (our team)

• What they do (our work)

• Who they work for (our customers)

Shopping websites offer opportunities to instantly buy online which can be enhanced

• Multiple product images

• Videos showing different product views

• Verified reviews from happy customers

• Options for customers to message or chat online to customer service assistants

The key factors to successful websites are: a clear purpose and aim; an understanding
of their target audience; regular updates; and website usability. Let’s explore each of
these elements.

Website purpose is the reason for the website to exist and examples of different
websites are shown in Table 3.2.

Table 3.2 Website purpose and function

Website purpose Website function Example

An information site Provide information for existing and
potential customers

Government or traditional
manufacturing website

A repository of information or

Offer online records and resources Wikipedia

A shopping site Enable customers to browse and shop ASOS, Jack Wills, Superdry

A utility site Enable customers to perform a useful action Currency conversion websites

A customer service portal Signpost to a customer login area IT support services

Specific aims for commercial websites are based around business growth, whether
customer acquisition, conversion or retention (see Chapter 9, Strategy and Objectives
for more on this model), and may include:

• To acquire new customers

• To convert potential customers

• To retain existing customers


Website aims may also involve market development and product development strate-
gies (Ansoff, 1957), such as to attract new markets or to launch new products.

Non-commercial websites such as those providing a public service will have different
aims, often focused around changing behaviour, providing information and encourag-
ing participation. Typically these include health information websites (lose weight,
stay fit, stop smoking).

The website target audience may be centred around personas (for more on digital
personas see Chapter 4, Content Marketing) so that the website content, whether
words, images or video, ‘speaks to’ and is understood by the target audience.

Today, websites are much easier to update and you don’t need a degree in maths to
use many content management systems. Updates are a signal to search engines that
recent content is available to its searchers.

This concerns how easy a website is to use and this simplified term encompasses a whole
area of website usability, often known as UX. Dr Jakob Nielsen, a software engineer, is
largely credited with defining usability based on five quality components (Nielsen, 2012):

• Learnability: How easy is it for users to accomplish basic tasks on the website?

• Efficiency: Once users have learned how the website works, how quickly can
they perform the tasks?

• Memorability: When users return to the design after a period of not using it,
how easily can they re-establish proficiency?

• Errors: How many errors do users make, how severe are these errors and how
easily can they recover?

• Satisfaction: How pleasant is it to use the design?

Read ‘Usability 101: Introduction to Usability’ by Jakob Nielsen (2012), available from www.
nngroup.com/articles/usability-101-introduction-to-usability. When you have read this, why
not select an organisation of your choice and analyse its website usability?

See Template online: Website usability analysis


So how do you create the perfect website, that can be found online? In 2000 an
American Professor of Marketing, Charles Hofacker, wrote a book in which he
explained how web browsers work. This was a time where websites were new ideas
and computers did not exist in most households. Many companies did not see the
benefit in websites and I remember companies saying ‘but we have a brochure, why
do we need a website?’

Hofacker’s audience was new to the internet and he created a model of how consumers
would process information online (as opposed to a paper brochure). This is known
as ‘Hofacker’s 5 stages of information processing’ (Hofacker, 2001) and addressed the
strategic issues to consider when creating a website.

1. Exposure: Ensuring the web visitor is exposed to the website for long enough
to absorb the content.

2. Attention: Physical factors such as movement and intensity that attract attention
when visitors are on a website.

3. Comprehension and perception: How visitors understand on-page content.

4. Yielding and acceptance: Ensuring the web visitors accept (believe, trust)
your information to get the visitor to stay on your site or proceed to the next

5. Retention: Getting visitors to remember and return to your website.

Today this would form part of the online user experience (UX) and applies to websites
and online ads. It’s a useful checklist for planning, creating and testing online adverts
(see section 3.6.3 Pay per click (PPC) or search engine marketing). Let’s deconstruct
the model.

Exposure is still a valid concept today and explains why many organisations place
the information you need most on the top of the page. Depending on the website
function, such as shopping or providing information, exposure means that you can
see what matters most to you, as quickly as possible.

For example, mobile versions of website pages show the menu, search function, saved
items and shopping basket all on the top line so there is no need to scroll down for
these items.

And it is not enough to hold you on a page; your attention is required! Hofacker was
interested in retaining your attention using physical factors such as movement and
intensity. Another researcher, Jonathan Steuer, wrote about virtual reality in 1992 and
talked about two technological dimensions that contribute to telepresence, vividness
and interactivity (Steuer, 1992) and these concepts are directly linked to Hofacker’s
attention stage.

Telepresence is about having some form of presence across a distance (‘tele’ is Greek
for ‘far’, so ‘far vision’ is television and ‘far voice’, telephone) and Steuer defined vivid-
ness as ‘the ability of a technology to produce a sensorially rich mediated environment’
and interactivity as ‘the degree to which users of a medium can influence the form


or content of the mediated environment’. (For more on vividness and interactivity see
Chapter 4, Content Marketing.)

Translated into our modern world, vividness is about the depth of imagery and
interactivity is about the use of animated GIFS, video content and interactive videos.
Go online and find a website mobile page which exemplifies these concepts. The
home page may contain many different examples of vividness, e.g. scrolling banners
(marquee) at the top with revolving messages and a range of different-sized images
in different colours.

After gaining exposure and attention, stage three is ‘comprehension and perception’,
which is concerned with how visitors understand on-page content. We often hear
the expression ‘don’t make me think’ and this applies to how people use websites.
Jackob Nielsen’s ‘learnability’ falls into this area too.

Many mobile websites include symbols or icons for shopping baskets and saved or
favourite items. These have become ubiquitous and are easily recognisable across a range
of websites. It is no longer necessary to have a guidebook to explain functions on a website.

Stage four, yielding and acceptance, is about trust in the site or the brand. The concept
of trust on websites has been a topic of much research interest by many academ-
ics. There are conflicting arguments about whether imagery is a key factor (see, for
example, Fone and Sarathy, 2017) or the structure and functionality of the website
matter more (Xiaojuan and Ling, 2010). Whilst there may be no definitive answer,
organisations like Amazon.com continuously adapt their website, changing landing
pages, imagery and calls to action, to see what works for their business.

The final stage, retention, is about memory retention and customer retention, as the
focus is encouraging visitors to remember and return to your website. We no longer
need to remember the website name. It is likely we may be re-targeted with ads
appearing for websites we have viewed after a visit where no purchase has taken
place or we may receive a triggered email about an ‘abandoned basket’. Plus, if there
is a good SEO strategy (see section 3.6.2 Search engine optimisation) it is easy to find
websites by searching for the products or services offered.

PR is a catch-all term that tends to represent both public, press and media relations.
This has evolved from the time of typing out, printing and posting news releases to
local papers, to an online system of identifying relevant news outlets and sharing
content; from meetings with key journalists to place important stories about the organi-
sation, to identifying online influencers and trying to manage the online message.

The internet and its worldwide access have enabled these changes and, as a result, the
lines between professional and consumer public and press relations have significantly
shifted, as we are witnessing:

• 24/7 news

• The internet as a news channel

• The rise of citizen journalists

• Fake news


Janis Krums (see Case Example 3.1) was probably the first recognised citizen journalist. Jayeon
Lee, writing in The Communication Review, commented that ‘ordinary people can contribute
to the process of news production and distribution as citizen journalists by promptly posting
and spreading what they know’ (Lee, 2016).

You too can become a citizen journalist! Take your smartphone, start watching the news
around you and share online.

Case Example 3.1 When Twitter Became
The Breaking News Channel with
A Citizen Journalist
On 15 January 2009, a US Airways plane crashed into the Hudson River in New York. Janis Krums,
who was on the rescue boat, tweeted the message ‘There’s a plane in the Hudson. I’m on the ferry
going to pick up the people. Crazy’ and took a photo which he uploaded to Twitter, via TwitPic, a
photo-sharing app, as at that time Twitter was not able to automatically add images.

The image went viral and from this time journalists realised that Twitter had become the place
for breaking news.

Source: https://twitter.com/jkrums/status/1121915133?lang=en

Case Questions
• Which social media channel do you use for news?
• Look back at your Twitter or other social network and describe a time when you ‘heard it first’

via social media.
• What did you do when you heard the news?
• Discuss in pairs and present findings to the group.

3.5.1 24/7 NEWS
Smartphone access brings us news updates for every minute of every day. Traditional
media outlets, such as the BBC, USA Today and The Times of India, all offer instant news
via their apps. There are also personalised news options. By selecting news aggregator
sites, it is possible to create your own personalised news feed, based on preferred web-
sites, specific themes and interests (see Key Term – news feed aggregators on p.80).

With the advent of news aggregators, news websites and social media sharing, the
internet has become a news channel. Combine this with the rise of citizen journa­
lists and public relations has become extremely public, on view for all, at any time.



Fake news has always existed, often during times of war and crisis, where it was better known
as ‘propaganda’ or ‘misinformation’.

During times of elections, such as the 2016 Brexit referendum in the UK and the US
Presidential election, many news stories emerged that were fake. The purpose was to discredit
the other side and influence voters. The issue with fake news is that it is of ten shared
quickly via social media and, as the stories can seem plausible, people believe what
they read.

A change in the development of fake news came in 2017 from the highest office in the
United States as an advisor to the President, Kellyanne Conway, used the phrase ‘alternative
facts’ during a Meet the Press interview that was discussing the crowd size at President Donald
Trump’s inauguration ceremony. Sources varied between claims of very small crowds to the
largest audience ever. Conway said it had been the largest crowd and that several news media
outlets were reporting ‘alternative facts’ (Bradner, 2017).

The website Wikitribune (www.wikitribune.com), created by Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales,
is trying to remove and reduce fake news through a news platform that combines evidence
and stories with journalists and communities working together.

Smartphone Sixty Seconds® –
Finding Fake News
• Using your mobile phone, go online and search for ‘fake news’.
• What appears?
• Any stories you thought were true?

Similar to all other elements within the digital marketing toolbox, online PR requires
an overall purpose, to clarify its use by organisations. The purpose might be to:

• Raise awareness – of an activity, an organisation, its work, its customers

• Generate engagement – from its potential customers, existing customers and
wider stakeholder groups

• Provide monitoring – to understand what is being said about the organisation,
whether the sentiment is positive, negative, mixed or neutral (see Key Term –
sentiment analysis)

• Manage responses – to good and bad news


Sentiment analysis is a review of the valence or tone of content. Typically the tone is classified
as negative, neutral, positive or mixed. Companies monitor mentions of their brand name,
hashtags and specific products.

This takes place on a quotidian basis or for specific events such as new product launches.
Definitions of sentiment analysis include:

• ‘Sentiment analysis attempts to identify and analyze opinions and emotions’ (Abbasi
et al., 2008).

• ‘Sentiment Analysis enables us to manually or automatically classify tweets with regard
to their emotionality, e.g. positive or negative’ (Bruns and Stieglitz, 2013).

One of the challenges in identifying sentiment is that the analysis is often conducted by auto-
mated systems, which fail to understand the use of sarcasm, humour and irony.

Case Example 3.2 United
Airlines Flight 3411
On 9 April 2017, Dr David Dao was flying from Chicago to Louisville, Kentucky. This is a short flight
lasting under one and a half hours. All passengers were on the airplane, waiting for the doors to shut
when the cabin crew said the flight was overbooked and volunteers were needed to provide seats.
The seats were not needed for other paying passengers, but for some airline staff who wanted to get
to Louisville. There are five flights on this route on most days, but the staff could not wait. Passengers
were said to be offered $800 in United Airlines vouchers, if they would take the next flight. There were
no volunteers, therefore, at random, the cabin crew selected four passengers, one of whom was
Dr David Dao. He said he could not take the next flight as he had patients waiting to see him. The cabin
crew were not happy about this, so requested Chicago Aviation Security to remove the passenger.
In the meantime, other passengers, many of whom became citizen journalists, started filming the
incident. The videos showed Dr Dao being forcibly dragged out of his seat and down the aisle. The
videos were uploaded to several social media channels.

Let’s explore the timeline of how United Airlines managed responses to the video.

10 April 2017
The United Airlines CEO sends a letter to his staff which is shared via social media. In the letter, he
commented that ‘the facts and circumstances are still evolving, especially with respect to why this


Larger companies may be using online PR for multiple purposes and within each area
they have an agreed set of specific objectives. For example, the beauty brand Dove
launched a campaign to promote positive body image via social media rather than
using traditional media such as television and magazine adverts.


customer defied Chicago Aviation Security officer the way he did’. He adds, ‘As you will read, the situation
was unfortunately compounded when one of the passengers we politely asked to deplane refused.’

It is also worth noting, that as many PR professionals will tell you, organisations are ‘leaky’ and
this letter was intended as a letter from the CEO to all staff. Yet someone in the staff decided to share
this via social media.

Sharing content with outsiders, or whistle-blowing, indicates ethical concerns within an organi-
sation and, according to researchers Culiberg and Mihelic, is ‘one way of drawing attention to
wrongdoings in business’ (Culiberg and Mihelic, 2016).

Some staff obviously felt strongly enough to share the letter via the media, which exacerbated the
overall situation, further worsening the brand image.

10 April 2017
Later the same day, a tweet is posted from the CEO to a public audience. Again, the CEO does not
apologise to the passenger, who we learn has sustained severe injuries.

11 April 2017
The next day a hashtag was created, which became so popular it started trending and appearing
across Twitter. The hashtag was #NewUnitedAirlinesMottos and many individuals developed alterna-
tive, very negative, mottos for United Airlines, including:

• If we cannot beat our competitors, we beat our customers @DHerkes https://twitter.com/dherkes/

• We’re not happy until you’re not happy @eslgirl420 https://twitter.com/eslgirl420/sta-

• We seat you, then we beat you @_ Jef f_Glenn_ https://twitter.com/_ Jef f_Glenn_/sta-

• Board as a doctor, leave as a patient @fanqin0619 https://twitter.com/fanqin0619/sta-

These negative hashtags, known as bashtags, are not a new idea. The hashtag becoming a ‘bashtag’
was first mooted with difficulties that McDonald’s encountered when trying to generate positive PR for
their farmers (Kashmir Hill, 2012). They tweeted using a hashtag #McDStories and this was overtaken
with negative comments across social media, resulting in the company’s share price dropping.

As United had failed to respond with sympathy or an apology, the outrage grew and in public
relations terms, the situation was fast becoming a media disaster, consequently featuring as the top
TV and radio news story worldwide.

It was so badly managed it was as if the Four Rs of crisis communications – Recognition, Rehearsal,
Response and Recovery – had never been addressed. PR specialist John Moscatelli, writing in the
journal Public Relations Tactics, discussed the Four Rs and commented that ‘most people tackle crises
in a risk-avoidance or risk-reduction state’ (Moscatelli, 2015) and perhaps this was the intention behind
the tweet, where they mentioned ‘conduct our own detailed review’ rather than addressing the issue.

11 April 2017
On 11 April, the CEO issued a communication on United’s website to the ‘team’ and said, ‘The truly
horrific event that occurred on this flight has elicited many responses from all of us: outrage, anger,
disappointment. I share all of those sentiments, and one above all, my deepest apologies for what




Figure 3.4 Tweet from AdAge

Source: Twitter

Note the use of the word ‘sentiment’. Clearly the negative sentiment online is now visible to the
management team and they have decided to react, but returning to the Four Rs of crisis communica-
tions, the response has arrived too late and significant brand damage has occurred. The results of
this become visible within 24 hours, as the stock price drops.

11 April 2017
The next part of the saga, also on 11 April, saw the disclosure that Dr Dao had engaged two legal
firms: a top Chicago corporate lawyer, as well as an aviation specialist. Their statement revealed that
Dr Dao had sustained serious injuries and was indeed a patient in hospital.

12 April 2017
As the story unfolded, United Airlines’ stock value fell by 1.1%, taking $255 million off the airline’s market
capital. This is the time for drastic action and a press conference is convened. What’s interesting here
is that United reverts to traditional methods of PR – the press conference. Two internationally known
public relations scholars, Maureen Taylor and Michael L Kent, have written about the integration of
traditional tactics with online tactics during a crisis (Taylor and Kent, 2007) and although this was over
a decade ago, their article ‘Taxonomy of mediated crisis responses’, still explains all the steps to be
followed. Little of the advice was recognised by United.

United lurched from posting comments to Twitter, to adding material to its website. Rather than
following best practice and setting up a dedicated web page, the response was scattered over several
pages, demonstrating a lack of control over the message within the firm.


13 April 2017
The drop in the share price created the need for a press conference and the CEO issued a statement
confirming ‘We continue to express our sincerest apology to Dr Dao. We cannot stress enough that we
remain steadfast in our commitment to make this right. This horrible situation has provided a harsh
learning experience from which we will take immediate, concrete action’ (United Airlines, 2017b).

The language has changed at this stage and the first public apology, direct to Dr Dao, takes
place. We will never know, but I suspect at this stage additional board members stepped in with
some stronger advice and required a change in tone, from hostile to sympathetic. The earlier tone
of voice used by United Airlines failed to demonstrate any sympathy for, or offer apology to, Dr Dao,
yet the research tells us (see, for example, Gensler et al., 2013; DiStaso et al. 2015) that this is the best
practice. There is a fear that an apology might result in legal action, but it was clear in this case that
a law suit was imminent, as later that same day an image was posted on Twitter showing Thomas
Demetrio on the front cover of the magazine Super Lawyers, accompanied by a tweet from the Super
Lawyers, ‘if you’re curious about Dr. Dao’s lawyer, Thomas Demetrio from @CorboyDemetrio, check
out our 2009 feature on him’.

14 April 2017
A news story appeared as United Airlines issued a staff bulletin declaring that ‘passengers take priority
over staff’ in over-boarding situations. This is a dramatic policy U-turn in only five days.

27 April 2017
Eighteen days later, Corboy & Demetrio, the lawyers for Dr Dao, issued a statement: ‘Dr David Dao
has reached an amicable settlement with United Airlines for the injuries he received in his April 9th
ordeal, which was captured on video and viewed worldwide’ (Corboy & Demetrio, 2017). This is the
response and a move towards recovery in the Four Rs of crisis communication, but it has taken far too
long and, as a result, United Airlines had to make sweeping changes to their business operations,
which were revealed later the same day.

27 April 2017
United issued a press release on its website entitled ‘We are making changes to ensure that we
always put customers first’ (United Airlines, 2017a). This included a two-minute video from the CEO
which included the words ‘shameful’ and ‘shocking’, along with a commitment to change.

Whilst the agreement and financial details remain confidential, the story is unlikely to have ended
here. The volume of tweets and the way the social media posts have become ‘legacy content’, stored
in Google and other search engines, means that it could take years for United Airlines to recover from
this crisis and repair significant brand damage.

Case Questions
• Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the approach taken by the CEO.
• How could you prepare for such a disastrous event?
• What actions would you take as the event unfolded and negative online comments started?
• Work in groups of three to five to explore what options could have been taken and make rec-




Choice of publication channel is a major component in how news is reported and
shared, as well as how organisations manage public events. Organisations can share
news via their own websites, via social media channels and also via news-sharing sites.

Whilst journalists can access news-sharing websites, they can also proactively find
stories using the hashtag #HelpAJournalist on Twitter. Citizen journalists are posi-
tively encouraged to contact reporters directly about their stories and experiences
with organisations.

The most recognised news-sharing sites include: responsesource.com, mediawasp.
com and gorkana.com. These websites are online sources for news stories. They
often capture and elicit information via social media, sometimes providing a free
service to journalists. They generate an income by charging PR companies to place
their news stories.

The major worldwide search engine is Google, which gains over 80% of desktop
global searches based on various sources (Net Market Share, 2017; Statcounter, 2017;
Statista, 2018). Other search engines with smaller market share include Bing, Yahoo!,
Yandex and Baidu.

Search engines automatically crawl through websites to generate a sophisticated
database of content using ‘robots’ and ‘spiders’. The content is stored and returned in
microseconds when people search online. The pages which are shown to the person
searching are called Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) and usually show websites
or specific web pages relating to the search, known as ‘landing pages’.

Search marketing, originally called ‘search engine marketing’ by Danny Sullivan
who started a website dedicated to search engines, called ‘Search Engine Watch’
(Kritzinger and Weideman, 2013), is the practice of improving an organisation’s
place in the search engine results. The words used by the person searching are
called keywords or key phrases and these can extend to whole sentences, not
just a few words.

Some search engines automatically complete the search terms, based on a combina-
tion of predictive text, your past search history and what other people are seeking.

With over one trillion searches on Google each year, Google has become the
dominant search engine in Europe and the United States. ‘Google now processes
over 40,000 search queries every second on average, which translates to over
3.5 billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide’ (Internet
Live Stats, n.d.).

We are also aware that many searches are unique. When people looking for an item
on Google don’t find it on page one, they rarely look at the next page or the one


after that to find the answer. Instead, they refine their search phrase. This means
that consumers have become more sophisticated in their personal search strategies
and with so many searches taking place, organisations are keen to ensure that they
feature higher up the page in the search results.

How search engines rank content
Search engines decide which pages to rank higher on the page based on a mathemati-
cal formula, or algorithm. These algorithms are closely-guarded trade secrets and
whilst there are companies that offer to ‘get your business to the top of Google’ this
is not a realistic proposition as the Google algorithm is said to change incrementally,
at least once a day.

What is known is that Google rewards content that is recent and relevant. The concept
of ‘recent’ considers the newness of the content, as older content is viewed as dated
and less important. The notion of ‘relevance’ is based on how closely it matches the
search terms. Search engines identify a series of relevance signals, such as matches
to the search terms, whether the terms feature in other parts of the web page, such
as in images, headings and the main content.

There are two aspects to search engine marketing: (a) search engine optimisation
(SEO); and (b) search engine marketing (SEM), also referred to as pay per click (PPC).
These are discussed in the following sections.

The practice of improving an organisation’s place in the SERPs using organic or free
methods, is called search engine optimisation, usually abbreviated to SEO. This can
be achieved by what’s called on-page SEO and off-page SEO, which I will explain here.

On-page SEO
On-page SEO concerns the content on the web pages, the speed of delivery and the
accessibility of the web page, whether viewed on a desktop, tablet or mobile device.

On-page SEO is why the content on a page is so important. Web content comprises
many different items, such as: words, images, video, headings, as well as ‘tags’ and
data. Tags are indicators of content importance and can incorporate searchable words.
Most websites include space within a web page to add the tags. These tags can be
considered as keywords, categories of content and words that help to index the
page. SEO data tags include meta-descriptions, meta-tags and on-page headings (see
Table 3.3). These can be added to the page and contribute towards the way search
engines index the pages. As noted by Gudivada, Rao and Paris (2015), over time the
importance of different aspects of on-page marketing has increased and decreased.

Websites are written in code and a popular code is HTML – hypertext mark-up
language – and we will see examples here of HTML. Meta-descriptions are the snippets
used by search engines in their results pages – the pieces of text displayed online.
The HTML code includes indicators for the search engines to show the different data
tags, as shown in Table 3.3.


Table 3.3 Examples of HTML code

Code item Details Example

Meta description

This is placed in the head
content of the relevant
web page


<meta name=”description” content=” Building an
Online Community. Discover how to build an online
community through the four steps from identifying your
goal to selecting the platform.”>


Meta tags On-page headings are
arranged in priority order.
Google ranks title tag as the
most important and then
heading 1 above heading 2

Title tag looks like this:


<title>Building an online community.</title>


Heading 1 tag looks like this:

<h1><span style=”font-size: 13.5pt; color: black;”>Why
build an online community?</span></h1>

You will see that each tag is enclosed in <brackets> and the tag is closed with a slash /
before the tag word.

Website tools like WordPress include pre-set boxes where the code is added automati-
cally. To learn some code, see Digital Tool: HTML code websites. (See also Figure 4.1
From keyword to long-tail keyword.)

Digital Tool HTML Code Websites
When I started coding I used Elizabeth Castro’s book HTML for the World Wide Web, which is now very
dated, but still valid! There are more resources online, such as these digital tools:

• w3schools.com
• simplehtmlguide.com

Website speed is another critical issue, as Google may be able to access how quickly
(or slowly) a web page is presented to the viewer. The speed of delivery, or page
loading speed, is a factor in whether or not a visitor waits for the page to open or
goes elsewhere.

Website accessibility has become more important and this involves how easy the
web pages are to access, regardless of whether on a desktop computer, laptop, tablet
or mobile device. Many websites were designed for desktop computers, although
consumers access them via mobile phones and are unable to read and therefore
access the content. Google rewards accessible websites in preference to those with
less accessibility.


Read ‘Understanding Search Engine Optimization’ by V. Gudivada, D. Rao and J. Paris (2015)
in the journal Computer.

There are tools to check website speed, performance and content, which contribute to
the on-page SEO. Here are a couple, and to get started you could visit one of these sites,
copy and paste a web address (its URL, which stands for Uniform Resource Locator) and
watch the results!


Off-page SEO
Off-page SEO relates to methods of mentioning the web page in other places. Typically
this includes an organisation’s social media pages, a Wikipedia page (if they have
one) and any website links on other web pages. The aim of these web links is to
drive traffic back to the organisation’s website.

Source: Google.co.uk

Figure 3.5 ASOS off-page SEO

Source: Google.co.uk


So how does it work? You need to find relevant pages to add content, so this might
include a directory or local web portal. It may be that social media pages, using the
organisation name, are needed too. Just search for a company name and see what results
appear. Look at the example in Figure 3.5 of the ASOS off-page SEO. After showing
its website, the next entries in the search engine are Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Whilst other off-page SEO is achieved through adding links to the web page on rel-
evant directories, these might be fashion directories, or with a company like GAME
it might be gaming links. However, the links should be relevant to the website and
the use of link farms should be avoided. As companies realised that Google rewarded
external links, many sought to gain as many links as possible. This resulted in the
creation of ‘link farms’ where many single-page websites were established and com-
panies were sold 100 links for just $25.

The issue was that many of these links were totally irrelevant and not a measure of
website quality, just a count of the number of links they had achieved. When moni-
toring search engine behaviour, Google realised what was happening and stopped
rewarding those showing irrelevant and spam links. This had a negative impact on
many websites, which suddenly disappeared from Google’s search results until they
removed the irrelevant links.

Whereas search engine optimisation focuses on organic, natural or free optimisation
of webpages, search engine marketing involves payment and is also known as ‘pay
per click’ or ‘price per click’ marketing (PPC), or more recently, paid search.

As search engines deliver results based on search terms, they also include adverts for
organisations providing the searcher’s request. One way to achieve the top position
on a Google page is to buy adverts. The adverts are sold on an auction system, so the
organisation that pays most has a better chance of gaining the top place on the SERP.

The original advertising model on search engines was to ‘pay per click’ where the
organisation was charged for each ‘click’ when someone searched for an item, found a
result and then clicked onto an advert to be directed to the web page. Search engines
have since created a range of different advertising payment options, with varying
advantages and disadvantages, which are based on auction models. This means that
the more in demand the keyword or key phrase or target audience is at that time, the
more expensive the click, view or follow. Search engines also consider other factors
such as the content on the landing page, the standing of the organisations bidding
for the keywords and the quality of the advert content.

Let’s look at more on each of these advertising models (and see also section 3.9.3,
Social media advertising bidding options).

Cost per thousand (CPM)
CPM is a historical term, for cost per mille, which means the cost per thousand impres-
sions. So, as soon as your advert has been shown one thousand times, you are charged.


This was initially the main method of advertising and is often used for brand aware-
ness campaigns. The downside of CPM is that your advert might be shown to the
wrong audience who cannot afford the goods, or do not have the interest being
promoted, but you are still paying when they see the ad.

Cost per click (CPC); also pay per click (PPC)
CPC is one of the original methods of buying advertising online. Your advert is shown
to the target audience based on the keywords and key phrases that you use and if
they click on the advert, you are charged.

CPC is the antidote to CPM, and although your ad is shown to a wide group of people,
you only pay when they click on the advert. This allows you to automatically exclude
the wrong target customers. This means that if you are promoting luxury holidays,
you target those whose interests include luxury brand names and perhaps add in an
approximate cost, to put off those where it is outside their budget.

Cost per action (CPA)
CPA is a newer method of advert buying and mainly takes place on social media, which
has the advantages of being a results-orientated approach. Your advert is shown to
the target audience and they might click on the advert, but until they take a specific
action such as a website conversion, you are not charged.

Website conversions include:

• A sale, i.e. a purchase added to a shopping cart or a donation on a charity site

• Providing email data for registration or an email list

• Video view

• Social share, like or follow

The CPA method works because you allow a piece of code, called a pixel, to be
placed on your website. The pixel tracks the customer journey from start to finish
and advises the social media platform when the agreed action has been performed.

Typically, when a customer buys a product online, or registers for a newsletter, the
last action is the ‘thank you page’ which is displayed after the order or request has
been confirmed. This page has a dedicated web address (the URL) which only appears
when the action is completed. This is the page that the pixel can track.

Cost per view (CPV)
As the name indicates, cost per view is designed for video adverts where individuals
view a video clip. How does it work? Your video ad is shown, on a video platform.
Often this is on platforms like YouTube. Before you see the video you want to watch,
you are shown an ad, with the message that you can ‘skip the ad in 5 seconds’.

To add value to the advertiser, the viewer has to:

• Watch at least 30 seconds of the video advert


• Or watch the whole advert if it’s shorter than 30 seconds

• Or engage with your video, by clicking a call to action such as ‘order now’, ‘learn
more’, ‘visit website’

The most expensive keywords
According to an author on Search Engine Watch (Lake, 2016a), the top three most
expensive keywords in the United States were:

1. best mesothelioma lawyer

2. dallas truck accident lawyer

3. truck accident lawyer houston

I should add that these have been the most expensive keywords for many years! Only
those with mesothelioma would click on a CPC advert, whilst the rest of us might not
be able to pronounce it or even know what it is (a terrible cancer).

The same author on Search Engine Watch (Lake, 2016b) explains that the top three
most expensive keywords in the UK are:

1. play live blackjack

2. rolete

3. live blackjack

If you are wondering, number two in the UK is roulette, although it is mis-spelled,
as typographical errors are important keywords. Search Engine Watch commented
that ‘typos are regularly spotted in the top 500 results’. Who knew that the most
expensive UK keywords were all based on gambling!

Google Ads
Probably the best-known online advertising platform, Google Ads (formerly Google
AdWords), provides instant access to easily start ad campaigns. Like email marketing
software, the platform uses a wizard to help. This changes frequently, so search for
Google Ads to see how this works.

If the objective is to drive traffic to a website, after the URL is added, Google Ads
will show potential keywords and their monthly volume. Based on this, it provides
an indication of how much to bid. If you consider the most expensive keywords
(mentioned above), they will be available for in excess of $750 a click! If you are
managing the social media for a local firm of UK accountants, this could be £2.50
per click. The key factor is that this is an auction model; whoever pays most gets
further up the results page.

Pay per click or PPC is a complex and specialist area. Google provides a range of
helpful videos and online tutorials which contain the latest best practice. Visit the
Google Ads help centre (https://ads.google.com) which is a useful tool to understand
PPC. See also the Bing help site for ads (https://help.bingads.microsoft.com).


Video adverts
Adverts are not all static words and images; they include video too. Video adverts
also require the addition of keywords, meta-data, descriptions and more details.
Choudhari and Bhalla (2015) recommend attention should be paid to the different
aspects of the video, including:

• Keyword research – explore YouTube keyword suggestions and ensure they are

• Video tags – keep the video name relevant to the keyword rather than using the
automatic naming function; they give an example where a ‘name like vo231232.
mov will create ambiguity’

• Title – this should include the keyword as this is where most engines will start
their search

• Description – this is about creating interest for the viewer, so avoid descriptions
about the place, time and date of the video’s creation which have no bearing on
the viewer

• Thumbnail – these are the frames from the video and are automatically created;
it is better to add in custom thumbnails

• Video transcript – the sub-titles of video content, which again is used by search

The effectiveness of online ads has been called into question, following a study where
eBay claimed no difference in web traffic when they stopped advertising on a large
search engine (Blake et al., 2015). This is largely connected to the power of the brand
name, as eBay is so well known that it may not need to promote its brand.

Based on this study, researchers Daisy Dai and Michael Luca experimented to see if
search ads worked using the Yelp recommendation platform. Their study involved 7210
restaurants who were randomly given free advertising packages, to assess whether
or not this impacted visits to their website. These restaurants were all smaller busi-
nesses, so in no way comparable to eBay, the largest auction site on the internet (Dai
and Luca, 2016).

The conclusion was that the advertising had a positive impact as the results demon-
strated paid search worked for smaller restaurants because they gained:

• Increased page views on Yelp (more on mobile)

• More map enquiries (where are you located?)

• More telephone calls

• More web visits

Do online adverts on search engines work? That depends whether you are a large,
well-known company or a smaller, local business!


When websites first became available, they were created using complex programming
systems, which meant that it was expensive to add new content to web pages. As a
result, many companies developed blogs outside their main website to share regular
and updated content, which mainly focused on company news. As many content
management systems evolved and free blogging programs were launched, these tools
enabled additional website functionality with the option of adding pages (rather than
just posts), categorising content, adding in custom designs and choosing either free
or paid-for hosting options.

Blogs can be free to set up and you can start creating content immediately. The cost
of blogs includes the time to prepare and develop the written content, licensing fees
for images and time to promote the content once written. There is also the emotional
cost of constantly trying to create new content to blog about!

Most organisations have a blog within, rather than outside, their website. This is a
strategic search marketing decision, as regular content within a blog page brings
specific benefits:

• Blog pages are recognised as being updated and news feed aggregators (see
Key Term) looking for web pages that end with the suffixes /blog or /news or /
rss can add the updated content to news feeds.

• Once the content has been created, it is always there.

• Older content continues to be found.

• Blogs provide more opportunities for keywords and key phrases to be included
within the blog post.

• Blog posts can be shared over and over and over.

• Blog posts can be updated, which signals the strength of a specific post to
search engines, such as Google, which can re-index or prioritise the post for

Two well-known examples of free blogging tools are Blogger, which was launched in
1999 and subsequently bought by Google in 2003, and WordPress, which started in
2003 and is said to be used as a website platform for over 15% of websites worldwide.
Newer blogging tools include www.wix.com and www.tumblr.com but beware that
Tumblr is often blocked as it permits unrestricted imagery and sometimes content of
an adult nature! Schools often block Tumblr, as do many companies.


News feed aggregators, or news aggregators, or feeds, are websites that collect content from
other websites, where there is a recognised news feed. To activate your personalised news
feed, simply select a news feed tool and add in the websites that you want to follow; you can
also include topics of interest and other websites will be suggested.

You can either pull the content, by visiting the news aggregator as required, or opt for a
push to your device to gain regular updates when new content appears. Many of these tools
also offer an app, allowing instant access via mobile devices.

Examples of news feed aggregators include:

• chimpfeedr.com – Chimp Feeder, from the company that created Mailchimp.
• feedly.com – Feedly, a long-established news feed website that allows you to group

content into specific themes (e.g. tech, digital, marketing).

• flipboard.com – Flipboard, similar to Feedly and popular with Apple users.

Researchers Angela Dobele, Marion Steel and Tony Cooper created a model of blog
success, as shown in Figure 3.6 (Dobele et al., 2015). Based on case study research,
this team looked at key success factors in corporate blogs and identified seven
issues: corporate culture, content, context, channels, connectivity, co-creation and
customers. They recommended that the blog content should echo the corporate
culture, so that the same message was communicated and was ‘firmly grounded
in context’ (p. 1100), which means that the context or topic should be relevant to
the target audience.

The channels also needed a connection to the content, as well as the audience, who
might utilise offline as well as online channels. This means ensuring the content
is appropriate for the channel used. As an example, a Twitter post, or short-form
content, requires a pithy approach, like a billboard advert. A long piece of con-
tent could be suitable for a blog post or the same content could be adapted for a
printed publication.

The links between different bloggers and channels described the connectivity and
the impact the blog content would have. So, if content is distributed to and seen by
a trusted network, it can be further shared amongst a much wider audience and gain
greater impact.

Co-creation within blogs allows customers to comment and start conversations with
each other and with the company, ensuring that customers can drive the content.

The single biggest challenge of using blogs is constantly creating new content. This
can be addressed through the use of a content calendar (see Chapter 4, Content




supports blog
activity by


events and



ContentCorporate culture Channels






News sites

Increasing perceived credibility





Figure 3.6 Model of blog success

Source: Dobele et al., 2015, p. 1098

Social media networks started in 1996 with the launch of the first mainstream social
network, SixDegrees, which allowed people to create profiles and invite their friends
to join (Kietzmann et al., 2011). An early pioneer of social networks, SixDegrees closed
in 2001 as too few people had internet access and the concept of online networking
was not widely understood.

The main social media platforms in the UK and the USA are considered to be
Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn. The first of these to launch was
LinkedIn in 2002, followed by Facebook in 2004, YouTube in 2005 and Twitter
in 2006.

Today Facebook has over one billion users, Twitter sees a billion tweets being shared
a day, YouTube claims over one billion monthly users and LinkedIn is approaching
half a billion members in over 200 countries.

Instagram launched in 2010 and Snapchat followed in 2011. Instagram has over
800 million monthly active users, Snapchat has over 300 million. Over time, social
media networks have attracted the attention of organisations, because of the growth
in the numbers of members and the ability for organisations to contact them and
target advertising based on user profiles. Social media has become a powerful


communication medium, where consumers can complain about poor service and
get much faster responses.

In a positive way, social media allows old school friends to connect, older people to
stay in touch with family members and friends to plan and organise events.

Different platforms help different people to:

• Stay in touch with friends and family (Facebook)

• Find the latest news (Twitter)

• Learn how to keep chickens and bake a cake! (YouTube)

• Promote your professional and personal brand (LinkedIn)

• Keep and view images of food and fashion (Instagram)

• Share ideas and themes (Pinterest)

• Discover presentations (Slideshare)

• Share funny images with friends (Snapchat)

There is a downside to social media, with people using it negatively and demonstrat-
ing online antisocial behaviour to bully others and troll online communities.


Researchers from a psychology department, Serkan Volkan Sari and Fatih Camadan, define
cyber bullying as ‘a deliberate, repetitive and permanent behavior pattern against a defense-
less victim mostly by an unknown group or individual through electronic environments such
as text messages, picture/video clips, phone calls, emails, chat-rooms, instant messages and
websites’ (Sari and Camadan, 2016).

Likewise, the act of trolling has been defined as being ‘a negative online behaviour intended
to disrupt online communications, aggravate internet users and draw individuals into fruitless
debate’ (Coles and West, 2016, p. 44).

Susan Herring and colleagues (2002, p. 375) provided three criteria for troll behaviour:

1. Messages from a sender who appears outwardly sincere.

2. Messages designed to attract predictable responses or flames.

3. Messages that waste a group’s time by provoking futile argument.


For more on trolls, including a typology of different types, read the article ‘Representations of
“trolls” in mass media communication: A review of media-texts and moral panics relating to
“internet trolling”’ by Jonathan Bishop (2014).

Cyber bullying and trolling (see also Chapter 5) are unacceptable behaviours and have
resulted in custodial sentences (Synnott et al., 2017). There is advice on how to tackle this unac-
ceptable behaviour on these websites:


In the future the concept of trolling may disappear, as Justin Cheng of Stanford
University and his colleagues are researching ‘Antisocial behavior in online discus-
sion communities’. Effectively, they are seeking trolls (Cheng et al., 2015) and their
research shows that it is possible to predict whether a user will be banned from a
community (not all trolls are banned) and also identify antisocial (or troll) behaviour.
So it may be possible to spot trolls and remove them from communities before they
do harm to others.

What’s the benefit for business of social media? Jan Kietzmann, a professor in Canada,
and two colleagues (Kietzmann et al., 2011) explored this and identified how social
media could be used and how this impacted business. They had identified that indi-
viduals were using social media to develop content yet firms were ignoring potential
business opportunities within social media due to a lack of understanding.

To explain social media to businesses, Jan Kietzmann and his colleagues created the
‘honeycomb model’, named due to its shape. These seven elements or ‘building blocks’
were intended to help managers in organisations understand their audience and
address their specific needs. Let’s look at the model and what this means in Figure 3.7.

Identity in social media
The central focus was identity and is concerned with the amount of personal identi-
fiers or information that is shared by users. Imagine you’re using Facebook. It knows
your name, age, where you went to school, who your friends are and your birthday.
That’s just for starters. As an example of how businesses could use this data, they
could organise advertising around your birthday (hold your birthday celebration at
our place! Or add this to your birthday wishlist!) or show adverts for films your friends
have watched and liked. Suddenly the data becomes useful and has a real value.

But some people use nicknames online, especially in Snapchat or Instagram, so you
become harder to track. But in social media platforms like LinkedIn, you will use
your real name, add your qualifications and your date of birth (even if that data isn’t
shared on the platform).



The extent to
which users

know if others
are available


The extent to
which users

relate to each


The extent to
which users

know the social
standing of
others and



The extent to
which users



The extent to
which users are
ordered or form



The extent to
which users

distribute and
receive content


The extent to
which users

with each other


Creating and
managing the

reality, Intimacy
and Immediacy
of the context


Managing the
structural and

�ow properties in
a network of


Monitoring the
strength, passion,

sentiment, and
reach of users

and brands


Data privacy
controls, and
tools for user



rules and



system and social


velocity, and the
risks of starting

and joining

Social Media Functionality Implications of the Functionality

Figure 3.7 The honeycomb model

Source: Kietzmann et al., 2011, p. 243

The issue is how companies use this personal information, and with the introduction
of GDPR (see Key Term – General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), p. 19) this
may change.

Social media networks provide access to specific and distinct groups of people, due
to the data collected when users register, which may include: demographics, psycho-
graphics and webographics, which are explained in Table 3.4 with examples.

Table 3.4 Personal data available via social media pages

Data type What this is Examples

Demographics Personal and socioeconomic

Name, date of birth, place of birth, home town,
employment history, education details

Psychographics Attitudes, hobbies, interests Relationship status, family members, friendship
groups, religious affiliations, political views,
hobbies, preferred music, films watched, favourite

Webographics Online behaviour, devices used,
site usage

Facebook fan pages liked, comments added,
downloads performed, purchases made, actions
taken, devices used, operating systems.

Conversations in social media
Around the edge of the honeycomb model, the next building block is conversations.
This is about how users communicate with other users. This varies between platforms,
as on LinkedIn you are likely to be professional and courteous, whereas on Facebook
you could be as rude to your friends as you dare!


When you are having a conversation with businesses, you might be having conver-
sations about their products or services, either positively or negatively. This means
that firms need to monitor those conversations and respond accordingly. After all,
if someone was talking about you online, you would want to know what they were
saying! (See above, Key Term – sentiment analysis.)

Sharing in social media
The next building block is sharing and is about how users share content. We all see
funny memes (see Key Term – meme) on Facebook and sometimes we share and
sometimes we don’t. What makes us share? Kietzmann and his colleagues noted that
businesses needed to understand the common social networks used by their audience
and secondly to ensure they created content that was easy to share.

The word meme was coined by Richard Dawkins in his book The Selfish Gene (Dawkins, 2006,
p. 192). He described a ‘new kind of replicator’ as we are sharing more and more content. As
a result he sought a word to describe this ‘cultural transmission’ and started with the word
‘mimeme’, which was based on ‘imitation’ but he wanted a shorter word so abbreviated this
to ‘meme’, adding the comment ‘it should be pronounced to rhyme with “cream”’.

Presence in social media
Presence is a key element in social media and is also a building block in the honey-
comb model. A key constituent of presence is whether you decide to let others know
you are present. Some secret social networks such as Whisper and Yik Yak exist due
to anonymity. Yet on other social networks your real identity to confirm your authentic
self is key and also evolving.

On Facebook there was a time when you could use nicknames, but they created the
‘real names policy’ to force individuals to use real names rather than nicknames. This
caused considerable difficulty for people whose real names appeared to be nick-
names and Facebook subsequently relented, to a degree! Today you are encouraged
to use your real name and add a nickname where appropriate (Facebook, 2018). If
your name is not seen as authentic, or say you changed your name by deed poll for
personal reasons, this can create difficulties and you need to submit proof such as
legal documents to prove your identity.

On LinkedIn you can go one step further and let people find you with your real name
but also indicate that people you have never met can connect with you by indicating
that they are ‘open networkers’, which means they accept all invitations. I would not
recommend this as LinkedIn then becomes a business card competition (who has
most connections) rather than a trusted network of genuine people you have met or
had a conversation with.


Presence does not just mean letting people find you, it also means telling them you
are online right now. Facebook Messenger shows if users are online at that moment
and WhatsApp shows when you are active. Location check-in apps such as Swarm
also show businesses that there are possibly customers nearby. This means they
could organise specific offers to those on their doorstep such as ‘today we have new
clothing ranges in store’.

Relationships in social media
An important construct of social networks is relationships and how users are related
to one another, whether by association, or through sharing of objects or as friends.
There are different types of relationships: some formal or informal; some regulated
or unstructured.

LinkedIn shows the relationships via their degrees of separation. There are two con-
cepts here: tie strength (see Key Term) and degrees of separation (see section 2.5
We’re all connected), as within an online world it’s difficult to be without presence.
LinkedIn works on tie strength as people you have met once or perhaps twice might
reach out for a request to help and, within a professional setting, many people will
provide assistance. LinkedIn also exemplifies the concept of the six degrees of separa-
tion: as I mentioned in Chapter 2, it turns out I’m separated from former US President
Barack Obama by two degrees! This is indicated by the number under the photo.

LinkedIn has probably become the main reputation tool for professionals worldwide.
Reputation in the honeycomb model looks at how users can identify the social and
professional status of others. For example, LinkedIn encourages users to explicitly
demonstrate their professional standing by gaining recommendations and endorse-
ments. If you are untruthful about a qualification, this can easily be verified by others
who took the same qualification at the same time.

An American professor, Mark Granovetter, conducted research into ‘social networks’ back in
1973, which we describe as a pre-digital age. These were offline, rather than online, social
networks and he discovered that people were more likely to help a contact they did not know
that well (weak tie), more so than someone they knew well (strong tie), demonstrating the
strength of weak ties and the benefit of a larger network (Granovetter, 1973).

Reputation in social media
Social media content also has reputation. How many subscribers are on your YouTube
channel? How many followers on Twitter? How many likes for your latest blog post?
In an online world, reputation must be monitored, managed and measured to ensure
that the right content is being delivered and that relevant performance indicators
are being met (see Chapter 13, Digital Marketing Metrics, Analytics and Reporting).


Within business, reputation is demonstrating trust and authenticity to foster engage-
ment. Sometimes business gets this wrong, as happened with Pepsi Cola and Kendal
Jenner. The company piggybacked onto the ‘Black Lives Matter’ campaign for a video
advert and created a furore online as many people complained. Pepsi Cola apologised
and the video advert was withdrawn but not before it had been shared on YouTube
over 10 million times.

Groups in social media
The final building block on the honeycomb model is groups. How can users form
groups and sub-groups? There are many examples of types of groups in social media
that allow users to categorise their friends, fans and followers, for example:

• LinkedIn has hundreds of thousands of business groups and I suspect many are
empty and there should be an auto-close function if a group hasn’t been active
for over two years!

• Twitter allows users to create lists, making it easier to view content from a smaller
collection of other users.

• Facebook allows individuals to start groups of friends, for causes or for

• Facebook also enables the creation of separate groups for colleagues, family and

• WhatsApp allows you to build family, friends and work groups. The only difficulty
can be sending the right message to the right group!

Activity 3.1 Apply the
Honeycomb Model
Identify how you use social media using the elements in Figure 3.7 The honeycomb model and explore
whether you have single or multiple identities online, if you talk about brands online and so on. Then
on the opposite side, look at how businesses connect with or try to speak to you, using your social
media channels.

See Template online: Application of the honeycomb model

This enables social media to be harnessed for business purposes on many levels.
Table 3.5 shows the different utilities for social media and the elements where this
can be applied.


Table 3.5 The utility of social media for business

Utility Element

Brand • Extension of the brand presence

Communication • Facility to communicate to existing customers
• Method to speak with potential customers
• System for stakeholder communication

Customer service • Service for responding to customer issues

New products • Mechanism to crowdsource ideas for new products
• Platform to launch new products

Recruitment • Source of new staff

Research • Vehicle to find new markets
• Resource for finding new suppliers or services
• Tool to undertake research and investigate market size

Whilst social media platforms are free to access and it may be free for companies to
add content to them, reaching the target audience is more challenging. As an example,
Facebook typically shares organic posts with fewer than 10% of those that ‘like’ the
page. This means to gain attention from the audience, advertising can be required
(see Key Term – organic posts).

On social media platforms like Facebook an organisation can reach its target audience in two
ways: via (a) paid ads; or (b) organic posts. Your organic reach is the number of people who
saw the content, without you paying to promote it, as opposed to the paid reach – the number
of people who saw the post after you invested in advertising to share it.

Organic posts typically include unpaid updates that are not sales focused. If they
are too promotional, the social media platforms like Facebook are less likely to share
the content widely as they deem this to be poor quality content, unless of course you
pay to promote it!

They are often a simple text-only update or snippet of information, web link, photo, cartoon,
image, animated GIF or video, and these are simply added direct onto the Facebook page.

Source: applecoredesigns.co.uk

Many organisations seem to think that social media is free of charge. There are no
direct financial costs to set up a Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook or Tumblr page. However,
there may be additional resources and associated costs, such as people to create con-
tent, licensing rights for re-using imagery, and production costs for creating video
and software to help deliver campaigns and maintain the pages.


Researchers Adam Mills and Kirk Plangger investigated the question as to whether
social media is free and noted importantly that there are associated costs, either setting
up the social media platforms or maintaining them with the addition of regular content:

Even though most social media have no priced fee to access the channel or set up
brand pages, online services managers may face significant resource investment
costs to ensure that the brand is presented in a professional light that maintains
the reputational integrity of the brand. (Mills and Plangger, 2015, p. 530)

To clarify the issue regarding free and the required resources, Mills and Plangger
looked further into online media and their aim was to establish a strategy for ser-
vice brands who were transitioning from an offline traditional environment, to an
online space.

They considered social media as an ‘avenue for customer engagement’ (p. 522) and
flagged the issue of which social media channels were appropriate, based on costs.
To that end, Mills and Plangger firstly grouped social media tools into four areas
and secondly created a simple matrix that considered both the setup investment and
maintenance investment, based on the type of social media. This is a useful framework
for considering the resources required for digital tools and is shown in Figure 3.8.

The four groups of social media were based on the primary functions of the sites
and consisted of:

• Blogs/microblogs

• Social networks

• Picture sharing

• Video sharing

The social media investment framework is based on (a) the initial set-up costs; and
(b) the ongoing maintenance. At the initial setup stage the investment was based on
a binary system of high or low, focused on the resources needed.

Picture sharing was seen as having a low set-up cost as it involved adding images to
a site. In the same way, blogs were also seen as being less demanding on resources
at the start. The start of a blog is a single post or a tweet in the case of a microblog.
This contrasted with resources required to establish a video-sharing site, as more
equipment and skills may be needed to organise a video.

Social networks were seen as needing more resources from the start as customers
may decide to engage with the firm and ask questions which need responses! This
could involve staff training, agreeing how to respond to messages and if it is 24/7 or
only in working hours.

The ongoing maintenance is viewed as highest with social networks for the same
reason: customers asking questions; regular content required; and a team to moni-
tor what’s being said. Mills and Plangger recognised that even blogs and microblogs
may need responding to daily and potentially contemporaneously. They felt that the
expectations of responding faster on video- and picture-sharing websites would be
lower, so these would be easier to maintain.


Picture Sharing

Key Example: Instagram

Low High
Setup Investment









Video Sharing

Key Example: YouTube

Blogs / Micro-Blogs

Key Example: Twitter

Social Networks

Key Example: Facebook

Figure 3.8 Investing in social media

Source: Reproduced from Mills and Plangger, 2015, p. 530

Activity 3.2 Explore the
Cost of Social Media
1. Set up a professional Twitter account that represents your future work identity.

2. How much time does it take (keep a note of the minutes and hours) to set up a complete

3. Respond to all comments and followers over a 21-day period.

4. How much time does it take (again note the total time) to respond to comments?

Social media advertising or social media marketing is placing advertisements inside
social media networks. (See section 3.6.3 Pay per click (PPC) or search engine mar-
keting (SEM).)

In annual reports presented as legal documents to the New York Stock Exchange,
both Facebook (Facebook Inc., 2016) and Twitter (Twitter Inc., 2017) have stated
that advertising is their main method of income generation and Facebook has com-
mented in various annual reports that advertising accounts for over 90% of its income.
Advertising is widely available on most social media platforms.


There are two main reasons for the use of and growth in social media advertising:
(a) the move to proactive ads; and (b) algorithm change.

The move to proactive ads
Firstly, when social media networks started introducing adverts in 2005 with the
launch of Facebook ads, they provided an opportunity to reactively target people.
Previously, pay per click targeted people when searching for a specific term, whereas
social media advertising allows organisations to proactively target people who might
not have considered the product or service. For example, it is possible to create
adverts for:

• Women who were recently engaged, living within 50 miles of New York

• Students attending the University of Derby

• Couples who have moved to a new house in the last year

This is all due to the wealth of data that we share with the social media networks.

Algorithm change
The second reason is that you might have managed a Facebook page aimed at students
attending the University of Derby with 25,000 likes and when you shared a post at
least 15,000 of your fans saw this. This all changed in 2014 when Facebook decided
to limit posts to fans, under the guise of ‘reducing overly promotional page posts
in news feed’ (Facebook, 2014). This change in algorithm meant that this dropped
overnight from 15,000 to fewer than 250 people, in some cases fewer than 50 people.
Whilst social media networks don’t charge organisations to use Facebook, if they want
to promote their content, generally they now need to pay for adverts.

The growth of online adverts
As a result of this laser-focused targeting, many companies are moving their advertis-
ing from traditional print advertising to online and social media advertising.

According to the Advertising Association, the greatest change was in 2016 as total UK
ad spend grew to £21.4 billion, with online spending up by 13.4% to £10.3bn, that’s
48% of the total being spent across the UK. The remaining 52% is spent on TV ads,
newspaper ads, direct mail, out of home (typically poster sites), magazines and radio
(Advertising Association, 2017).

Whilst social media advertising proactively targets individuals based on their pro-
file and the depth of personal data, an initial disadvantage was that it only targeted


platform users, i.e. those who signed up to platforms such as Facebook. However, this
is changing as Facebook offers advertisers access to the ‘Facebook Display Network’,
which includes websites outside Facebook, so that advertisers can promote their
goods and services to a wider audience.

Another disadvantage is that the adverts on platforms such as Facebook may possibly
target your existing customers. Imagine sending a special offer for a holiday to an
existing customer who has just paid more, for the same holiday, by going direct to
the company’s website! However, it is possible to upload your customer database and
exclude current customers from advertising campaigns. This often takes place with
email matching, but be aware that this depends on the email address used with your
business as well as on Facebook – many people have far more than one email address!

Similar to PPC, social media adverts are paid for on an auction basis. This means that
the price you pay for an advert today may change in an hour’s time. These changes
take place in real time and are based on the number of advertisers wanting to talk to
your target audience. The main methods of advertising on social media are:

• Cost per thousand (CPM)

• Cost per click (CPC)

• Cost per action (CPA)

• Cost per view (CPV)

• Cost per follow (CPF)

We looked at most of these methods in section 3.6.3 above. An important additional
one to consider here is cost per follow (CPF).

Cost per follow (CPF)
Many organisations are focused on the number of fans, likes and followers they have.
This is because it looks good! A group of managing directors meet and chat about who
has the largest number of followers. I’d call this a vanity metric; it’s nice, but doesn’t
mean anything because your followers may not see your content – unless you use
social media advertising. See ‘Algorithm change’ in section 3.9.1 to understand why.

To respond to this, social media platforms encourage organisations to buy followers.
An existing piece of content, such as a post that has performed well, can be used as
the advert. This means it looks less promotional and has already been tested with a
wider audience. The posts are shown again to the target audience and you only pay
when someone clicks on the ‘follow’ or ‘like’ button.

One disadvantage of the cost per follow system is that there is no refund if you lose
followers and fans during the campaign. And beware! If you do buy followers, do it
the legitimate way, through the social media platform.


Video within social media is growing as a marketing tool, with younger generations
watching only video instead of terrestrial TV. The University of Oxford and Reuters
Institute have reported that there is a decline in the amount of time young people
spend watching television (Nielsen and Sambrook, 2016).

As video is becoming omnipresent it is already available on many platforms. There
are reasons for the growth of video and its importance in social media advertising.
The world has seen a dramatic increase in the use of smartphones. Smartphone
ownership is expected to reach 2.87 billion by 2020 (Statista, 2017a) and considering
the worldwide population is 7.5 billion, that represents nearly 40% of people in the
world. Ownership is much higher in some countries, like the United States where it’s
95% (Pew Research Center, 2017).

Snapchat changed the way video was watched, with its focus being vertical view-
ing, rather than having to tilt a phone. Another reason for the growth in video is the
increase in ‘snackable content’ (see Key Term).

Snackable content is short and attention-grabbing. Friedmann (2010, p. 307) explained it as
‘dispensable, instantly gratifying media content that is not just scaled down but maybe different
in style and flavour’. It has been further described as short-form and catchy content (Martin,
2014; Giliberti, 2016).

Use of data
Table 3.5 gave examples of personal data available via social media pages and there
are safeguards in place to ensure the data is aggregated, which means advertisers can
target groups of people. It is important that specific individuals cannot be targeted
for negative or malicious purposes.

Based on previous experience, such as identifying and negatively targeting specific
individuals, Facebook understands potential problems around advertising based on
targeted data. It also enables users to manage which advertising messages they see
from brands and has introduced the ability to ‘hide messages like this’. When this is
selected, Facebook asks users to ‘help us understand what’s happening’ and probes
with a further question ‘why don’t you want to see this?’, which enables a tick box
with options including:

• It’s not relevant to me.

• I keep seeing this.

• It’s offensive or inappropriate.

This contributes towards a ‘relevance score’ for brands, so they can better understand
what does and does not work within their targeted advertising on social media.


In Adverts Manager, brands can look at their relevance score, on a 1 to 10 scale, with
1 being low. The lower the relevance score, the more expensive your adverts are likely
to be as they are less appealing to users.

Activity 3.3 Digital Marketing
Toolbox Analysis
For an organisation of your choice, review the different elements of their current digital marketing
toolbox and make recommendations for changes.

See Template online: Application of the digital marketing toolbox

1. Construct a planned email to promote a new computer game or fashion accessory

being launched next month. The email is aimed at an existing customer base and
should include perceived content value for the receiver.

2. Using one of the blog tools described in this chapter, start a blog! Write a post
every week and see if others will contribute content.

3. Select a video of your choice in YouTube. Watch the video several times and based
on this create an SEO plan to make the video more visible in search results. Your
SEO plan should address several of these elements: keywords, video tags, title,
description, proposed thumbnail, video transcript.

This chapter has explored:

• The critical factors that make email work.

• How Hofacker’s 5 stages of information processing can evaluate websites.

• Key changes to online PR, from citizen journalists to fake news.

• The differences between search engine optimisation and search engine marketing
and what makes online ads successful.

• Why organisations create blogs, and elements to consider when starting a blog.

• The benefits and building blocks of social media networks and the bidding options
on social media advertising.


When you have read this chapter, you will be able to:

Understand the importance of long-tail keywords

Apply content marketing goals

Analyse paid, owned, shared and earned media

Evaluate content marketing

Create a content marketing strategy

When you have worked through this chapter, you should be able to:

• Identify and recommend long-tail keywords

• Create a content marketing strategy

• Construct a realistic persona


Content marketing is a cornerstone of all digital marketing. Whether it is words, pho-
tos, infographics or video, it is critical that organisations understand the strategic role
of content. Content can increase brand visibility, drive traffic to websites, help educate
and convert customers. Whilst not a new idea, valuable content can be charged for
and is more likely to be shared.

From reading this chapter you will understand how content marketing started and
comprehend what is involved in creating a content marketing strategy. At the end of
the chapter you will be able to create distinct personas so that your target audience
is focused, which is more likely to increase traffic to your site.

In 1996, founder of Microsoft Bill Gates wrote an essay where he said, ‘content is
where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet, just as it was
in broadcasting’ (Gates, 1996). This had been a recurring theme within the enter-
tainment sector and content is recognised as a cornerstone of all digital marketing;
from website copy to YouTube storyboards; from white papers to Twitter posts, it all
requires diverse types of content. This is known as content marketing (see Key Term).

The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as:

a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant,
and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately,
to drive profitable customer action. (Content Marketing Institute, n.d.)

As the Content Marketing Institute suggested, the purpose of creating compelling
content, on a consistent basis, is to attract, convert and retain customers. This has
been described as thinking and acting like a publisher.

Essentially, content functions in a multitude of ways:

Content increases brand visibility
Instead of reading a sales pitch, customers or potential customers may be reading
an article that provides advice or guidance, promoting the brand in different areas
outside its corporate website or traditional locations.


Content helps create backlinks for search
engine optimisation (SEO)
Good articles are often recycled by other people online. Have you ever quoted an
article or added a link back to a page about a certain subject? By adding someone
else’s article to your web page, you are creating a backlink that Google sees and it
acknowledges that the original content must have value to be added to another website.

Content encourages conversion rate
optimisation (CRO)
Clever content such as buying guides can convert browsers into buyers. If you are
visiting online retailers such as Sears in the United States or John Lewis in the UK,
you will notice with more expensive goods, such as those in their large appliance
category, they offer ‘buying guides’. This free online advice offers useful information
before a purchase takes place. A well-written guide can convert browsers into buyers
and offer greater reassurance about the company’s expertise.

Content inspires social shares
Have you ever shared an article on Twitter? Retweeted, liked or commented on content
created by someone else? Content can inspire social shares, especially where the content
is vivid and interactive (see below, Key Terms – vividness and interactivity on p. 123).
Digital tools make it easy to share content across social channels (see Digital Tool: Buffer).

Ethical Insights Content Farms
Google is constantly changing its algorithm and previously rewarded up-to-date and new content
on websites. The challenge was that organisations started to gamify their content and used content
farms to provide a steady stream of new content.

Content farms are companies that employ many freelance writers to create copy that works for
search engine optimisation (SEO) purposes. Its aim is purely to be found and registered on search
engines. The content was typically short (fewer than 300 words), generic and of low quality; however,
it ticked the box for regular and recent content.

Many organisations use the free version of Google Analytics, effectively sharing their data with
Google. Whilst there were increased amounts of content, bounce rates were increasing (for more on
Google Analytics terminology, see Chapter 13, Digital Marketing Metrics, Analytics and Reporting), so
people searching were finding a page that seemed relevant, but leaving the page instantly. In 2011 Google
changed its algorithm to discourage this practice with the update known as Panda. Panda reduced vis-
ibility in search engine results pages for low-quality content that was typically created by content farms.

Content optimises the website for
long-tail keywords
As our online search behaviour has become more complex, we are searching for more
specific phrases. Content within blog articles, how-to guides or online reviews, can
build in these specific search phrases, that are less likely to appear on other websites.


Digital Tool Buffer
Buffer is a digital publishing tool that allows you to find, share and publish content across different
social platforms.

It has a free account as well as paid-for options and is an easy way to share content online.

• See https://buffer.com

A long-tail keyword (or key phrase) is a longer set of words. Instead of searching for a single
word or phrase, we build a much longer tail. For example, my search is likely to expand with
each step, as shown in Figure 4.1.

Step 4 – Exact search: Non smoking Airbnb apartment in Verona near the
colosseum – this narrows down the results even more and there will be fewer

pages containing this exact phrase

Step 3 – Phrase search: Airbnb apartment in Verona – this narrows down the
results and there will be fewer pages containing this exact phrase

Step 2 – Modified broad search: Accommodation in Verona – again this generates
many pages of results

Step 1 – Broad search: Italy Holidays – this is likely to generate thousands
of pages of search results

Figure 4.1 From keyword to long-tail keyword

Step 4 in the figure represents the set of long-tail keywords, and as you can see this is nearly a
sentence. Any website containing this phrase is more likely to appear at the top of the search
engine results page (see Chapter 3, The Digital Marketing Toolbox, section 3.6 Search engines).

Content generates new customers and retains
current customers
Creative content can be found by new customers who are unaware of the organisation.
It may be that someone searches for a specific phrase and finds the organisation for


the first time. Imagine you’ve just started university and you’re searching for ‘reliable
taxi firms’. It’s likely that you will find a list based on your location. You will find
recommendations that may include firms you were totally unaware of.

In the same way, an existing customer might decide to check some information and
find the current organisation, which provides reassurance that they have made the
right choice. After finishing your second year at university you might search for ‘late
night taxi firms’ and discover the taxi company you previously used. These search
results appear owing to content on the taxi company’s website, reviews passengers
have left or other online content.

Visit these webpages for more information on the latest content marketing statistics:

• curata.com/blog/content-marketing-statistics-the-ultimate-list
• contentmarketinginstitute.com/2017/10/stats-invest-content-marketing

It may seem that content marketing is a new phenomenon but the concept of brands
telling stories to attract and retain customers is not new; they have been doing this
for centuries. More than 100 years ago firms used content, albeit different types, with
the aim of increasing business and revenue, like the example shown of John Deere
in Case Example 4.1, which was originally shared with me by Karen Jones at Aston

The John Deere case example takes you back through history where content was used
for educational purposes, and marketers continue to use online content to educate
and entertain their audiences to drive traffic and conversions.

Case Example 4.1 John Deere
In 1895 John Deere launched The Furrow magazine in the United States. The content featured in The
Furrow was educational, and it focused on teaching farmers how to be more fruitful business owners,
rather than trying to sell John Deere’s farm equipment.

Over 120 years later, The Furrow is still alive and well, with five editorial teams publishing their
respective versions of the magazine in North America, Europe, South America, Australia/New Zealand



and China, creating their content in 15 languages. The 2017 global circulation of the magazine was
approximately 1.5 million, of which the European magazine totalled 770,000.

The editorial team based in Mannheim, Germany, publishes 14 different country editions of the
magazine and each has its own, country-specific editorial content and advertising material.

Figure 4.2 The Furrow Russian edition

Source: Reproduced by kind permission of John Deere GmbH & Co. KG

Thanks to Steve Mitchell and Steven Roller, Manager, Company Magazine, John Deere GmbH & Co.
KG, for key facts on John Deere.

Case Questions
• Can you think of an organisation that publishes in multiple locations and several languages?
• What are their challenges in maintaining brand image and tone of voice across different

• How would you recommend this is managed?



Organisations may have business strategies, marketing strategies and product strate-
gies. In a digital environment where content is such a valuable resource, it is necessary
to adopt a content marketing strategy, to recognise the place of content within the

Content has always existed, whether that was product or promotional content.
However, this was largely controlled by the organisation, issued to a schedule and
distributed to a specific audience. The difference with a content marketing strategy
is that it adopts a longer-term view of what’s needed, for whom, why and how it will
be evaluated.

There are few academic articles about content marketing strategy and the industry
experts are the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), who focus on content marketing
education and training. They created a Content Marketing Strategy Framework, which
has been tested on many brands. This is outlined in Table 4.1 and we will review the
framework further in this section.

Table 4.1 Content Marketing Strategy Framework

Framework element What this means

1. Purpose and goals Why are you creating content and what value will it provide?

2. Audience For whom are you creating content and how will they benefit?

3. Story What specific, unique, and valuable ideas will you build your content
assets around?

4. Process How will you structure and manage your operations to activate your

5. Measurement How will you gauge performance and continually optimize your efforts?

Source: Content Marketing Institute, 2017, p. 2

Creating content for an organisation without a purpose or goal wastes time and
effort. In all aspects of business we like to have clear objectives, and Juan‐Carlos
Molleda, writing in the Journal of Communication Management, suggested the
idea of an authenticity index. He provided an outline (Molleda, 2010, pp. 232–3)
for messages or other communications from an organisation which was based on a
growing need for greater authenticity in corporate communication. We could argue
that he was seeking to identify the purpose of content and how this aligned with
an organisation’s mission and values. Taking Molleda’s proposed list of elements
to consider, we could apply this to content goals and consider this a list of poten-
tial reasons for creating content. I have adapted this as a blueprint in Table 4.2,
along with content from the CMI on possible goals, with some examples of the
possible content.


Table 4.2 Content purpose blueprint

Possible goals Content examples

Create imagery of or claims that evoke pleasure
or fun when visitors encounter the corporate

Images, words, video

Share access to original ideas or designs Behind the scenes, blueprints, shared reports

Demonstrate organisational values, including
beliefs, principles, or way of acting or operating

Content from the CEO such as published letters or videos,
blog posts, annual reports, shareholder meeting content

Highlight associations with originality in
design of products, services, ideas, or facilities;
exceptional quality of corporate offerings

Trademarks, patents, brand story-telling, product articles,
product hero features, examples of exceptional customer

Showcase the heritage of the organisation
and its leaders, or references to historical

Brand story-telling, imagery, videos, product development
and evolution, links to working practices

Explain the sustainability and corporate
responsibility programmes, decisions, or actions

Videos showing examples of the corporate social
responsibility programme

Generate customer acquisition, conversion or

Focused content relating to the desired behaviour, such as
emails containing a time-limited offer

Save costs through better targeting Focused content based on the audience group, such as
emailing offers to students towards the end of term when
money is in short supply!

Source: Adapted from Molleda, 2010, pp. 232–3

The content purpose blueprint provides a starting point to create goals that may need
to be adapted based on the organisation.

When creating content, it is essential to consider the audience. In a digital environ-
ment we narrow the audience into personas, ‘representations of archetypical users;
they bring “people to life” in the minds of the people who use them’ (Hendriks and
Peelen, 2013, p. 60). They are used by businesses to create content, build websites
and develop advertising messages.

Why bother with personas?
As researcher Salvatore Parise observed, ‘customer personas enable organizations
to view and see their products and services from the customer perspective’ (Parise
et al., 2016, p. 416). His comment is especially valid when younger staff are creat-
ing content for older customer groups. Imagine you’re 20 or 21 and you’re writing
a blog article aimed at a wealthy couple in their sixties. It’s a stretch. As a student,
you may be on a budget and you have no idea of the challenges faced by older
people. That’s where personas are invaluable, allowing you to step into the shoes
of the customer.


How do you create a persona?
The first step is to collect and analyse data about the target customer groups. The
data should be genuine and you can start with secondary research as this can happen
at your desk – it’s quicker and cheaper. After this you may seek primary data, which
takes longer to organise and often requires an investment.

From the data you should extract and start to identify patterns of behaviour to describe
different ‘types’ of user. Typically digital personas are based on three elements, as
shown in Table 4.3, which also suggests examples of data sources (and see also
Discover More on Demographic Research Sources).

Table 4.3 Digital persona elements

Persona element What this means Data source

Demographics Age, gender, income, education,
ethnicity, marital status, household (or
business) size, geographical location,

Mintel, Keynote, government data, sales
data, in-house metrics and shopping

Psychographics Personality and emotionally based
behaviour linked to buying habits,
purchase choices, attitudes, beliefs,
lifestyle, hobbies, holidays, values

Mintel, Keynote, government data
showing hobbies and interests

Webographics Internet usage, social media usage,
websites visited, browsers used,
devices and systems used, time of
day and duration online, action on site
(downloads, comments, likes), other
media used

Online data sources such as Statista,
Pew Internet, Google Analytics or offsite
analytics, interviews and observation
sessions with existing and potential
users, user testing sessions

Many government bodies worldwide capture statistics that are free to access. This includes
the following:

• The Office for National Statistics is ‘the recognised national statistical institute of the UK’
and their website contains statistics from leisure and finance to education and well-being.
See www.ons.gov.uk.

• The European Union gathers data from across Europe from country profiles to population
details. See https://ec.europa.eu/info/statistics_en.

• The United Nations statistics division gathers and assembles worldwide demographic
data. See https://unstats.un.org/home.

• The United Nations also provides links to National Statistical Offices’ websites which cover
Africa, Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceania. See https://unstats.un.org/home/nso_sites.


Digital Tool Online Persona Builder
The team at Hubspot, the online software company, has created an online persona builder. It takes
you through a series of questions and, at the end, your persona is created. It is fairly basic, but a
good place to start.

• Visit www.makemypersona.com

Activity 4.1 Construct a Digital Persona
1. For an organisation of your choice, construct a digital persona.

2. Conduct some research to identify data about the target audience and distil key demographic
and psychographic features.

3. Based on additional research, propose webographic characteristics.

4. Provide an appropriate name and provide a suitable image to support a realistic persona.

All content tells a story – whether that’s an image, a video or blog post. Once the
goals have been agreed and personas created, you can map out potential stories for
the audience.

Stories can be about the organisation, its products and services or share knowl-
edge and expertise. Table 4.4 shows the Storybox Selection™, with many ideas for
content creation.

Table 4.4 Storybox Selection™

The organisation Products and services Knowledge and expertise

• Organisational values
• The heritage of the organisation
• Corporate responsibility
• Company achievements
• Milestones and highlights
• Quality assurance
• The team
• Team and employee achievements

• The products, services
• Original ideas or designs
• How the product or service evolved
• Behind the scenes
• The market covered
• Customer stories
• Customer success
• Educational stories

• Research and opinions
• Surveys
• Conference feedback
• Forecasting the future
• Resources
• Reading list
• Templates
• Point of view
• FAQs


Curata, a content software company, created the Content Marketing Pyramid show-
ing the effort required and frequency of content creation. At the top of the pyramid,
shown in Figure 4.3, there is considerable effort in developing research papers and
books. At the other end of the scale they suggest social media posts and curated
content (Curata, 2017), which requires less effort and can be used more frequently
(see Key Term – content curation).

Curated content or the process of content curation has been described by researchers Aristea
Fotopoulou and Nick Couldry from Goldsmiths College, University of London, as ‘finding, cat-
egorizing and organizing relevant online content on specific issues’ (Fotopoulou and Couldry,
2015, p. 243).

Content curation can be a useful way of creating content on specific themes such as prod-
uct reviews, where you are telling the story about the story. As an example, you may curate
content by gathering up a series of articles written about Snapchat Specs, assessing the
different perspectives and range of advice provided and turning this into a post for your blog.

Primary / Secondary Research & Thought Leadership:
Books, eBooks & White Papers




T &





T &



Social Media Posts &
Curated Content






Long-form Blog Posts & Presentations

Infographics & SlideShares

Short-form Blog Posts &
Contributed Content

Figure 4.3 The Content Marketing Pyramid

Source: www.curata.com

Having considered the subject of the story, there are many content types avail-
able which can be based around the content length or structure, which we will
now consider.


Content length
Content length refers to short- and long-form, which is about the number of words
in the article or the number of seconds that the video runs.

Short-form content has been described as twitterature, nanofiction (Rudin, 2011) and cas-
ual viewing (Snickars and Vonderau, 2009). Several news and marketing publications such
as Marketing Week and the New York Times have called this short content ‘quick break’
or ‘snackable’ (Alter, 2015; Dreier, 2016; Marketing Week, 2016). This has been driven by
two key factors; firstly, the growth of mobile phones, where many people consume video
and shorter content, and secondly, the reduced cost in video and content production.

Long-form content, also labelled as long-form narratives or in-depth content, includes
blog articles, white papers, case studies, e-books and longer videos.

Based on the behaviour wanted, there are strategic content building blocks you can
select. Figure 4.4 shows comprehensive content options for achieving awareness. This is
needed when launching a new brand or product and trying to improve brand awareness.


• Company news stories
• Industry news
• Commentaries
• Predictions
• Facts
• Statistics
• Blog articles

• Sponsorship imagery
• Adverts (social media
and PPC)
• Awards
• Infographics
• Sharing visuals (breakouts
from infographics)
• Banners
• Posters
• Cartoons
• Screenshots

Audio and Video
• Adverts (social media and PPC)
• Brand stories
• Customer stories

• Interactive banners
• Quizzes
• Competitions
• Calculators

Figure 4.4 Strategic content building blocks for awareness


The critical factor to remember is that content is not all about words! Images, audio
and video have become increasingly important as Google has invested in image and
voice search. An example of using an image to create awareness in shown in Figure 4.5.
A small brewery in Ireland, Kelly’s Mountain Brew, is using a dramatic image posted
to Facebook and Instagram and focusing on the theme of the rugby world cup, which
was taking place at the time.

Figure 4.5 Example of image used for brand awareness

Source: kellysmountainbrew.com

Once awareness has been achieved, the next stage is conversion. We have made
the target audience aware of the product or service and we would like them to take
the next step and convert. This may involve a purchase or sharing data such as an
email address. Conversion requires different content options, such as those shown
in Figure 4.6.

Conversion content is often about providing additional reassurance information at the
stage where a potential customer may be deciding whether to go ahead or not. One
example of conversion content is reviews. On business-to-business websites these
may be testimonials.


Time-limited offers

Product descriptions

Product comparisons

Polls and surveys



White papers

Research reports

General reviews

Product reviews

Third-party articles


Case studies




Social media posts

Forum messages

Buying guides

How to guides





Product images



SlideShare decks


Animated GIFs


Video storytelling

Live streaming

Online demos



Live chat



Audio and Video


Figure 4.6 Strategic content building blocks for conversion

Once awareness and conversion have been achieved, the organisation has gathered
some data or a sale has taken place, enabling a direct conversation between the
organisation and the customer.

The next step is to retain the customer and different content options are shown in
Figure 4.7. It is worth noting that whilst there are fewer options at this stage, you now
have the customer’s details! This means that behaviour in terms of opening emails,
responding to emails or offers, can be measured and recorded. As a result, better-
focused content can be created.



• Emails
• Newsletters
• PDFs
• EBooks

• Happy
• Detailed
product pics

Audio and
• Nudge
• Webinars
• Podcasts

• Online tools
• Apps
• Games

Figure 4.7 Strategic content building blocks for retention

Macmillan Cancer Support organises many different fundraising activities, one of
which that is popular in UK universities is its World’s Biggest Coffee Mornings. Cakes
are baked and sold to raise money. The event has taken place for many years and a
dedicated landing page on the website provides an app that enables those participating
to create personalised invites and posters, as well as thanking those who participated,
using an interactive online tool, which you can access at https://be.macmillan.org.

Content structure
The structure of content and how and when it is shared, is connected to the timing
of specific types of content. There are three specific types of content to consider:
evergreen, planned and topical, which are explained here.

Evergreen content is also called ‘flow’ content; it can be used at any moment because
it is not time-sensitive. This can be planned and prepared many months in advance,
plus it can be recycled and used again at different times. Examples of this include a
fashion retailer posting ‘5 things to consider when selecting a winter coat’ or an IT
services company sharing ‘3 ways to save money on IT infrastructure’.

Planned content refers to scheduled events that are in the country’s or the organisa-
tion’s annual calendar. This includes content from seasonal events, festivals, product
launches, shareholder meetings. The benefit of planned content is that organisations
have time to prepare and develop the relevant format. The fashion retailer can share
‘what we discovered at Paris fashion week’ and the IT services company may provide
more details to ‘learn about Microsoft’s new programmes’.


Topical content refers to newsworthy items, which are often indicated as #breaking on
Twitter. These stories cannot be prepared in advance and require responses as they
occur. When stories occur there is a decision to be made as to whether a response
is relevant and right for their audience. Not all situations require a response and this
should be considered within the PR team.

The CMI states that ‘content marketing is an ongoing operation, not a short-term
campaign’ (Content Marketing Institute, 2017, p. 14) which means that to run a con-
tent strategy requires clear direction as to the different people involved, as well as
the technology to support the content delivery. The aspects of content management
process are listed below:

• Themes for the year

• Content calendar

• Content guidelines

• Content creation and editing

• Publish/schedule

• Distribute and promote

• Review

Themes for the year
Annual themes can be focused on product launches, the organisation’s own events as
well as wider national or international events where relevant. Developing themes can
take place by understanding persona needs or with keyword research using keyword
tools (see Smartphone Sixty Seconds™ – Free keyword research tools) and should be
added to the content calendar (see Key Term).

Smartphone Sixty Seconds® –
Free Keyword Research Tools
• On your mobile phone go online and search for ‘free keyword research tools’.
• Select one of the tools that is free.
• Add a keyword or web address and explore the results.

Content calendar
Content creation is often planned and managed within a content calendar (see Key
Term), which allows digital marketers to:

• Plan content around key events in the industry or important dates


• See where there are gaps in your content plan, with plenty of warning to create
more content

• Make sure the content is ready in plenty of time

When working in an organisation, the further ahead you plan your digital content, the
better placed you are to produce a consistent flow of content, that builds the brand’s
perceived expertise in your chosen subject areas.

It also means you can explore the year ahead and identify relevant industry or world
events that you wish to plan content around. Content can be planned on a daily,
weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis depending on the industry sector.

A Content Calendar is a shareable resource that marketing teams can use to plan all content
marketing activity.

It is often in a spreadsheet, divided by month, that is shared in Google Docs or OneDrive,
so that the latest version is always available.

The benefit of using the calendar format (rather than just a long list of content to be pub-
lished) is that you can visualise how your content is distributed throughout the year.

Content guidelines
Typically content guidelines include details about the editorial style and brand voice.
Larger organisations have instructions on use of abbreviations and grammatical norms,
such as the use of active or passive voice.

This may include the use of templates to ensure everyone includes at least one image
in a blog post and specific keywords.

It is important that the guidelines are created, shared and understood from the start
so that content created by anyone in the organisation follows the same style.

Content creation and editing
Once content has been created, you can edit and include additional items such as links
to earlier content, links to content outside the website, new or relevant information.
When content is edited, Google sees this as a signal that the content is important
enough to be revisited and reviewed. This indicates that it is quality content and it
is often re-indexed after editing.

Publish or schedule
When the content is ready you may decide to publish immediately or schedule for a
later date. The benefit of a content calendar is that several key items can be prepared
and scheduled in advance. This can be useful if the organisation has a specific time
of year that’s especially busy.


Blog posts are often created using blogging tools such as Blogger or WordPress,
which incorporate ‘publish now’ or ‘schedule later’ functions (for more on blogging
see Chapter 3, The Digital Marketing Toolbox).

Distribute and promote
Simply uploading a blog post, video or infographic is not enough to gain attention.
The distribution needs to be carefully planned and is likely to include:

• Abbreviated headline shared on Twitter

• Alternative headline posted on LinkedIn

• Limited content added to LinkedIn

• Relevant images added to Instagram

• Being included in a newsletter that is mailed to your contact list

Some distribution tools can make achieving coverage across several social media
platforms faster and easier (see above, Digital Tool: Buffer).

Content review
Over time some content may become irrelevant or dated and may need to be removed
completely. It is worth reviewing low-performing content, such as pages, posts or
videos with few likes, shares or views and deciding whether to edit or remove.

Content metrics should be based around the original goals and objectives. Looking
back at the content purpose blueprint in Table 4.5, I have adapted this to include
relevant metrics for each goal in Table 4.5.

Table 4.5 Content purpose blueprint and metrics

Possible goals Metrics

Create imagery of or claims that evoke pleasure or fun
when visitors encounter the corporate offering

Number of views, visits, downloads, shares

Share access to original ideas or designs Number of views, visits, downloads, shares,
sentiment, forwarding, back links (see Key Term –
sentiment analysis in Chapter 3)

Demonstrate organisational values, including beliefs,
principles, or way of acting or operating

Number of views, visits, shares, sentiment

Highlight associations with originality in design of
products, services, ideas, or facilities; exceptional
quality of corporate offerings

Number of views, visits, shares, sentiment

Showcase the heritage of the organisation and its
leaders, or references to historical background

Number of views, visits, shares, sentiment

Explain the sustainability and corporate responsibility
programmes, decisions, or actions

Number of views, visits, shares, sentiment


Possible goals Metrics

Generate customer acquisition, conversion or retention Completed forms, subscribers, comments, number
of new customers, increase in sales revenue

Save costs through better targeting Reduced costs

Source: Adapted from Molleda, 2010, pp. 232–3

Who creates the content is an interesting issue. It could be created in-house by the com-
pany, through external agencies and by customers. One useful framework to consider
the different sources of content is the POEM model, which was created by Sean Corcoran
whilst working at the research firm Forrester (Corcoran, 2009). POEM describes three
types of media, rather than content, which Corcoran named Paid, Owned, Earned Media.

I have adapted this to include shared, as companies never own their social media space, nor
can they control exactly who sees what content, so it is always under the owner’s control.

I have re-framed the model as Paid, Owned, Shared, Earned (POSE) media and the
amended model is shown in Figure 4.8. Let’s look at each of the elements.

• Adverts where money
given to promote content

• Website or other
spaces under the
control and

• Spaces like social media
where third-party companies
control the user experience
and content shown

• User-generated
content to praise

Figure 4.8 Paid, owned, shared, earned (POSE) media model

Source: Adapted from Corcoran, 2009


Paid – Bought media
Content that the organisation has bought to place, such as adverts (whether this is via
pay per click or on social media), is in this category. It may include sponsored posts
and has grown, based on the ability to target specific user groups. Corcoran defined
paid media as where the ‘brand pays to leverage a channel’.

The critical factor about paid media is that it has been created by the organisation
who intend to use it for promotional or other purposes. Paid media can be easily
ignored by customers who dismiss adverts and other corporate communications as
they are perceived to be less authentic. As Sonja Gensler and her fellow researchers
noted: ‘Ad viewers perceive unsolicited consumer-generated ads as authentic but not
credible, while they perceive consumer-generated ads created within a contest as
credible but not authentic’ (Gensler et al., 2013, p. 246).

Paid media can also include content from influencers who are given rewards, which
could include payment or goods, in return for positive content about the organisation
and its offers (see Case Example 1.1, Eltoria Influencer Marketing).

Owned – Controlled media
When the content is controlled and managed directly by the organisation, such as
their websites and email communications, this is owned media. Ironically, as the
organisation owns and controls this media it is considered less authentic by customers.

Shared – Borrowed media
Where content is placed on third-party sites, such as social media platforms, organi-
sations are sharing someone else’s platform. This a new addition to the model and
is based on social media sites such as Facebook who are showing users less and less
commercial content. In some cases, the only way that users see commercial content
is if it is sponsored or paid for.

Earned – Won media
Where content is created by customers, fans and sometimes unhappy customers who
are seeking resolution to a situation, Corcoran suggested that earned media was ‘when
customers become the channel’.

At a basic level, earned media could be considered as positive content in the form
of retweets and likes. This extends into longer-form content, such as parody videos
and appreciation pages.

The critical factor is that earned media is often outside the control of organisations
and is the content that users, whether customers, fans or detractors, prepare and
share amongst their networks. Whilst Corcoran named this ‘earned media’, this is
often recognised under the alternative title of user-generated content, which is often
abbreviated to UGC (see Key Term below).

The POSE model does cross over the defined segments, as shown in Figure 4.8.
These are the areas where difficulties can occur, as celebrities have endorsed specific
products without disclosing payment!


User-generated or user-created content
User-generated or user-created content (UGC or UCC) has always existed. Letters to
the editor or product reviews are forms of UGC. We, the users, create the content and
there is no single agreed definition of UGC or UCC.

Kevin Crowston and Isabelle Fagnot refer to user-generated content as ‘a form of voluntary
organization’ (Crowston and Fagnot, 2018, p. 90).

An earlier definition of user-created content from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation
and Development (OECD) defined it as content made publicly available over the internet

1. Which reflects a ‘certain amount of creative effort’

2. Which is ‘created outside of professional routines and practices’.

(OECD Directorate for Science, Technology and Industry, 2007, p. 4)

Further developing the concept of user-generated content (UGC), Kevin Crowston and
Isabelle Fagnot suggested that the three key features of this content format were:

1. Large numbers of distributed contributors, commensurate with the popularity
of the activity, ranging from dozens to tens of thousands or more;

2. Mostly unpaid contributions; and

3. Jointly-focused activity, in which contributors collectively develop new content
(e.g., text, images or software) of value to a larger audience.

(Crowston and Fagnot, 2018, p. 90)

The common thread between these definitions is the effort or new content that is created.
This factor enables sites like Wikipedia, TripAdvisor®, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, to exist.

Another term for those participating in, or contributing user-generated content, is
‘produser’, defined as where ‘participants (become) users as well as producers of infor-
mation and knowledge, or what I have come to call “produsers”’ (Bruns, 2006, p. 276).

User-generated content has recognised benefits and weaknesses for organisations.
Advantages of user-generated content for organisations include: it often costs noth-
ing to create (Vanden Bergh et al., 2011); search engine results are often based on
user-generated content (Petty, 2012); and users’ actions in social media are shared
with their networks, as well as across the brand pages (Colicev et al., 2016), and
other consumers identify blog articles created by other users as more credible (Kim
and Hanssens, 2017).

Disadvantages of user-generated content for organisations arise as the content is
outside the organisation’s control (Vanden Bergh et al., 2011) and the content can be
unpredictable – positive or negative (Kumar, Choi et al., 2016).


To explore whether your organisation has much user-generated content, you may
need to conduct a content audit.

A content audit or content inventory is the action of checking all the organisation’s
content online and compiling it into a large list. This takes place for two reasons:
either (a) the need to check that the brand is consistent across a range of platforms
or (b) for search engine optimisation analysis (see Chapter 3 for more on SEO).

Whatever the purpose, the activity can take some time and effort and needs to be
carefully considered as to who will carry out the work, where the data will be stored
and how the data will be used once gathered.

There are three types of content audit that you can perform:

• Full content inventory

• Partial content inventory

• Content sample

Full content inventory
This is a large task and could take some weeks to perform as a full content inventory
is a complete listing of every content item that can be found across the organisation’s
owned and earned media. This may include all pages as well as all assets (such as
downloadable files and videos). This is normally required where a major review is
taking place.

Partial content inventory
This is a listing of a subset of the organisation’s owned and earned media. A partial
inventory may include, for example, the top few levels of a website or the past six
months of articles. You may be asked to undertake a partial content inventory when
an organisation is checking consistency and simply needs a smaller number of items.
Alternatively this takes place when it is not economically viable to review all content
in a full inventory.

Content sample
This is a less detailed collection of example content from specific sources, such as a
website. This is often requested based on a specific requirement, such as a new website.

If you are not sure whether an audit is needed, you can use the online template
(Template: Ten-point content audit analysis) and watch this video, which shows you
how to conduct a content audit: www.youtube.com/watch?v=ALU-1M_-jbg.


See Template online: Ten-point content audit analysis

Screaming Frog has created an SEO spider tool which will search the internet and
list all pages with the domain name. There is a free and paid-for version that you can
explore (go to www.screamingfrog.co.uk/seo-spider) and Curata, a content market-
ing software company, shares its free content audit templates (see www.curata.com/

Once a content audit has been conducted, you may wish to define how future content
management takes place. My personal mantra is ‘add one web page, remove two’.
This can be difficult to achieve as content management requires careful planning, to
consider what the organisation might publish during the year.

It is also critical to identify the people required to produce and deliver the content.
This involves many different roles as the people in content management can include
those working inside the organisation as well as others outside the organisation. PR
companies often provide a copywriting service (as do copywriters). When hiring staff
to create content, you may need to create a competency test to see who is best placed
to create short- and long-form content for your organisation.

Other key factors in content management include content assets and content manage-
ment systems. Let’s explore each of these elements.

When creating initial content, the assets need to be identified. Content assets may
include photos and other imagery, videos, white papers, eBooks and other long-form
written content available to the organisation.

It is essential to ensure your organisation only uses images that it has paid for, or
has permission to use, in that format. There are many popular photo-sharing sites,
but these may prohibit commercial use of the images. If you represent a commer-
cial organisation and you are using these images, be prepared for a big fine or an
out-of-court settlement.

In terms of technology, websites often incorporate a content management system (CMS),
which allows individuals to create and post content, to be published immediately or to
be scheduled at a future date. The Open Source blogging and website programs such
as WordPress, Joomla and Drupal usually include content management systems, allow-
ing writers to add content and to build in keywords, images and meta descriptions.

An additional advantage with these websites is that they contain a media gallery. One
method of managing assets is that a small team can upload only the imagery that has
been pre-approved for use, or copyright recognised and paid for.


When the content has been created, there is the question of who has access. Questions
to consider are:

• Is the content available to all?

• Is it member- or subscriber-only content?

• Is it paid-for content?

Content gating and paywalls
Some organisations manage their content by content-gating via paywalls (see Key
Terms) to encourage non-customers to sign up or at least to share their email address,
so the organisation can start a conversation about their requirements.

Paywalls are familiar to researchers and students, as academic articles are often
available on a pay-per-item basis, unless your institution has a subscription to access
the content.


Content gating means hiding additional content behind a so-called wall, which is removed
when the visitor has shared information, answered a question, or paid a fee.

Facebook requires a login to access more than the basic information, so users must create
an account to view detailed material.

Paywalls are a type of content gate where payment is involved. Researchers have noted that
visitor numbers drop when paywalls are introduced (Lambrecht et al., 2014), although the UK’s
main business newspaper, The Financial Times, introduced and has sustained its paywall since
2007. It has evolved from allowing a few free articles, to registration for a time-limited free trial.

Case Example 4.2 Tripadvisor®
Content Gate
TripAdvisor® has realised its reviews are valuable, yet many of the site’s users never logged in. They
simply read the reviews, but never contributed. To resolve this, the site created a content gate and
hides ‘more of the review’, as shown in Figure 4.9. To access the material, the visitor must share their
details, which enables TripAdvisor® to gather more user data and better tailor its ads – as well as
keeping its advertisers happy with a larger database.


Figure 4.9 The TripAdvisor® content gate

Case Questions
• What is your view on paywalls?
• If you think they are acceptable, how much of the content should be shared?
• If you think they should be removed, how can the organisation pay the staff salaries?

Developing a content marketing strategy requires an understanding of the fundamental
purpose as to why the content is being created. Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content
Marketing Institute, and publisher Newt Barrett (Pulizzi and Barrett, 2009) recom-
mended creating a content marketing roadmap that is underpinned by the ‘BEST’
principles, which is a useful framework to apply when developing content.

• Behavioural – Does everything you communicate with customers have a purpose?
What do yu want them to do as a result of interacting with content?

• Essential – Deliver information that your best prospects need if they are to suc-
ceed at work or in life.

• Strategic – Your content marketing efforts must be an integral part of your overall
business strategy.


• Targeted – You must target your content precisely so that it is truly relevant to
your buyers. Different forms of content will need to be delivered through differ-
ent social platforms.

Let’s work through an example using the fashion retailer Superdry, who created a
blog article ‘The jacket that photographs so well – Q&A with Constance Victoria’
(Superdry, 2017c). Constance Victoria is one of their photographers and the story is
a photo montage wrapped around the story.

Behavioural – The purpose of the article is to showcase how the jacket photographs
so well and demonstrate a range of looks on three different-looking models. The
natural result would be that as a possible buyer, you would imagine it would suit just
about anyone. It becomes an easy purchase decision.

Essential – This is useful fashion advice, showing different looks and explaining that
this is a great layer, regardless of the weather!

Strategic – This is a clever way of showcasing the product and also showcasing the
photographer as a trendsetter who doesn’t work 9am to 5pm. It differentiates the
brand by allowing the photographer to explain this look and what they love about
their job, reinforcing the brand’s identity as an ‘exciting contemporary brand which
focuses on high-quality products’ (Superdry, 2017a, p. 1).

Targeted – The blog content is longer and contains long-tail keywords such as ‘denim
Sherpa Girlfriend jacket’ yet the Instagram post shown in Figure 4.10 is a single
image with a short sentence: ‘superdry A denim jacket. The everyday style symbol’
(Superdry, 2017b). The company has successfully targeted its content through differ-
ent social platforms.

Figure 4.10 Example of targeted content by Superdry

Source: https://www.superdry.com/blog/the-jacket-constance-victoria/


Activity 4.2 Evaluation of the ‘Best’
Principles for Content Marketing
1. Using the BEST framework, apply the BEST principles to a brand of your choice.

2. Evaluate their content; does it meet the BEST requirements?

3. If not, where are the gaps and why do you think this is?

See Template online: Evaluation of the BEST principles for content marketing

1. Explore your stories
• Write, talk, illustrate, �lm stories about your:

2. Optimise your content
• Re-write
• Add in more SEO
• Keywords
• Long-tail key phrases
• Expensive keywords
• Build links to other assets

3. Publish your content
• Add to your own website or blog
• Share with fans and advocates
• Add as news item to your RSS feed

4. Promote your content
• Add to email signatures
• Talk about in your social spaces
• Mention in other articles (build back links)

5. Harness fans and followers
• Give them exclusive early access
• Provide different imagery
• Ask them to share

Figure 4.11 Content themes and content promotion framework

Once your organisation has decided why the content is needed, it is time for some
inspiration to start creating content.


The easiest way to create content is to look inside the organisation and to write, talk
or video others about the organisation’s products or services. Why were they created?
By whom and when?

Also consider the individual interests, passion and expertise of those inside the
organisation. Most successful brands have been constructed on focused owners driven
by a passion for technology (Steve Jobs), improving working methods (Bill Gates)
or travel (Richard Branson). It is essential to be authentic and better not to sell, but
advise, as shown in Figure 4.11.

One of the key issues to consider when creating content is known as COPE, which
stands for ‘Create Once, Publish Everywhere’ (Jacobson, 2009). The aim is to create
content that can be used in different forms. This is also known as breaking-apart
content and is based on the premise that it takes time to create content, so it needs to
work harder! It is possible to take one item of content, such as a survey, and divide it
into eight separate pieces of content, as shown in Figure 4.12, the Content Maximiser™.

Conduct a survey and
transform this into 8

pieces of content

1. Write a white paper
about the �ndings and

add to website,
downloadable from blog

2. Create a summary of
the survey in PowerPoint

and add the slides to
slideshare, bookmark

3. Write a blog article
about the survey and post
to your blog or as a guest

post on another blog

4. Graphically illustrate
the key points of the

survey as an infographic,
add to Pinterest,

Instagram, Facebook

5. Summarise the
highlights as a poster

and share on your blog
or professional social


6. Record an interview
and publish as a podcast
on your blog, as well as

podcast libraries

7. Film one of the team
talking about the key

points from the survey
and add to Pinterest,

YouTube, Vimeo

8. Schedule and share
bite-sized elements of the

story via social media

Figure 4.12 The Content Maximiser™

Successful content has been demonstrated to be more vivid and interactive (see Key
Terms) (de Vries et al., 2012; Gensler et al., 2013; Pletikosa-Cvijikj and Michahelles,
2013). As a consequence, this means that the simpler and more basic the content, the
less likely it is to be shared.


Facebook echoes this sentiment as it explains to advertisers ‘Your ad may not run.
You may not reach your audience because there’s too much text in the advert image.
Facebook prefers advert images with little or no text.’

The concepts of vividness and interactivity were originally discussed by Jonathan Steuer
(1992). Vividness was concerned with the richness of online sensory characteristics and how
far technology could stimulate multiple senses. Vividness could be conveyed via features
such as contrasting colours, images and sound. Steuer classified interactivity as ‘the extent to
which users can participate in modifying the form and content of a mediated environment in
real time’ (p. 14) and according to the Content Marketing Institute, the top five types of interac-
tive content used by marketers are: Assessments, Calculators, Contests, Quizzes, Interactive
Infographics (Walters and Rose, 2016). Figure 4.13 shows examples of content on the vividness
to interactivity scale.



animated image

Post with emoticons


Post with images

Combination of video,
images, words




Quiz or competition




Simple post,
some words

Post with a retweet or link or

Figure 4.13 Examples on the vividness to interactivity scale

As an aide-memoire, I have created a scale of vividness to interactivity template,
which shows the least vivid to most vivid and interactive types of content and is a
useful tool for content creation.


Activity 4.3 Application of the
Vividness to Interactivity Scale
1. Select a brand of your choice online.

2. Analyse the different content shared by the brand and judge where it fits into the vividness
to interactivity scale.

3. What are your recommendations to improve or change the content?

See Template online: Application of the vividness to interactivity scale

1. For an organisation of your choice, create 10 pieces of short-form content.

2. Using Table 4.1 the Content Marketing Strategy Framework, create a content
marketing strategy for an organisation of your choice.

3. For an organisation of your choice, write two pieces of long-form content (blog
article, case study).

This chapter has explored:

• Key elements of content marketing strategy from personas to content building

• The content management process from preparing a calendar to sharing guidelines.

• Different methods of content creation, based on the customer journey.

• Paid, owned, shared and earned media, with methods of conducting content

• Best practices for content management and content marketing, with constructs
of vividness and interactivity.


When you have read this chapter, you will be able to:

Understand the concept of self-presentation and self-disclosure theories

Apply recommendations for strategic online community management

Analyse the scale and scope of online communities

Evaluate rules of engagement required for your organisation

Create a plan to build a community that is engaging and thriving

When you have worked through this chapter, you should be able to:

• Identify and recommend relevant online influential communities for organisations
to explore

• Plan, create and manage a successful online community for business


This chapter will explain why there are benefits to being part of a community, as
well as unravelling the diverse groups that exist. You will learn more about self-
presentation theory and see why you should be careful about what you share online.

The role of the organisation in online communities is explored, along with how
to respond to community feedback – including complaints, before they become
a crisis.

Communities were traditionally associated with a particular place and the people
that lived there. We are long aware of farming communities, rural neighbourhoods
and social groups, all promoting an idyll or pastoral myth of belonging, being part
of a group that is often associated with connections that were created and nurtured
over many generations.

Groups and societies provide a common bond or connection and many have existed
for centuries, such as community-based groups, religious assemblies and professional
guilds. These organisations are communities where people meet like-minded people.
The concept of community and its impact has been a political topic for hundreds
of years. A key piece of research, by Professor Mark Granovetter in 1973, published
in the American Journal of Sociology, demonstrated how he explored connections
within offline communities (see Key Term – strength of weak ties) and how they
functioned. Granovetter argued that these interpersonal ties were founded on four
key symbiotic and interconnected elements:

• The time in the group – how often you attend or participate or how much time
you spend with those people

• The emotional intensity

• The familiarity, intimacy or mutual confiding – sharing secrets and personal

• The reciprocity – you help me, so I’ll help you

A strong tie, where you know someone well, can help to find a job and equally a weak
tie can help to pass on information. If you consider your LinkedIn network, some
ties are strong – people you have known for some time; others may be weak – you
met at a conference, they taught you for one semester, but the emotional intensity
and confiding (familiarity) may not exist. However, Granovetter’s work in sociology
demonstrated that you may help someone in your wider LinkedIn group that you
know less well, because of their links to your other connections.

Being connected to a community provides benefits and you may have heard the
expression ‘it’s not what you know but who you know’. This describes how partici-
pation in a group can mutually help those in that collective. This concept has been
formally recognised as access to ‘social capital’, through the wide array of connec-
tions and how one member helps another (see Key Term – social capital). Some
groups were established specifically to enable members to increase and improve


their network, such as LinkedIn (LinkedIn Corporation, 2017, p. 1), which claimed
the benefit of their community as ‘The mission of LinkedIn is simple: connect the
world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful’.

Mark Granovetter explored the strength of interpersonal connections within communities, or as
he called them, ’ties’ (1973). He conducted research into ‘social networks’ and wrote about offline
rather than online networks, as this was in 1973, before any online network was launched.

He investigated how people gained job opportunities and discovered that it was more
often through indirect, rather than direct, contacts. People were more likely to help a contact
they didn’t know that well (weak tie), more so than someone they knew well (strong tie). This
has become a seminal paper in the area of social networks.

Some years later in the United States, Robert Putnam (2000) created widespread con-
cern, suggesting communities were vanishing, with the fear that the internet would
replace traditional communities. Putnam’s work influenced several American presi-
dents, who were concerned about the possibility of communities dissolving, which
could lead to an unstable society (see Key Term – social capital).

The concept of community and its collapse was investigated by Robert Putnam in his book
Bowling Alone (2000). In this book he developed the notion of social capital, which was origi-
nally proposed by Pierre Bourdieu (1986) as the value of the collection of interactions between
two or more people. Capital as an idea represented the value or collection of assets and
‘social’ capital is the value of relationships within a network, which leads to social obligations
or material benefits.

In a digital environment, we have been forced to rethink the traditional concept of
‘community’. The internet has facilitated the rapid growth of online populations,
from social media networks to interest groups; and from support forums to brand
communities. Online communities can be public open spaces, such as a company
Facebook or Twitter page. Or they can be closed communities or private groups in
WhatsApp or Snapchat.


One of the first writers on online communities (see Key Term) was Howard
Rheingold (1987, 1995), who studied the notion of virtual communities, as he moved
from typewriter to computer. His studies focused on an early version of social net-
works, the WELL (Whole Earth ’Lectronic Link), an online bulletin board which started
in 1985, where members could message one another. Table 5.1 shows a timeline of
online communities, although today we would consider most social media platforms
as forms of online communities. What is interesting is that most of the original online
communities started as projects by students at university.

Table 5.1 Timeline of online communities

Year Community Purpose

1980 Usenet Forum for online discussions based on specific threads,
more of a bulletin board, exchanging messages. Started by
graduates at Duke University in the United States

1985 The WELL Online messaging service, also a bulletin board, started by
writer and technologist

1991 Blacksburg Electronic

An entire village connected via the internet which started as a
university experiment

1994 TheGlobe.com Initially a university project connecting people online, closed
in 2008

1995 classmates.com A forum to connect former classmates and a type of social
network. Still running but focused on the United States

2002 Freindster Started as a social gaming site, allowing those in the forum to
contact others and to share content. It is also considered as
one of the first social media networks

2004 LinkedIn Groups The social network created groups to facilitate conversations
between people who were not connected

2005 Ning Launched as a platform for groups to build their own online

2006 Facebook Groups Launched to allow like-minded people to create discussions or
organise help forums

2010 Facebook community
pages introduced

Community pages are a bit odd. There are already pages for
communities in Group Pages and unofficial fan pages, so the
development of community pages has been questioned by

Most social media networks host a forum or space for online groups to be created;
this is to keep people within the social network ecosystem. However, hosting a com-
munity via a social media network creates several challenges for organisations:

• The organisation doesn’t ultimately control who sees the content.

• As the terms and conditions change on a regular basis, the risk is that the organi-
sation could create a large online community and discover that the social media
network has decided to end its online community facility!

• Online communities can be created by fans or foes, and unless they are breaking
the law (e.g. making incorrect comments – libel, or using your registered logo –
breach of copyright) it’s difficult to take any action to close a community that the
brand or organisation doesn’t favour!


Definitions of online communities include:

A virtual community is a group of people who may or may not meet one another face to
face, and who exchange words and ideas through the mediation of computer bulletin
boards and networks. (Rheingold, 1987, p. 178)

An online community can be defined as an aggregation of people who share a common
interest and communicate through electronic mailing lists, chat rooms, Internet user
groups or any other computer-mediated mechanism. (Kim et al., 2008, p. 410)

Dale Ganley and Cliff Lampe investigated social network principles in online com-
munities (Ganley and Lampe, 2009). In their work they identified differences between
traditional and online communities, which included:

• Less structure guiding the online community

• Less at stake for online participants as they can simply leave and may never be
in contact with other community participants again

• Less transparency as many online communities enable the use of pseudonyms
or facilitate anonymity

• An informal agreement rather than a formal hierarchy is in place within online

In some places these differences are obvious, for example in online communities
it is possible to join and leave the community at will. Whilst Ganley and Lampe
consider this as meaning there is ‘less at stake’ (p. 267), this also suggests there is
less commitment.

If you are a member of a traditional offline community that meets every week, say
an art group, someone might message you if you miss a meeting or two. If you miss
a few meetings you may feel you are letting the group down, yet online you can van-
ish overnight and no one will notice.

The use of pseudonyms and forms of anonymity has been discussed within research
into online communities. One level of anonymity is used to commit malicious acts such
as cyberbullying, trolling, fraud and hate crime (see Key Term – Cyberbullying and
trolling, p. 82). At another, anonymity is in place to protect the individual’s personal data.

In situations where there is some data, such as a personal profile, or bio, the infor-
mation is often limited and may not present a total picture. Researchers Chantal
Bacev-Giles and Reeshma Haji considered perception in social media profiles and
suggested that the lack of detail forces us to ‘fill in the gaps’ (Bacev-Giles and Haji,


2017, p. 50). Thinking back to the art group, you may not know all the details about
all the members, but you know approximately where they live, whether they drive or
walk, their artistic preferences and if they like tea or coffee. Perhaps this is why so
many people declare an interest in tea or coffee on their Twitter profiles?

Looking at the first and last differences between online and traditional communities
suggested by Ganley and Lampe (2009), they are similar: the lack of structure and
the lack of hierarchy. On Twitter, no one seems to be in charge. All manner of com-
ments and content is published regardless of the rules. The volume of content makes
it more challenging to manage. Reflecting back to the art group, there is a structure
and a hierarchy. There would be a start and finish time. Someone needs to book the
room, arrive early to let the members inside, ensure the meeting finished on time
and someone else may invite guest speakers and encourage new members to join.

Online groups can exist in a 24/7 environment, with many ‘registered’ members but
few participating, so it doesn’t matter if you join and never turn up again. No one will
chase or castigate you for lack of attendance. On the other hand, in an online com-
munity you can share as much or as little about yourself as you want. This is part of
self-presentation and self-disclosure theory (see more below), and one challenge
is that sometimes you can unwittingly reveal a little too much detail.

Your online self
In 1956 Canadian sociologist Erving Goffman explored how people presented themselves
to others, consciously and unconsciously. He suggested that there were many reasons for
managing the impression given and we control the situation like actors to influence the
behaviour of others as they may treat us better if they perceive a certain status.

Goffman proposed a theory of self which has become known as self-presentation
theory (Goffman, 1956). Three years later the report evolved into a best-selling book
(Goffman, 1959) and the theory continues to be used by researchers in online com-
munities and social media today (see Discover More on Self-Presentation Theory).

Goffman discussed ‘sign vehicles’ (Goffman, 1956, p. 1), which we would call personal
information cues or clues, which in our online communities we could consider as the
profile photo, types of posts and likes.

Self-presentation theory suggests people have the desire to control the impressions
that other people form about them. Sounds familiar? It’s also known as ‘impression

Researchers Liad Bareket-Bojmel, Simone Moran and Golan Shahar investigated self-
presentation on Facebook and identified people using ‘enhancement’ strategies to better
present their self in this environment. They named the enhancement strategies as:


a. presentation of the self in a positive manner (behaviors, attributes, attitudes, and

b. presentation of the self in a socially desirable manner;
c. self-promotion designed to impress an audience with one’s competence or talent.

(Bareket-Bojmel et al., 2016, p. 791)

Read their article in the Journal of Computers in Human Behavior for more detail.

Online communities have been the subject of much research as they provide rich
sources of ready-made data. One researcher, Rob Kozinets, has spent years investigat-
ing online communities, to the extent that he evolved the concept of ethnographic
research (studying subjects in their natural habitat) into a method for researching
online groups, which he named ‘netnography’ (Kozinets, 2002).

Online communities provide easy access to data and observing groups using net-
nographic methods provides researchers with sources of significant amounts of
behavioural information. However, this type of online study is not without its crit-
ics. One of the ethical challenges, with researchers analysing and collecting content
within online groups for investigation, was noticed by Godes and Mayzlin (2004), who
remarked that ‘consumers’ decisions to participate in online communities is undoubt-
edly made without the consideration that firms may be observing these conversations
and drawing inferences from them’ (2004, p. 558).

Having considered the concept of online communities, the next factor is their use.
Why do online communities exist?

The earliest online communities, such as those listed in Table 5.1, were member-
to-member support groups, sharing information, thoughts and opinions. Writing in
the Harvard Business Review in 1996, two management consultants, Armstrong and
Hagel, also identified the real value of online communities as the function of custom-
ers being able to speak with other customers.

The use of online communities could be divided into two primary purposes for both
organisations and individuals:

• Hedonic: entertainment, communication, support

• Utilitarian: information, education, contact

It may be that I am a member of an online group on LinkedIn for utilitarian purposes,
to gain information and network with like-minded people. Within Facebook, a group
might be for fun; it might have a hedonic focus. (For more on hedonic consumption see
Key Term – hedonic and utilitarian consumption in Chapter 2, The Digital Consumer).

The next section proposes a typology of online communities and highlights the dif-
ferent types of online communities that exist.


There are many formats of online communities, as they can be open or closed, public
or private, official or unofficial. Looking at individuals, they may join online com-
munities that are based on special interest, mutual benefit or consumption. We will
consider the benefits for organisations in the next section. Let’s examine the different
types of online communities in more detail.

Communities of practice
Communities of practice are those focused on common goals or with mutually held
convictions. As a concept, ‘communities of practice’ was developed by Jean Lave
(1991), who explored different styles of learning; for example, researchers can share
their work on the website researchgate.net which describes itself as ‘a leading plat-
form where the world’s scientists share their research and expertise, collaborate on
projects, and engage with the best scientific content’.

These online communities are less structured than formal communities and provide
educational benefits to their members.

Communities of interest
Moving from education to hobbies and interests, the social networking platform
Pinterest is a good example of communities of interest, as individuals share images
based on common themes. Communities of interest may be demographically differ-
ent, living in different environments, and the thread that surrounds the community
is a common interest.

Another example of a community of interest is The Student Room (thestudentroom.
co.uk), which claims to be ‘The UK’s biggest student community’. Its most popular
forums are: relationships, chat, video games, fashion, uni applications and uni stu-
dent life. Its equivalent in the United States is known as College Confidential (talk.
collegeconfidential.com). What is interesting is that although these two communities
are separated by thousands of miles, the topics are similar, focusing on student life,
achieving good grades and getting into the right place.

What is interesting is that this community of interest has developed a form of hierarchy
with some forum members having contributed many posts, although earlier research-
ers Dale Ganley and Cliff Lampe (2009) suggested that a key difference between a
traditional offline community and an online version was the lack of structure. It seems
we may be transferring or perhaps blurring the typical traditional features into our
new online environments.

Communities of transaction
Communities of transaction, which are also known as transaction communities, enable
the ‘buying and selling of products’ (Armstrong and Hagel, 1996, p. 135). They are
not about specific practice or interest; instead they allow individuals to be either a
buyer, a seller or both.


In a pre-internet age, if your parents or grandparents were upgrading or changing
their furniture, they may have sold the older furniture through an advert in the local
paper. Communities of transaction have become the online answer to the local paper
and whilst both services facilitate transactions between individuals, the differences
with the online community include:

• A much wider market can be targeted, beyond the typical reach of a local

• Interested people can monitor results and decide whether to sell a similar product.

• Individuals can bid via an auction system rather than paying a fixed price.

However, in this situation neither party is technically a retailer; they don’t have an
endless supply of sofas or dining room tables, it may be a stock of one item.

One of the largest communities of transaction is eBay, which describes itself as ‘the
world’s online marketplace; a place for buyers and sellers to come together and buy
or sell almost anything!’

There’s less regulation in these member-to-member sales organisations. eBay and
others have introduced feedback and star rating systems, along with a comprehen-
sive help guide for what action to take when things go wrong, including a dedicated
resolution centre which aims to settle issues:

We always encourage our members to communicate with each other when
there’s a problem with a transaction. The first step is to contact the member
through the Resolution Centre and try to resolve the problem. (eBay Inc., 2017b)

In 2013 eBay launched its Money Back Guarantee which ‘covers over 99% of listings
on ebay.co.uk when you pay with PayPal’ (eBay Inc., 2017a).

The challenge is that there is no higher authority where people can complain and there
is no opportunity to return the goods after 30 days, which many retail stores permit.

Communities of relationship
Whilst there doesn’t seem to be a great difference between the notion of communities
of interest and communities of relationship, Armstrong and Hagel (1996) suggested
that these were often constructed around life events to provide emotional/psychologi-
cal support. They further suggested that these communities ‘can lead to the formation
of deep personal connections’ and one unusual factor in a virtual community is that
‘people often are aware of one another’s actual identities’ (p. 136).

Communities like The Student Room encourage usernames that are often pseudonyms,
rather than the person’s real name, to protect identities.

Communities of fantasy
Escapism online often occurs via online games where individual users are identified
by an alter ego or avatar. To support game playing and improve practice there are
hundreds of forums for players of games such as Call of Duty, Minecraft and others.


Ethical Insights Dating Deception
One community where strategic self-presentation and deception are prevalent is dating sites, as the
goal is to gain as many romantic opportunities as possible.

Exaggeration, fabrication of characteristics and portrayal of a better ‘ideal self’ is commonplace
in online dating and has been explored significantly by many researchers.

Interestingly, Rosanna Guadagno, Bradley Okdie and Sara Kruse (2012) discovered that greater
numbers of men lie and change their characteristics in online dating sites than women …

So be careful who you’re connecting with online!

To protect their online identity participants create an alter ego using names such as
BULLET_PROOF101, ShadowCatVA, CAMANDERWOLF and destroyer1702.

Consumption communities
Business support groups can be both consumption communities and brand commu-
nities. For example, Apple shares details of its online communities which are often
based on the device owned and your location. They share similar goals even though
their web appearance is totally different.

Brand communities
Brand communities can be brand-owned or fan-owned, and, according to Relling
et al. (2016, p. 107), ‘Brand communities offer effective means to achieve favorable
brand outcomes, such as enhanced consumer brand loyalty.’ There can be a brand
community for almost anything, from cars to toys, from film star fan clubs to pop
groups. The challenge is that not everyone behaves well inside brand communities
and they can be used as a place to complain (see section 5.6.3 Responding to com-
munity feedback) and troll other members.

Social networks
Networking or partnership communities can be focused on the extension of a social
circle, with little or no pre-determined context, such as Facebook. These are typically
social network communities.

Online social network communities can be established based on demographic features,
such as those shown in Table 5.2.

Table 5.2 Demographic features within online communities

Feature Details

Gender Groups established based on gender or sexual preference

Language/Culture Communities created based on language, culture, or other forms of social identity

Location Local or regional online networks


Feature Details

Social status Communities established due to educational or other connections, such as
alumni groups

Vocation Limited to certain job roles

Workplace Organisations can establish dedicated work groups where they try to establish

One of the challenges with social networks as online communities is that we may post
and share much more than we mean to. This has been investigated by researchers
and is known as self-disclosure theory. This considers what we post online and why.

We are what we post
Hope Schau and Mary Gilly extended the theory of self-presentation (see above) to
develop self-disclosure theory in their article ‘We are what we post? Self-presentation
in personal web space’ (Schau and Gilly, 2003). Their analysis of personal websites
aimed to understand why someone discloses their personal details online. Their
findings indicated that the drive to self-disclose is to communicate with others and
to display different selves online. They commented that ‘consumers use multiple self-
presentation strategies to construct digital collages that represent the self’ (p. 390).

Apply this to your self-presentation and you may have one representation of yourself
on a university hall’s Facebook page, a different one on LinkedIn and your WhatsApp
self may be totally different. You’re building a patchwork or collage of your identity
online which is generally OK, unless it all comes together and shares too much detail!

Hope Schau and Mary Gilly’s (2003) article is a good starting point on self-disclosure
theory: ‘We are what we post? Self-presentation in personal web space’, published in the
Journal of Consumer Research.

See also Stephen Cory Robinson’s (2017) article ‘Self-disclosure and managing privacy:
implications for interpersonal and online communication for consumers and marketers’,
which was published in the Journal of Internet Commerce.

Taking this one step further, Jihyun Kim and Hayeon Song identified two types of
online self-disclosure – professional and personal – when they were exploring celeb-
rities’ self-disclosure (Kim and Song, 2016, p. 570).

Well-known individuals are stuck between sharing sufficient information so that their
audience continues to follow them and balancing this with trying to maintain some
privacy. As an example, singer songwriter Ed Sheeran quit Twitter, having joined in


October 2009 and gained millions of followers. His @edsheeran profile was changed to
‘I don’t use this anymore, please follow me on teddysphotos on Instagram, lots of love x’.

One of the challenges with self-disclosure is known as the ‘privacy paradox’ (Barth and
de Jong, 2017), where users post and share significant amounts of information online
but are either consciously or subconsciously concerned about their online privacy. The
privacy paradox suggests that there is a gulf between actual behaviour and attitudes
towards privacy, although researchers Philipp Masur and Michael Scharkow discovered
that young people are concerned with their online privacy, contrary to popular opin-
ion from their parents and others (Masur and Scharkow, 2016, p. 10). The challenge is
managing the amount of disclosure. Susanne Barth and Menno D.T. de Jong from the
University of Twente in the Netherlands have written a helpful review article, published
in Telematics and Informatics, about the privacy paradox and looking at earlier research
in this area: it is entitled ‘The privacy paradox – Investigating discrepancies between
expressed privacy concerns and actual online behavior’ (Barth and de Jong, 2017).

Activity 5.1 Your Privacy Paradox
1. Assess your online profile to explore your online shared data, saying where the data exists

(i.e. Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter etc.)

2. How much do you reveal?

3. Do you have to login to see the data or is it available publicly for anyone to see?

4. How do you feel about this?

5. Discuss with your classmates.

See Template online: Privacy paradox checklist

With the development of so many social media platforms and so much self-disclosure,
a new business has emerged – social media cleaning tools. They look for negative
content such as: inappropriate and questionable content, sexually explicit content and
content containing alcoholic beverages. One example is Rep’nUp (www.repnup.com),
which checks for potentially damaging content and is popular with recent graduates
before they meet employers who might peek at their Facebook pages!

Having considered why communities matter to individuals and the diverse types
of groups, we need to understand the role of organisations in online communities.


The first factor is that if there are advantages for organisations, they will create
communities and the benefits of online communities for organisations have been
established by many researchers. From different sources I’ve assembled the five ben-
efits of online communities for organisations:

1. Product discussions
Ensuring your product or service is positively promoted is a key factor in brand
awareness. The ability to gain product discussions within an online community
where customers promote the product to others is valuable and more authentic than
the company trying to emphasise key features. When examining brand mentions,
Godes and Mayzlin (2004, p. 558) noted a salient ethical point: ‘consumers’ decisions
to participate in online communities is undoubtedly made without the consideration
that firms may be observing these conversations and drawing inferences from them’.

2. Tools to influence sales
Similar to having product discussions, researchers Mavis Adjei, Stephanie Noble and
Charles Noble identified that as consumers could communicate with each other in
brand communities, they were successful in promoting sales because these conversa-
tions could reduce uncertainty and encourage purchase (Adjei et al., 2009).

3. Interaction between customers and
non-paying customers
Nguyen and his colleagues examined implications for price perceptions in online
travel communities (2015) and discovered that these communities included custom-
ers as well as non-customers, acting as advisors. The benefits to the organisation
are to convert non-customers, although that was not the focus of their research. The
work showed that organisations can comment on discussions taking place and better
understand issues around pricing.

4. Passive engagement is an effective
marketing tool
Writing in the Journal of Marketing Research, Christian Homburg and his colleagues
studied consumer sentiment and in particular the impact of whether the organisation
should adopt an active or a passive role within the community (Homburg et al., 2015).
Their findings showed that consumers can react badly where organisations step in to
the conversation. There are some short-term gains, but over time, there are diminishing
returns. So the advice is observe silently and contribute to specific areas such as product-
related blogs, rather than automatically joining in with all discussions. It’s worth noting
that this research was focused on online forums, rather than specific social media spaces.

5. Positive brand exposure is achieved
via followers
Whilst Homburg’s research used forums as the group being investigated, Noor Farizah
Ibrahim and her colleagues looked at how brands responded to questions specifically


on Twitter. This microblogging environment is different from a Facebook or other
brand community. The results were different and showed the benefits of brands
replying and trying to help customers when asked (Ibrahim et al., 2017). It may be
that more research is needed looking at both forums and social media networks, to
gain a real comparison – it’s a very large project!

If you apply this to your own practice, there may be influential communities that
you follow. These could be individual or groups of bloggers or YouTubers. They may
positively or critically endorse a brand. Organisations need to understand where their
influential groups are online and either monitor, participate in or support the content.

Activity 5.2 Identify Your
Influential Communities
1. Find your influential communities. These are likely to be the communities that others talk

about and you may even be a member!

2. Consider your first, second and third most influential communities.

3. Identify what they are called, where they are based and whether they are platform-specific,
such as only on Instagram:

� What’s the topic or area of interest and is this an official or unofficial group?

� Is it a public group open to anyone or do you apply for membership?

� What else do you know about the community?

� When you have completed the template, share results with your classmates.

� If you are on placement, apply this to the organisation where you are working. What are
their influential communities?

See Template online: Identify influential communities in your market sector

Business-to-business social media platforms, such as LinkedIn, have been popular
spaces for companies in particular to establish online groups. However, there are
said to be over two million groups on LinkedIn alone, yet many are barely attended
and are either dormant or dying.

Microblogging platforms such as Twitter work well as a customer service system, as long
as there are sufficient trained staff to respond. Yet blogs are often perceived as the com-
pany space and trusted less, as are company-moderated websites. At the other extreme,
personal social media platforms such as Facebook do not always welcome large brands
moving into private space, as it can be intrusive (see Key Term – the uninvited brand).

The challenge is that as there are benefits, every organisation wants to start its own
community. It’s not easy and establishing an online community requires a clear pur-
pose, as well as ongoing maintenance. This all demands dedicated resources and
there may be alternative solutions, such as participating in pre-existing ready-made
communities or doing something totally different!


Another critical matter is whether the organisation should establish a community at all. Susan
Fournier and Jill Avery (2011) conducted critical work into the concept of the uninvited brand,
where a brand barges into your personal space when you are least expecting it. How would
you feel about this? As Fournier and Avery said:

Brands rushed into social media, viewing social networks, video sharing, online com-
munities, and microblogging sites as the panacea to diminishing returns for traditional
brand building routes. But as more branding activity moves to the Web, marketers are
confronted with the stark realization that social media was made for people, not for
brands. (p. 193)

This raised the question of brands staying out of social media communities and whether brands
should be interrupting conversations, or embedding themselves into communities, to provide
advice and support where relevant.

Let’s investigate the critical factors to consider before establishing an online community.

Before establishing an online community, organisations need to answer essential
questions such as:

• What is the aim or purpose of the online community?

• What are its specific objectives?

• Have any Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for our online community been

• What will be the community name?

• Is the preferred name available in the relevant social media networks?

• Where will the community be based (i.e. in a specific location such as Facebook
or LinkedIn)?

• What does the community cover, in terms of focus or subject?

• What is not included in the community?

• Who will join the community? Existing or potential customers or both?

• Why will they join this community?

• What will make the community members participate?

• What will make the community members continue to return after joining?

• Who will create the content for the community?

• What will be the benefits of the community?

• What are the competitors to this community?


If you are working on placement or recently graduated and your boss suggests that
they would like you to develop and manage an online community, you need to answer
these questions and the organisation needs to commit to a long-term strategy, as well
as dedicating resources to the endeavour. It’s worth involving others in Activity 5.3
to test whether or not the online community will be successful.

Activity 5.3 Planning an
Online Community
Using the online template listing factors to consider before establishing an online community, look at
each question and provide a response. If some questions don’t have an answer this indicates either
that there are knowledge gaps or that the community is unlikely to be successful.

If you are not on a placement, select a successful community of your choice and work through the
questions to see how many can be answered.

Also identify a community that is less successful and provide a response. Reflect on where the
gaps exist and why this may be the reason for the lack of success.

See Template online: Planning an online community

One of the arguments in favour of establishing an online group is that customers have
established their own group, representing the organisation, or perhaps purporting to
but disseminating myths and fabrications. At this stage it is often better for a brand
to create an official space as well as supporting the unofficial groups.

Alternatives to creating your own organisation’s group include the formal endorse-
ment of a fan or customer group, providing supporting information and cultivating
brand ambassadors to convey correct information and reinforcing brand messages.

Digital Tool Create a Facebook Fan or
Brand Page
• Think about a favourite film star, singer, brand or other entity.
• Log in to Facebook (or possibly join!)
• Go to www.facebook.com/pages/create.
• Follow the steps online and create a Facebook fan page.
• What content do you need to make this a great page?
• What knowledge gaps has this shown about your chosen favourite?

And don’t worry! You don’t need to publish until you’re ready – it’s a great way to try building a fan
page and better understand the content required.


If you already have an online community or have decided to establish an online
community, the next stage is to manage the community. Managing the community
doesn’t mean controlling it, but it does mean responding to queries, providing
information and supporting any brand ambassadors who are answering questions
on your behalf.

Managing an online community requires resources in terms of people, time,
technology and finances. One query to be addressed from the start is whether
to have real people and real names as the community managers, or whether to
have pseudonyms or nicknames. Pseudonyms are common amongst social media
users and also used by some firms, although this lacks authenticity and should be
avoided where possible.

London Northwestern Railway uses Twitter as its online community for service updates
and mentions the real names of staff, as the example in Figure 5.1 shows.

Figure 5.1 Example of London Northwestern Railway Trains’ use of Twitter as a customer
service channel

Source: https://twitter.com/LNRailway

customers’ needs

Working with them to
create new products
(co-creation) based

on those needs

Launching the new
products within the


Managing issues
before they become
major headaches

Sharing news with
the community

Co-creating content,
products, promotions

and more

Listening to
customers’ news –

good and bad

Monitoring your

Responding to your
customers online

Figure 5.2 Key factors in online community management


Online community management is a catch-all phrase that is about key factors, as
shown in Figure 5.2. The challenge when working in these organisations is balancing
all these factors at the same time.

Smartphone Sixty Seconds® –
Online Community Manager Jobs
• On your mobile phone go online and search for ‘online community manager jobs’.
• Select one job site.
• How many jobs did you find?
• How many of the above factors were included in these roles?

When managing an online community, it is essential to establish the rules of engage-
ment. This allows the community members to understand how the community works.

Rules of engagement may include those shown in Table 5.3, although your organisa-
tion may only need one or two of these rules, as many may not be relevant.

Table 5.3 Rules of engagement examples

Rule Example

Legal or moral restrictions Age limits may be required with topics around alcohol and gambling.

Definition of ‘troll’ activity and how
you will manage it

We won’t tolerate abusive or offensive behaviour.

Use of profanity or hate language We’ll block posts containing sexist or racist language.

Although we don’t want to censor any conversations within our YouTube
community, as part of the overall YouTube policy any offensive posts to
other users, or using expletives, will be deleted by our YouTube team.

Handling promotion of competitors
or solicitation

If you’d like to sell products or services, please email details to (name).

Criminal activity Be aware this is a public space and avoid fraudulent, libellous

Inappropriate content Inappropriate content such as pornography or violence will be blocked
and users will be banned.

Spam, link baiting, or propagation
of viruses or malware

Any spam or malicious content will be removed and reported to the
relevant authorities.

Rules around being nice to staff Please be nice as we’re real people trying to help!

Managing expectations around
response times

We’re here from 8am until 8pm and aim to respond on the same day.

Contact details to redirect serious
or private issues

Never share personal order numbers or address details. Message us
and we’ll respond.


Typically, organisations make the rules of engagement visible within the social media
platform in obvious places, for example:

• Microblogging platforms: in the bio

• Social network and video platforms: on the profile photo or ‘about us’ or ‘descrip-
tion’ or ‘community rules’

• On blogs and websites: as an occasional post or in ‘guidelines’

In addition to providing rules of engagement (see Table 5.3), when building a com-
munity some form of editorial tone of voice and editorial calendar (see Chapter 4,
Content Marketing) will need to be developed, so that the organisation is speaking
with the same voice and conveying the same messages, across all platforms.

This addresses whether the organisation provides guidelines about the frequency of
content and types of responses that can be provided, for example:

• How frequently postings are created

• How frequently postings from the community are read and responses provided

• Whether individuals are named as community managers or if all posts are issued
by ‘the organisation’

• If posts are moderated

• Whom to contact if help is needed (e.g. to report inappropriate content)

Community lifestages
Whether you are building or starting a community, it is useful to note that communi-
ties evolve through different lifestages, not dissimilar to the concept of a product life
cycle. Douglas Atkin created a model of community lifestages, as shown in Figure 5.3.
This model demonstrates the different work required by the community managers at
the different stages. Let’s look at each of these stages.

Birth – community being launched
At this early stage it is critical to define the purpose, goals and membership profile of
the community. With clear goals and membership criteria it is easier to grow. If there is
no focus and the group is open to ‘everyone’, it is harder to encourage people to join.

In terms of recruitment, there should be a focus on recruiting doers and contributors
who will promote the community. It is also important to make the community look
attractive with a range of content, so there is a reason to come back to the community
and explore what’s new.

Nurturing new members is essential to ensure that they feel welcome and you should
encourage interaction between members. This connects back to Granovetter’s concept
of tie strength (see section 5.2 Why do communities matter?) where you stimulate
time spent in the group and familiarity between members.


• Escalating growth
• More interaction
• More sophisticated tools
• Viral Loop tools
• Growing sense of group
• Increasing sense of
ownership by members
• More organic growth, less
• Identify leadership team

• Slow growth
• Limited interaction
• Basic tools
• Low sense of
• Low autonomy
• Seek core contributors
• Heavy promotion

• Group is large and
identi�cation is weakening
• Needs are evolving: more
speci�c and narrower
• Original group plateaus in size
and may even decline in
• Leadership may burn out
and may change
• Spawning tools needed
• Leadership-change tools
• Time to start a movement?

+ SPAWNING• Growth rapid

• Strong interaction
• Sophisticated tools
• Strong sense of
belonging and identity
• Mostly autonomous
• Organic growth
• Grow leadership









Figure 5.3 Community lifestages model

Source: www.theglueproject.com/tag/lifestages

Adolescence – community established and
starting to grow
Once the community has become established you may need to adopt more sophisti-
cated interaction tools to monitor comments and respond (see Digital Tool: Disqus.
com). Earlier in this chapter we looked at research from both Christian Homburg
and his colleagues and Noor Farizah Ibrahim and her colleagues who all studied
consumer sentiment and in particular the impact of whether the organisation should
adopt an active or passive role within the community. The findings were mixed, as
the results from both research groups suggested both options. Whether you adopt
a passive approach and sit in the background or jump in and respond to comments
depends upon the audience and the platform used.

As the community grows you may need to develop tools for members to recruit others.
It can be easier for members to find new members – they are often similar people.
And whilst, as we saw above, Dale Ganley and Cliff Lampe (2009) suggested that a
difference between traditional and online communities was the lack of structure, for
a community to thrive, you may need some structure and to identify a leadership
team and roles to share the workload, as well as ensuring that some members are
emotionally engaged and spend time in the group. The other consideration at ado-
lescence stage is to organise member-management dashboards and metrics to better
understand the results being gained from the group.


Early maturity – established community
Once the community is working well with the desired initial number of members,
you will need more manager and community ambassadors to respond to queries and
provide information. This may also be (and sit down whilst reading this) the time to
bring the online group into an offline state! This could be by offering other meeting
options which some groups achieve via ‘tweetups’ – real-life meetings of a Twitter
group. This is best achieved by asking the members to see if they want to form sub-
groups or local groups and of course if they want to meet up.

The content will need to continue to engage and bring members back to the com-
munity which means that more interactive content will be needed (see Chapter 4,
Content Marketing).

Late maturity and spawning
Big groups are challenging and often lead to sub-groups and smaller groups splitting
away. The overall group identity may be diluted and it is important to develop a succes-
sion plan and continue the long-term future of the group. The way to start the process
is to review the community goals and decide what still works and what needs changing.

Digital Tool Disqus.com
Disqus is a web plugin tool that allows you to monitor comments from the community and respond. It
can be added to a website or blog, where there is community engagement. It’s popular as it blends
into the look and feel of your site and allows real-time comments.

The program has a free option (with adverts) and paid-for options.

Online communities provide a forum for community members and others, to share
feedback about the organisation in public. This can include compliments as well as
complaints and online community managers need to know how to respond, to both
positive and negative comments, in the community.

Case Example 5.1 Argos and
Customer Complaints
An example of directness, which moves swiftly into spite, is shown in Figure 5.4, where UK retailer
Argos had many angry customers taking to Twitter and explaining that the traditional telephone
route was not working.



Figure 5.4 Example of customer complaining behaviour – directness

This case example demonstrates a lack of online and offline integration. The call centre team may
not have been aware that there were complaints on Twitter. If they were, they could have issued
messages to advise customers about the call wait times.

Case Questions
Imagine you are working for a well-known organisation, in their online community management
team. You are managing a team and there has been an issue where things have gone wrong, for



• Transport company – a strike or cancellations
• Retailer – late deliveries
• Other company – calls to this number are taking an average of 30 minutes to answer.

Consider the organisation’s typical online tone of voice and based on this, what are your recommen-
dations as to how the team should address unhappy customers?

• Prepare a list of all the possible complaints that may be raised.
• Create some stock phrases they could use to pacify or reassure the customers.
• Consider who else should be involved in the process to respond to customers in this situation.

By their nature, most communities are open for membership and viewing, which
means that it may be the easiest place to complain. Gregoire et al. (2015) explored
the role of social media in the customer complaining process. They started by
considering the customer complaining process based on an initial service failure –
that’s when something goes wrong – that occasionally then enters the realm of ‘dou-
ble deviation’, where it goes wrong again. Figure 5.5 shows the types of behaviour
based on these situations.

Initial Service Failure

Double Deviation
(service failure followed by failed recoveries)

Competitors’ Responses


Competitors amplify the
situation (ugly)

Competitors’ tweeter,

Negative publicity about

recovery (ugly)

User content-generated
media (e.g., YouTube)

Online third-party
complaining (bad)

Third-party website,
blog, or newsletter

Customers’ tweeter,
Facebook, blog

Positive publicity about

recovery (good)

Negative WOM without
contacting �rms (bad)

lnstagram, Pinterest,
Flickr, review sites

Tweeter, Facebook

Voicing directly to �rms

through SM (good)


(rarer and rarer)

Figure 5.5 The place of social media in the customer complaining process

Source: Gregoire et al., 2015, p. 174


It is useful to understand why people complain, especially across social media, and
the work by Gregoire, Salle and Tripp included a typology of social media complaints,
which is summarised in Table 5.4.

Table 5.4 How to manage different types of online complaints

Type of complaint Details How to manage

Directness Directly contacting the company online, through
tweets or the company Facebook page, to
constructively request resolution of a service

• Respond quickly!
• Acknowledge within 1 hour
• Basic issues: try to solve online
• Complex issues: use a private


Boasting Spreading good word and positive publicity via
Facebook or Twitter about how well the firm
resolved the complaint

• Thank the customer
• Retweet and share – not too


Badmouthing After the first service failure, spreading negative
word-of-mouth through one’s Facebook
network, tweets, blog, or YouTube account – all
without ever contacting the firm

• Be proactive and acknowledge
• Try to move to private channel
• Publicly present the solution

Tattling Complaining to a third-party website, blog, or

• Try to resolve
• Expensive and late are better

than viral and legal
• Consider sharing

circumstances, provide context

Spite After the firm botches its response to the initial
service failure and complaint, thus failing the
customer twice, the customer spreads negative
word-of-mouth with a heated vengeance via
user content-generated media (e.g. YouTube).

• Publicly acknowledge
• Try to negotiate and

compensate in person

Feeding the vultures A competitor not only takes joy in the firm’s
mishandling of the complaint, but uses social
media to amplify the mistake to steal more of
the firm’s customers

• Be gracious in defeat – not
much else you can do

However, most companies tend to manage customers’ negative feedback within the
online community and ignore opportunities to respond to positive feedback. As a
result, negative feedback is often generated online because the traditional methods
for customers communicating to staff are not working. Either it takes too long to
respond to phone calls, or the required response simply does not arrive.

Case Example 5.2 Marmite
Double Deviation
An example of double deviation by a firm is shown in Figure 5.6, when a campaign has backfired
due to orders not being fulfilled, but worse still, those responding on social media are not correctly
reading, or understanding, the messages.


Formal language

Informal language

Over 10 days

Response says 7
days which does
not make sense

Figure 5.6 Example of double deviation by an organisation

One of the challenges in this example is that the response does not listen to the customer. The second
customer is saying it has been over 10 days since the item was ordered and the online community
manager at Marmite is saying delivery takes 7 days.

In the case example the tone of voice and language used is also inconsistent. The
first response is very formal (‘will be able to assist your further’) and in the second
this is less formal (‘hi guys’ and ‘who’ll be able to give you …’)

A critical factor is ensuring the team has been properly trained and briefed and all
use the same tone of voice. The Marmite case example shows that the language on
this Facebook page is less formal, more fun and quite chatty, but this is not reflected
in their response to issues. Reasons for this may be:

• The situation was worse than the company realised, so they brought in a third-
party company to manage the online responses as the regular team was unable
to cope with the number of responses. The outsourced team has a different style
and tone to those in-house.

• Lack of training. Newer members of staff are involved in the situation and have
not been fully trained.

• Management are not committed to the community and have decided it is not
worth investing in training.

• The responses are semi-automated (copy-and-paste block responses) so they fail
to address the real issue.

Complaining online will grow and online community managers need to recognise
the types of complaint and respond accordingly. When managing online communi-
ties, the rules of engagement need to be established with customers, to ensure that
processes are clear.



From time to time things go badly wrong and an issue becomes a crisis. For this you need
expert help and can discover more with this textbook:

• Effective Crisis Communication: Moving From Crisis to Opportunity, 4th edition (2018), by
Robert R. Ulmer, Timothy L. Sellnow and Matthew W. Seeger.

1. Find a brand that you admire and select one of its online communities. Identify

whether there are complaints in these communities and evaluate good and weak
practice of how these are managed. Make recommendations to improve the
responses where relevant.

2. To what extent is it essential to establish an online community? Analyse the
advantages and disadvantages of creating an online community for (a) a travel
firm, (b) a clothing brand, (c) a music organisation.

3. For an organisation of your choice, create a plan to build a community that is
engaging and thriving.

This chapter has explored:

• The development and types of online communities.

• The role of online communities for organisations.

• Ways to manage online communities including rules of engagement.

• Best practice in building online communities.

• Responding to community feedback and online complaints.


When you have read this chapter, you will be able to:

Understand the mobile ecosystem

Apply a promotional campaign for a new app

Analyse options for potential applications for iBeacons

Evaluate mobile adverts’ adherence to a recognised code of conduct

Create a mobile app or an advert for an app based on key principles

When you have worked through this chapter, you should be able to:

• Check an organisation’s website to see if it is mobile friendly

• Understand and describe the options for mobile advertising

• Use wireframe tools

• Understand the costs involved in app development

• Check and resolve location accuracy for organisations.


Mobile marketing is an area of business growth, as devices are usually a few centimetres
away from the consumer. Whether in a pocket, handbag or on the desk, mobiles are
the one instrument we carry with us at all times.

Mobile devices bring additional challenges to the digital marketing landscape and
this chapter explains the different functions and purposes of wearables, mobiles and
apps and how these can be used for marketing.

Since mobile phones were launched in the early 1980s, to the unveiling of the first-
generation iPhone in 2007, mobile phone acquisition has increased every year. Over
90% of adults in the UK own or use a mobile and most of these are smartphones
(Ofcom, 2017). In the United States, the number of mobile (or cell) phone subscriptions
is greater than the population, indicating a trend to own a second phone, probably
for work (World Bank, 2017).

We are now at a stage where people are concerned if they leave their mobile phone
at home and mobile phone dependence has become the norm. Whilst there are rec-
ognised benefits of mobile phone usage, more addictive behaviours are developing
where individuals need to pick up and check their phone many times a day (Tossell
et al., 2015).

There is a good quote from Abdullah Sultan, who wrote in the Social Science Journal
‘today, it is not uncommon to observe couples or friends eating at restaurants where
everyone at a table is using WhatsApp to text others rather than holding face-to-face
conversations’ (Sultan, 2014, p. 58).

Two sources that contain data on cellular subscriptions and global information about
mobile phones include the World Bank (https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/IT.CEL.
SETS) and Statista.com.

Writing in the Journal of Interactive Marketing, two marketing professors, Venkatesh
Shankar and Sridhar Balasubramanian, provided an early definition of mobile market-
ing as ‘the two-way or multi-way communication and promotion of an offer between
a firm and its customers using a mobile medium, device, or technology’ (Shankar

Table 6.1 Mobile marketing implications

Feature What this means Benefits to marketers Be aware of

Location specificity Built-in GPS Can target users in specific
physical locations

Privacy issues

Portability The constant

Makes it easier to
communicate quickly

Small screen size means
smaller messages

Untethered/wireless No wires and easier
to use anywhere

More opportunities to
convey marketing messages

As used for short bursts of time,
concise messages are needed.

Source: Adapted from Shankar and Balasubramanian, 2009, p. 119


and Balasubramanian, 2009, p. 118). They explored mobile phone adoption in their
research using the Technology Acceptance Model (which we explored in Chapter 2,
The Digital Consumer) as perceived usefulness and usability were key factors with
mobile devices.

They summarised the key features and implications of mobile marketing, which I
have adapted in Table 6.1.

Mobile commerce
Mobile commerce, which is also known as m-commerce, revolves around:

• Online sales (whether through ads to the main or mobile website)

• In-app purchases (part of mobile advertising)

From a business perspective mobile marketing can be used for business to: build
lists; send promotional messages; deliver appointment reminders; chat now; share
order and delivery details; send invitations; vote; provide coupons; generate orders;
and collect payments.

Google (thinkwithgoogle.com) and Bing (advertise.bingads.microsoft.com/en-us/
insights/your-roadmap-to-mobile-advertising) have created content about mobile
marketing, sharing insights and key facts. The critical factor is that the mobile
phone has truly created ubiquitous computing (see Key Term, p. 4) and we are
always connected.

Mobile websites
We don’t speak about mobile websites as much as we used to, as most websites are
now constructed for mobile. There was a time when if you looked at a website on
mobile you had to keep zooming in to see the words. Today most websites are designed
for mobile, especially after Google said it would register the mobile friendliness of a
website in its search formula. Websites are classed as mobile friendly when they are:

• Responsive – a single website is constructed which responds to the size of the
device being used

• Adaptive – different websites are constructed for desktop and mobile sites

Responsive websites are a better option as only one set of updates is required. The
main reason that adaptive websites exist is for legacy websites with significant amounts
of content where it is too expensive or not feasible to deconstruct and start again.
Google has created a website where you can check to see if your website is mobile
friendly. See https://search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly and enter in the website
URL, click ‘test’ and watch the results instantly.

The business impact of mobile has been recognised with the formation of a dedicated
industry body association, the Mobile Marketing Association, which has organised a


formal code of conduct for mobile marketers which focuses on five categories (Mobile
Marketing Association, 2008):

1. Notice – Mobile marketers must provide easy ways to identify terms and

2. Choice and consent – Users must opt in and should be easily able to withdraw

3. Customisation and constraint – User information should tailor communications
and mobile marketers should limit messages where requested.

4. Security – Mobile marketers should protect users’ data.

5. Enforcement and accountability – Members are expected to abide by the code.

Activity 6.1 Evaluation of the Mobile
Marketing Association’s Code of
Conduct for Mobile Marketers
The Mobile Marketing Association has created a code of conduct (visit www.mmaglobal.com) with
five categories.

1. Using this code of conduct critically examine a recent mobile advert that you’ve received.

2. Consider each of the elements with the Mobile Marketing Association’s code of conduct for
mobile marketers and examine how closely these conditions were, or were not, followed.

See Template online: Evaluation of the Mobile Marketing Association’s Code of Conduct for
Mobile Marketers

The Mobile Marketing Association’s report, ‘The State of Mobile Marketing in EMEA’,
highlighted drivers in the mobile landscape with two key trends: (a) increased dis-
ruption to all markets and (b) the growth of mobile payments (Mobile Marketing
Association, 2017).

Increased disruption
As mobile becomes mainstream with nearly all consumers owning mobiles, mobile
marketing is disrupting traditional marketing efforts because it:

• Delivers ubiquitous computing, sharing direct access to technology at any time
and place.

• Provides instant access to software, whether that’s an app, voice search or online


• Permits the ability to check prices, compare online and offline, on the spot.

• Enables easier processes to order food, book transport, secure accommodation
and buy tickets in real time.

• Incorporates a digital wallet, a means of paying by phone.

• Shares online reviews, which means you could read and subsequently change
reservations, based on feedback from strangers!

This all means you could be about to purchase an item, book a meal, reserve tickets
and find other relevant information online and change your mind. The traditional
buying process is disrupted and those offering services need to change the way they
work, to adapt to this new environment.

The challenge for business is readiness to adopt the technology (for more on this see
Figure 7.2 Technology Readiness Scale, p. 186). Agencies feel that clients are not ready
for mobile and, at the same time, clients have not identified collaboration partners.
The issue may be that mobile marketing strategies are not yet in place.

The mobile ecosystem delivers key benefits for users. A mobile phone provides:
communications, media capture, media player, apps and games, personal database,
concierge services, location services, barcode scanner, and it’s a wallet as well. Let’s
explore all these benefits.

Mobile phones were originally designed for voice communications and mobile devices
have now become the key method of social contact, whether it’s via short text mes-
sages and instant messaging apps including Facebook, Snapchat and WhatsApp, or by
making voice and video calls. We have adapted our communication styles and have
introduced a new form of language called textese (see Key Term).

Described by Alfonso Sánchez-Moya and Olga Cruz-Moya in an article about WhatsApp:

Textese as a language variety in Whatsapp shares most of its linguistic and discourse
features with electronically mediated language. (Sánchez-Moya and Cruz-Moya, 2015,
p. 301)

Media capture
Initially some mobile phones provided a camera function and this evolved from
basic media capture into video, adding effects to images and enabling self-portraits,


known as ‘selfies’, which was the Oxford English Dictionary word of the year for
2013 (Oxford Dictionary, 2013).

Media playing
Media playing and sharing options, whether listening to music, podcasts, watching videos
or films, is another aspect of mobile devices, as are apps and games. There are said to
be over two million apps available (Statista, 2017b) and the key for developers is adding
greater usefulness or functionality to ensure users continue to open and use the apps!

Personal database
Your mobile holds your personal database – the lists of your contacts, their phone
numbers and email addresses. This is one of the most valuable assets within a mobile
phone. Plus, the ease of transferring the data from one device to another has become
simpler over time.

Concierge services
There is also another aspect of mobiles we could call ‘concierge services’, which comprises
appointment or birthday reminders, through to storing hotel reservations and mobile
ticketing for trains, airlines and buses. These are part of a smartphone’s typical offer.

Location services
Location services facilitate the discovery of what’s near me now, from coffee shops to
the next train home, which has added greater utility to mobile devices. There is also
the possibility to share location details with family and friends, which is facilitated
through GPS technology.

However, there are also challenges! You may not wish to share your location with peo-
ple you don’t know. Government agencies can and have tracked individuals. Whereas
this seems reasonable when following felons and criminals, this data can be used to
harm individuals where their otherwise normal behaviour contravenes local laws.

George Argyros and his colleagues explored the ‘privacy guarantees’ of Facebook and
nine other online networks, including dating platforms Grindr, MeetMe and Tinder.
They looked at real-time people tracking and identified vulnerabilities within differ-
ent services which meant that you could be tracked by third parties when this was
not warranted or wanted (see Argyros et al., 2017).

Barcode scanners
Bar code scanners and QR code readers can enable easy access to information where
you can compare prices of goods, see more details about an item or perform specific
actions (see the Case example of Gatwick Airport in Chapter 7, p. 197).

QR codes have evolved into augmented reality tools and, as an example, universities
often have access to Blippar and Aurasma to turn flat 2D posters into 3D information
videos (see Chapter 7 for more).


Ethical Insights Maps for Stalkers
Most of us have enabled our location services, the GPS on our mobile. We might use ‘Find My Friends’ to
see if they are near us now, or perhaps you might find your friends on the Snap Map or via WhatsApp.

And if you are using dating apps, there is a good chance you are looking for people ‘near me
now’ and so are they.

But what if you are being stalked? According to Brett Eterovic-Soric and his colleagues, stalkers
are most often someone you know (Eterovic-Soric et al., 2017).

Although you can cloak your location via ‘ghost mode’ so your location is not visible, this is not
guaranteed. As an example, whenever you post a story to Snapchat, it shares the location of the
person posting the story. Plus, if your friends are tagging you and sharing their location, privacy leak-
age occurs, so you are never invisible online.

Mobile wallet
The ability to create a mobile wallet or mobile payment system, whether you have
added a credit card or pay as you go, has meant the only device needed when you
leave home is your mobile. Mobile payment types and examples of the different pay-
ment applications include:

• Mobile wallet which re-charges a credit card, such as Google Wallet, Apple Pay,
Samsung Pay

• Mobile peer-to-peer payment system with services like Venmo, Facebook
Messenger, Paym

• Pre-loaded credit cards into an app, typically used for convenience apps such as
parking apps (PayByPhone, DashPark, RingGo) and shopping apps (Amazon)

• Text to pay, which are often used for fund-raising where the user is invited to
‘text £5 to XXXX’.

As mobile payments have evolved, an ecosystem surrounding mobile payments has
developed. Figure 6.1 shows an example of the m-payment structure and with so many
partners involved in orchestrating a mobile payment system, it is not surprising that
it is the bigger companies such as Google and Apple that can develop these systems.
Samsung Pay was originally created by the team at LoopPay which Samsung acquired
in 2015, saving themselves the time to develop the technology!

Read ‘Study of mobile payment business model based on third-party mobile payment service
provider’ by Guoling Lao and Hanbing Liu, which was presented at an international confer-
ence on Management and Service Science, as this provides useful background information
(Lao and Liu, 2011).


Application developers

Payment service providers


Credit card companies

Mobile network operators

SIM card supplier

Technology vendors


Service and content provider



Device manufacturers

Financial institutions

Government organization
Regulation agencies

Figure 6.1 The structure of an m-payment ecosystem

Source: Guo and Bouwman, 2016, p. 63

Having started with mobile phones, mobile devices now also include:

• Phablets – a bigger mobile phone that’s a mini tablet

• Wearables – smartwatches, activity trackers and video glasses

• Implantables – devices implanted into the body

Researchers Chi Yo Huang and Yu Sheng Kao described a phablet as ‘an integrated
smart device combining the functionality and characteristics of both tablet PCs and
smart phone’ (Huang and Kao, 2015, p. 2). They also commented that the Samsung
Galaxy Note was the first commercialised phablet.

Abbey Lunney and her colleagues suggested that there are three categories of weara-
bles (Lunney et al., 2016, p. 114):

• Notifiers – that give information about the world around you, such as smart


• Glasses – which use eyeglasses to create augmented virtual reality

• Trackers – which use sensors to record data

Considering these three categories, the challenge is that the lines are blurred. Smart
watches can be notifiers as well as trackers. You can look at your smartwatch to see the
outside temperature, the latest news, the location of your next meeting, and equally,
these devices can be trackers, as they can record your activity and exercise achieve-
ments. The first smart watches were clunky and straight from Star Trek, designed
to be noticed. We are now seeing smaller, more discrete and better designed items
which are becoming pieces of jewellery.

Whereas most people think that electronic recording glasses started with Google
Glass, researcher Richard Chalfen placed this into the arena of digital camera technol-
ogy and commented that there was a long history of miniature spy cameras hidden
in cigarette lighters, pens and attached to clothing (Chalfen, 2014). Google Glass was
launched in 2012 and, although no longer available, the devices remain popular in
the healthcare sector and are being used in telemedicine.

An earlier version of recording spectacles was GoPro, a wearable camera, launched
10 years before Google Glass. The difference between the devices was the additional
functionality connected to augmented reality provided by Glass.

Wearable eyeglasses are no longer limited to augmented reality, they also act as mobile
video recorders, with Snapchat Spectacles providing this functionality, albeit limited
to downloading inside Snapchat. Richard Chalfen suggested that these cameras have
three objectives (2014, p. 299):

1. To record ‘exciting’ even unexpected scenes of action and locations seldom, if
ever, seen, to offer new, fresh, original and memorable perspectives;

2. To record what the camera user sees while undertaking a particularly unusual,
difficult and dangerous activity; and

3. To record what the camera user actually looks like or how the camera user
appears while actually participating in such a particularly unusual, difficult and
dangerous activity; in short, often ‘extreme’ sports.

The issue with wearables is understanding how they can, if at all and whether they
should, be used in mobile marketing.

Implantables are more complex and would need permission from various health
regulation bodies, although some are in development at the moment, for example:

• We already chip dogs as part of a pet passport system, so why not chip small
children? Adding RFID tags could help locate missing children.

• Academics at the University of Illinois are working on epidermal microfluidic
technology – smart tattoos that could open your car, gain access to conferences –
could this mark the end of the festival wristband?


We are addicted to our devices and can’t put them down, even when walking on busy pave-
ments and crossing the road. This has resulted in people bumping into other people or
lampposts, and a growing number of traffic accidents.

A description for these people was coined by the German dictionary Langenscheidt as
Smombie, a concatenation of the words Smartphone and Zombie. It was made the 2015 youth
word of the year (Langenscheidt, 2015).

Marketing application of devices
Having considered the different device types, how can brands harness these for mar-
keting? Table 6.2 shows the use of wearables for marketing, with a range of examples.

Table 6.2 Use of wearables for marketing

Device Sector/Company Example Issues

Wristbands (Nike


Offers free wristbands in return
for sharing health data

Free wristband but close
monitoring of personal health
data, exercise records

Wristbands Leisure/Disney The Magic Band – facilitates
hotel room access, ability to
unlock additional experiences

Can track all activity around
the theme park and direct to
less busy areas (might be less
busy for a reason). Can upsell
additional activities

Watch Airlines/Various Boarding passes on watch Opportunities to add
promotional messages near the
gate. Can’t board the plane if
your battery runs out!

Watch Insurance/Vitality Offers free iWatch in return for
sharing health data

Free watch but close monitoring
of personal health data,
exercise records. What happens
when the exercise stops? Do the
premiums increase?

Mobile app Pharmaceuticals/

MyAsthma tracks asthma
state and advises about
environmental conditions

Useful research data being
created, but possibly too much

Mobile app Skincare/Nivea Solar bracelet free from
magazines (tear out) and place
on child’s wrist and set maximum
distance they can wander; an
alert is sent to the app if they go
outside the set zone

Parents may get complacent in
thinking that the app is minding
the children!

A mobile phone is never more than a few centimetres away. A watch or fitbit is attached
from the moment you wake up, so this means that sending messages to your mobile
can be intrusive. On a personal level, I don’t share my mobile number as I am not


keen on sales messages appearing on my watch, so I find it an invasion of privacy
when companies send sales or promotional text messages.

The question is how do marketers use these platforms in more innovative and
effective ways? Vitality Health, in offering a free or low-cost Apple watch, have
found one clever mechanism for promoting a business benefit to a device. This is
a space we will see developing as companies explore innovative methods to con-
nect with customers.

Every new technology creates opportunities for marketers. One unmissed opportu-
nity has been the development of the mobile advertising industry. We will investigate
this but first we will look at advertising theory and how this features in mobile and
digital advertising.

Advertising theory was largely founded on hierarchy of effects models such as AIDA,
which stands for Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action (St Elmo Lewis, 1899, 1903) and
the notion is that consumers move through a linear process. Bearing in mind that
AIDA was created more than a century ago, it is just not how buying works today. If
you look at consumer journeys (see Chapter 2, The Digital Consumer) you can see that
they are now more complex. Yet equally, in a mobile world, they may be simpler as
(a) we may need something; (b) search or check an app; and (c) buy – so we simply
complete steps (3) desire and (4) action which removes half of the AIDA model and
renders this model redundant in the digital environment.

There are more complex models, supported by significant data, that have evolved
following decades of research. One model created in the 1980s was the elaboration
likelihood model of persuasion, which is also a hierarchical model, as consumers
move through a series of steps.

The elaboration likelihood model of persuasion
The elaboration likelihood model of persuasion (ELM) centres around the concept
of attitudes that guide decisions when processing information and making decisions
about communication messages (Petty and Cacioppo, 1986) and this is shown in
Figure 6.2.

When creating this model, the researchers, Richard Petty and John Cacioppo, added
involvement as a variable – we could call this engagement today – how engaged or
disengaged is the consumer with the offer?

The model starts with persuasion and this initially considers context, at a personal
level, and whether the offer has relevance and resonance for the consumer to be
motivated enough to process the information. Persuasion is seen as a process where
a favourable result, such as responding positively to an advert, is based on how the
user interprets the message.


This is followed by situational context and whether the consumer is able to process
the information when received. Think about your own situational contexts, such as
if you’re on a train with weak Wi-Fi, ads on your mobile may be irritating and the
ability to process may be reduced or removed. Both these factors influence how you
process the information.

The ELM suggested that there are two different routes to processing the information
and both are based on persuasion: (a) the central route; and (b) the peripheral route.
The differences between the two routes are when consumers have:


personal relevance; need

for cognition; personal
responsibility; etc.

distraction; repetition;

prior knowledge; message
comprehensibility; etc.


Attitude is relatively temporary,
susceptible, and unpredictive

of behaviour


affect; attractive
expert sources;

number of arguments;











(initial attitude, argument quality, etc.)








Are new cognitions adopted and
stored in memory? Are

different responses made
salient than previously?



Attitude is relatively enduring,
resistant, and predictive of


Figure 6.2 The elaboration likelihood model of persuasion

Source: Petty and Cacioppo, 1986, p. 126


1. High involvement (personal or contextual) to process communication, which
involves greater cognitive processing effort, called high elaboration likelihood.

2. Where the motivation, ability or opportunity is low or consumers are unwilling
or unable to apply effort to process communication, this is low elaboration and
can be changed by peripheral persuasion cues.

As a hierarchy of effects model it has also been used as a construct in advertising
research by many academics. At the same time, there have been criticisms of ELM as
it takes a duality approach (either this way or that), it lacks rigour and is perceived
as being too qualitative to be measured (Bitner and Obermiller, 1985).

However, it has been used by many researchers investigating online ads, and as mobile
marketing centres around communication this model can help to inform advertis-
ers as to the variables of what works. Figure 6.2 shows the stages of the elaboration
likelihood model of persuasion.

As there is a process for advertising to gain acceptance from consumers through
persuasion, there are a range of mobile advertising options, as shown in Table 6.3.

Table 6.3 Mobile advertising options

Advertising format Explanation Advantages

Text messaging SMS messages with offers Easy to deliver

Mobile display ads Banners on web pages and in apps More effective for utilitarian
purchases, recognised brands and
higher involvement

Native mobile ads
in-feed social

Looks like a regular piece of content although
it must contain the word ‘ad’, ‘promoted’ or

Behaves like an ordinary piece of
content so easier to engage

Native mobile ads
in-feed content

Within editorial feeds and on news walls Matches site content

Native mobile ads
in-feed commerce

Retail product listings on site such as Amazon,

Same functionality as other product
listings and can prioritise specific
product listings

Native mobile ads

Ads that appear when you look at a map
and see nearest coffee shop or takeaway

Users are less familiar with the
location and may be actively seeking
services such as food or drink

Native mobile ads

Often used in games and free software, can
work on a rewards or points basis

Captures users in the moment

Native mobile ads paid

Typically these appear in search engines such
as Google, Bing and Yahoo

Users often searching with intent and
need the item at that time, so can
result in higher conversion rates

Native mobile ads
recommendation widgets

‘Recommended for you’ or ‘You may like’ widgets
often appear at the end of some content

Can drive traffic to specific content

Native mobile ads

A more expensive option as these are often
custom ads created by brands and can be
editorial, apps, games or videos which work
well with location data

Useful for brand awareness


Professor Dhruv Grewal and colleagues explored mobile advertising and created an
effectiveness framework, which is shown in Figure 6.3 and which comprises seven
components. These flag potential challenges and disadvantages of mobile advertising.

Firm Factors
Top Management

Big Data &

Omnichannel &

Firm Focus
(B2C or B2B)

Market Factors
• Nature of industry
• Market differences
• Variety of devices and
• Partnerships
• Regulations
• Privacy

• Place in consumer
• Past history
(purchases, ads
• Socio/psycho/

• Environmental:
Location, time,
weather, events,
economic conditions
• Technology: device,
delivery mechanism
availability, owned or
third party, another
screen presence

Ad Elements
• Ad medium
• Media type
• Push/pull
• lnteractive/
• Promotional

Ad Goal
• Awareness/
Attention to ad
• Engagement
(e.g. traffic)
• Purchase intent/
• Conversion
• Repurchase
• Advocacy

Outcome Metrics
• Behavioural
attitude, intent)
• Share (e.g. likes)
• Clicks
• Purchases
• Loyalty/NPS
• Digital WOM

Figure 6.3 Mobile advertising effectiveness framework

Source: Grewal et al., 2016, p. 4

The first of these is context, which concerns the situation where the user receives the
ad. Again, this is an echo from the ELM as situational context is a key factor, which
could be based on the user’s environment, which represents their physical location,
or the technological context, which is about the device. Google has stated that there
are more searches on mobile than on desktop and 30% of searches are connected to
location (Google, 2016). So has Google become the new Yellow Pages? Each year we
get a smaller and smaller telephone directory of local businesses. If there’s a water
leak in the bathroom, we need a plumber and thinking back to 40 years ago, we would
have used Yellow Pages. Today, I might ask Siri for a list of plumbers ‘near me now’
or I might search for plumbers in my location. As Grewal et al. (2016, p. 5) observed,
‘Google Maps offers a location-sensitive version of sponsored search advertising,
such that relevant business ads appear as headlines in the displayed map’. If I need
a service in an emergency, such as a plumber, I’m searching with intent. It’s unlikely
I am browsing the internet for the amusement of seeking plumbers! If I’m searching
on a mobile with a small screen, I just need a set of relevant results.

Consumers or consumer context is the next area for consideration. This reflected on
where a consumer might be in their journey (see Chapter 2, The Digital Consumer).
Professor Grewal’s research suggested that mobile ads might encourage recognition
of an unmet need – the idea that you buy something you didn’t know you needed!


Another area where mobile ads could help is to move consumers to competitors they
may not be aware of, as well as reminding consumers about their purchase past his-
tory. Effectively at all stages of the customer journey, from pre-purchase, purchase
to post-purchase, mobile ads could help.

Once the context has been understood, the next stage is the ad goal. What is the
purpose of the advert? The difficulty is that the metrics are not standardised, which
creates issues when measuring mobile. Added to this, the concept of attribution,
which is about crediting conversions to touchpoints in the customer journey (see
Chapter 13, Digital Marketing Metrics, Analytics and Reporting), can be complicated.

Market factors addresses six different issues depending on the location and target

1. The type of industry is the first aspect to consider, based on the opportunities
available in the local environment.

2. This is followed by the ability to deliver the ads through the channels, as differ-
ent regions have different regulations as to what is and isn’t permitted in that

3. The third factor is around the technology, as different devices facilitate different

4. The fourth aspect within market factors is regarding the relationships or partner-
ships, which encourages the marketer to explore how these could impact the ad

5. The next item is regulations, and one factor that will impact mobile ads is GDPR
(see Key Term – General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), p. 19).

6. The last factor is privacy, also connected to GDPR, and how this impacts on
consumers and their perceptions of the brand.

Ad elements are about the channel (social media feed, in content, in maps – see Figure
6.3 for examples) and the media type – simple text ads, rich content and how it is
delivered. This takes us back to message appeals that you have probably covered on
an advertising module. If you haven’t, take a look at Table 14.1 Message appeal types
applied to digital marketing (p. 341).

Outcome metrics relate back to the ad goal and what the desired results should or
could be. Grewal and the team suggested different types of metrics from awareness to
word of mouth (WOM), and from clicks to the goal most organisations have – purchase.

The key is that mobile ads can target consumers based on:

• Handset type

• Connection – Wi-Fi or network

• Time of day

• Where you are (at home, at work, at the pub, watching football, shopping)

• Your behaviour (in the day, in the evening, first or second search for an item)

• Your demographics


Activity 6.2 Create a Mobile Advert
1. Select one target audience for the advert – this could be university students.

2. Choose two advertising formats.

3. Write the words for the ad, bearing in mind the space restrictions on a mobile phone.

4. Suggest suitable images, whether static (pictures, photos or emoticons) or moving (videos,
moving GIFs).

5. Use other software (PowerPoint, Word, Photoshop) to build your advert concepts.

6. Present back to the class.

See Template online: Create a mobile advert

Platforms and tools
There are many mobile advertising networks available, of which AdMob by Google is
possibly the best known as it offers app developers the ability to analyse, monetise
and promote apps.

Figure 6.4, designed by computer scientists, shows a framework for how ad networks
operate to manage publishers, applications and advertisers with advertisement librar-
ies. This was based on research into combating fraud in mobile ad networks, so it
was important to include all steps from the publisher to the advertiser. Fraud occurs
in all forms of advertising and mobile is no exception.

Publisher Application

2. Sign up ad network

3. SDK library

4. App with library

5. Ad request

6. Ad information

8. Pay money

7. Pay money

1. Add new ad

Ad network Advertiser

Figure 6.4 How ad networks work to manage publishers, applications and advertisers with
an advertisement library

Source: Cho et al., 2016, p. 3


The acronym ‘SDK’ refers to the Software Development Kit, which is a set of tools
for developing apps.

Figure 6.4 is a useful way to understand the process of implementing mobile ad
campaigns as it’s not as straightforward as an advertiser contacting a purchaser to
promote a mobile ad. The mediator is the ad network, which could be Apple, Google
or many others, depending on the ad objectives. There are specialist networks to
monetise mobile games, as well as those that provide the results in search engines
(see the following Smartphone Sixty Seconds® activity to explore the different mobile
ad networks).

Smartphone Sixty Seconds® –
Best Mobile AD Networks
• On your mobile phone go online and search for ‘best mobile ad networks 2017’.
• How many networks do you find?
• Click on one of these to explore what it offers marketers.

The increase in mobile ads has led to a new illegal business called mobile ad fraud,
which takes place through various technical means, including:

• Impression fraud – companies selling banners and stacking many banners on top
of each other (ad stacking)

• Click fraud – generating a fake transaction and the publisher is charged; this is
often created by bots (see Key Term) through automatic programs.

To combat this there are many bespoke software programs that can identify fraudulent
behaviour, but this takes a significant amount of management and time.

The best definition of clickbots (also shortened to bots) that I have found is from researchers Neil
Daswani and Michael Stoppelman, who presented a working paper at a specialist computer
conference which was the first to consider bots:

A clickbot is a software robot that clicks on ads (issues HTTP requests for advertiser web
pages) to help an attacker conduct click fraud. Some clickbots can be purchased, while
others are malware that spread as such and are part of larger botnets. Malware-type
clickbots can receive instructions from a botmaster server as to what ads to click, and
how often and when to click them. (Daswani and Stoppelman, 2007, p. 1)


Programmatic advertising
Karl Weaver, CEO of Isobar, a global, full-service, digital agency, often has to explain
how online advertising, digital and mobile, has changed. He has contributed most of
this section around programmatic advertising.

In the past advertising was booked via a phone call between a media owner and
a media agency who struck a deal over placement and cost. Digital media enables
this to be done automatically and, whilst estimates vary, it is recognised that pro-
grammatic dominates the digital display market, with budgets exceeding $60 billion
expected by 2018.

Programmatic advertising works as webpages typically carry spaces for advertising
and when you load a webpage there is lots of information gathered about you and
your web behaviour (see Key Term – cookie, p. 42). This data is sent back to an ad
exchange where the inventory on the site is auctioned off to the highest bidder. The
ad that wins appears on the page as you load it. The auction takes milliseconds and
the process is referred to as programmatic real-time bidding (RTB).

Programmatic is a delivery method, and as shown in Table 6.4 there are unsurpris-
ingly benefits of and downsides to programmatic advertising. This mainly centres
around the speed of the process and the control afforded by the systems. Due to
difficulties with how this works, Karl Weaver commented that ‘this has contributed
to some clients deciding to take their programmatic buying in-house’.

Table 6.4 Benefits and downside of programmatic advertising

Benefits of programmatic advertising Downsides to programmatic advertising

• Efficiency gains as the process is automated
• No need to research where to place the ad as

happens automatically
• What to pay is automatically calculated and

marketers have pricing control and can decide
whether or not to enter the auction

• Wider range of places to advertise
• Access to digital performance data and analysis

• Changes the nature of contracts between
organisation and agency

• The type and number of people needed to
deliver the work are reduced

• Data governance issues arise as less control as
to where ads appear

• Could remove the need for creative people
• Ad fraud

To work out what ad space to buy, advertisers will use a demand-side platform (see
Key Term), which means that there is limited human intervention. The process allows
ads to be targeted to groups of people accessible across a wide range of websites.

A demand-side platform (DSP) is automated software that bids on space available through ad
exchanges, allowing the advertiser to manage the whole ad process in one place.


There are many DSPs and the larger ones include:

• Facebook Ads Manager

• AppNexus

• Rocket Fuel

• Amazon

• DoubleClick.

The future of advertising is programmatic, whether it’s for mobile, digital, other chan-
nels like TV, out of home or traditional print media. Karl Weaver added:

Some believe that programmatic will ‘terminate’ the creative. This turns out not
to be the case, at least for now. Creatives need to adapt, like they have done
before – and they are. In fact, because the message can be personalised more
easily with programmatic it usually means more creative content is needed to
implement a successful campaign.

Case Example 6.1 Car Companies
in Difficulty with Programmatic
Programmatic advertising can cause major problems and Jaguar Land Rover and Mercedes were
alerted to their brand ads being shown in the same place as terrorist videos. Honda and Nissan car
ads also appeared next to material relating to extremist political groups, without their knowledge.

This is a challenge with programmatic as no terrorist or extreme movement will use the labels
and tags to correctly attribute the content of their work. This means that the only way that companies
can ensure their brand videos are shown in the right places is to verify all locations, which is nearly
impossible. There were different reactions to the findings and all companies were shocked and stated
that they had not authorised the positioning. The challenge is that with 300 hours of video uploaded
to popular sites like YouTube daily, this is difficult to monitor.

Jaguar Land Rover simply stopped its campaign and removed all its digital ads, whilst Mercedes
asked its agency to review the situation and updated its blocklist (Dron, 2017).

Case Questions
Imagine you are working for a well-known brand and your ads appear next to undesirable videos,
without your knowledge. You find out when a journalist makes contact to ask why your brand is sup-
porting terrorists or extremists:

• What is your reaction?
• How could you explain this to the senior management team?
• How could you ensure it did not happen again?


Apps have risen in importance as we continue to download more and more apps.
Each mobile phone we buy has more data storage, to cope with our love of apps.
Apps can be expensive to develop and the cost depends on the purpose of the app
and the functionality. The website http://howmuchtomakeanapp.com provides an
indication, based on your requirements.

There are three main types of apps that will be discussed here.

Native app
Developed for use on a specific platform, such as iOS or Android, and to work offline.
Native apps are totally compatible with the software and hardware of individual
devices. They are often more expensive as you need to carry out separate coding
projects for each device that needs to access the app. As an example, the PayByPhone
app is available for Apple, Android, BlackBerry and Windows phones which means
that the developers have to follow the coding guidelines for each device and submit
separate apps to each store. This is why you sometimes see ‘not available for Windows
phones’ as a message on some native app websites. Examples of native apps include
Facebook and Shazam.

Hybrid app
These work across different platforms and are part native app and part web app.
Hybrid apps run on the device and are written in web coding languages and are
often a cut-down version of a website. Examples include Evernote, Twitter and Gmail.

Web app
These are not really apps but a website that looks and functions like an app. Web
apps are internet-enabled and need a browser which means that in an area without
internet access, they don’t work! Examples include National Rail Enquiries and
Trip Advisor®.

Apps are available either free of charge, for a cost, or for specific users and can be
accessed via the app marketplace which includes: Apple App store, Google Play store,
AppWorld and Windows store.

All apps are submitted to the app marketplace for approval by the marketplace
owner. The marketplaces generate an income as a percentage of sales or from
advertising revenue.


Google is helping with indexing apps (see Digital Tool: Google App Indexing) which
could change how brands promote their apps. Essentially, application indexing is
how search engines like Google record the content of mobile applications and they
display this information in search results. You may have noticed results for in-app
content in some of your Google search results and it’s likely that this will continue.

Apps are often downloaded and used once or twice and then abandoned. As researcher
Joy Armitage noted, ‘Apps that have more relevant content and are easier to use will
result in people using them more frequently’ (Armitage, 2015, p. 22).

Digital Tool Google App Indexing
Go to https://firebase.google.com/docs/app-indexing and learn how Google indexes new apps in
its search engine.

As marketers you may not be coding and developing new apps, although you need
to understand the process as you may be responsible for briefing app developers.

It’s an open secret that many apps never make it into the app marketplaces! They
fail the basic requirements and are rejected, which means that organisations spend
millions of dollars on wasted apps. Therefore it is critical that all elements are cov-
ered for three reasons: (a) the apps are accepted into the app marketplaces; (b) the
apps gain user downloads; and (c) the apps gain usage. That’s to say, if they’re not
in the marketplace they can’t be downloaded, and if they aren’t fit for purpose or
have limited functionality, they won’t be downloaded, and if they are downloaded,
they need to be used.

The purpose of the app
The first stage in the development process is to understand the purpose of the app
and why it may be needed. Are there other, easier solutions such as a mobile respon-
sive website or online login area? What additional benefits does the app provide for
the company? Having a clear vision at the start is critical. The purpose of the app
may include:

• Save time and money by simplifying a work process

• Make tasks easier

• Gain user data

• Increase sales by simplifying the customer journey

• Generate income from advertising.


When reviewing apps Charmian Reynoldson and her colleagues noted that there
could be two versions:

• Pro version – full version of an app available for a fee, with no limits on function,
no advertisements and full technical support

• Lite version – free-to-download version, which may have limited functions and/
or be supported by advertisements (Reynoldson et al., 2014, p. 901).

Reynoldson and colleagues’ research explored the quality and usability of smartphone
apps for pain self-management and they discovered that ‘apps can be developed and
marketed without regulation or guidance, which is a particular concern for apps
used in health settings’ (p. 908). This concerns the purpose of an app, and if it is
simply a money-making vehicle, rather than a genuinely useful tool, it may gain less
re-engagement as users seek greater functionality.

Target audience
Understanding who will use the app is key to later aspects of design and also to
relevant content.

Two Belfast-based researchers, Anne Campbell and Mary McColgan, were exploring
the development of apps for social work education and process. They started on the
basis that ‘mobile technologies are an integral part of students’ lives’ (Campbell and
McColgan, 2016, p. 298). Having clearly defined their audience, one element they
found invaluable was getting users to advise on the type of content needed.

Wireframes are online sketches of the functional elements in a web page or app. It is
important to sketch these out as the marketing person creating the brief might have
a long list of requirements for in-app functions and a wireframe shows the reality
of how this looks. Seeing or visualising the design means that functions that are not
critical can be removed, which contributes towards a more positive user experience.

Wireframes enable the development of the user journey (there is more about the user
journey in Chapter 2, The Digital Consumer) as you can look at each step through the
app. Wireframes are useful to content creators so they can plan the content outline for

Digital Tool Wireframes
You don’t need to wait for the mobile app designers to create the wireframes as there are some free
online tools that you can use and experiment with, to gain greater understanding of wireframes.

Try the digital wireframe and mock-up tools for yourself:

• balsamiq.com/products/mockups
• moqups.com


each page. Often the content arrives much later on; the use of wireframes encourages
much earlier content development.

Have a go using the Digital Tool on the previous page and create your own wireframe!

Jennifer Wang, a writer for Entrepreneur, interviewed the directors of an American
app development firm who shared lessons in app building (Wang, 2012). Their advice
on design included:

• Make sure the design is flexible, customisable and intuitive (p. 84).

• Every design element must be considered in terms of efficiency and functionality
(p. 85).

• At the same time, the organisation’s branding guidelines need to be followed or
adapted so that the users recognise the brand in the app.

Only after the purpose is clear, the audience has been agreed, the wireframes planned
and the design considered, does the development begin. No coding should start until
all these other processes have been completed and signed off.

The development phase is likely to include coding, which depends on the type of
app being created. It also includes user management, especially if there are lite
and pro versions. Customisation, which we could also call personalisation, also
features in the development phase, where you work out what may be needed. As
an example, Manuel Rivera and his colleagues in hospitality management investi-
gated mobile services within a tourism setting and suggested that ‘personalization
services present great opportunities not only for tourists to customize their own
experiences but also for local service and product providers to capture business
opportunities’ (Rivera et al., 2016, p. 2727). Therefore a tourism app with custom-
isable location-based services could provide users with greater value and is more
likely to be downloaded.

Other aspects of development comprise data integration so that any data or push
notification functionality can be built in from the start. It is also necessary to
explore how to synchronise data. If you think about tourism and hotels being
added and possibly removed, on a regular basis, there should be a way to keep
the app up to date.

User interface design and development
The next stage is user interface design and development. When the ‘back-end’ coding
is done, what does the user see? Does it work? Is it as originally planned?

One app that failed on the user interface design was LinkedIn. The desktop app func-
tioned well but the mobile app could be dangerous as you could explore someone’s
profile and connect without intending to!


There should be at least two rounds of testing – the initial testing then beta
testing, and then more testing, all of which should lead to improvements. As
Jennifer Wang’s article in Entrepreneur mentioned, when any element is changed
it needs to be re-tested as changes can create issues where there were none before
(Wang, 2012).

When the app is ready to go, it’s time to release it to the world. The technical term is
‘deployment’ and this is about placing it into the agreed app marketplace. There are
several factors to consider at this stage:

• Timing – are you submitting an app a month before major holidays such as
Thanksgiving in the United States, Christmas in the UK or other festivals for your
target audience? If the answer is yes, you will have to fight to get noticed as so
many apps are released at these times. It is better to release before or after these
times to gain greater visibility in the app stores.

• Reviews are critical to the success of an app so it may be shared with fans at an
early stage to gain positive feedback: ‘The more four and five star reviews you
get at the beginning, the higher your app will rank on Apple’s charts – and the
easier it will be for people to discover your product’ (Wang, 2012, p. 87).

• App store optimisation – ensuring that the app looks attractive to potential users
when they explore the app marketplaces.

As a marketer you will probably be responsible for the promotion of the app. Consider
carefully the actions you will take to promote the app; this is often easier if you were
involved with the initial design process.

One factor that keeps apps at the top of the charts is updates. When apps are updated,
they are re-listed as new in the charts. Plan in advance the optimum timing for the
updates. Apps that are not updated eventually stop working as they no longer func-
tion with software updates on the devices.

Measuring results
Where would digital marketing be without measurement? The longest-established
provider of app metrics is Yahoo flurry. There are others, such as localytics.com,
but Yahoo Flurry has significant longitudinal data to see how your app compares to
others in the same market.

App analytics are similar to Google Analytics (see Chapter 13, Digital Marketing
Metrics, Analytics and Reporting) and, for example, the data shows you:


• Session length – how long a user spends using the app

• Time in app – the total time in app over a specific period of time such as a week
or a month

• Source of users – where they found out about the app and downloaded it; this
could be via the app marketplaces, social media or elsewhere

• Retention – this is a big issue as many users download an app, use once and never
again and retention shows the percentage of visitors who return after their first

• Lifetime value – how much you could generate from individual users – assuming
that it’s a paid-for, or has in-app purchases or sells advertising

Activity 6.3 Plan a Promotional
Campaign for a New App
1. Look through the apps on your mobile and find one with some functionality – not a game –

the type of app that you use that’s useful.

2. Imagine you’re working for a competitor to develop a new, better app that provides greater

3. Create a three-month promotional plan to launch the app in order to gain maximum positive
reviews and downloads.

4. The plan should include a high-level overview of the promotional objectives as well as an
action plan showing who will undertake which actions along with a budget to support the

Case Example 6.2 Work Wallet™, the
Health and Safety App for Business
Work Wallet is a mobile app and cloud-based system created by Greendog. It was specifically
designed to reduce risk and blind spots in a business, giving employers full transparency of their
whole workforce supply chain.

The key driver in this market was a change in legislation in February 2016. The new law changed the
financial penalties for businesses for breaches in Health and Safety. The powers given to magistrates
can result in fines ranging from £200,000 to potentially millions.



Work Wallet’s ‘Mobile First’ service allows employers to provide their employees with up-to-date,
real-time information, enabling a stronger information-sharing relationship between employer and
employee, especially when managing employees working at off-site locations.

Work Wallet enables employees to:

• Receive notifications and reminders from management teams
• Receive the latest Risk Assessment Method Statement (RAMS) on site documents
• Use a location clock on/off service (in real time with GPS tracking)
• Track the status of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE)
• Report accidents and potential risks
• Use the Vehicle Management Suite (registered vehicles, scheduled inspections and accident reporting)

This system has the potential to save these businesses significant operational costs and make a real
difference in improving workers’ safety, ultimately saving lives in the process.

The smart technology in Work Wallet enables businesses to connect their office staff, remote
workers and contractors, ensuring their workforce supply chain is Health and Safety compliant. If an
accident does happen, the business has a fully auditable system to show the Health & Safety Execu-
tive (HSE), which can assist in providing evidence of actions in favour of the business.

See www.work-wallet.com

Case Questions
This is an example of a business app and these are often the most useful, saving time, saving costs
or, as in this example, potentially saving lives.

• Consider a part-time or summer job where you may have worked. Did they have an app? If yes,
what was the purpose of the app? How well did it work?

• If no, how could they have used an app to better manage the business?


When people use a mobile device for a search, they usually need a result! As I men-
tioned in mobile advertising, if I am searching for a plumber, it’s less likely to be for
amusement and more often in desperation.

As with regular desktop or tablet searching, the mobile search provider will provide
two types of results: (a) organic or (b) paid (see section 3.6.2 Search engine optimi-
sation). Within these search results you may find directories, price comparison and
review sites; this is often when the search term includes locations or dates.

Mobile searchers also use different places to search, which may include:

• Directories such as Google Places, Yahoo Local, Bing Places, Thompson Local,
Yell, and in the United States people often use Yelp

• Price comparison and review sites which can be around specific themes
such as holidays, and may include TripAdvisor®, Booking.com, Skyscanner
or Kayak.


Having reviewed mobile search functionality, the next step is the concept of geo-
marketing and beacons. Geo-marketing is a way of describing geographically targeted
marketing, which could include location-based searches as well as people ‘near me
now’ with the iBeacon facility. This data is not always accurate, as these digital tools
will show: whatismyIP.com, mylocation.org and google.co.uk/locationhistory.

6.6.1 iBEACONS
At a developer conference in 2013 Apple launched the concept of iBeacons which
are a core-location feature that has been available on Apple devices since iOS 7 and
is used to determine precisely where a device is located, even when the device is
underground or otherwise out of decent signal range.

The technology uses BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) as opposed to GPS, 3G or Wi-Fi
data to locate the device, and any device featuring Bluetooth 4.0 can act as a beacon,
meaning iBeacons are not restricted to Apple devices.

Applications of iBeacons
iBeacons allow shops, museums and many other destinations to install technology
that can detect mobile phones that are nearby. This means that shops and museums
could send relevant offers to passing consumers or welcome returning visitors.

Businesses have been slow to start implementing iBeacons, although some of the
world’s largest retail corporations are using the technology. Supermarket giant Tesco
implemented iBeacons into its Click & Collect app to inform customers where to pick
up their shopping upon arrival. Specialist supermarket Waitrose also used iBeacons
to inform customers of its latest in-store offers and promotions from aisle to aisle.

Other ways that organisations could use iBeacons include:

• To serve offers and sale information in real time. This could include offers to be
redeemed in store. US department store Macy’s has been using iBeacons to alert
customers of the offers and deals they have while they are in store.

• To deliver real-world remarketing as businesses could allow retailers to alert
nearby customers that they have a product in stock that they had previously
expressed interest in online. IKEA uses iBeacons connected to its Family app
and can remind visitors to collect their free weekday coffee!

• To notify customers of the status of their click and collect packages. Woolworth’s
(Australia) have used geo-location technology to alert the store managers about
the proximity of click and collect customers, allowing them to ensure orders are
ready and customers need not wait or queue.

• To serve highly tailored demographics-based messages. With customer data col-
lection high on the agenda for many retail businesses, it is possible that this data
could be combined with in-store iBeacons to serve highly tailored messages to
existing customers. Cosmetics chain retailer Sephora used this technique to offer
nearby customers 15-minute makeovers if it was their birthday.


• Smaller businesses could benefit from using micro-location offers to encourage

• Local restaurants offering two-for-one deals on meals on Monday evenings could
attract the attention of anyone walking past.

Beacons can track devices as they pass and deliver data including:

• Event: the type of event completed by the user (redeeming an offer, booking a
restaurant table, collecting goods)

• Number of devices per event: a breakdown of how many devices have triggered
each type of event

• Number of devices per beacon: the number of unique devices seen by each beacon

• Devices over time: the number of devices seen for a given time period

• Number of devices per location: the number of unique devices that have trig-
gered an event for a specific location

• Content delivered: the content delivered with each event (offer, notification etc.).

If effective, beacons could be used as location-based loyalty programmes that know
who I am, my preferences and my purchase history. This is ideal if I am visiting a
regular coffee bar. This concept was trialled and failed as location services are not
without challenges.

The app Foursquare was designed as an online loyalty card; you could check in to the
location, they would be able to see your preferences and reward your loyalty. The most
loyal customer was promoted to become the ‘mayor’ with special privileges. The chal-
lenge was that the geo-fencing was not robust enough and you could be somewhere
other than in the location. As an example, when working in an office in Oxford Street
in London I frequently checked into the café at Debenhams department store and
even though I never visited the actual store, I was promoted to ‘mayor’. My privileges
as mayor included free coffee on Thursdays. I didn’t quite have the nerve to turn up
and say ‘Hi, I’m the mayor, your most loyal customer, and I’m here for my free coffee!’

Quick Response (QR) codes are small dots or pixels on a page, usually printed in a
square shape. They are similar to barcodes and the main difference is that barcodes
are restricted to 20 numbers whereas QR codes can store large amounts of data which
means that when they are scanned, they show additional content such as: website
details (URLs); contact information including business cards; and specific information
or small videos about the product or location.

QR codes were invented by Denso Wave, a subsidiary of the Toyota Motors company,
as part of their manufacturing workflow processes. QR codes could be created and
attached to cars as they moved through the production line, so you could consider
this as a car passport showing all tests that were completed before the car was driven
off to a showroom for sale.

In their 2016 article ‘A review: QR codes and its image pre-processing method’, Anjali
Singh and Parvinder Singh explained that QR codes are ‘readable by moderately


equipped mobile phones with cameras and QR code scanners’ (Singh and Singh,
2016, p. 1955).

When initially introduced QR codes were popular within advertising agencies as
they saw the potential to include so much additional product or service information.
The challenge was that consumers were less keen and adoption was slow. Originally
designed for the automotive sector, so that all product information was stored in one
place, today they are used:

• In education – verifying students, especially for exams

• On some CVs – adding value with an ‘introduction to me’ video!

• In healthcare – delivering additional patient information for medics to read

• In museums and tourist attractions – providing background or more information
about the exhibit or location

• At events and conferences – sharing the full conference guide

• On product packaging – giving more details about what’s inside and ordering spares

There has been further marketing application of QR codes in social media with
Snapchat, where you create your Snapcode that can be shared. Plus some virtual
reality glasses include a QR code that takes the user through to a VR application.
Plus QR code readers are becoming native to the camera app, in systems like Apple.

The article ‘A review on QR Codes: colored and image embedded’ by Seema Ahlawat and
Chhavi Rana (2017) provides a useful overview.

Short message services, or SMS, or text messages, have become more sophisticated
with the development of multimedia message service (MMS) and with so many other
mobile options, SMS is less used for mass marketing. One key factor is that text
messages are personal communications and when used by organisations without
permission, they are seen as intrusive. It is easy to stop or block text messages with
smartphones and as initially there was a cost attached to sending or receiving text
messages, they were used within the mobile phone package that people purchased.
The advent of secure and free text messages within systems like WhatsApp enables
users to send messages free of charge, as long as you have a Wi-Fi connection.

Organisations still use SMS for

• Appointment reminders – from the dentist, hairdresser

• Balance statements – from your bank and mobile phone provider

• Booking confirmations – from taxi firms

• Verification codes – from software packages


Another area where SMS has developed is for focused messages to specific target
audiences. For this reason, SMS is popular in providing support messages related to
healthcare at all levels, from smoking cessation to weight loss, from diet to mental health.
Researchers Stephanie Spohr and her colleagues as well as Chris Nicholson have explored
the benefits of SMS in health-related programmes (Spohr et al., 2015; Nicholson, 2017)
and this research demonstrated the effectiveness of short communications as one-to-one
support for health and personal issues.

Other researchers, Dimitris Drossos and his colleagues, reviewed many recipients of
SMS messages and concluded that not all products are suitable for SMS due to the
limited informational capacity as well as the context in which the user receives the
message (Drossos et al., 2013). Their main findings were perhaps not so surprising
as they commented that perceived ad credibility, attitude towards mobile ads, the
message appeal and quality of the content tended to improve results. We could argue
that the same applies for most forms of adverts.

In theory SMS could be used for location-based adverts; as you approached a store
or restaurant you could receive a message, possibly containing an offer. The issue is
that users would need to confirm acceptance and, as most apps include options for
push notifications, we prefer to control how we receive these messages. It may be
that we are used to our personally selected apps notifying us, but not to receiving
texts from strangers!

1. Thinking about mobile ad fraud, how could smaller organisations avoid this

so their budget wasn’t wasted? How do you think the perpetrators should be

2. Imagine you are working for a large organisation that uses an agency to buy their
ads using programmatic systems. How do you ensure your organisation does not
appear next to undesirable or irrelevant or offensive websites?

3. Write a brief for a mobile app. Identify its purpose and target audience. Support
your proposal with research evidence.

This chapter has explored:

• The mobile ecosystem and the benefits and risks for users.

• How the m-payment system functions.

• Different types of mobile advertising.

• Critical factors in planning and promoting apps.

• Wider use of mobile from geo-marketing to QR codes.


When you have read this chapter, you will be able to:

Understand the different types of realities

Apply the technology readiness scale

Analyse experiential value

Evaluate the six dimensions of interactivity

Create an outline proposal for a VR or AR tool or app

When you have worked through this chapter, you should be able to:

• Construct an outline proposal for a VR or AR tool or app


Augmented, virtual and mixed realities are moving into our everyday lives. From
games to kitchen design, this chapter explains the differences as well as providing
real-world case studies to see how organisations are applying these realities into
their marketing mix.

Frameworks like the cuelessness model and technology readiness scale demonstrate
how it can take years to evolve a concept into a business application. You will learn
the key concepts surrounding augmented, virtual and mixed realities and understand
its future.

Computers can facilitate or mediate different forms of communication; we call this
computer-mediated communication (CMC), a space where traditional verbal commu-
nication may be absent.

There are various theories surrounding CMC and in Chapter 11 on social media man-
agement we explore four of these that directly connect to how individuals present
and disclose information online, as well as the type of media that has greatest impact.
These four theories are: (1) self-presentation; (2) social presence; (3) media richness;
and (4) self-disclosure.

Part of the rationale for these theories is that through computer communication one
factor that’s removed is the face-to-face contact. In the past this was considered scary
and meant all communication would fail, so in the 1970s and 1980s Nigel Kemp and
Derek Rutter developed a framework called the cuelessness model which considered
aspects of this concept (Kemp and Rutter, 1986). Their research disputed earlier
notions that visual face-to-face contact was critical for social interaction. They hadn’t
heard of WhatsApp – well, to be fair, WhatsApp didn’t exist back then, nor did smart-
phones. In some households you shared a main telephone with a neighbour because
it was often the only fast way to get a telephone system into the house; it was called
a ‘party line’ and you had to pick up the phone and listen to see if the neighbour was
on the phone before you dialled. Honestly, at that time the only telecoms company
in the UK – British Telecom – could make you wait up to six months to get a phone!

To test the need for visual cues, Kemp and Rutter based their work on field studies
with visually impaired people. This was a smart way to prove or disprove a theory
and working with the one audience that would always be missing the ability to see
these cues.

Their work demonstrated that if there were the fewer social cues this increased psy-
chological distance. They also found that the greater the psychological distance the
more task-orientated and depersonalised the content. This sounds logical if you think
about a telephone interview and how this can be stilted. It tends to be:


a. task-orientated; for example, your first task is to get through this interview and
the sub-tasks are to communicate your key skills.

b. depersonalised content; for example, you may not want to tell the interviewer
that you spend your weekends partying with friends – you need to keep it pro-
fessional rather than personal.

At the same time, this is about context. If I’m speaking to friends, the content will be
very different to speaking to work colleagues or tutors. Another researcher, Professor
Sara Kiesler, investigated cues and how they could lead to other possibly unexpected
benefits. Her work explored different technologies, including email and its lack of cues,
and suggested new technology would mean that ‘people will relate to one another in
different ways’ (Kiesler, 1986, p. 60). This demonstrates the adage that we adapt to our
circumstances; we find a way through and often work on ways to improve the situation.

These different ways have evolved, as over time we have seen an array of develop-
ments in CMC, from internet relay chat (IRC) – which was like instant messaging via
computers with really old screens and should have been called internet delay chat
as it was so slow – to early versions of internet telephone calls (without video) that
normally started with the shouty words ‘CAN YOU HEAR ME?’

These technological developments lacked social cues. You couldn’t see the person’s
expressions when they received the message or took the call. We have moved on sig-
nificantly since then and, as you discovered in Chapter 2, the Technology Acceptance
Model was an early mechanism for understanding how likely people would be to adopt
new technology and is a way of identifying possible barriers to technology adoption.

One technology that is gaining widespread use and adoption is virtual, augmented
and mixed reality. You might think it’s new to Snapchat, although it has been around
for more than 50 years. In this chapter we will look at these different forms of reality,
their application in different settings and how they work.

There is some confusion between the different types of realities and the Key Terms
in this section define each one. Researchers Paul Milgram and Fumio Kishino defined
mixed reality and provided a continuum, albeit a simplified version of the levels of
reality, which illustrated the development of augmented, virtual and mixed realities,
as shown in Figure 7.1.


Reality (AR)

Virtuality (AV)

Virtuality Continuum (VC)


Mixed Reality (MR)

Figure 7.1 Simplified representation of a ‘virtuality continuum’

Source: Milgram, P. and Kishino, F. (1994) ‘A Taxonomy of Mixed Reality Visual Displays’, IEICE Transactions on Information
and Systems, 77 (12)/1323.

Copyright © 2018 IEICE. Permission number: 18RB0104


Ronald Azuma, whilst a PhD student, provided a lengthy definition of augmented reality (AR) as
‘a variation of virtual reality’ and he added that ‘AR supplements reality, rather than completely
replacing it’ (Azuma, 1997, p. 356).

Fernanda Faust and her colleagues provided an alternative definition: ‘Augmented reality
can be defined as the superposition of virtual objects (computer generated images, texts,
sounds etc.) on the real environment of the user’ (Faust et al., 2012, p. 1164).

Although Azuma’s definition was good, it was lengthy. The Faust definition is more akin to
how we see and use AR today.

AugmentedReality.org publishes research into augmented reality and its application com-
mercially. See www.augmentedreality.org/ar-market-research.

Virtual reality has existed for decades, as the timeline in Table 7.1 shows. Technology
is often founded in science fiction and VR is no exception. Whilst early sci-fi writers
imagined virtual environments, research labs have been working on VR goggles,
which were initially termed ‘Head Mounted Displays’ (HMDs) and resembled a
clumsy type of SCUBA mask for more than 50 years. The mask design doesn’t seem
to have changed much and it took decades from the early prototypes to get to the
commercially available Samsung Gear, Oculus Rift and Microsoft HoloLens. One of
the key reasons for this is the technology getting smaller, cheaper and easier to use.

Table 7.1 Virtual and augmented reality timeline

1950 Ray Bradbury’s short story ‘The Veldt’ described a ‘sentient hyper-realistic room’

1960 At the University of North Carolina virtual worlds research started with a focus on scientific and
medical tools trying to work on medical imaging, X-ray specs

1962 Morton Heilig filed US patent #3,050,870 for the Sensorama Simulator, a multi-sensory enclosed
cinema booth

1965 Ivan Sutherland created the first VR goggles, called a ‘head mounted display’ (HMD)

1969 Myron Krueger at the University of Wisconsin at Madison created the first responsive environment
(in 1974 this was termed GLOWFLOW), an artificial environment where the walls and floor became
immersive and sounds were created

1970 Myron Krueger creates METAPLAY, another responsive room but this time focused on interactivity

1977 Myron Krueger develops the responsive room which becomes VIDEOPLACE, a responsive
environment with wall-sized video screens, where instead of wearing goggles, people would be
immersed in the space

1984 William Gibson’s book Neuromancer mentioned the concepts of Cyberspace and The Matrix


1985 Driven by a NASA project, the first system that combined goggles (HMD) and a glove that allowed
the hand to move around in the virtual world was launched, named Virtual Environment Display
system (VIVED)

Jaron Lanier creates the first wearable ‘computerised clothing’ called the DataGlove

1987 The first full-body version of the glove, the DataSuit, was launched

1988 VIVED became VIEW, virtual interface environment workstation, with HMD goggles, glove and an
element of voice control

1989 The VR system was developed with an auditory addition of earphones, called Convolvotron or the
Head Related Transfer Function (HRTF)

At the Association for Computer Machinery (ACM) Special Interest Group on Graphics (SIGGraph)
Margaret Minsky, a researcher in the field of learning technology and haptic interfaces,
demonstrated the first VR architectural walk-through

Autodesk software started offering VR walk-throughs showing open-plan offices; the first iteration
of Computer Aided Design (CAD) software

1992 The CAVE, a VR room, was created at the University of Illinois, Chicago Electronic Visualization

2003 Second Life, an online virtual world, was launched by Linden Labs

2013 AR head-mounted display – Google Glass launched

2014 VR headset – Google cardboard launched

2015 VR headset – Samsung Gear VR launched

2016 VR headset – Oculus Rift and HTC Vive launched

AR game – Pokémon Go launched for use on Apple and Android mobile phones

2017 VR headset – a consumer version of Microsoft HoloLens launched

In 1992 Jonathan Steuer reviewed earlier definitions of VR and extracted the key elements to
create his own definition as ‘a real or simulated environment in which a perceiver experiences
telepresence’ (Steuer, 1992, p. 76–77).

Eighteen years later, Daniel Guttentag observed that ‘notable discrepancy exists regarding
the definition of VR’ and blended other suggestions and proposed a definition as ‘the use of
a computer-generated 3D environment – called a “virtual environment” (VE) – that one can
navigate and possibly interact with, resulting in real-time simulation of one or more of the
user’s five senses’ (2010, p. 638).

The Steuer definition was a move away from the focus on technology and about the user
experience whereas the Guttentag classification was broader, encompassing more elements
from the environment, its uses as well as the user experience.

The main definition used comes from researchers Paul Milgram and Fumio Kishino, who worked
on a taxonomy of mixed reality virtual displays in 1994. They suggested mixed reality was ‘the
merging of real and virtual worlds’ (Milgram and Kishino, 1994, p. 1322).


Howard Rheingold’s book Virtual Reality suggested the step changes for VR started
in the 1980s as enabling technologies such as electronic miniaturisation and computer
graphics developed further (Rheingold, 1992). The idea of a technology that enables
a function is a critical concept in manufacturing. NASA and others use a concept
called the Technology Readiness Level (TRL), which is described as a ‘measurement
system used to assess the maturity level of a particular technology’ (NASA, 2012a).
The idea is that any new technology project is checked against agreed criteria and
then rated from 1 to 9 on a scale known as the Technology Readiness Scale (TRL). At
TRL 1 some form of scientific knowledge has underpinned the concept and at TRL 9
the system has worked in an operational environment (NASA, 2012b).

Howard Rheingold has written many books on the concept of vitality and his book Virtual Reality
(1992) is probably available in your university library’s computer science section.

Figure 7.2 shows the Technology Readiness Scale, which is used by industry sectors
such as defence and space.

TRL 9 – actual system proven in operational environment

TRL 8 – system complete and quali�ed

TRL 7 – system prototype demonstration in operational environment

TRL 6 – technology demonstrated in relevant environment

TRL 5 – technology validated in relevant environment

TRL 4 – technology validated in lab

TRL 3 – experimental proof of concept

TRL 2 – technology concept formulated

TRL 1 – basic principles observed

Figure 7.2 Technology Readiness Scale


If we think about VR goggles, they were at TRL 1, 2, 3 and 4 in 1960 with the work
at the University of North Carolina. TRL 5, 6 and 7 were achieved in 1965 when Ivan
Sutherland created the first goggles, but it wasn’t until 2014 with the launch of Google
Cardboard that VT goggles were complete and available – TRL 8 and proven with user
feedback at TRL 9. It took 49 years for the technology to be fully ready.

Digital Tool Augmented Reality Live
Patent Search
To explore the latest technology developments in AR, look at current patents published on www.
augmentedreality.org/ar-patents, which shows you future plans to apply augmented reality.

Activity 7.1 Application of the Technology
Readiness Scale
1. Using the items in Figure 7.2, apply the Technology Readiness Scale to a technology of your

choice. It could be a piece of very new equipment or an older device.

2. Plot out when the technology reached each stage and if it is not yet at TRL 9 explain what the
issue is.

See Template online: Technology Readiness Scale

Whilst at Stanford University working on his PhD, Jonathan Steuer wrote a paper
to define virtual reality (Steuer, 1992). He observed that the words ‘virtual reality’
had emanated from a manufacturer of goggles and gloves (this is attributed to Jaron
Lanier in 1987) and Steuer explored how VR had been described (see Key Term –
virtual reality).

This was an important piece of work from which many theories have been launched.
Steuer described the notion of telepresence as the idea of being there, via a commu-
nication medium. There were two core variables provided by the technology which
impacted the user experience: vividness and interactivity, as shown in Figure 7.3.

Looking further into Steuer’s framework, the first dimension of vividness, or rich-
ness, considered the stimulus and sensory information available from the medium.




human experience


breadth depth speed range mapping

Figure 7.3 Technological variables influencing telepresence

Source: Steuer, 1992, p. 81

Within the breadth of the experience, this included whether sound and haptic
functionality were incorporated. Steuer reflected on earlier work in communication
systems which considered the five senses: sight (vision), hearing (audition), taste
(gustation), smell (olfaction) and touch (haptic). VR could provide sight, sound
and, later, haptic functionality. Morton Heilig, a pioneer in this area, created the
‘Sensorama Simulator’ (Heilig, 1962), which also incorporated smell! Since this time
academics Victoria Henshaw and her colleagues have suggested that ‘non-visual
senses such as smell can provide a more overtly immersive experience for the con-
sumer of service environments’ (Henshaw et al., 2016, p. 154).

The second aspect of vividness was the depth, which concerned the image quality
and speed. Steuer will have been aware that early VR systems had problems with lag
as the imagery lagged behind and led to a stilted rather than immersive experience.
The idea of a time lag as we would call this, is similar to early voice over internet
phone calls, where there was always a delay of several seconds between one response
and the next. Image quality and speed are intrinsic elements of what is referred to as
media richness, which is discussed in Chapter 11, Social Media Management.

Interactivity investigated the speed, range and the mapping available for the user.
Steuer explained interactivity as ‘the extent to which users can participate in modi-
fying the form and content of a mediated environment in real time’ (Steuer, 1992,
p. 84). Speed of interaction reflected on immediacy of response time, whereas the
range was about the number of variations in the experience; the volume range for
sounds, the image variety, the array of variables which could be altered. The final
element within interactivity was mapping or how one body part, such as a hand or
eye, could control or change the environment.

Much of the research conducted into VR has been applied to other technological
applications, including wearable devices; the haptic quality of the latest smartwatches
and mobile phones; the mapping within smartwatches so when the arm is raised, it
can perform an action.

Some years before Steuer’s work, Carrie Heeter (now Professor of Media and
Information) investigated newer technologies and their increased interactivity. She
looked at previous work in this area and from this suggested six dimensions of
interactivity which demonstrated the difference with new technology and the user’s
involvement, which are shown in Table 7.2.


Table 7.2 Six dimensions of interactivity

Dimensions of interactivity What this means Application to virtual reality

1. Complexity of choice

When more choice is available,
the audience is smaller and users
need to interact to decide which
medium to choose

Deciding to select Google cardboard
or Oculus Rift

2. Effort users must exert The amount of effort that users
make to access information

Ensuring goggles are charged before
starting to use

3. Responsiveness to user How responsive the medium is
for the user

Whether there is a time lag in viewing
VR content

4. Monitoring information use New technology provides greater
tracking of information accessed

All activities in a VR environment can
be tracked

5. Ease of adding information Users acting as the information
source or content provider

Users can add comments to VR
forums such as vrtalk.com/forum and

6. Facilitation of interpersonal

Users can message and
communicate with other users

In multiplayer games you can
communicate with each other

Source: Adapted from Heeter, 1989

Applying this to different realities, the first dimension of interactivity about choice
applies to games rather than other areas of realities. The issue here is that, in general,
an external headset is needed to access VR and the choice of headsets is still limited,
plus some games are restricted to specific headsets. Augmented reality may require an
app or game to be downloaded and a mobile device. AR can function via web display
ads and companies like Blippar are working on ‘augmented reality digital placement’,
which allows users to tap on the banner and see the AR features.

Dimension two, the effort users must exert, still exists as it’s necessary to load the
application, as well as gaining external headsets. However, the effort is being reduced
with voice recognition. In augmented reality a device is needed to access the func-
tionality. Equally this is becoming easier with regular push notifications or alerts
about the game or app status.

The third dimension, responsiveness to user, is the one area that’s fast developing. As
researcher Salah Alshaal and his colleagues commented, the progress with embedded
sensor systems and microcontrollers that have been evidenced in wearable devices,
could provide more interactivity for VR applications (Alshaal et al., 2016). In aug-
mented reality, a good example is the Pokémon game where the characters depend
on the user location.

Monitoring information use, the fourth dimension, is a rising concern as usage data
from all realities is tracked from the moment the device is switched on. Big data (see
section 1.6 and Chapter 13, Digital Marketing Metrics, Analytics and Reporting) has
the ‘potential to worsen consumer privacy concerns’ (Hofacker et al., 2016, p. 95)
and will fall under greater scrutiny with the advent of the General Data Protection
Regulation (see Key Term – General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), p. 19).


The next dimension, ease of adding information, depends on the application. I men-
tioned big data, as users contribute data that might include: how long they use the
application; with whom they interact; and devices used. It can also relate to content
added on forums and product feedback areas.

Finally, the sixth dimension, facilitation of interpersonal communication, exists
within multiplayer games as players can both message and interact with one another.

Having understood the different realities, the question is how these are applied,
which we will explore next.

Ethical Insights Cyber Addiction
The concept of cyber or internet addiction was first suggested in France on an online forum as people
appeared to be spending more time playing online games or in virtual worlds, which had an impact
on their real environment.

Although it has not been completely accepted or recognised by all professionals (Suissa, 2015),
Internet Gaming Disorder (IGD) has gained consideration by the American Psychiatric Association, who
created a provisional criterion for IGD within the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of
Mental Disorders (DSM-5). The lack of confidence in naming IGD as a formal disorder is based on the
research to date and the Association has called for more clinical research to evidence the condition.

Activity 7.2 Internet Addiction Test
Explore the DSM-5 IGD criteria and questionnaire to diagnose internet addiction. If you answer yes to
more than five of the nine questions, you may wish to seek help for internet addiction.

See Template online: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual-5 IGD criteria and IGD questionnaire

Considering that it has taken over 50 years of ideas of different realities to reach a
point where the hardware and software are readily available, the realities are used
in many sectors, which we will explore here.

7.4.1 SPACE
Virtual reality has been used in space missions since VR started. Initially it was
clunky, hence the need for the Technology Readiness Scale shown in Figure 7.3. Since
1989 NASA has run a dedicated ‘VR applications program’ and uses VR in hardware


development, operations development, support and missions operation training (Hale,
1995). It is cheaper and safer to train astronauts on the ground before they embark
on a mission into deep space.

Using all the images gathered over time, NASA is also training interns to map Mars in
VR (Foli, 2017). They can map out all aspects of the terrain, which enables scientists
to better plan missions.

Case Example 7.1 Field Trip to Mars
The engineering firm Lockheed Martin operates in 70 countries worldwide and one of its key products
is space systems, creating technology and communications between earth and space. They have
been involved with all missions to Mars since the first spacecraft landed on the planet in 1976.

They wanted a way to engage with younger generations who may be less aware of their brand
heritage and they needed a concept that was sustainable. Working with the ad agency McCann, they
came up with the idea of creating an event around the Orion interplanetary spacecraft, which had
taken its first flight. They decided to focus the event around the US Science and Engineering Festival
in Washington, DC, which they sponsored. This event takes place every two years and over 50,000
children attend.

Figure 7.4 Lockheed Martin Mars Experience Bus

Source: Lockheed Martin



The idea developed into converting an old-fashioned American school bus and transformed this
into a VR experience. The school children would visit Mars on the way to the science fair. They realised
that giving the students individual VR headsets would isolate individuals and decided this should be a
group VR experience and they needed a different approach. The team needed expert help and found
Framestore, a British visual effects company, who sourced video screens with hidden LEDs and special
film that could be used as replacement bus windows that could appear to be clear until a switch was
flicked, when the view would change and the outside world would be transformed into views of Mars.

Framestore already had some 3D artefacts from films of Mars but they realised that they needed
three different sensors as they all performed one aspect of the VR environment, but not the whole thing.

One of the greatest challenges was changing the regular journey from the school to the science
fair into a trip to Mars. The team digitally mapped the route, which traversed some 200 square miles
of the Washington area, and the route was programmed and adapted to make it look more like the
Martian environment – which was difficult, as most roads in Washington are straight and well main-
tained, unlike the bumpy terrain of Mars!

Sound was added, with speakers giving some surround-sound noise, but they also needed some
haptic properties or bumps. The easiest way to do this was for some of the team to hide in the back
of the bus and jump up at specific times.

The first group of students went on a virtual reality field trip to Mars in 2016 and the new purpose-
built Lockheed Martin Mars Experience Bus has since been created, which has been touring states
in America.

Although this was a big leap in terms of application of a group VR program, it was similar to Myron
Krueger’s original vision of VIDEOPLACE in 1977.

One of the greatest contributions of the Field Trip to Mars project is how this has changed the way
companies think about virtual reality and its application to business. The project has also demon-
strated alternative ways of using VR for education, and unsurprisingly those working on the project
have won many advertising and creative awards for innovation.

Watch the video at fieldtriptomars.com

Case Questions
Consider an organisation of your choice:

• How could a similar project to the Field Trip to Mars be used for this organisation?
• What would be required to make this happen?
• What would be the main advantages?
• What challenges would you anticipate in proposing such an idea to the senior management



After space, medicine was one of the first sectors that saw the potential for the use
of virtual and augmented reality. One of the difficulties in medicine is that practice
and experiment often have to be on a real human and if they go wrong, it could be a
matter of life and death. Medical applications for VR include human-patient simula-
tors, which enable trainee doctors to trial their techniques on artificial people. No
one dies. There are also immersive virtual reality Cave Automatic Virtual Environment
systems (Huang et al., 2016) which allow trainees and experienced medics to explore
inside the body.


Google Glass, which hasn’t totally succeeded as an AR system, has worked well and
been used in medical operations (Herron, 2016).

Google Glass didn’t succeed at a consumer level for various reasons:

• Initially Glass were on sale for around £1,000 and there were stories about people
being mugged for their glasses! Who’d wear them if you could become a victim
of crime?

• They also didn’t look that cool. You would feel very nerdy walking around saying
‘Glass, what time is my next lecture’.

• There were too few applications for Glass when it was launched.

Yet, in medicine and healthcare, Glass may have a future. Research into trainee sur-
geons showed improved accuracy of needle placement when wearing Glass (Brewer
et al., 2016); a study with physicians performing operations and accessing Glass to
see X-rays remotely also worked well and an additional benefit was saving time as
the X-rays could be sent direct to the Glass of all those involved (Spaedy et al., 2016).

7.4.3 RETAIL
Retailers have been keen to adopt virtual reality as they can see the application con-
verting into sales. Trying before buying in an online or virtual or augmented reality
could reduce the number of returns and improve online conversion rates (Dacko,
2016). So far it has been larger stores with budgets that have offered VR in-store and
mainly as a method of building and sharing their brand ethos. For example, Topshop,
the UK fast fashion chain, has experimented with virtual reality and introduced an
in-store water slide, giving shoppers the chance to wear goggles, jump onto the dry
slide and see the whole of Oxford Street, London’s busiest shopping area, as they ‘travel’
along the giant VR slide. This funky younger brand introduced VR as a fun thing to
do. In terms of experiential value this is playfulness (see Figure 7.5 Typology of expe-
riential value) providing enjoyment and hedonic benefit of the shopping experience.

Another example is TOMS, the shoe store that donates a pair of shoes to a child in
need for every pair it sells. They created a VR experience in several US stores, giving
shoppers the chance to see ‘A Virtual Giving Trip’, sharing where the other pair of
shoes went. You can watch the video with VR goggles on YouTube at https://youtu.be/
jz5vQs9iXCs. This reinforced their brand values and brought to life their vision. This
approach could be considered as ‘consumer return on investment’ as the consumer
actively invests their money in a pair of TOMS shoes, knowing that they are buying
another pair for a child in need (see Figure 7.5 Typology of experiential value).

Typology of experiential values
As traditional shopping becomes more of an experience, partly to compete with online
shopping, researchers studied how shoppers gained experiential value. One group
of researchers, led by Charla Mathwick, created a typology of experiential values,
which was based on two axes: (a) intrinsic and extrinsic; and (b) active and reactive.
The typology is shown as a matrix in Figure 7.5.


Playfulness Aesthetics

Return on







Figure 7.5 Typology of experiential value

Source: Mathwick et al., 2001, p. 42

The four quadrants signify different approaches to the experience influenced by
internal and external factors:

• Playfulness (intrinsic and active): the enjoyment and hedonic benefit of shopping
(see Chapter 2 for more on hedonic consumption).

• Aesthetics (intrinsic and reactive): how the consumer sees the retail environment,
the photography and layout of the website.

• Consumer return on investment (extrinsic and active): this concerns the utili-
tarian benefit where the consumer actively invests their money (see Chapter 2
for more on utilitarian consumption).

• Service excellence (extrinsic and reactive): the consumer makes quality judge-
ments against the service.

Table 7.3 Experiential value applied to retail examples of virtual and augmented reality

Example Playfulness Aesthetics
Consumer return on


IKEA launched a VR kitchen
where users could walk
around, change the design
and peek into cupboards
(Åkesson, 2016)

indicated users
found it fun

and easy to

Saved users time in
trial building a kitchen
before visiting the

The app gained
good feedback
for its quality of

L’Oréal introduced Makeup
Genius, an AR app

Fun for users to
add make-up to
their image

Aesthetics are
a critical factor
with this app

Encourages users to
try lots of make-up
before purchase

The app doesn’t
yet have sufficient

Nike Sneakrs App includes
access via AR of limited
edition products

Fun to use Aesthetics are
a critical factor
with this app

Allows consumers to
access limited editions

Many good
reviews online


Considering the application of VR and AR in the retail sector, we can test the typol-
ogy against different examples, as shown in Table 7.3.

IKEA’s use of the VR app to build a kitchen, as shown in Figure 7.6, allows the home-
owner to walk around and decide what is and isn’t needed. It brings the experience
to life, making it real. It may also reduce the number of people retuning goods after
the sale has taken place.

Figure 7.6 IKEA VR kitchen app

Source: With thanks to IKEA

Activity 7.3 Analysis of Experiential Value
1. Find a virtual reality or augmented reality shopping app (search online or ask friends).

2. Review the app and its functionality, and using Table 7.3 as a framework conduct an analysis
into what works well and what does not work.

3. Compare your responses with others in the class.

Virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality are used in many teaching sce-
narios; from science to geography; from geology to art (Curcio et al., 2016). This is one


area that has seen growth, starting with online learning tools such as virtual learning
environments (you might use BlackBoard or Moodle at your university), and organisa-
tions like Google invest in virtual reality apps for education (see Case Example 7.2).

Case Example 7.2 Google Expeditions
Google spends a significant amount on research: as an example, at the end of 2016 it had 27,169
full-time employees working in research and development and spent nearly $14 billion on research
(Alphabet Inc., 2017).

One key area for Google is education and it has created Google Expeditions, a virtual reality field
trip app. This allows teachers to take students on field trips – but from the classroom!

• It may be a geography class exploring South America, and students can take a field trip to Chile
and visit Santiago and Valparaíso.

• It could be a computer science class covering the history of computing and visiting Bletchley
Park in England to investigate (1) Second World War codebreaking; (2) Colossus – the world’s
first electronic computer; (3) The WITCH – the world’s oldest original working computer; (4) 1960s
and 1970s large system computers; and (5) personal computing, 1980s to the present.

• Or it might be an overseas visit to France that can start preparation with a VR field trip to Paris to
visit key sites such as: the Arc de Triomphe, the Sacré-Cœur Basilica and The Louvre museum,
before the real trip takes place.

The expeditions require two roles:

• Guide – this is usually a teacher or a parent. They manage the expedition and point out areas
of interest and lead the field trip.

• Explorer – this is usually a student and could include parents who follow the expedition on their
mobile device, watching the points of interest highlighted by the guide.

Expeditions require some kit to function (a tablet, virtual reality viewers, phones and a router to con-
nect them all) and the free app can be downloaded for the expedition to start.

Google has also created an AR version that allows students to use their phones in the classroom.
See more at edu.google.com/expeditions

Case Questions
• What do you think about the idea of virtual field trips?
• Have you participated in real-world field trips? If yes, what were the best and worst moments

and why?
• What are the advantages and disadvantages of real-world field trips, compared to those in the

virtual world?

7.4.5 TRAVEL
The travel sector has also embraced virtual and augmented reality with VR previews
for travellers and AR wayfinding around airports and city guides.


One example of VR previews is the Thomas Cook Virtual Reality Holiday ‘Try Before
You Fly’, accessed via Samsung Gear goggles in showcase stores in the UK, Germany
and Belgium (Thomas Cook Group, 2014). According to the VR developer, early trials
indicated ‘a 190% uplift in New York excursions bookings after people tried the 5
minute version of the holiday in VR’ (Visualise, 2015, p. 3) but this wasn’t a scientific
test and we don’t know if these people had already decided to go to New York!

Gatwick Airport has installed 2000 beacons to enable augmented reality wayfinding
(Gatwick Airport, 2017). Users can take their mobile phones to see where to easily
locate specific destinations such as check-in areas and departure gates, as shown in
Figure 7.7.

Figure 7.7 Gatwick Airport augmented reality wayfinding app using beacons

Source: Gatwick Airport

Being able to view the inside of a machine has been around for some time. In the
past the US Department of Defense created a Virtual Manufacturing Initiative (Novak-
Marcincin, 2010). When I attended the Solidworks conference in Dallas there were
many vendors promoting software for Solidworks computer-aided design systems
that enabled engineers to look inside the machine. This meant that if there was an
issue, they would be able to see any potential difficulties and resolve them before
the manufacturing started. Industrial machines are expensive once manufacturing
starts and VR enables a thorough check before the major investment commences.


In automotive manufacturing, augmented reality through Head-Up Displays (HUDs)
or intelligent windscreens is available in luxury cars such as Cadillacs and BMWs. The
HUDs provide details such as speed limits and details on available fuel. Land Rover
launched a transparent bonnet virtual imaging concept with a ‘digital vision of the ter-
rain ahead by making the front of the car “virtually” invisible’ (Land Rover, 2014, p. 1).

7.4.7 GAMES
The main area where all forms of reality – virtual, augmented and mixed – have
seen major developments is in gaming. Entire businesses such as Steam have been
established, making games available to download.

Smartphone Sixty Seconds® –
Counting the Games
• Take out your mobile phone. How many games are on your phone?
• Who has the most games in the room and why?
• What are the most common games in your class?

Pokémon Go showcased how augmented reality works and Philipp Rauschnabel and
his colleagues have explored this game, noting that after launch this was the most
downloaded mobile game in 2016 (Rauschnabel et al., 2017). Rauschnabel and his team
also created a conceptual model for an adoption framework for mobile augmented
reality games, which is shown in Figure 7.8.

The rationale behind the creation of the model was there being no current theories
that explain consumers’ reactions to augmented reality. This is probably as it has
not gained full commercial traction, so there is little funding to research this area.
Rauschnabel acknowledges that the model was based on earlier theories such as uses
and gratification (see Chapter 13, Digital Marketing Metrics, Analytics and Reporting),
which suggested that the users’ reactions and intended behaviours are based on their
evaluation and perceptions of various benefits, risks and social influences. This is
shown in the first two parts of the model. The next element is the users’ reactions,
which looks at their attitude and behavioural intention – this takes us back once again
to the Technology Acceptance Model (see Chapter 2, The Digital Consumer).

Rauschnabel’s research involved a survey of 642 German respondents who had
installed Pokémon Go on a mobile device and who were paid to participate. The
results indicated ‘that consumers’ attitudes toward playing mobile AR games are mostly
driven by the level of enjoyment they receive and the image that playing a particular
game conveys to other people’ (Rauschnabel et al., 2017). So there could be other
issues with the research, as German Pokémon Go players might behave differently
to players in the UK, the United States or China. However, in the absence of other
frameworks, it is a useful place to start in considering the adoption of VR games.


Evaluation and Perception

User Reactions

• Hedonic
• Emotional
• Social

• Attitude towards playing
the game

Behavioural intention
• Intention to continue playing
• In App purchases

• Demographics (Age, Gender)
• Familiarity with the AR game

• Data Security
• Physical Security

Social Norms

Social In�uences

Figure 7.8 Conceptual model for an adoption framework for mobile augmented reality games

Source: Rauschnabel et al., 2017, p. 278

Ethical Insights The Flow Construct
How and when people play games can also be because they start a game and get into the ‘flow
experience’, a key construct created by Csikszentmihalyi (1975) where the characteristics include:
intense and focused concentration on the activity; loss of awareness of the surrounding space; and
losing track of time (Csikszentmihalyi, 1975; Nakamura and Csikszentmihalyi, 2001).

Flow possesses an autotelic dimension where no goals are needed and there is no reward,
other than being in that moment. In the flow state when the user or gamer feels their action
opportunities are too demanding for the skill level, the experience is worry and at the extreme it
becomes anxiety. When the skills are greater than the opportunities, this initially results in bore-
dom and can result in anxiety. When the skills and opportunities are in balance, this creates flow
where the gamer can play for hours on end, without noticing the elapsed time. (See also Ethical
Insights: Cyber addiction.)

All the realities need devices. The equipment needed includes headsets, cameras,
software development kits and creative software. This is one of the reasons that it is
mainly larger companies or organisations with greater budgets, that are investing in
virtual, augmented and mixed realities.


Companies using VR claim specific benefits; some examples include:

• Engagement higher in VR than web

• Higher brand recall as brands are part of the experience

• Can get more data, such as gaze tracking and heatmaps

• Omni Channel opportunities to bring VR in as one of the channels

• VR is PR as brands adopting VR gain positive mentions online and offline

However, there is less research in this area and fewer companies adopting VR to
confirm the accuracy or otherwise of these claims.

Access to smaller and cheaper technology and the state of ubiquitous computing mean
that some forms of realities are likely to stay within the wider marketing mix. Added
to this, a domain or sector tends to gain recognition when industry bodies are formed
and in this sector several different bodies have been created, as shown in Table 7.4.

Table 7.4 Industry bodies

Organisation Website Members include

The VR/AR Association (VRARA) thevrara.com Membership with chapters worldwide

Virtual Reality Society vrs.org.uk An information and news resource for
virtual reality and its related technologies

Global Virtual Reality Association gvra.com Google, Samsung, HTC Vive, Oculus, Sony
Interactive Entertainment

The EuroVR Association eurovr-association.org Institutes, universities and academics

Augmented Reality augmentedreality.org Institutional supporters and individual
members worldwide

The Augmented Reality for Enterprise
Alliance (AREA)

http://thearea.org Mainly commercial organisations

Another indication of a developing future is that at the annual conferences for the best-
known tech companies – Apple, Google and Facebook – they all featured the realities.

• Facebook is keen to transform phones into VR headsets (sounds like Google

• Apple has launched ARkit, a new framework that enables the creation of aug-
mented reality experiences for iPhone and iPad

• Google has started Tango, a new AR computing platform. See get.google.com/


With major investment taking place by tech companies and with the development of
so many new tools to use the realities, marketers may need to consider their applica-
tion within their organisation. The application may not always be for customers; it
could also be applied to staff training, as it is for NASA.

Students at university often have the opportunity to gain access to two VR tools:
Aurasma and Blippar. If you do, make sure you take advantage of these opportunities
as you can add a new specialist skill to your CV: ‘Have used and applied AR software
to create advertising campaigns’!

1. How do you feel about all your activities being monitored when wearing VR

goggles? How should this be managed so that the usage isn’t abused?

2. What application do you see for group VR experiences within organisations?
What might be the advantages and disadvantages of these applications?

3. Construct an outline proposal for a VR or an AR app. Imagine you are working as
a marketing manager in an organisation and several members of the management
team are keen on the idea of VR or AR. This has been passed to you to explore
and to develop an outline proposal.

See Template online: Construction of an outline proposal for a VR or AR app

This chapter has explored:

• The cluelessness model and the flow construct and how these apply to technol-
ogy and our lives.

• What the six dimensions of interactivity mean for virtual reality.

• The concept of cyber addiction and the need for more research in this field.

• How augmented and virtual reality are applied to different business settings to
share information or help consumers.

• The benefits and possible future of the realities.




8 Audit Frameworks 205
9 Strategy and Objectives 225
10 Building the Digital Marketing Plan 249
11 Social Media Management 270
12 Managing Resources 294
13 Digital Marketing Metrics, Analytics and Reporting 309
14 Integrating, Improving and Transforming Digital Marketing 339


When you have read this chapter, you will be able to:

Understand how to adapt frameworks

Apply online brand consistency

Analyse online competitors

Evaluate corporate culture

Create an online digital marketing audit

When you have worked through this chapter, you should be able to:

• Create a micro-analysis

• Undertake a commercial competitor analysis

• Construct a digital marketing audit


A digital marketing audit provides a solid foundation on which to build your digital
strategy. It ensures you have a full understanding of the critical internal and exter-
nal factors covering all aspects of the organisation before building a strategy and
developing a plan.

This chapter shares the critical elements for a comprehensive audit that can
be applied both online and offline. You will learn how to discover threats and
opportunities before they emerge, with useful frameworks to structure your

There is a temptation to press the button and start advertising on social media, build
a website or develop an email campaign.

Please pause!

The social media campaign might miss the right audience, the website may not speak
to your real target customers and the email campaign may render negative results.
This often means campaigns need to be re-worked, more approvals are required and
customers become irritated with too many of the wrong communications, plus the
marketing budget is wasted.

A digital marketing audit provides a clear picture of the landscape in which you are
operating, whether it’s a bar or a software business. It highlights competitors, key
issues in the sector and makes the team think about the worst case scenario – what
could happen if?

At the same time, there are marketers who believe an audit is a waste of time and
think that as change happens so quickly, it’s better to learn to adapt instead. I have
to hold my hand up here and say that I don’t agree with that perspective. I feel that
when carried out well, advance planning can predict potential changes and enable
organisations to prepare. Plus there are other key benefits for you personally in con-
ducting a digital marketing audit, which include:

• You build professional research skills

• You develop an audit process

• You gain greater commercial awareness

• You gain evidence of where the organisation is now

• You can better understand analysis and apply critical thinking

• You understand that digital marketing audit is the first step in an effective digital
marketing plan

As Figure 8.1 shows, as step 1, the audit takes place before the strategy is created and
long before the plan or tactical campaigns are launched.


Step 1 – Audit

Step 2 – Strategy

Step 3 – Plan

Figure 8.1 Digital marketing audit in context

The advantages for organisations of a digital marketing audit include:

• Saving time by ensuring the right tactics are used, based on evidence

• Providing a framework for the strategy

• Focusing the plan on what matters

• Saving money by only spending what’s essential to achieve the goals

It may be that the audit doesn’t discover everything, such as the stealth competitor
that emerges out of the blue. But that’s rare and if it does happen the audit presents
you with options and a faster method of analysis.

An essential aspect of a digital marketing audit is the use of models and frameworks
that provide a structured approach to gathering data, reviewing, analysing and com-
paring information, to arrive at effective recommendations.

It is useful to consider the place of the audit within an overarching framework and a
useful model is MAOSTIC. Largely attributed to the Chartered Institute of Marketing,
MAOSTIC was positioned as an introductory concept for marketing students. It looks
at strategy and objectives within a wider context and stands for:

• M = business Mission

• A = marketing Audit

• M = marketing Objectives

• S = core Strategy

• T = marketing Tactics

• I = Implementation

• C = Control

MAOSTIC considers ‘where are we now?’ and to answer this question, it recommends
starting with the business mission. This should be centred around the organisation’s
purpose and is placed at the start to focus the marketing audit.


With a clear picture of the current context, the model moves into exploring ‘where
do we want to be?’ and after the audit the model recommends development of the
marketing objectives, followed by the strategy, as do other models. Having worked
as a practitioner for many years with hundreds of organisations, I think it’s easier to
create the strategy first and then the objectives. The theory is useful, but in practice,
what’s the point of creating objectives if the strategy hasn’t been decided? You might
have very clear objectives, but if that doesn’t fit with the strategy, they won’t work.

Chapter 9 looks in depth at strategy and objectives, and once the core strategy has
been decided, the model moves into marketing tactics, or the details that explain
what has to be done, along with implementation, which addresses how this is done.
This stage explains ‘how do we get there?’ and in Chapter 10, Building the Digital
Marketing Plan, and Chapter 12 Managing Resources, we will explore these areas.

The last stage is control or ‘how do we ensure arrival?’, and is critical to gaining sup-
port from the senior management team if you are working in a marketing role. We
will look at control in Chapter 13, Digital Marketing Metrics, Analytics and Reporting,
as this has changed dramatically with digital marketing.

This chapter explores the contents of the digital marketing audit as well as key models
and frameworks.

Let’s jump straight in and explore the typical contents of a digital marketing audit.

The organisation review is also referred to as a micro-analysis and looks at your
organisation in depth. Its purpose is to investigate the situation inside the business,
as if you were an independent third party reviewing its health and welfare.

Whilst this is an internal review, there are two levels of information available: (a)
internal data and (b) external data. Internal data may be available from the sales,
accounts and marketing teams, which may include:

• Sales data: top customers and key competitors

• Accounts data: best-selling products or top performing services, lapsed custom-
ers, average order values and sales volumes

• Marketing data: number of daily, weekly, monthly web visits, top website landing
and exit pages

Based on this data, an analysis can be constructed using a framework, model or
construct. The advantages of using a structured approach include:

• A clear comparative analysis is possible between the organisation and its


• A benchmark is created which can be reviewed in six or twelve months’ time.

• The review is easier to read and understand, especially if shared with other team

• Frameworks ensure all key factors are addressed.

And don’t get tied up about which model to use! You could use any framework that
works for you, as long as you are consistent and use the same tool for comparative
analysis. Plus you can adapt models to suit your needs. In the next example, I use
an adapted version of the 10Cs as the full version doesn’t work for me and I will
explain why.











Figure 8.2 Ten Cs of marketing for the modern economy

Source: Gay, Charlesworth and Esen, 2007

In 2007 Richard Gay, Rita Esen and Alan Charlesworth created the ‘Ten Cs of market-
ing for the modern economy’. Intended as a ‘useful framework for marketers assessing


for the modern digital marketscape from both an internal and external perspective’
(Gay et al., 2007, p. 12), it is abbreviated as the 10Cs and can be used as an audit model.

The customer is at the heart of this model, as shown in in Figure 8.2, and there are
nine further elements which are subsequently considered.

Whether you use the 10Cs as an audit model to consider your organisation on its own,
or with specific competitors, it reflects some elements which may not be easy to find
out. Let’s study each element, along with specific questions to consider.

1. Corporate culture
Corporate culture is about the organisation’s personality, what’s acceptable and what’s
not, its core values inside and outside the business.

Corporate culture is especially visible online, where announcements of CEOs resigning
as a result of an email or other online error are swiftly shared across social media; as
researcher Shirley Leitch remarked, ‘the internet has massively enabled information
sharing’ (Leitch, 2017, p. 1507).

Authenticity and transparency have become the digital indicators of corporate culture
where brands can be exposed if bad news is being hidden (McCorkindale and DiStaso,
2014). Researcher Brad Rawlins suggested that the key traits within transparency were
integrity, openness and respect (Rawlins, 2008, p. 95), which sounds reasonable until you
consider the behaviour of various companies who have demonstrated a lack of integrity
(the car emissions scandal from Volkswagen and others), lack of openness (leaks about
client details being hacked via Talk Talk telecoms), lack of respect for women (using
overtly sexualised and offensive images with an Elf in the discount retailer Poundland’s
Christmas campaign) and abuse of power (Oxfam staff engaging sex workers in Haiti).

Smartphone Sixty Seconds® –
Searching for Trust
Since 2001 Edelman, a public relations firm, has conducted an annual survey of trust which is known
as the Edelman Trust Barometer, sharing insights into feelings about trust in business, government
and media. The findings are shared on its website.

• On your mobile phone go online and search for the Edelman Trust Barometer.
• What’s the state of trust within business, government, NGOs and media?
• How has this changed in the last two years?
• Why do you feel this has changed?

2. Convenience
The element of convenience is straightforward to understand and is often used to
describe the ease with which a customer can make a purchase.


Applied in a digital sense, one organisation that focused its business on customer
convenience is Amazon, with the development of the one-click purchase. This has
since extended into instant voice purchasing via Alexa along with the Amazon Dash
button for simplified ordering (Farah and Ramadan, 2017).

Convenience can also relate to other conversion actions, such as how easy it is to
download a document, register for a webinar or fill in the contact form.

3. Competition
The next ‘C’ considers your competitors, and Gay and his colleagues suggested that
competition was on six levels:

1. Traditional competitors moving online.

2. New online-only entrants in domestic markets.

3. New online entrants from overseas.

4. Competitors from newly formed online alliances and partnerships.

5. Competitors introducing or eliminating channels of distribution.

6. Revitalised traditional businesses.

This is a broader consideration set than a simple competitor study and ensures mar-
keters can identify both existing and emerging competitors. Whilst this is a useful
checklist, as a way to better analyse the competition I have adapted the key features
for the Template to undertake online competitor analysis that is available online.

See Template online: Online competitor analysis.

One challenge most businesses face is disruptive marketing (see Key Term and
Discover More on Disruptive Marketing), where competitors who were previously
unknown, suddenly appear, as if from nowhere. In a globalised market, competitors
are more widely located and therefore an extensive search should be undertaken to
identify emerging competitors.

In 1996 Jean-Marie Dru published Disruption: Overturning Conventions and Shaking Up the
Marketplace in which he defined the concept of disruption:

Disruption is about finding the strategic idea that breaks and overturns a convention in
the marketplace, and then makes it possible to reach a new vision or to give substance
to an existing vision. (Dru, 1996, p. 54)

In terms of how disruption is achieved, researchers Theresa Kirchner, John Ford and Sandra
Mottner suggested there were eight contributing factors to disruptive marketing: financial
resources, entrepreneurial leadership, creativity, agility, proactiveness, risk tolerance, internal
cooperation and external cooperation (Kirchner et al., 2012).


There are not many academic journal articles that cover this area, but these two offer a useful
place to start:

• ‘Disruptive marketing strategy’, by Tomas Hult and David Ketchen (2017), published in the
AMS Review; and

• ‘Disruptive marketing and unintended consequences in the nonprofit arts sector’, by
Theresa Kirchner, John Ford and Sandra Mottner (2012), published in Arts Marketing: An
International Journal.

4. Communications
Social media has changed brand communications from the typical monologue and
dialogue to trialogue, where customers jump into conversations with other customers
(Tsimonis and Dimitriadis, 2014).

The audit factor is understanding what’s being said and where, especially with so
many voices involved in the communication. Being aware of the conversations allows
organisations to decide whether or not to participate and potentially manage any
issues before they spin out of control.

Digital Tool Google Alerts
At a basic level, Google provides notification of when your organisation’s name is added to a webpage
or mentioned in an online article. These are called Google Alerts and are free of charge.

Visit www.google.com/alerts and add in the phrases you want to follow; add your email and you
will be updated when new mentions occur.

5. Consistency
A key feature in branding, consistency is ensuring that the same service, the same
message, the same tone of voice and the same use of imagery, is demonstrated across
all online and offline platforms. In a digital environment this can be a challenge in
two areas:

1. Where the online staff are aware of an offer that wasn’t shared with the offline
teams; and

2. Organisations with multiple sites (e.g. supermarkets, cafes, cinemas, hairdressers)
where entrepreneurial local managers may decide to create their own content.


It is therefore critical to ensure all teams, online and offline, in all locations, have
access to consistent messages and material.

Activity 8.1 Examination of
Brand Consistency Online
Select an organisation of your choice or somewhere you are working.

1. Provide evidence of how the organisation manages brand consistency. Is there a policy or

2. Is it clear whether all content is checked by one team or person?

3. Compare and contrast the online and offline content by analysing text and imagery from
three different pieces of content online (e.g. web page, Instagram page, Twitter page).

4. How is the consistency evident?

6. Creative content
Thinking back to when the 10Cs model was created in 2007, this was a time when
websites were expensive to create and therefore remained unchanged, often for sev-
eral years. This is now rare, as it is easier to make incremental changes with website
content management systems. The other major change since this model was cre-
ated is the growth of social media platforms, meaning that organisations may have
a ‘corporate face’ on their website, supplemented by an array of other, less formal
information sources, as well as user-generated content.

To a certain extent this element duplicates the previous element, communications, so
you may choose, as I do, to merge these elements when using this model.

7. Customisation
As websites contain many hundreds of pages it can be difficult to find exactly what’s
needed. This means that web visitors arrive at the website, have a quick look and
leave, seeking the item elsewhere. This is the rationale behind web personalisation
and customisation, to immediately show potential visitors what they might be seeking.

Writing in Internet Research, researchers Mamata Jenamani, Pratap Mohapatra and
Sujoy Ghose described ‘a scheme for providing personalized navigation structure
(link-structure) to each user’ (Jenamani et al., 2006, p. 253), which is based on these
factors :

• User behaviour: length of web visit, entry and exit pages

• User’s interest: navigational history of the past and current users.


These factors are available from Google or other analytics packages. Typically web ana-
lytics software will reveal the user behaviour and which pages they arrived at (entry
pages), where they visited, how long they spent on the website and the exit page.

Data on the user’s interest, such as how they navigated the site and when, is available
via cookies (see Key Term – cookie, p. 42). Google Analytics and other packages
provide a real-time view, which means that marketers can see who is on the website
right now and where they are visiting.

Having this knowledge enables decisions to be made on improving the pages and
personalising the experience. The personalisation manifests itself in ‘recommenda-
tions just for you’, based on your purchase and browsing history.

It has long been recognised that providing buyers with suggestions and recommenda-
tions on a website is effective in gaining attention (Ho and Tam, 2005). Other research
explored greater online personalisation and a study by Professor Benlian (2015,
p. 253) demonstrated that ‘content and design personalization cues can increase users’
attachment to a website’. If you consider websites you frequently visit, they may
remember your purchase history and your preferences, including delivery locations.
Customising your experience makes it a simplified shopping experience.

Personalisation and customisation are utilised by larger companies such as Amazon,
Netflix and, in the UK, NotOnTheHighStreet. Table 8.1 shows the customisation
techniques used by these companies.

Table 8.1 Customisation techniques

Customisation technique Description

Analysis of past transactions What did you buy? Because we don’t want to show this to you again,
unless there is an upgraded version.

Sample suggestions Would you like to look at this?

Content filtering What do you look at and what do you ignore?

Clickstream analysis What is your journey or path through the website, what makes you click?

If you are working in a marketing department, the key questions to explore are:

• How is our internal data captured and utilised within our marketing planning?

• Does the organisation personalise its online offer? If not do we have the technol-
ogy, skills and budget to deliver customisation?

• How do competitors use customisation on their websites?

8. Coordination
Coordination considers how well organised the purchase process is from start to fin-
ish and is now considered as part of integration as it concerns incorporating every
aspect of the customer journey, from the initial enquiry through to the final product
or service review. To a certain extent, coordination is superseded by the concept of
the customer journey (see Chapter 2, The Digital Consumer).


In this context, coordination is like consistency. The lack of integration occurs when
teams within the business are not connected, do not have the ability to speak with
each other or perhaps in organisations where silos exist and each department does
its own thing!

9. Control
The last element in the 10Cs considers control. In this model Gay and his colleagues
commented that as the internet provided opportunities to test and measure it offered
a form of control. We might call this ‘fail fast’ where an organisation experiments
with advert #1 which doesn’t work and moves onto advert #2 which is successful.

Control therefore represents measuring and monitoring, for greater visibility over what
does and does not work (see Chapter 13, Digital Marketing Metrics, Analytics and
Reporting), although it is difficult to analyse the control element within competitors.

Don’t worry – we haven’t forgotten the tenth C, the customer (see Figure 8.2).

Having considered the 10Cs model and ruled out (a) creative content, which duplicates
communications, (b) control, as it’s difficult to assess competitors, and (c) replaced
coordination with customer journey, we have a revised 7Cs model which I call the
digital 7Cs for competitor evaluation. This comprises: corporate culture, convenience,
competition, communications, consistency, customisation and customer journey.

Activity 8.2 Construction of The
Digital 7CS for Competitor Evaluation
Based on an organisation of your choice, use the digital 7Cs for competitor evaluation and evaluate
competitors to your chosen organisation. If any aspect of this model doesn’t work for you, adapt it!

See Template online: The digital 7Cs for competitor evaluation

Having understood factors within the organisation, it’s time to delve into how the
customer feels.

Understanding the customer is the essence of a successful organisation, although not
all organisations bother to find out! When a customer initiates contact, the question


is, what are they seeking? Table 8.2 highlights the main reasons why customers make
contact with organisations, along with examples and how to respond.

Table 8.2 Reasons why customers make contact with organisations

Reason for contact Examples How to respond

Seek information To find out how something
works, obtain dimensions or
details about delivery

• Include list of FAQs on the website
• Create ‘how to’ videos for popular requests
• Offer Live Chat for quick responses

Request advice More often on business
websites, but can be a detailed
information request

• Create ‘how to guides’ for selecting
different options

• Comparison tables
• White papers with more detail

Register or subscribe Registering for a newsletter or
subscribing to product updates

• Keep it simple and request only what’s

Place order/make

Complete a sale • Make it easy!
• Store the basket for a future shop
• Provide many payment options
• Allow customers to store their details if needed

It’s straightforward to capture the information for the ‘how to’ videos and other
guides. These are the questions most frequently emailed to the customer service or
sales teams!

Your internal sales data, questions to customer services and website analytics software
may provide your team with some information. The gap in this is ‘why’ the behaviour
has taken place and this may encourage further conversations with customers, which
can take place in many ways, including:

• In a focus group

• Face-to-face, meeting individual customers

• Via online survey sent by email

• Online survey as a website pop-up request

• Ask Me Anything #SMS sessions via social media (see Key Term – Ask Me
Anything #AMA).

The #AMA concept is said to have started in the social media platform Reddit and swiftly moved
to Facebook where organisations hold #AMA sessions where customers, stakeholders and
anyone at all can ask a question that will be answered online.

Reddit’s original concept was that #AMA was an interview, intended for use by actors and
celebrities, as they described on the web page:

Basically, /r/IAmA is a place to interview people, but in a new way. ‘IAmA’ is the traditional
way of beginning the description of who you are; ‘AMA’ is the traditional way of ending


the description; the acronym means ‘Ask me anything.’ The interviewee begins the pro-
cess by starting a post, describing who they are and what they do. Then, commenters
leave questions and can vote on other questions according to which they would like to
see answered. The interviewee then goes through and responds to any questions that
he/she would like, and in any way that he/she prefers. (Reddit Editors, 2015)

Since starting, the #AMA has become a way of allowing organisations to share news with
stakeholders. Typically an #AMA session lasts for a specified time, often one hour, although it is
not uncommon for the threads and conversations to continue long after the session has ended.

Online surveys are popular as they are fast and inexpensive (Hooley et al., 2012).
Plus, there are free tools such as polldaddy.com and surveymonkey.com that can be
usefully employed to capture the data.

They often appear as a website pop-up request as visitors arrive at, or leave, a web
page. The downside is that many customers suffer survey fatigue and this has seen
the growth of single question surveys like the Net Promoter Score® (Wedel and
Kannan, 2016), which emails customers after a transaction has been completed (see
Digital Tool: Net Promoter Score®).

Digital Tool Net Promoter Score®
The Net Promoter Score® (NPS), asks the customer only one question: ‘How likely are you to recom-
mend (name of company)?’ and answers are scored from 1 to 10.

The number of detractors (those scoring 0 to 6) is subtracted from the promoters (those scoring
9 to 10) which provides a number out of 100, which is the Net Promoter Score®.

• See netpromoter.com

Evaluating customer insights can be undertaken as part of the organisation review and
the critical factor is to ensure that an analysis or evaluation of customer insights could
be easily assessed in 12 months’ time, to understand what’s changed and whether
any improvements have generated results and achieved the organisation’s objectives.

All organisations have competitors! If you work in the third sector, within a charity
or campaigning group, it may appear that there are no competitors as your organisa-
tion may have a very specific focus. However, all those organisations competing for a
share of the wallet are competitors. If you operate in the same space, these are direct
competitors; if a possible donor is considering your organisation or another that is
completely different, this is an indirect competitor.


Even those working in the public sector, in government to consumer roles, have competi-
tors. Typically, governments allocate budgets based on a range of political and economic
factors. This means that if your government department or public sector body has expe-
rienced budget cuts it’s because others have taken your share of the available funds.

A competitor review provides a benchmark of how others are performing. This stage
of the audit involves a series of questions:

• What are the key digital strengths and weaknesses of the key competitors?

• How do competitors use digital marketing to acquire customers?

• How do competitors use digital marketing to convert customers?

Again, I recommend using a framework to compare like with like, to provide more
objectivity and highlight potential gaps. Useful frameworks to conduct audits include:

• The 10Cs of marketing

• Forrester’s 5Is.

The 10Cs of marketing (Gay et al., 2007) were considered in the last section, so I will
demonstrate how to apply Forrester’s 5Is in this section.

It is useful to understand the context as Forrester’s 5Is was developed in 2007 and
first appeared in a blog article by Brian Haven, part of the Forrester’s research team
(Haven, 2007). The concept was founded on the notion that organisations need to
focus more heavily on customer engagement.

In marketing there have been debates for years about goods-dominant and service-
dominant logic. The earliest models, like the 4Ps, were created at a time when
manufacturing dominated marketing and the focus was on goods (McCarthy, 1964).
By 2004 two researchers, Stephen Vargo and Robert Lusch, had created a firestorm
by suggesting that the 4Ps were passé (Vargo and Lusch, 2004). They quoted earlier
work from Day and Montgomery who diminished the 4Ps to a ‘handy framework’
(2004, p. 1). Whilst Booms and Bitner added three further Ps to the marketing mix,
it was (and is) still a goods-oriented model (Booms and Bitner, 1980).

To develop a services model Vargo and Lush reviewed much of the existing marketing
literature and proposed a services-driven approach, which stepped away from traditional
marketing frameworks. The new concept was called Service Dominant Logic (see Key
Term), which was the precursor to customer engagement and frameworks like the 5Is.

Vargo and Lush (2004) defined Service Dominant Logic (SDL or SD-logic) as a ‘reoriented
philosophy that is applicable to all marketing offerings, including those that involve tangible


output (goods) in the process of service provision’ (p. 2). In SDL there is a fundamental change
regarding the concept of resources:

• Operand resources – those on which an operation is performed to produce an effect, the

• Operant resources – those that produce effects and include ‘core competences and
organisational processes’ which are often invisible and intangible (p. 3) and are also
referred to as ‘skills and knowledge’ (p. 2).

The ‘service-centred’ view was described as having these attributes (p. 5), which included
recurring themes in the evolution of marketing, and these are highlighted in bold typeface:

1. Identify or develop core competences, the fundamental knowledge and skills of an
economic entity that represent potential competitive advantage.

2. Identif y other entities (potential customers) that could benefit from these

3. Cultivate relationships that involve the customers in developing customised,
competitively compelling value propositions to meet specific needs.

4. Gauge marketplace feedback by analysing financial per formance from exchange
to l ea r n how to i mprove the f i r m’s of fe r i ng to cus tom e rs a nd i mprove f i r m
per formance.


Useful articles include:

• The original article proposing service dominant logic: ‘Evolving to a new dominant logic
for marketing’ published in the Journal of Marketing (Vargo and Lusch, 2004).

• A review of the original proposal: ‘The evolving brand logic: A service-dominant logic
perspective’ (Merz et al., 2009).

• A follow-up article: ‘Service, value networks and learning’, published in the Journal of the
Academy of Marketing Science (Lusch et al., 2010).

• A useful third-party review article: ‘The evolution of service-dominant logic and its impact
on marketing theory and practice: A review’, published in the Academy of Marketing
Studies Journal (Zinser and Brunswick, 2016).

Having considered the concept of service dominant logic, the natural extension
was to further involve the customer, one of the early themes noted by Vargo and
Lush. This is echoed in the 10Cs framework, where the individual is placed at the


core and in the 5Is, the customer, or individual, was the first ‘I’, around whom the
model is centred. As shown in Figure 8.3, the remaining four ‘I’s focus on the level
of involvement, interaction, intimacy and influence that an individual has with a
brand over time.






Figure 8.3 Forrester’s 5Is

Source: Adapted from Haven, 2007

The 5Is was created in a digital environment and I have adapted the model to analyse
social media:

• Involvement – this considers the number of fans, strength of the audience

• Interaction – this considers the number of mentions, or comments or shares.

• Intimacy – as this is about the nature of the relationship between the firm and its
audience, I have suggested this focuses on sentiment and whether it is positive
or negative.

• Influence – this considers the online word of mouth, such as reviews, recom-
mendations and write-ups.

Having adapted the framework, let’s work through Case Example 8.1 of British
Airways’ use of Twitter, where Table 8.3 shows an evaluation of their strengths and


Case Example 8.1 British Airways’
Use of Twitter
Table 8.3 Evaluation of British Airways’ current digital marketing methods

5Is Strengths Weaknesses

Involvement (number of

Over 1 million fans on main Twitter

There are three Twitter pages, which
is confusing

The Twitter page does not explain
who manages the account and it lacks

Interaction (number of
mentions, comments)

Staff manage social media in a formal
way (Canhoto and Clark, 2013)

Responses are formal and do not
always provide a resolution (Öztamur
and Sarper Karakadılar, 2014)

Intimacy (positive,
negative sentiment)

Staff add their names after tweets,
trying to provide greater intimacy,
although this does not always resolve
the issue (Baird and Parasnis, 2011)

Unhappy customers badmouth the
company publicly via Twitter (Gregoire
et al., 2015)

Influence (word of mouth
including reviews)

Happy customers post good news via
Facebook (Gregoire et al., 2015) and
co-create brand stories (Gensler et al.,

Customers are passed on to another
part of the business, resulting in
potentially negative reviews, e.g. Hi,
we’re sorry you’re having difficulty
doing this. Please try this link to report
it, http://ba.uk/wsaSCA.

The evaluation demonstrates that there are gaps in the management of their current digital mar-
keting methods and practices. Having three Twitter accounts indicates a lack of control or perhaps
awareness? The lack of resolution of customers’ issues highlights that there is no evidence British
Airways have developed a strategy for managing positive word of mouth (Williams and Buttle, 2014).

Case Questions
• Can you extend and amplify this evaluation starting with the academic references provided,

which could be developed and investigated further?
• Can you explore British Airways’ online presence and develop the commentary?
• Does it matter that British Airways has three Twitter accounts? If yes, how could this be


Activity 8.3 Evaluation of the 5IS
Using an organisation of your choice, explore the organisation’s online presence and evaluate their
strengths and weaknesses using the 5Is.


A macro-environment analysis considers issues outside the organisation, which in
theory are beyond the organisation’s control and are located within the wider market

The best-known frameworks in this context are probably PEST or PESTLE, which
are mnemonics which stand for Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal and
Environmental. If the 4Ps are dead, perhaps so too is the PESTLE model! In 2006
George Burt and his colleagues reviewed PESTLE (also called PEST, STEEP – it all
depends on your tutor) and suggested there were limitations to using the model,
not least of which was trying to define what the environment was. Effectively their
revised model starts with a PEST and explored elements in more detail and planned
what could happen (Burt et al., 2006). Whilst it’s a useful notion, it still starts with a
PEST, which we will look at here.

PESTLE is often used to inform a TOWS matrix (see the TOWS Matrix in Chapter
9, Strategy and Objectives) and provides an essential contribution towards a digital
marketing audit. I think George Burt missed the TOWS element of PEST and how that
could better inform organisations as to strategic future options. Rather than listing
the PESTLE factors, Case Example 8.2 shows the digital PESTLE for an online fashion
brand, ASOS. It takes each element and considers the digital threats and turns these
into digital opportunities.

Case Example 8.2 ASOS Digital Pestle
Using the online fashion brand ASOS as an example, let’s explore in Table 8.4 how PESTLE can be
used as an evaluation tool to review digital opportunities and threats.

Table 8.4 Digital PESTLE used as an evaluation of opportunities and threats

PESTLE factor Digital threats Digital opportunities

Political Skilled digital workers may need to
leave the UK as it leaves the EU

Establish remote working facilities in key locations
to retain the skills

Economic Higher taxes may be imposed
to sell online goods in different
countries; the full impact of the
UK’s decision to leave the EU is still
unknown (Mintel, 2016)

Create micro-sites to address larger customer
bases in Europe

Social Consumers may start renting
clothes instead of purchasing
outright as relationships to
possessions change (Bardhiet
et al., 2012)

Trial a rental option for certain clothes and


PESTLE factor Digital threats Digital opportunities

Technological Competitors may partner with voice
recognition systems and the novelty
may lead to customer attrition

Research the Internet of Things to better
understand opportunities (Hoffman and Novak,
2016). For example, how to partner with voice
recognition systems such as Amazon Echo (Alexa)
and Google Home, so that shoppers can be
advised when new stock is added to the website

Legal EU legislation such as the General
Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
(Regulation (EU) 2016/679) may
impact how online newsletters are

Ensure customer data acquisition and usage
comply with the GDPR

Environmental Taxes may be imposed for delivery
costs direct to the doorstep

Reduce carbon footprint by embracing open
market delivery stations, such as Amazon lockers,
for mobile customers (Shankar et al., 2016)

Case Questions
• Considering the digital opportunities for ASOS, which should be prioritised? Identify two of the

top priorities to address now.
• What is missing from this evaluation? Can you add further threats and turn them into opportu-

nities for ASOS?

Whilst Table 8.4 provides an outline of how to use PESTLE as a digital evaluation of
opportunities and threats, for a rigorous digital marketing audit you would:

• Add more commentary about specific issues raised

• Connect back to customer feedback received

• Provide more evidence to support the claims

• Prioritise the opportunities to consider first.

1. Using a framework, conduct an organisation review and micro-analysis which

identifies gaps in the organisation’s internal and external research.

2. Select an organisation of your choice and conduct a digital macro-environment
analysis using PESTLE, highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of the findings.


This chapter has explored:

• The rationale and benefits of a digital marketing audit.

• The range of models and frameworks that can be used for conducting a digital
marketing audit, such as the 10Cs and Forrester’s 5Is.

• Methods of collecting third-party data for analysis.

• Online methods of gaining customer insights.

• How to adapt traditional marketing models such as the environment scanning
PESTLE to consider digital ecosystems, exploring the online environment in more


When you have read this chapter, you will be able to:

Understand the difference between strategy, objectives and tactics

Apply the TOWS matrix

Analyse the organisation’s acquisition, conversion, retention strategy

Evaluate objectives using the REAN framework

Create a strategy

When you have worked through this chapter, you should be able to:

• Create a strategy for an organisation

• Develop digital marketing objectives for an organisation


Digital marketing strategy can seem complex and very much focused on tactics. Often
interpreted as a Facebook campaign or blog creation, digital strategy is so much more.
A successful strategy is based on evidence and in Chapter 8 you will have conducted
a digital marketing audit, identifying what works and what doesn’t, gaining a better
understanding of the overall context.

In this chapter we will explore different concepts, including digital strategy models
plus details on the hierarchy of objectives. At the end of the chapter you will better
understand what’s needed to create an effective digital strategy.

Strategy and tactics are often confused. You will hear someone saying their strategy
is ‘Facebook advertising’. That’s absolutely not a strategy! It’s a single tactic!

Digital marketing strategy is about more than tactics and lists of actions. Strategies
require a clear and strong vision. They set the direction for the organisation and are
often designed to be in place for several years. A strategy that’s changed every six
months causes confusion, wastes money and sends out the wrong messages to the
target audience.

• Strategy is a plan or programme, to achieve your aim or vision.

• Objectives are detailed SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and
timed) goals.

• Tactics are actions to achieve the objectives.

It is not uncommon for organisations to confuse strategy, objectives and tactics (see
Key Term – strategy).

There are several definitions of strategy, which are similar and focus on an overarching plan.

A marketing leader from the past, Wendell R. Smith, described strategy as ‘a program
designed to bring about the convergence of individual market demands for a variety of products
upon a single or limited offering to the market’ (Smith, 1956, p. 5).

Philip Kotler offered a complex and scientific description: ‘the marketing strategy is the
set of decision rules, or program that adjusts (product price, advertising budget, distribution
budget) from period T to period T + 1, for all T’ (Kotler, 1965, p. 104).

Michael Porter suggested that ‘A formal corporate strategy provides a coherent model for all
business units and ensures that all those involved in strategic planning and its implementation
are following common goals’ (Porter, 1997, p. 12).

Henry Mintzberg adopted a more straightforward approach and said ‘strategy is a plan’
(Mintzberg, 1987, p. 11).


Strategy, along with many marketing concepts, is founded on military theory. Armies
and their generals needed clear and decisive strategies to go into war; if not, with
hundreds of soldiers walking around with weapons, there would be total chaos.

The Art of War, written around 2,500 years ago by Master Sun (Sun Tzu), described key
tenets of strategy. Several expressions from the book are commonplace and demon-
strate the values of leadership, propaganda and a good competitor audit, for example:

• Leadership – A leader leads by example, not by force.

• Propaganda – The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.

• Competition – Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.

Historically, strategy focused on leadership or share within markets, competition and
product offers. It wasn’t about the customer, it was about beating the competition
and gaining maximum market share.

Marketing’s original focus was very much on making and selling products on the basis
that if you made it, you could sell it. Researchers V.K. Kumar and Roger Kerin explored
the evolution of themes in marketing, as shown in Table 9.1 (Kerin, 1996; Kumar,
2015). Kerin started the table, which was developed by Kumar to add in the post-1996
content. Unsurprisingly, at its inception the issue was about defining the nature of
marketing and developing key principles and ideas. This progressed into positioning
marketing as a management discipline which morphed into marketing as a science.

Marketing as a science elevated its importance. But beware, this is a hot potato!
Opinion is divided: some see marketing as an art, others see it as a science (see
Discover More on Marketing as Art or Science). I see marketing as an art and digital
marketing as a science, and that’s not popular with everyone.

Table 9.1 Themes and metaphors in marketing

Timeline Prominent theme(s) Predominant metaphor

1936–1945 Illuminating marketing principles and concepts Marketing as applied economics

1946–1955 Improving marketing functions and system

Marketing as a managerial activity

1956–1965 Assessing market mix impact Marketing as a quantitative science

1966–1975 Uncovering buyer and organisational

Marketing as a behavioural science

1976–1985 Crafting market/marketing strategy Marketing as a decision science

1986–1995 Identifying market/marketing contingencies Marketing as an integrative science

1996–2004 Customer profitability studies and resource
allocation efforts

Marketing as a scarce resource

2005–2012b Marketing accountability and customer

Marketing as an investment


Marketing at the core and new media

Marketing as an integral part of the

Source: Kumar, 2015, p. 2 Journal of Marketing


An irreverent writer on the topic of marketing as art or science is Professor Stephen Brown
from Ulster University. His writing is entertaining and often linked to pop hits of the 1980s and
1990s as well as Star Wars. He also has an ongoing battle with the American marketing great
Professor Philip Kotler, whom he likens to Darth Vader. Brown positioned himself as Luke
Skywalker, saving the world from marketing science.

There is a bit of history here too. In 1997 Stephen Brown was a guest editor of the European
Journal of Marketing. Presumably for a bit of sport he decided to write an article called ‘Kotler
is dead’ when Philip Kotler (known as the god of marketing in the United States) was very much
alive and well. Brown went one stage further and did not add his own name to the paper and
instead created a pseudonym, let’s call it a persona, named Alan Smithee of Alloa Metropolitan
University, Alloa, UK. Where? Exactly! The opening line is ‘Bastards!’ and this sets the tone for
a dialogical rant about marketing as a science. It also established a long and entertaining
relationship between Stephen and the professor he calls ‘Phil baby’.

I hear, from a very reliable source, that Phil baby sends Brown an annual email, reminding
him that he’s still alive and kicking, recounting how many hundreds of thousands of market-
ing books he’s sold that year, and asking Stephen for a response about how few he’s sold.

For entertainment and to learn about the history of marketing, see for example:

• ‘Art or science? Fifty years of marketing debate’ in the Journal of Marketing Management
(Brown, 1996)

• ‘Kotler is dead!’ in the European Journal of Marketing (Smithee, 1997)
• Postmodern Marketing Two: Telling Tales (Brown, 1998)
• And I would also recommend a newer book on brands, Brands and Branding (Brown,

2016), as this explains the background, components and place of branding in marketing.

Table 9.2 lists well-known strategy models, the author, when the model was created
and an overview. If you want to find out more on these, many are covered in tradi-
tional marketing textbooks, although I will explore the TOWS matrix in more detail
as this is a useful tool to identify strategic options.

Table 9.2 Strategy models

Model Author Date created Overview

Product differentiation
and market
segmentation strategy

Wendell R. Smith 1956 Smith viewed product differentiation and
market segmentation as being based on
supply and demand

Growth strategies for

Igor Ansoff 1957 Useful framework, often considered to be
too simplistic


Model Author Date created Overview

Diversification strategy George Steiner 1964 Main focus was company acquisition as a
diversification strategy rather than product
or market acquisition

Forces driving industry

Michael E. Porter 1980 Focus moved from the introspective
individual business unit to its wider
environment and five external forces

Application of generic

Michael E. Porter 1980 From the forces driving industry
competition Porter identified three generic
strategic options: (a) cost leadership; (b)
differentiation; and (c) focus

The TOWS matrix Heinz Weihrich 1982 Extracted the strategic options from a SWOT

Five Ps for strategy Henry Mintzberg 1987 A management rather than marketing focus:
Plan, Ploy, Pattern, Position and Perspective

MAOSTIC Chartered
Institute of

2004 Part of the traditional marketing process:
business Mission, marketing Audit,
marketing Objectives, core Strategy,
marketing Tactics, Implementation, Control

Smartphone Sixty Seconds® –
Searching for Strategy
Companies listed on stock exchanges such as the New York (NYSE) or the London Stock Exchange,
have to produce annual reports for shareholders. These contain their future strategies.

• On your mobile phone go online and search for ‘NYSE top companies’ or ‘FTSE top companies’
(The Financial Times lists the top 100 companies).

• Then select and search for one of these companies and find the annual report and identify
their strategy.

• Is the strategy clear?
• What model or framework are they using?

When creating a strategy it is useful to understand the options available. This should
be evidence-based and come from the audit (see Chapter 8, Audit Frameworks). Once
the audit has identified the current situation, it is easier to consider the future direc-
tion of the organisation.

Professor Heinz Weihrich created a model known as the TOWS matrix. You might
have noticed that TOWS is ‘SWOT’ spelled back to front. The idea of the TOWS is that
it takes the material captured in your audit, plots this into the matrix and extracts
your strategic marketing options. Weihrich noted that whilst this may not be new,


the difference with this ‘conceptual framework’ was that it provided ‘a systematic
analysis that facilitates matching the external threats and opportunities with the
internal weaknesses and strengths of the organization’ (Weihrich, 1982, p. 59) and
this is illustrated in Figure 9.1.

Internal Strengths (S) Internal Weaknesses (W)

External Opportunities (O) SO ‘Maxi-Maxi’ Strategy

Use strengths to maximise

WO ‘Mini-Maxi’ Strategy

Minimise weaknesses by taking
advantage of opportunities

External Threats (T) ST ‘Maxi-Mini’ Strategy

Use strengths to minimise threats

WT ‘Mini-Mini’ Strategy

Minimise weaknesses and avoid threats

Figure 9.1 The TOWS matrix

Source: Weihrich, 1982

Let’s explore each of these strategies in more detail.

SO ‘Maxi-Maxi’ strategy
This is a good position to be in and it’s about using the organisation’s strengths to
maximise opportunities. It has also been described as the aggressive strategy and
often involves expansion and diversification. There is an example of how this is
applied in Case Example 9.1.

Case Example 9.1 Airbnb
Maxi-Maxi Strategy
In 2008 Airbnb was officially launched as an alternative to hotel rooms. The company encouraged
people with spare rooms to rent their space to individual travellers when busy events were taking
place and where hotel rooms had sold out. There were some challenges along the way, with many
negative stories online, and as a result new policies and greater guidance have since developed,
building a strong and recognised brand.

As the business model was successful Airbnb adopted the SO ‘Maxi-Maxi’ strategy, focusing on
their brand’s strengths and identifying opportunities to move into new markets.

They realised business users were adopting Airbnb for business travel. There was an opportunity
to adapt the individual leisure traveller product to the business market. Executing the Maxi-Maxi
strategy required investment and changes to address the needs of the new market:

• Third-party booking tools, because the person making the booking is not always the person

• Self check-ins for late arrivals


• Business-friendly receipts noting all tax details
• One-click expenses so that charges are immediately billed to the company, not the employee
• Focusing on business requirements, including Wi-Fi, laptop-friendly workspaces
• Group trips, so teams could easily identify suitable accommodation
• Promotion on the website

Airbnb’s website claimed that over 250,000 companies have now used this facility.

Case Questions
• Can you think of an example where an organisation has expanded to harness its strengths?
• Did this work or were changes needed at a later stage?

WO ‘Mini-Maxi’ strategy
Where weaknesses have been identified they should be minimised by taking advan-
tage of opportunities. For example, it may be that an organisation has strong presence
in a specific market and could expand its product offer but lacks the technology to
address this. The WO strategy seeks to resolve this, which may be by acquiring the
skills or by company acquisition.

This could be described as a competitive strategy. Weihrich commented that failing to take
advantage of opportunities in this area could result in competitors moving into the market.

ST ‘Maxi-Mini’ strategy
This strategy utilises the organisation’s strengths to minimise threats. This is often
seen as a conservative strategy.

WT ‘Mini-Mini’ strategy
The WT strategy aims to minimise weaknesses and avoid threats and has been called
a defensive strategy. If this is the only strategy available to the organisation, it is not a
great place to be and it may be that a complete review is required to see if it is still viable.

Activity 9.1 Application of the
Tows Matrix
1. Using the TOWS matrix look back at a digital marketing audit you have conducted for an organ-

isation of your choice.



2. From this, extract the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats and place into the outer

3. Make sure all elements are numbered.

4. If you have too many in one area, such as strengths or weaknesses, identify whether there is
some duplication and group some items together. This should be a focused list.

5. When the outer boxes have been completed, look first at the SO ‘Maxi–Maxi’ strategy box and
identify which strengths can maximise opportunities. Turn this into a short sentence, number-
ing the relevant strength and opportunity, so if presented to the organisation, they can see your
thought process.

6. Repeat for the remaining three strategy options.

7. If possible, reorganise each box and prioritise which strategic options will be addressed first.

See Template online: Application of the TOWS matrix


Digital strategy models are being led by organisations rather than researchers at
present. This section explains three digital strategy frameworks that are shown in
Table 9.3

Table 9.3 Digital marketing strategy models

The social media

The acquisition, conversion,
retention framework

McKinsey’s consumer
decision journey

Pre-purchase Awareness/Consideration Acquisition Consideration/Evaluation

Purchase Conversion Conversion Purchase

Post-purchase Evangelism Retention Post-purchase

These digital marketing strategy models all follow a similar three-step route from
pre-purchase, to purchase and post-purchase, recognising that this may all happen
simultaneously. For example, you may see an app, download it and review it within
an hour of purchase.

We also need to more closely consider the notion of purchase because consumers
are moving away from owning possessions to renting and borrowing, whether it’s
movies, cars, music or clothing, and in terms of growth strategies, it is a newer dis-
ruptive area that has flourished, such as Spotify, with over 50 million subscribers,
30 million songs and available in 60 markets – incredible performance from a com-
pany that never actually delivers goods to your doorstep.


If you think about it, many students arrive at their halls of residence with no television
and no music collection. Instead, TV is watched on YouTube, using whatever device
is available, and music is often streamed via Spotify, iTunes or other apps.

Researchers Fleura Bardhi, Giana Eckhardt and Eric Arnould have termed this move
from owning products to renting as ‘a liquid relationship to possessions’ (Bardhi
et al., 2012, p. 511). This means they have greater mobility, and whilst it is a form of
market development – why own when you can rent? – it still scares many traditionalists.


Read the aptly titled article ‘Liquid consumption’ in the Journal of Consumer Research by Fleura
Bardhi and Giana Eckhardt (2017).

Some definitions of collaborative consumption include:

• Rachel Botsman, co-author of ‘What’s mine is yours: The rise of collaborative consumption’,
has defined the sharing economy as ‘an economic system based on sharing underused
assets or services, for free or for a fee, directly from individuals’ (Botsman, 2015).

• Russel Belk, who has written prolifically on the concept of collaborative consumption, sug-
gested ‘Collaborative consumption is people coordinating the acquisition and distribution
of a resource for a fee or other compensation’ (Belk, 2014, p. 1597).

In an article in the Journal of Marketing entitled ‘When is ours better than mine? A framework
for understanding and sharing systems’, Cait Poynor Lamberton and Randall L. Rose (2012)
provided a useful typology of sharing systems.

Myriam Ertz and colleagues explored motives for sharing in their article ‘Dual roles of con-
sumers: Towards an insight into collaborative consumption motives’ (Ertz et al., 2017).


Plus we also share items. We share cars, sofas, playlists, film accounts, clothes and
books! The notion of a sharing economy is not new. We have always borrowed or
loaned goods between friends and neighbours.

Today’s sharing economy is more sophisticated. Instead of sharing with neighbours,
you are sharing with strangers and it is also known as collaborative consumption
(see Key Term).

Having considered the overall frameworks, this section describes these models in
more detail, with examples from organisations.

When advertising on Twitter or Facebook, both organisations in the advertising-side
platform ask organisations to identify their overall focus or strategy based on awareness,
consideration and conversion. As this is found in social media, I have called it the social
media strategy framework and I have adapted it to include evangelism, where fans are
raving about the product or service on social media. Figure 9.2 shows how this works.

• Brand awareness
• Reach

• Traffic
• Engagement
• Downloads or installs
• Video views
• Lead generation
• Messages

• Conversions
• Online sales
• Store visits

• Positive reviews and
• User-generated content

Figure 9.2 The social media strategy framework


Whilst this is valid in theory, it is more likely to occur in a messy fashion with links
to and from the different elements.

The social media framework includes brand awareness and reach at the start, recognis-
ing that in a digital environment, awareness can take place faster than in the offline
environment. Using social media advertising, a new service can be targeted at specific
customer groups, personas or other demographics, to gain awareness within minutes.

Consideration is the stage where visitors are thinking about your brand and this may
result in web traffic, talking about the brand online or other engagement, those with
apps or software may gain downloads or installations, videos may be watched, leads
generated or messages sent to your organisation.

It might also involve finding more information to think about things, before taking
a big decision. For example, considering a change of behaviour, such as a move to
online registration for government services, or finding out about giving up smoking
on health websites.

In a digital environment conversion can take place immediately after awareness. You
watch an influencer on YouTube talking about a specific product, search and buy in
minutes. This is one of the major differences in digital marketing.

It is also possible that once a product or service has been considered (whether that’s
in minutes or months), you move to conversion, which can mean different concepts
for different organisations. For example:

• For an online store, conversion focuses around goods being added to the shop-
ping basket and a checkout being performed.

• Conversion for online registration for government services means an individual,
family or business decides to complete the registration documents, or download
a pack to help stop smoking or lose weight.

• Downloaded or installed software or apps are used frequently rather than just

• This can also mean a visit to a physical store following an online discovery.

Once conversion has occurred, the next stage, which doesn’t always happen, is
evangelism. The aim is that the customer shares the good news, via positive online
reviews or feedback, or better still, other forms of user-generated content, such as
unboxing the product, providing a case study or explaining why they chose your


The challenge is that not everyone shares what they have purchased because:

• It’s a secret – a present for a friend and I can’t tell anyone until their birthday.

• It’s a company secret – I don’t want my competitors to find out.

• It’s boring – I’ve signed up for tax updates from a government website.

• It’s personal – I’ve signed up for a slimming programme but I don’t want people
to know right now.

Digital Tool Google Trends
If you are generating awareness of a new product or service, before the product or service is launched,
you might explore the online website Google Trends. This will show the volume of searches for this
subject and whether it is popular or not, and may influence your strategy.

• See trends.google.com

The acquisition, conversion, retention (ACR) framework is displayed as a circular
rather than a linear model. Whilst this framework has existed for some time, it is
largely credited to the consultancy firm Econsultancy (2009). As with the awareness,
consideration, conversion framework, this is another purely digital model considering
online customer acquisition, conversion and retention, shown in Figure 9.3.




Figure 9.3 The acquisition, conversion, retention framework

Source: Adapted from Econsultancy, 2009


The notion of customers taking an online journey from acquisition to conversion
and retention does include a hierarchy of steps. As with the social media framework,
acquisition and conversion may take place within minutes. It’s a self-explanatory and
simplistic model which may be why Econsultancy no longer includes the content on
its website. However, as an online-first model, it works well when considering how
organisations can better harness digital marketing.

Activity 9.2 Analysis of the Organisation’s
Acquisition, Conversion, Retention Strategy
Using Template 9.1, analyse the strategy within an organisation of your choice.

Remember, you are not creating objectives, but exploring their overarching plans and it may be
that not each element of the framework is employed.

Template 9.1 Analysis of the organisation’s acquisition, conversion, retention strategy

Phase Example of strategy within the organisation




Ethical Insights Blame the Agency
Coca-Cola launched a Christmas campaign to say thank you to fans in Russia as part of its retention
strategy. It created a map of Russia in its brand’s red and white colours that was posted on its social
media channels.

Maps in Russia are very complicated and perhaps not an obvious Christmas theme. Worse still,
this map didn’t include Crimea and many social media fans in Russia went online and complained,
saying it was incomplete and asking if Coca-Cola was making a political statement.

A second map was subsequently created and re-shared. This one included Crimea along with
the long-disputed and little-known Kuril Islands. This time those in Crimea complained and this map
was also deleted.

In the meantime, a political firestorm had started. Russians and Ukrainians were calling for boy-
cotts. A series of negative images about the brand appeared online and Coca-Cola headquarters
in Atlanta, Georgia, were forced to issue a statement saying sorry. Their response was that their
marketing agency made changes to the map without their knowledge or approval. It wasn’t us, but
the agency!

Online the images still exist; just search for ‘coca cola Christmas advert Russia’!


Another digital strategy model was created by one of the largest consulting firms in the
United States, McKinsey & Company. They conducted interviews with 20,000 consum-
ers within five different sectors and across different geographical areas, including the
United States, Germany and Japan, to address how strategy models were changing.

The McKinsey team also proposed another loop model instead of the traditional linear
approach, justified by their extensive study: ‘consumers are changing the way they
research and buy products’ (Court et al., 2009, p. 2).

They explained that this newer model, outside the traditional marketing funnel, was
why Amazon offered recommendations to customers who were exploring products
online and ready to buy. The model, shown in Figure 9.4, was more sophisticated
and more complicated than traditional strategy models. That is probably why some
marketers prefer to stick to the older, simpler and easier funnel.



The consumer considers an
initial set of brands, based on
perceptions and exposure to
recent touch points

Post-purchase the consumer builds expectations
to inform the next decision journey

Consumers add or subtract brands
as they evaluate what they want

The consumer selects
a brand at the moment
of purchase







Figure 9.4 The McKinsey consumer decision journey

Source: Exhibit reprinted with permission of McKinsey


Whilst this is technically a map of a consumer journey (see also Chapter 2, The Digital
Consumer for more on consumer journeys), it is a digital strategy model because it
considers the plan an organisation should make. It is also clearly worked as a strategy
model for Amazon, which is recognised as one of the world’s leading brands.

The McKinsey consumer decision journey comprises four phases: (a) initial con-
sideration set; (b) active evaluation; (c) moment of purchase; and (d) post-purchase
experience. Table 9.4 shows how the consumer decision journey applies to strategy.

Table 9.4 Application of the McKinsey consumer decision journey to strategy

Phase What this means
How this applies to the

Consideration If thinking about buying a car or a new beauty product,
consumers may have a brand in mind at the start

Gaining stronger brand

Evaluation Searching for reviews about the brand, consumers start to
actively evaluate the original or initial considered item against
other similar or different products and other brands. Consumers
might also message friends and family in this phase

Building positive online

Purchase This is when the sale takes place and the critical factor is that this
is no longer the last stage in the sales funnel

Improving the offer and
experience for customers

Post-purchase After the sale, consumers check to see what others have said
about the product and they may leave reviews

Encouraging customer

Part of the McKinsey consumer decision journey can be seen in company strategies,
such as Just Eat, shown in Case Example 9.2.

Case Example 9.2 Just Eat
You may already be familiar with Just Eat, which is an app that allows you to find and choose from
a whole range of food outlets near your location. What you may not know is that this was created in
Denmark and is now available in many countries.

The company described itself as a ‘global marketplace for online food delivery, providing customers
with an easy and secure way to order and pay for food from our Restaurant Partners’ (Just Eat, 2018)
and its strategy is based on three aims: (a) improving the consumer experience; (b) bringing greater
choice; and (c) driving channel shift.

Just Eat seems to be using an adapted version of the McKinsey consumer decision journey:

• Improving the consumer experience – moment of purchase – making it easy to order with one
click, embracing technology to order from Amazon Alexa.

• Bringing greater choice – active evaluation – so many outlets in the scheme all display the logo,
plus an online price promise makes evaluation easier.

• Driving channel shift – initial consideration set – ongoing brand investment to ensure the name
gains strong recognition online when people are thinking about a take away and use the app
not the phone.



Case Questions
• Have you used Just Eat or a similar online food ordering system?
• How did you make the purchase; via phone, app or Alexa?
• After the purchase did the company capture the post-purchase experience via reviews and

• Was this a one-off purchase or are you a retained customer?


These three digital strategy models more accurately reflect the online purchasing
system. Whilst you can use traditional strategy models, do ensure they are adapted
and properly reflect the organisation’s situation.

Added to this there is the concept of deliberate and emergent strategy (see Key
Term). You may have a strategy in place, that is the intended or deliberate plan, but
something happens and a new strategy emerges that actually works!

As an example, Twitter’s original strategy was to provide an SMS service for small
groups. Their original marketing material (long disappeared) talked about an online
office watercooler, the idea being that when you were getting a glass of water, or
making a coffee in the office, you caught up with colleagues and found out what was
happening. Twitter as it then was, would facilitate this in an online capacity. However
the intended or deliberate strategy was never realised as it soon became a breaking
news channel and adopted the emerging strategy instead.

Whilst strategy is an intended plan, it can change due to disruptions in the marketplace
that were not predicted or were ignored (see Chapter 1, section 1.4, Digital disruption).

It is essential for marketing professionals to be able to adapt the models and frame-
works. One of the challenges is that students often stick rigidly to every single aspect
of a model, even when not appropriate. If it’s not relevant, remove or adapt the ele-
ment and explain why!

And if the market changes, don’t stick to the same strategy: review and adapt too!


Deliberate and emergent strategies were originally described by Henry Mintzberg and James
Waters (Mintzberg and Waters, 1985, p. 257):

• Deliberate strategies are those ‘realized as intended’ – it all went to plan.

• Emergent strategies are ‘patterns or consistencies realized despite, or in the absence of,


The key is to have a strategy – a clear vision for the future which is shared with staff.
The strategy may not contain all the detail as it is the overarching focus and more
information may be included in the final plan. The key components in a strategy are
that it is:

• A short statement

• Based on a strategy model of your choice

• Not timed

• An overview rather than detail

• Usually brave!

When the strategy has been agreed, the next stage in the digital marketing process
is to create objectives, which we will explore in this section.

As we saw in Chapter 8, the digital marketing audit explores ‘where we are now’
and the strategy describes ‘where we are going’. Traditionally strategy was centred
around growth in terms of sales or market share, because most commercial organisa-
tions were aiming to increase return on investment. Today it tends to be focused on
awareness, consideration, conversion, evangelism or retention.

Organisations often have a hierarchy of plans and objectives which are categorised
in a pecking order, which can be confusing. A friend working in a new job recently
messaged me via LinkedIn with this question: ‘I’m currently in the middle of writ-
ing a digital marketing plan. However, I can’t decide whether I should be writing
individual objectives for each department or whether the objectives should be for
the entire company?’

To answer this question, we can look at earlier research, and Charles Granger writing
in Management Review (1970) explained that strategic business objectives concerned
three key areas: (a) financial; (b) product–market mix; and (c) functional (technical,
marketing, operations, personnel), as shown in Figure 9.5. You need to be aware of
this, especially when working, as organisations may require marketing objectives
that fit with overall policies.

Strategic business objectives are often framed around growth, regardless of organi-
sation type. People often think that government departments and charities don’t or
shouldn’t have conversion goals. However, different organisation types can have dif-
ferent goals, whether this is sales, customer awareness or retention.

In Table 9.5, I have illustrated different organisation types and their possible goals.
Business goals are the basis for marketing objectives and these revolve around the
concepts of awareness, consideration and conversion.


Digital marketing

Digital marketing mix objectives


Figure 9.5 Hierarchy of objectives

Table 9.5 Business goals based on organisation type

Organisation type Examples Growth goals

Commercial organisations Business to consumer, business to
business companies

Increased awareness

Commercial organisations Business to consumer, business to
business companies

Growth in consideration of a
product offer

Commercial organisations Business to consumer, business to
business companies

Increased website conversion

Commercial organisations Business to consumer, business to
business companies

Increased customer retention

Public service organisations,
commercial organisations

Government departments, charities,
business to consumer, business to
business companies

Growth in awareness of an
organisation or its product offer

Public service organisations,
commercial organisations

Government departments, charities,
business to consumer, business to
business companies

Growth in conversion for a product
or service

Whilst these are examples of goals, they are not objectives as we all know that objec-
tives need to be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timed.

Let’s explore digital marketing objectives in more detail in the next section.

A key element of digital marketing is the development of sustainable objectives.
Typically, in organisations the objectives often focus on numbers: totals of sales
achieved; value of sales; numbers of customers; or volume of products sold.


The challenge for marketing is that focusing on numbers alone limits the focus to
quantities and does not create a healthy business as they can fail to provide a sus-
tainable customer offer.

For example, some years ago the cheapest supermarket on the UK high street was called
Kwik Save. It focused on very low prices. It was super cheap. But even as a student on a
limited budget I wouldn’t shop there. It was a terrible in-store experience, more like a bat-
tle between customer, packed aisles and unhappy staff. No one wanted to be seen holding
their carrier bags! The firm ceased trading and the stores closed. Focused on the lowest
possible numbers it failed to attract sufficient customers in a competitive environment.

Smaller organisations also struggle to compete on price. Imagine selling software
and then major software corporations decide to give most of it away free. Similarly
individual hotels can no longer compete with large formula chains that can drop
prices, give big discounts and provide regular offers. The way to compete is based
on more than numbers.

This section shows you how to create objectives using tools such as REAN and the
5Ss. Once the objectives have been created, you can build your digital marketing
plan, which we will explore in Chapter 11.

Digital marketing objectives focus on customer acquisition, engagement and retention.
They should be based on the overall business goals and they should be SMART. If an
objective is not SMART it’s often a wish – a description of something that someone
would like to do, without any real substance.

Based on the goals shown in Table 9.5, we can transform these into SMART digital
marketing objectives, as shown in Figure 9.6.


To generate 10%
more visitors to the

website by 31

To drive 15% more
traffic to our website

by the end of Q1


To increase
engagement on social
media by 10% in the

next 6 months

To encourage 20% of
customers to leave a

review before 30

Increase website

To increase sales from
the website from 5%

of visitors to 10%
before 31 May

To encourage 15% of
web visitors to share
their email address
within 12 months

Figure 9.6 Business goals adapted into digital marketing objectives


The examples of digital marketing objectives in Figure 9.6 are part of the strategy
to grow the business using the acquisition, conversion and retention (ACR) model.

This section now looks at specific frameworks for creating digital marketing objectives.

Reach, Engage, Activate, Nurture (REAN)
In 2006 two consultants working in Finland at Satama (now Trainers House), Xavier
Blanc and Leevi Kokko, developed a model to use with clients which they named
Reach, Engage, Activate, Nurture, shortened to REAN (Jackson, 2009).

They had considered older models of marketing communication, such as AIDA
(Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action), but there were challenges. Firstly, what is
‘interest’? Does it mean a web visitor, someone who has downloaded a document or
something else? It was vague and lacked clarity. Then there was desire and how this
is measured online. How do you know when desire has been reached?

In a digital world they needed a digital model and so Blanc and Kokko created REAN
on the basis that all businesses need to reach potential customers; engagement starts
a conversation; activation organises the sale; and finally, nurturing looks after the
customer, encouraging them to return. Examples of REAN objectives include:

• Reach: To reach 5,000 new customers before December

• Engage: To engage with 30% of all web visitors in quarter 2

• Activate: To activate sales from 10% of all web visitors over the next 6 months

• Nurture: To nurture 80% of all customers by July

Activity 9.3 Evaluate Objectives Using
the REAN Framework
For an organisation of your choice, create and then evaluate your objectives using the REAN framework.
Evaluate objectives using the REAN framework

Area Your objectives Strengths/weaknesses of the objective





Sell, Serve, Speak, Save, Sizzle – 5Ss
Another tool to create objectives is the alliterative 5Ss model, originally created by
Dave Chaffey and P.R. (Paul) Smith in their book eMarketing Excellence (Chaffey
and Smith, 2008).

Strategy and ObjectiveS 245

Smartphone Sixty Seconds® –
identifying the Objectives
• On your mobile phone go online and find a brand you have visited before.
• Based on their web content, judge what are their top three objectives.
• Share with classmates.

This model was originally intended to be a rubric to assess website effectiveness; it
wasn’t designed as a tool for developing objectives. As an early adopter of websites,
I found this a useful tool, but soon realised this would work well as a structure for
developing objectives in organisations and started to use it when creating digital
plans and the idea developed.

You may find that when creating objectives it is difficult to find one for each of the
elements of the 5Ss, so you may create two objectives in some places.

5S – Sell
This is about the numbers – the volume of sales or ‘conversion activities’ such as
newsletter registrations, downloads and other relevant activities. Sales objectives may
also be created within strategic business objectives.

5S – Serve
Customer service objectives ensure organisations strive to improve and develop the
service. It is the one area where smaller businesses can win against large businesses,
where it can be difficult to consistently deliver fabulous service if you employ thou-
sands of staff.

5S – Speak
Speak is staying in contact with customers and planning communication. Some
organisations send you daily emails, some weekly and some every now and then.
Speak is also evolving with Live Chat where people can instantly speak to company
representatives online.

5S – Save
Organisations are under constant pressure to improve processes and this is where
saving time and hassle, for the organisation or the customer, has become an important
factor in business management.

The best-known example of saving time is probably Amazon’s 1-click ordering system.
In September 1997 the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issued


Amazon.com with patent reference US 5960411 for the 1-click order system. The
objective was to save customers’ time when placing an order and remove the hassle
of re-entering their name, address, delivery location and payment information.

Amazon.com created a simple ordering process. It generated increased sales for the
company, saved customers time, had not been used elsewhere and was easy to use –
a classic win–win situation.

Amazon’s one click to order was both save and sizzle, which introduces another chal-
lenge: some objectives can achieve two elements in one. What you have to remember
is to focus on the primary objective.

5S – Sizzle
The toughest objective to develop! A famous marketing slogan from the last century,
attributed to Elmer Wheeler, head of the Tested Selling Institute, was ‘Don’t sell
the steak – sell the sizzle’ (Wheeler, 1937). This was re-phrased in the UK as ‘Sell
the sizzle not the sausage’.

Sizzle is the magic, the factor that makes a difference to a product or service, and adding
something so different to the product, promotion or other part of the digital marketing
mix, that it stands out and customers and competitors alike say ‘wow, that’s amazing’.

Sizzle needs a bit of thought. It’s often not seen within the organisation and can be
developed with help from customers. The key is to ask customers, ‘if we could wave
a magic wand and change one thing, what would it be?’.

Examples of digital marketing objectives using the 5Ss include:

• Sell: To increase sales via our Facebook page to 10% in the next quarter

• Serve: To add messaging functionality to Twitter to automatically respond to
FAQs, by June

• Speak: To add Live Video Chat to the website within 12 months

• Save: To analyse frequently asked questions and add to Live Chat by December

• Sizzle: Create a how-to video channel to explain our FAQs by the year end

The marketing mix objectives address elements of the 7Ps identified by Booms and
Bitner (1980), and known as ‘the extended marketing mix’.

The ‘traditional marketing mix’ is known as the 4Ps and comprised Product, Price,
Place and Promotion. I always felt that ‘place’ was shoe-horned into the model due
to the alliteration as it really meant the location or delivery point. Today we think of
place as online, in-store or mobile.

The 4Ps marketing mix was designed at a time when businesses sold products
rather than services and this concept of the 4Ps is credited to E. Jerome McCarthy
who created the alliterative terms (McCarthy, 1964). In 1980 two researchers in tour-
ism, Bernard H. Booms and Mary J. Bitner, claimed that the 4Ps were insufficient


for service businesses (Booms and Bitner, 1980). They stated that the ‘customer is
directly involved in and contributes to the assembly process’ (p. 344). Their research
investigated the differences between products and services, concluding that the 4Ps
model did not fully work in services. They identified three missing variables, which
they named Participants, Physical evidence and Processes. Participants later became
People and these are the 7Ps of the extended marketing mix.

Product or service is still the same, although the issue is that services could take longer
to become digital as the customer needs to be present – think about hairdressers! In
the future we could opt for the augmented reality haircut!

However, we have also seen growth in pure digital products: downloadable books,
music and videos. I can create personalised birthday cards online to be signed and
delivered direct to the recipient and get an annual reminder which also tells me which
cards I’ve sent before. I love the organisational abilities of these digital stores and
how they #MakeMylifeEasy by intelligently using data.

Pricing is changing in a transparent digital world. How many times have you searched
for an item online and opened multiple windows conducting three or four searches
at the same time, to see which one comes back cheaper? This is why companies in
the future will build delivery costs into all transactions.

Place is the fast-changing variable. I can get my order delivered to work, to home, to
a parcel collection point, to click and collect, to a locker. I get a text message telling
me when my delivery is arriving – sometimes with the name of the driver and their
vehicle registration number. Plus I can buy online, via mobile app and a few items
on my smartwatch. I can ask Alexa to order books for my Kindle and to add grocer-
ies to my shopping list.

Promotion is adapting to new channels such as personalised social media advertising.
Although I have many email addresses and receive many emails a day, I still check
some shopping emails (see Chapter 3 and Figure 3.3 Why email works model).

People’s roles are changing, as we are witnessing the growth of digital jobs. A quick
search online shows hundreds of jobs with titles like: Head of Digital Marketing,
Digital Marketing Manager, Digital Specialist, Digital Analyst, Senior Digital Strategist,
Digital Marketing Specialist, Digital Marketing Executive, Digital Marketing Assistant
and Digital Marketing Intern. More staff have digital responsibilities and are aware
of online customer contact.

Physical evidence concerns the online experience, the user experience (UX) or, as it’s
now being called, the customer experience (CX). How many clicks do you need to
make to fulfil a task, such as download a document, place an order or book a ticket?

Processes are slower to catch up, and thinking that it’s nearly 20 years since Amazon
patented its 1-click shopping, many other stores are still behind. This is one of the
reasons that Amazon dominates the online shopping environment as it has made the
process remarkably easy.


Having discussed the application of the 7Ps extended marketing mix to digital objec-
tives, we can say examples of digital marketing mix objectives might be:

• Product (or service): To transform the offline training product into an online
version by the end of Q4

• Price: To increase online pricing by 5% by year end

• Place: To create a store inside Facebook within 12 months

• Promotion: To launch online social media advertising campaigns over the next
12 months

• People: To empower staff to respond faster on social media by June

• Physical evidence: To remove two steps from the user journey by September

• Processes: To offer live chat on the website by December

The stronger and clearer the objectives, the easier it is to build a digital marketing
plan. It’s worth spending time to ensure the digital marketing objectives are easy to
understand so that more people will agree to them, especially if you’re on a placement!

Finally, don’t have too many objectives. If you create a list of 30 or more, the plan
will be never-ending and nothing will be achieved.

1. Identify an organisation that is in the news and not performing well. Create

an alternative digital marketing strategy for the organisation and justify your

2. Create a customer retention strategy for an organisation of your choice.

3. Review the website of an organisation of your choice and assess its digital mar-
keting objectives.

This chapter has explored:

• How traditional models are applied to digital strategy.

• The usefulness of the TOWS matrix to develop strategic options.

• Newer digital strategy models, including the social media framework and the
ACR framework, which are designed for online organisations.

• How the hierarchy of objectives fits into the overall context for digital marketing



When you have read this chapter, you will be able to:

Understand digital marketing planning issues

Apply digital planning models

Analyse the impact and effort required

Evaluate the resources for your plan

Create your outline digital marketing plan

When you have worked through this chapter, you should be able to:

• Create a digital marketing plan

• Prepare a social media campaign


Understanding strategy and the process of creating objectives is the start of creating
a plan. This chapter explains how you bring together different elements to build a
workable digital marketing plan.

You will discover how to use the one-page digital marketing plan and comprehend
the requirements for resources as well as the different budgeting options.

The second part of this chapter looks at social media campaign planning and the
details needed to create an online campaign, whilst managing the workload.

A plan provides a focus, an agreed way ahead and enables organisations to save
resources. A lack of planning may impact the organisation in many ways, including:

• Confusion as no one is sure what’s happening.

• Working in silos as no information is shared and there’s a lack of integration
(Roberts, 2011).

• Lack of skills as no one may be available internally to carry out the work and the
organisation may need to spend more on consultants or agency staff.

• Difficult to measure effectiveness as if no plans are in place, no one will be clear
if the goals have been achieved.

• In a complex and changing external environment the wrong decisions may be
taken based on lack of information.

• Short-term decisions are taken based on immediate rather than long-term require-
ments and could be wrong.

• Greater investment is often required as carrying out actions at the last minute
may require larger budgets as goods and services may be more expensive.

Having identified issues with a lack of a plan, this still happens. Making a plan pre-
pares organisations and people for things that might happen, rather than ignoring
the situation and assuming it will all be OK.

This happens in digital marketing too; YouTube, for example, ignored calls to remove
terrorist videos until major advertisers stopped using the channel for adverts. They are
not alone, and all the tech giants had to create a collective plan to identify offensive
material and remove it before it is shared publicly.

Having a plan ensures you are prepared for what might happen as well as agreeing
the organisation’s future direction. Let’s explore how to build a plan.

With an understanding about the challenges due to a lack of planning, it’s time to
identify tactics to achieve the strategy and objectives.


Within the sequence of the digital marketing process, after the audit, strategy and
creation of objectives, the next step is building the digital marketing plan.

The plan should be based on (a) your strategy, (b) your objectives and (c) the perso-
nas. Effectively the plan details the steps required to achieve the objectives, so if you
haven’t finished your objectives, you can’t create the plan!

There are different ways to create a digital marketing plan, which largely depend
on the organisation or the brief you have been given. In this section we will look at
two approaches:

• Digital application of the 7Ps

• One-page digital marketing plan

You may wonder which approach to use. It’s fine to use either (unless there is a
specific request). You may find that the digital application of the 7Ps is often more
useful where an organisation has not fully embraced digital marketing, whereas the
one-page digital marketing plan outline is useful where an organisation has already
adopted digital tactics and is keen to improve.

A digital marketing plan, regardless of which approach is adopted, follows these steps:

• Step 1: Create a strategy and objectives

• Step 2: Build personas

• Step 3: Place objectives into a table, add outline tactics for each

• Step 4: Extract all tactical actions and add detail

• Step 5: Add resources and budget

And as you will notice, the plan won’t work unless you have already developed the
strategy, objectives and personas.

This is an iterative approach that starts by adding earlier work (strategy, objec-
tives, personas) and then considers potential tactics. Once agreed, detailed tactics
are added and skills required identified. You can then evaluate the resources and
the budget.

The 7Ps, also known as the extended marketing mix (Booms and Bitner, 1980), has
been used as a planning model as its focus can be tactical as well as strategic.

Let’s apply the model to the digital environment and explore examples of where
digital tactics can be applied:

• Product: Adapt or enhance existing products to a digital offer. For example, an
online bookshop’s website offers downloadable or preview material.

• Price: Pricing online is transparent so you should incorporate delivery, rather
than adding as an extra cost.


• Place: Enable buying via website, social media and mobile. More retail stores
offer all forms of purchase (online, in-store, mobile).

• Promotion: Social media advertising brings new promotion methods, as do har-
nessing social media networks to share product news. For example, GAP clothing
moved to mainly online ads to better target the right audience.

• Processes: Online this refers to the user experience; how many clicks to complete
the purchase? Many websites have reviewed the customer journey to ensure a
speedy process and enable login via Facebook or Twitter.

• Physical evidence: Does the user trust the website, does it look authentic? Google
is seeking greater authentication from websites with a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL)
to protect your data; without this, when browsing you may see the message ‘this
website may not be secure’.

• People: How does customer service work online? Is live chat available? Many
online retailers now offer live chat and messaging.

Many organisations have adapted to a digital version of the 7Ps, as Case Example 10.1
shows, with two fashion retailers. What is interesting is that their tactics are
remarkably similar.

Case Example 10.1 Digital Application
of the 7PS to ASOS and Boohoo
Online fashion companies ASOS and Boohoo offer similar products aimed at similar demograph-
ics. ASOS targets 20-somethings and Boohoo targets 16–24-year-olds (ASOS, 2017; Boohoo, 2017).

Table 10.1 shows how they have digitised the 7Ps.
Table 10.1 Digital application of the 7Ps to ASOS and Boohoo

7Ps ASOS Boohoo

Product • Products grouped into demographics (men,
women) and products, brands and edits

• Also offers ’Marketplace’, enabling boutiques
to sell direct

• Products grouped into demographics
(men, women) and themes
(campaigns, trends, get the look)

Price • Premier Delivery UK for unlimited next-day or
nominated-day delivery for 12 months – pay

• Boohoo premier – pay £9.99 for free
next day delivery for 12 months

• Student discounts offered

Place • Orders via website and app
• Free delivery with orders over £20
• Click and collect
• Evening delivery
• Precise time delivery

• Orders via website and app
• Collect from lockers
• Evening delivery
• Weekend delivery

Promotion • Places ads across social media
• Uses Instagram to promote new products

• Places ads across social media
• Uses Instagram to promote

new products
• Offer codes available online


7Ps ASOS Boohoo

Processes • Encourages account registration to remember

• Encourages account registration to
remember details


• Easy to use site with frequently changed
home page

• Easy to use site with frequently
changed home page

People • Online customer care
• Live chat

• Customer support via Twitter

Case Questions
• Looking back at how ASOS and Boohoo apply the 7Ps, how else could their develop their tactics

to create a greater difference between each other?
• Do you recognise tactics employed by other organisations?
• What do you recommend they should do differently and why?

In Chapter 9 we looked at strategy and objectives, and considered how a strategy
translates into objectives. This was shown as an example in Figure 9.5, and if we
adapt that diagram and list some possible digital marketing tools to use, we can start
to create that plan.

Table 10.2 shows the strategy, digital marketing objectives and tactics that have already
been created. There are two objectives for each strategy and each objective has one
or more suggested tactics.

Table 10.2 Strategy, digital marketing objectives and tactics

Strategy Generate awareness Grow consideration Increase website conversion

Objective #1 To generate 10% more
visitors to the website by 31

To increase engagement on
social media by 10% in the
next 6 months

To increase sales from the
website from 5% of visitors to
10% before 31 May

Tactics #1 • SEO
• Online PR

• Social media • Improve UX

Objective #2 To drive 15% more traffic to
our website by the end of Q1

To encourage 20% of
customers to leave a review
before 30 September

To encourage 15% of web
visitors to share their email
address within 12 months

Tactics #2 • Advertising to
drive traffic

• Blog

• Email marketing • Site design

The strategy is based around the social media framework (see Chapter 9) and the
objectives are aligned with this.


Under each objective I have added one or more possible tactics, which we can now
expand into a plan. Before we do, we need to consider that there are three fundamen-
tal stages in the user or customer journey: pre-purchase, purchase and post-purchase.
These are described in the strategy as awareness, consideration and conversion, so
they are arranged in a logical order.

Another key factor is that we are targeting specific individuals or audience personas
(see Chapter 4) rather than everyone who may visit our website, social media space
or affiliate site.

This is because it’s fine to consider social media to increase engagement, but if our
persona doesn’t use social media, it won’t work. So now you need to revisit the one,
two or three personas you created earlier (see Activity 4.1: Construct a digital persona,
p. 104) and ensure these are still valid and resonate with the organisation’s strategy
and objectives. If not, you may need to adapt.

Having confirmed the personas, look back at your strategy and the desired objectives.
Ensure that you select elements from the digital toolbox which are relevant to the
objectives. To help with this, note which objective is being achieved for each tactic.
In some cases it may be more than one objective.

Table 10.3 shows an example of a one-page digital marketing plan outline. This
addresses the tactics only and does not address the resources required, nor the control
mechanisms and the measures. This provides a balanced overview to decide which
tactics should be selected and from this, the specific details concerning resources
can be added in the next phase.

With Table 10.3 we need to apply the plan to an organisation, so let’s imagine this is a
charity requiring volunteers, supporters and donors. I have added in three personas,
which we could outline as:

• Vic the volunteer – older, male, uses Facebook to stay in touch with grandchildren
only, checks email every day, visits the website, reads online articles

• Sam the supporter – student, rarely checks email, uses Instagram and only online
on mobile

• Diana the donor – business owner, donates money, has no spare time, uses
LinkedIn and Twitter, checks email, reads articles online

Your personas should contain significantly more detail and be evidence-based!

Table 10.3 One-page digital marketing plan

Strategy: Pre-purchase, purchase and post-purchase


Objective being achieved Persona 1

Vic the volunteer

Persona 2

Sam the supporter

Persona 3

Diana the donor

Email To encourage 20% of
customers to leave
a review before 30

Email and ask for
a review on how
volunteering makes
a difference


Strategy: Pre-purchase, purchase and post-purchase

Website To increase sales from the
website from 5% of visitors
to 10% before 31 May

Add case studies to
the website to show
the good work

Online PR To generate 10% more
visitors to the website by 31

Create a case study
on how volunteering
makes a difference

Find companies for PR
on benefits for getting
involved with charities


To drive 15% more traffic
to our website by the end
of Q1

Do not use PPC for these personas

Blogs To drive 15% more traffic
to our website by the end
of Q1

Articles on benefits
for companies to get
involved in LinkedIn


To increase engagement
on social media by 10% in
the next 6 months

Posts about
volunteers making
a difference and
organising a
volunteer event

Links to images
from resources
area with toolkits
on organising

Case studies on how
volunteering makes a
difference on LinkedIn


To drive 15% more traffic
to our website by the end
of Q1

Ads on Instagram
to download
useful content
from website

Urgent appeal ads on

UX To increase sales from the
website from 5% of visitors
to 10% before 31 May

Improve the
mobile UX

Site design To encourage 15% of web
visitors to share their email
address within 12 months

Add resources area with downloadable
toolkits on organising events

The essential aspect to this one-page digital marketing plan outline is that where
there are blank boxes, this is because the tactics (email, online advertising or pay per
click) are not relevant for those persona groups.

Activity 10.1 Create Your Outline
Digital Marketing Plan
Using the framework from Table 10.3 and the Template online, create an outline digital marketing
plan. Remember that not all elements of the digital toolbox need to be completed, but you need to
have developed relevant evidence-based personas!

See Template online: One-page digital marketing plan outline

Table 10.3 contained a list of actions and based on this I can construct the plan. I
have had to extract each action and granulate the details, as shown in Table 10.4. This
example is based on just two of the actions identified, which started as:


• Email and ask for a review on how volunteering makes a difference

• Add resources area with downloadable toolkits on organising events

The first of these, emailing, involves a whole series of actions and leads into develop-
ment of the case studies which is a second tactic.

Table 10.4 Building the action plan

Area Action When Note Skills

Email Segment database into
volunteers (V1 group),
supporters (S1 group) and
donors (D1 group)

By 28

Ensure we have consent to


Email Email volunteers and ask for
a review on how volunteering
makes a difference

15th of every

Once they’ve added, move
into new V2 group, so we don’t
continue to ask and irritate


Case study Find volunteers willing to be
case studies, initially ask
around in the office

By 31 March Try to get a balance of
people, so there is some
variation in the case studies
in terms of demographics
and activities


Case study Invite case study volunteers
into the office and interview

By 30 April Aim is to get 10–14 case

listening, writing

Case study Organise photographer to
get some images of case
study volunteers

By 30 April Get approval from volunteers
of photos and consider getting
one image framed and
sending as a thank-you to
each volunteer


Case study Video interview and edit By 30 April Get sign-off for video at start Video

Case study Get approval/sign-off from
volunteers for case studies

By 15 May Ensure written permission
obtained to use online and
offline for up to 3 years


Case study Edit as needed and publish to
website (written case study,
video, images and quotes)

By 31 May Note to remove in 3 years Social media

Case study Share case study #1 on social

By 30 June Add to content calendar and

Social media

Case study Build into 12 themes for one
a month

By 30 June Balance themes with the

Social media



Case study Posts about volunteers
making a difference and
organising a volunteer event

By 30 June Advise volunteers 3 days
before that they will feature
and ask them to share!

Social media

Events Run workshop to identify (a)
all key events and (b) how
to run successful events, (c)
what to avoid and (d) what
the charity could provide that
would be useful

By 31

Hold at lunchtime and invite



Area Action When Note Skills

Events Write up notes and extract
common themes. Turn into

By 30

Try to link the themes to the
organisation’s overall plan


Events Graphically improve the
checklists into attractive
documents to easily
download and print

By 31

As some will print the docs,
make sure they are not
blocked with colour that uses
all printer ink!


Events Add checklists to resources
area on website

By 30

Explore if these can be shared
in other online places

Web access

Table 10.4 shows the overall area, the specific action, the date by when this should
happen, any relevant background or other notes, as well as the skills needed. It may be
that the digital marketing assistant can use video editing or a good photographer. This
is why the job roles are not yet added as it is about skills, not roles. Plus there are no
costs added at this stage. People and finances are added when we consider resources.

After you have listed the tactics and created your plan you need to consider what
resources will be required to ensure it happens.

The foundations of resource planning are in manufacturing, where it was criti-
cal to ensure the right people were in the right place with the right machines and
materials, at the right time. This has led to a plethora of ‘M models’, from the 5Ms
of Efficiency (Manpower, Materials, Machines, Methods, Money) to the Six Sigma
techniques for improving processes (Method, Mother nature, Man, Measurement,
Machines, Materials).

I have adopted a blended approach, with 9Ms: Manpower, Money, Method, Mother
nature, Measurement, Machines, Materials, Management and Minutes, as shown in
Figure 10.1.

Digital Tool Online Freelance
There are many online freelance marketplaces where companies (buyers) request a service, from
writing a blog article to creating an infographic, or editing photos to developing social media profiles.

Individuals (sellers) can either bid for the work or create ‘all in one packages’ showcasing what
they could do for a fixed fee. Some of these marketplaces include:

• peopleperhour.com
• upwork.com
• freelancer.com
• fiverr.com

Many students register with these sites to supplement their incomes whilst studying!


• People required to
deliver the work

• The available or
required budget

• Software or other

• Senior sponsor to
support the project

• The timeframe needed
to deliver the work

• The consistent KPIs or
metrics used

• Approaches being used
and if outsourcing is

• Computers or other
equipment needed

Mother nature
• Environmental factors
that may need to be

Figure 10.1 The 9Ms of resource planning

Depending on the company size you may not need all of the 9Ms, although it is always
sensible to utilise the first six as people are always required to deliver the work, a
budget is often needed and it is likely that in a digital marketing environment some
software or other materials such as written content, images or videos may be needed.

Regardless of company size it is essential to obtain a senior sponsor at a management
level to support the project, or the lack of support could lead to a project not starting,
being postponed or, worse still, failing. Timeframes help to explain the total time
required to deliver a piece of work and this can highlight if it would take too long
or if extra help may be needed.

Measurement is covered further in Chapter 13, Digital Marketing Metrics, Analytics
and Reporting, and the key at this stage is to ensure those involved in the project
have agreed consistent Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) or metrics.

A project will fail if you are measuring likes gained for a Facebook page and if I am
measuring sales income via Facebook. We are measuring different numbers and they
will never tally, so ensure that there is consistency from the start.

The final 3Ms, method, machines and mother nature, often occur in larger organisations.

Method is becoming more important as organisations use freelancers or online services
to deliver certain aspects of a project (see Digital Tool: Online freelance marketplaces).
When scoping a marketing plan, consider whether there are internal skills and, if not,
what additional help is required (see Ethical Insights: Human beings not algorithms).

Using online freelancers often means you can speed up processes to facilitate faster
delivery of some parts of a project. In larger organisations it can be easier to gain
permission to spend £1,000 or $1,000 on a service, than it can be to start a temporary
staff-hiring process.


Ethical Insights Human Beings Not Algorithms
There is a downside to online freelance marketplaces as their reward systems are neither managed
nor controlled.

One example is Amazon’s Mechanical Turk (named af ter an 18th-century chess-playing
machine, ‘The Turk’) which recruits workers to complete tasks from requesters. The tasks require
human intelligence, which means they cannot be done in any other way. Typical projects require
people to categorise items, select correct spellings and find item numbers. The dark side is that
the fee for the work often starts at less than one US cent per item. So if you need to categorise
the Twitter comments from one hundred or one thousand tweets, you could earn 10 cents or
even one dollar!

A campaign against low pay and poor treatment on Amazon Turk was started, named human
beings not algorithms, where Kristy Milland, a ‘turker’ (as workers call themselves), contacted Jeff
Bezos to explain that she had completed more than 830,000 tasks on Mechanical Turk, earning
an average of 20 cents for each and was unhappy with the treatment received (Milland, 2015).

But Amazon’s Mechanical Turk is still alive and well – and used frequently by researchers!
See mturk.com

In a digital environment machines are coming to the fore. When the M models were
developed in manufacturing, machinery concerned the tools need to deliver the work.
Applied in a digital environment, this might include desktop or laptop computers,
tablets or additional mobile phones to monitor social media channels out of hours.
Planning for these resources in advance is a good idea as, again, gaining budgetary
approval in bigger organisations can take weeks (or months).

Mother nature is a well-considered factor in manufacturing. You may be planning to
develop a new software project in, say, San Francisco, where Facebook and Twitter
have their headquarters buildings, yet it is also well known for major power failures.

Activity 10.2 Assess the Resources
for Your Plan
Using the 9Ms of resource planning as shown in Figure 10.1 as a framework, start to assess the
requirements for your plan. You need to evaluate factors such as:

1. Are extra people needed to deliver the work? Could existing staff be trained? Could the work
be outsourced?

2. What is the overall budget available?



3. Consider materials, especially for digital marketing (see Chapter 4, Content Marketing) as
you might need copywriting, video production and more.

4. Identify the project sponsor in management and the timescale, which may be 3, 6, 9 or 12

5. What are the agreed measurements?

6. Is method a factor or can all work be delivered in-house?

7. Are additional machines needed (e.g. do the design team need new Macs?) and is mother
nature a factor or not?

8. Add a summary line for each and build a larger commentary to explain and justify your

See Template online: Resources for your plan


Smartphone Sixty Seconds® –
Searching for the Downside
1. Use your mobile phone and search for terms like those shown here and see what stories you

can discover:

• Downside of Mechanical Turk
• Don’t use Mechanical Turk
• Mechanical Turk problems

2. Are the stories recent, up-to-date or from a few years ago?
3. Does Amazon’s Mechanical Turk respond?
4. If you were working there, how would you manage negative stories about your business online?

Once the tactics and resources are all listed you might need to prepare a budget. If
you are working on a placement this may be for the senior management team, or if
you are on a community project, your colleagues may need to be involved.

Traditionally budgets were organised based on specific settings, such as:

• Budget needed to meet objectives


• Budget available

• Percentage of turnover

• Last year’s budget.

Budget needed to meet objectives
When the objectives have been formulated and the tactics listed, you allocate the
required funds to complete all activities. This method is also known as the ‘objective
and task’ budget.

Budget available
More often than not this applies to smaller organisations and is about the possible
available budget. Over the years I have received emails from students working on place-
ment who are on very small budgets. This means you need to become more creative!

Percentage of turnover
Typically used in services businesses, the percentage of turnover ranges from 2% to
20% but very much depends on the business. Financial institutions often work on
10% of turnover.

Last year’s budget
This method is more usual in larger organisations where a budget has been allocated
to different departments and you are given last year’s budget plus 5%. The downside
with this method is that departments are encouraged to spend the entire budget, even
if not needed, just to gain the same amount the following year.

In digital marketing there is greater flexibility as online advertising is auction-based
and so depends on the search terms being used, the volume of searches and com-
petition for the words. As an example, if you bid for a phrase like ‘online postcard

In a digital environment we consider cost per acquisition – what does it cost to acquire a new
customer? Acquisition can be acquiring data (email address), a donation or a sale.

As an example, if my average sale is £100 on a product that costs £25 to produce, my
profit margin is 75%. If my target profit margin is 50–70% I could afford to spend £5 to £50 in
acquiring the customer.

However, if it is an expensive keyword that costs £100, I would never make a profit and this
wouldn’t work. I therefore need to understand and factor in the acquisition cost from the start.


printing’ this may cost £10 per click. But if you bid for ‘e postcard maker’ this may
cost 10p. This means smaller businesses can more easily compete, as long as they are
creative. Newer budgeting models have been introduced, such as cost per acquisition.

Having identified the actions, evaluated the resources and agreed the budget, you
are now ready to assemble the final plan.

When building your digital marketing plan you will have considered promotion (see
Chapter 3, The Digital Marketing Toolbox) and you may need to create individual
campaign plans. This section looks at social media campaigns; if you want to organise
other campaigns see Discover More on Advertising and Promotion.

For in-depth coverage of online campaigns. read the latest edition of Advertising and Promotion
by Chris Hackley and Rungpaka Amy Hackley (4th edn, 2017).

To create social media campaigns you will need to adopt a campaign planning pro-
cess, and a blueprint for this is shown in Figure 10.2.




Creative offer
and messaging

Timing and

Media planning
and selection

Budgeting Pre-testing Post-testing

Figure 10.2 Social media campaign planning process


Objective setting
Whilst you will have agreed objectives for the digital marketing plan, you will also
have campaign objectives. Think of campaign objectives as a subset of your main
objectives, one at a time, as shown in Figure 10.3.


Objective 1

objective A

objective B

Objective 2

objective C

objective D

Figure 10.3 Framework for digital marketing campaign objectives

Let’s apply the framework where the strategy is the social media framework, focused
on conversion. The segment is students living away from home in the UK aged 18–22
with no cooking skills, moderately health conscious, mobile and laptop device users
for at least 5 hours a day

Objective 1: To gain a 10% increase in online sales in November

• Campaign objective A: To target UK students aged 18–22, living away from
home, via Facebook, in November, offering evening delivery

• Campaign objective B: To re-target web visitors using Instagram, during October
and November, with a 10% student discount offer

Objective 2: To increase adoption of the mobile app by 25% from September
to December

• Campaign objective C: To target UK students aged 18–22, living away from
home, via Facebook, in November, offering free app with calorie counter

• Campaign objective D: To re-target web visitors across the Google network,
from September to December, with the app details

The granulation or development of the details in the specific campaign objectives
makes it easier to construct the creative offer and messaging, which follows later
in this chapter.

The difference between the digital marketing plan objectives and the campaign
objectives is the detail. Campaign objectives focus on a platform and a specific
activity – such as re-targeting.


Targeting strategy
Once the objectives have been set, you will check that the targeting strategy, which
is identified in the main digital marketing plan, is consistent. What you should not
do at this stage is to introduce a new target audience.

Ideally you look back at your personas and integrate this at the campaign level too.
For example, if your target audience is fashion conscious 16–24-year olds, the cam-
paign targeting strategy should select specific age groups or genders in this target
audience. You might not select everyone as one group and may decide to target a
narrower audience, such as girls aged 16–18 years.

It is also possible that you may re-target those who have already visited your website
to encourage them to move from consideration to conversion.

Channel selection
With many social media networks available, channel selection can be a challenge!
The key is focusing on the social media networks used by the target audience or
personas. This is another reason why, when developing personas, you consider the
webographics (see Chapter 4, Content Marketing). If the webographics are not strong
or detailed enough, you need to go back and add greater depth and information.

Thinking about potential channels for the target examples in this section:

• Students living away from home might use Facebook to stay in touch with parents

• Fashion-conscious 16–24-year-olds might use Instagram to see the latest edits

The critical factor is ensuring you have research to back up and support your claims.

Creative offer and messaging
The objectives and targeting have been agreed and the next stage is building the
creative offer. However, the creative offer can be more challenging in a digital environ-
ment. Think about the size of an ad on Facebook – it’s tiny! So somehow you need to
communicate a specific message that appeals to the target audience in microseconds.
That’s a lot of work.

The idea of an advertising appeal is explained well by Pragya Keshari and Sangeeta Jain,
writing in the Journal of Marketing & Communication:

Advertising appeal refers to the approach used to attract the attention of consumers
and/or to influence their feelings toward the product, service, or cause. These appeals
are normally categorized as emotional and rational, and are used interchangeably
as mood/logical or transformational/informational in different contexts. (Keshari and
Jain, 2014, p. 37)


Advertising appeals (see Key Term) are either emotional, trying to elicit an emotion,
whether positive or negative, or rational, trying to connect with a practical or utilitarian
need, and are the foundation for the advertising message (Grigaliunaite and Pileliene, 2016).

Many consumer behaviour experts have explored examples of rational (effectiveness,
convenience, price, safety) and emotional (exclusivity, adventure, beauty, relaxation)
appeals (see Discover More on Consumer Behaviour). The key is that a single appeal
is used in an advert, aimed at a specific target audience, so that there is instant
understanding and no confusion.

Two books on consumer behaviour provide much more detail on appeals and consequences:

• Consumer Behaviour: Applications in Marketing, by Robert East, Jaywant Singh, Malcolm
Wright and Marc Vanhuele (2016).

• Consumer Behaviour, 3rd edition by Zubin Sethna and Jim Blythe (2016).

Smartphone Sixty Seconds® –
Finding Appeals
• Use your mobile phone and log in to a social network. What adverts can you see?
• Take one advert and identify the advertising appeal. Is it emotional or rational?
• Compare with classmates: do they see the same or different messages?

Activity 10.3 Propose the Creative
Offer and Messaging
Propose the creative offer and messaging for either:

• Campaign objective A: To target UK students aged 18–22, living away from home, via Face-
book, in November, offering evening delivery; or

• A campaign related to an organisation of your choice.

See Template online: Creative offer and messaging


Earlier in the chapter I gave examples of campaign objectives and one of these was:

• Campaign objective A: To target UK students aged 18–22, living away from
home, via Facebook, in November, offering evening delivery.

The nominated channel in this example is Facebook and it is a small advert. I have
limited space in terms of headlines and copy to create my offer.

Timing and integration
Social media and PPC adverts allow you to plan the exact timing of when you want
to launch the adverts. For example, Facebook allows you to schedule adverts (if the
‘lifetime budget’ option is selected) for specific days at specific times. This means
you can run adverts that are integrated with an overall message. For example, if your
campaign objective is to target UK students aged 18–22, living away from home, via
Facebook, in November, offering evening delivery, you may run the adverts between
4pm and 9pm, when the target audience is thinking about food!

Timing is one aspect and the important factor is to ensure that the whole campaign
is integrated or joined up with other marketing promotional activities.

If a campaign lacks integration, the customer will become confused. Imagine look-
ing at a photo on Instagram, clicking through to the website, but landing on a page
that doesn’t make sense – this is cognitive dissonance (see Key Term) and usually
results in customers abandoning pages.

Another aspect of timing is ensuring that you don’t run different promotions at the
same time. If you plan a 10% off and a 15% off campaign simultaneously, the 10% is
less likely to work and the advertising budget will be wasted.

Leon Festinger, a social psychologist, developed cognitive dissonance theory (Festinger and
Carlsmith, 1959), which explained that individuals could have conflicting attitudes, beliefs or
behaviour, leading to discomfort.

Inconsistency in beliefs leads to dissonance or discomfort – for example, you may believe
that smoking is dangerous but you are at a party and meet someone interesting, who is
smoking, and instead of complaining about the smoke, you stand next to them, potentially
inhaling. Your belief that smoking is bad is inconsistent with your action (putting up with the
smoke) and results in a change of belief or behaviour.

Festinger described this as ‘opinion change following forced compliance’ (Festinger and
Carlsmith, 1959, p. 203).

Media planning and selection
Having agreed four campaign objectives, as in the worked example in Figure 10.3,
we can apply these to the overall media plan.


To enhance the adverts we need to ensure that the website is up to date and contains
relevant information and we may also write some new blog articles that focus on the
challenges of being a student and cooking when away from home.

Table 10.5 shows a digital media plan example that explains the type of content that
will be placed and where. This would typically be supported with a commentary to
provide more details.

Table 10.5 Digital media plan example

Communication channel


News about
food Ad campaign

Website   

Blog   

Twitter   

Facebook   

Instagram   

Google adverts 

In section 10.5 we considered different budgeting options and in Chapter 3, The
Digital Marketing Toolbox, I explained the different search engine advertising
payment options. You might experiment with a small budget initially and monitor
the results. As you gain the evidence, results and confidence, you can increase
the budget.

Before running the ads you might test different variables to see what works. These
may include:

• Images – which images are preferred by the audience?

• Headlines – which headlines provide greater advertising appeals?

• Body copy – which content provides greater advertising appeals?

• Landing page – when the target audience clicks on the link and is directed to
your website or a specific page, are there some pages that work more successfully
than others?

Ideally test one variable at a time to gain a better understanding of what works. In
many social media platforms you can run several different adverts at the same time
and gain feedback as to what worked.

Testing in a social media environment is fairly straightforward. Set a small budget,
run the adverts for a week and gather the feedback. This is also known as a ‘test
and learn’ strategy.


Sometimes referred to as tracking, post-testing is measuring results after the adverts
have run. In digital advertising this can take place quickly, literally in 24 hours. This
will provide data on which were the most successful ads and why. You can repeat
the ad format to re-test in case this was an exception!

Once the tactics and resources are all listed and the budget has been submitted, you might
need to reduce the costs or re-allocate priorities. One framework for assigning elements
such as manpower, money, methods, machines, materials and minutes is the impact and
effort matrix (Gray, 2010), which is shown in Figure 10.4. The matrix is ideally completed
in a small team and creator Dave Gray suggests that this takes 30 minutes to one hour.


Quick wins


Major projects


Fill ins


Thankless tasks



Low High



Figure 10.4 Impact and effort matrix

Source: Gray, 2010

And a plan should be reviewed! In Chapter 14, Integrating, Improving and Transforming
Digital Marketing, we will consider how this happens, so you can stay ahead.

1. Think about your own skills – can you write, code or edit video? Visit one of

the online marketplaces and, based on other people’s listings, create your own
profile and find out who in class gains an assignment first!


2. Organise a social media campaign for your university’s marketing degree. First
evaluate the different social media channels, based on the target audience, and
recommend one channel to use in this campaign. Develop outline visuals and
copy that could be used on this channel.

3. Create a digital marketing plan for an organisation of your choice, that embraces
all aspects of the customer journey (see also Chapter 2, The Digital Consumer).

This chapter has explored:

• How to apply the 7Ps in a digital context.

• The 9Ms of resource planning, which illustrated that it is much more than a
budget and people.

• How to assemble a digital marketing plan.

• Social media campaign planning from setting objectives to developing the crea-
tive offer and messaging.

• The impact and effort matrix to ensure that the focus is on the areas where you
will gain results, rather than the areas that will have little impact on the business.


When you have read this chapter, you will be able to:

Understand the different types and functions of social media

Apply the purpose of social media within organisations

Analyse social media adoption

Evaluate the issues in managing social media within an organisation

Create a plan to manage social media within an organisation

When you have worked through this chapter, you should be able to:

• Create an outline social media policy

• Use a social media scheduling tool

• Create a social media strategy


There are many types of social media and this chapter will make you more aware of
the concepts around social media management at a personal and work level, so that
you can better manage all aspects of social media.

Critical factors in social media management are explored with information on the
different types of tools available for monitoring a brand online and key issues to
consider when managing organisations in an online environment.

Social Media Networks (SMNs) started in 1996 with a platform called SixDegrees that
later closed due to lack of interest at the time (boyd and Ellison, 2007). One of the
reasons for the lack of interest is likely to be due to internet speed as most people
with internet access around that time had dial-up internet connections (you had to
click a switch to gain internet access) and the speeds ranged from 28.8 kbs to 56 kbs.
Today if you have 4G you could have speeds of 40,000 kbs (that’s 40 Mbs)! Imagine
trying to send a photo with a speed of 28.8 kbs; it would simply never happen.

Today the most dominant current social media network in the United States and
Europe is recognised as Facebook, launched in 2004 and now with over one billion
active users. You may think that Facebook is in decline, but its numbers tell a differ-
ent story. Each quarter, more users have joined the platform.

What has changed is that the social media networks started as a means to connect
people but today they are big advertising companies and publishers. Table 11.1 shows
the main social media platforms, when they were established, the worldwide monthly
users, their current owners and their revenue model.

Table 11.1 Overview of main social media platforms

Platform Established
Approximate worldwide
monthly users Owners Revenue model

LinkedIn 2002 530 million Shareholders via
Microsoft (NASDAQ)


Facebook 2004 1.8 billion Shareholders (NASDAQ) Advertising

YouTube 2005 1 billion Shareholders via Google/
Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ)


Twitter 2006 330 million Shareholders (NYSE) Advertising

WhatsApp 2009 Not published Facebook Not monetised at

Instagram 2010 600 million Shareholders via
Facebook (NASDAQ)

Advertising via
Facebook ads platform

Pinterest 2010 200 million Privately owned Advertising

Snapchat 2011 300 million Shareholders (NYSE) Advertising

Sources: LinkedIn https://press.linkedin.com/about-linkedin


Facebook https://investor.fb.com/home/default.aspx

YouTube www.youtube.com/yt/advertise/en-GB

Twitter https://investor.twitterinc.com

Instagram https://investor.fb.com/home/default.aspx

Pinterest https://about.pinterest.com/en/press/press

Snapchat https://investor.snap.com

WhatsApp https://investor.fb.com/home/default.aspx

Looking at the main social media platforms in Table 11.1, the first of these mega social
media networks to be founded, LinkedIn, is a business to business, rather than busi-
ness to consumer, social media platform that has been described as a corporate social
networking tool. In researching how the multinational corporation IBM uses social
networking, Ann Majchrzak, Luba Cherbakov and Blake Ives (2009, p. 103) defined
corporate social networking as: ‘the use of technology to help employees identify,
in the interest of furthering the business of the firm: 1. Who knows what; 2. Who is
interested in what; and 3. Who wants to contribute to what.’

LinkedIn was purchased by Microsoft and is likely to be embedded into the IT com-
pany’s ecosystem. It is notable that LinkedIn has a mixed revenue model, earning
most income from recruitment solutions, not promotional advertising, unlike the
other platforms. As a business to business system, it also generates an income via
membership packages, enabling members to access different levels of network data.

Facebook has over one billion monthly active users and its core value proposition
to advertisers is access to its user base, which is larger than most countries, except
China and India. You might question the numbers, but as a stock exchange listed
corporation, Facebook is subject to external scrutiny and to monitor the numbers of
claimed users it created a measurement system, named ‘Monthly Active Users’ (MAUs)
and ‘Daily Active Users’ (DAUs), which has inspired other social media platforms to
adopt the same terminology.

YouTube has also claimed over 1 billion monthly viewers, although there is no
documented evidence for this. Twitter, established one year after YouTube, has
smaller user numbers, at over 300 million. Like Facebook, it is listed on the stock
exchange and has shareholders controlling its destiny, with its income currently
derived from advertising. WhatsApp, owned by Facebook, does not yet offer an
advertising option although I am sure this will change. Also, Facebook doesn’t
report WhatsApp stats yet.

Instagram is the next largest social media platform, with over 600 million monthly
active users. As an image-sharing social network it is popular within the fash-
ion, tourism and food sectors. Not everyone is aware, but Instagram is owned by
Facebook which means that it is subject to the equivalent legal guidelines about
user numbers.


With an estimated 150 million users, the smallest platform shown in Table 11.1 is
Pinterest. A niche social media platform, it is said to be popular with early adopters.
When Pinterest started, it was invitation-only. If you received an invite you could
welcome 10 other people into the network. I remember gaining an invite and having
the equivalent of 10 golden tickets to share amongst friends and co-workers. Everyone
wanted to join. We devised a system so that I shared eight tickets and those eight shared
amongst another eight – we could keep two tickets in reserve, for ‘just in case’ situations.

Although Pinterest is the smallest platform in this table, its user base is still larger
than every country in Europe. Snapchat has started to share its audience numbers
as it launched on the New York Stock Exchange. We will watch this space for more
in the future.

There are many definitions of social media that were valid for their time, such as
Hoffman and Novak’s (1996) definition: ‘a dynamic distributed network, potentially
global in scope, together with associated hardware and software for accessing the
network, which enables consumers and firms to (1) provide and interactively access
hypermedia content (i.e., “machine interactivity”) and (2) communicate through the
medium (i.e., “person interactivity”)’. Kaplan and Haenlein (2010) suggested that
‘social media is a group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological
and technological foundations of Web 2.0, and that allow the creation and exchange
of User-Generated Content.’

In this fast-moving environment these definitions are soon out of date and naming
specific activities may account for emerging developments. Plus the majority of defi-
nitions are not memorable. It is difficult to adopt and embrace a definition if it is not
straightforward to recall.

My alternative and concise working definition of social media (not social media net-
works) which is future-proofed and includes all possible connections is:

Social media is the facilitation of interactive, connected, marketing purposes at
organisational, peer-to-peer and personal levels.

It’s easy to remember and demonstrates that social media is more than a communica-
tions channel, helping both consumers and organisations in many ways.

Having considered the dynamics of major platforms, it is helpful to consider the types
or classification of social media because different social media brands have different
purposes, which impacts on the digital marketing plan.

There have been efforts to classify social media networks by both practitioners and
academics. The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) considered types of social media
in 2009, so that they could illustrate advertising opportunities (Interactive Advertising
Bureau, 2009). The IAB provided three basic categories of social media tools:


• Social media sites

• Blogs

• Widgets and social media applications

Focusing on the format, rather than the function, this was a simplistic classification
model that failed to describe the purpose or usage. As one of the earliest classifica-
tions, created in 2009 when revenue for internet advertising in the United States
amounted to $22.7 billion (PricewaterhouseCoopers, 2010), which had more than
doubled to $59.6 billion by 2015 (PricewaterhouseCoopers, 2016), this started the
notion of categorising social media.

An alternative approach was taken by researchers Andreas Kaplan and Michael
Haenlein, who described social media using theory (Kaplan and Haenlein,
2010). Kaplan and Haenlein took four recognised theories: (1) self-presentation;
(2) social presence; (3) media richness; and (4) self-disclosure. We looked at
self-presentation and self-disclosure theories in Chapter 5, Online Communities,
so let’s investigate these other theories further as they are often used in social
media research.

Social presence theory was first defined by John Short, Ederyn Williams and Bruce
Christie as the ‘degree of salience of the other person in the interaction and the
consequent salience of the interpersonal relationships’ (Short et al., 1976, p. 65).
Charlotte Gunawardena subsequently provided an easier to digest definition: ‘the
degree to which a person is perceived as a “real person” in mediated communication’
(Gunawardena, 1995, p. 151).

Social presence is influenced by the intimacy (interpersonal or mediated through a
device) and immediacy (asynchronous or synchronous) of the medium. Social pres-
ence is often lower for mediated (e.g. telephone conversation) than interpersonal (e.g.
face-to-face discussion) and for asynchronous (e.g. email) than synchronous (e.g. live
chat) communications. Effectively, if you are speaking to someone face-to-face it’s a
different experience to chatting online. So in a nutshell, the higher the social pres-
ence, the larger the social influence that the communication partners have on each
other’s behaviour.


There is a useful article by Guoqiang Cui, Barbara Lockee and Cuiqing Meng in the Journal of
Education and Information Technologies: ‘Building modern online social presence: A review of
social presence theory and its instructional design implications for future trends’ (Cui et al., 2013).


Writing in Management Science, Richard Daft and Robert Lengel examined why
organisations processed information and concluded that this was based on the
assumption that the goal of any communication is the resolution of ambiguity and
the reduction of uncertainty (Daft and Lengel, 1986).

You could think of an email from your tutor with your end of first-year grades, con-
firming that you have progressed. The purpose of the email is to let you know where
you are and ensure you are prepared for your next year. It reduces any ambiguity and
uncertainty, especially if some grades were lower than expected!

Considering that their work was created over three decades ago, Daft and Lengel
(1986, p. 560) classified ‘less rich’ to ‘rich media’, with face-to-face being most rich
and numerical documents less rich, as shown in Figure 11.1. However, if we consider
email as being on the same level as item (3) personal documents, it may be better
for the tutor to pick up the telephone and speak to you instead, especially if some
grades were disappointing!

(1) Face-to-face

(2) Telephone

(3) Personal
documents such

as letters or

(4) Impersonal


(5) Numeric

Figure 11.1 Increasing levels of media richness

Source: Adapted from Daft and Lengel, 1986

From studies into media richness we know that the richer the medium, the more
effective it is. This explains the effectiveness of social media sites that contain richer
information, from text to images and from emoticons to live video.

Having considered these different and also similar theories, to categorise social media
Kaplan and Haenlein first blended social presence and media richness and secondly


self-presentation and self-disclosure, on their classification axes. Let’s investigate
the classification further, but first we should look at the visual representation in
Figure 11.2 that they created.

Figure 11.2 Classification of social media by social presence/media richness and self-

Source: Kaplan and Haenlein, 2010, p. 62

Social presence/Media richness

Low Medium High


High Blogs Social networking
sites (e.g. Facebook)

Virtual social worlds
(e.g. Second Life)

Low Collaborative
projects (e.g.

communities (e.g.

Virtual game worlds
(e.g. World of

Online content like Wikipedia is seen as low/low – low on media richness and
presence and low on self-disclosure – after all, you never know the identity of the
authors of the page and whether the content is accurate! At the other extreme, par-
ticipating in a virtual world provides high levels of media richness and high levels
of self-presentation.

Having provided this classification, as Kaplan and Haenlein noted at the time
(p. 61), ‘there is no systematic way in which different Social Media applications can
be categorized. Also, new sites appear in cyberspace every day, so it is important that
any classification scheme takes into account applications which may be forthcoming.’

Young Argyris and Kafui Monu researched the corporate use of social media
(Argyris and Monu, 2015). They focused on four types of tools based on a survey
via the Harvard Business Review which identified the instruments ‘most com-
monly used for external communications’ (p. 141). Within the four social media
tools, shown in Table 11.2, they concentrated on ‘backbone’ features (p. 149) and,
similar to Kaplan and Haenlein, they noted that this is a fast-changing environ-
ment and commented, ‘listing all existing features of the four tools is not feasible
or necessary because many tools are being constantly adapted and upgraded as
the technology advances’.

Table 11.2 Prominent features of the four social media tools

Social media tools Features

Wikis Editable forum, search, multimedia support, web content management
system, information structuring (hierarchy) and tagging.

Social networking sites Profile, newsfeed, feedback, friend list, personal message, group and

Microblogging sites Short message (tweet), metadata tag (hashtag), short-message
sharing (retweet), follower list (contact list), and reply

Video-sharing sites Video content, related video, comment, viewer counter and ratings

Source: Argyris and Monu, 2015, p. 149


Having considered the types of social media, the next question is how can they be
used for organisations?

Students tend to know how to use social media at a personal level and are often hired
on the expectation that this knowledge will translate into the workplace and you will
understand how to manage social media for a range of organisations. Let’s examine
how social media can be used at work.

There are benefits from using social media at a personal level, as well as
for organisations.

Benefits for consumers in brand engagement via social media include:

• Entertainment – to have fun

• Social interaction – to connect with others

• Information – to gain information

• Personal identity/status – to build online identity and recognised status

• Communication – to communicate with brands

• Community development – to be part of a community

• Remuneration/discounts – to gain offers and special deals

• Purchase – to shop

• Reviews and product rankings – to provide reviews

• Submit opinion on products/services – to share opinions

• Customer service – to seek customer service

Benefits for organisations include:

• To entertain

• To interact

• To provide information

• To gain brand recognition

• To communicate

• To develop an online community

• To provide offers

• To sell

• To gain product reviews

• To elicit feedback

• To deliver customer service

Looking into the business benefits of social media in more detail, Vilma Vuori and
Jari Jussila (2016) in Finland developed a framework for a social media strategy
which they called the 5C categorisation tool. The five categories are (a) communicat-
ing: publishing and sharing content; (ii) collaborating: collective content creation;


(iii) connecting: networking people; (iv) completing: adding, describing and
filtering; and (v) combining: mixing and matching. Their summary, shown in
Table 11.3, explained the purpose of each tool, with examples of the type of tool
and possible applications.

Table 11.3 Summary of the 5C categorisation

5C categories Purpose Tools Application examples

publishing and
sharing content

Publishing, discussing,
expressing oneself, showing
opinion, sharing, influencing,

Blogs, media
sharing systems,
discussion forums,
microblogging, instant

Blogger, WordPress, Flickr,
YouTube, Periscope, Reddit,
Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr,
SlideShare, Prezi

collective content

Creating content together,
collaborating, produsage

Wikis, shared

Wikipedia, TWiki, GoogleDocs,
MatchWare, Trello, FlowDock

networking people

Socialising, networking,
connecting, playing,

Social networks,
communities, virtual

Facebook, LinkedIn,
SecondLife, World of Warcraft,
Habbo Hotel, Pokémon GO

adding, describing
and filtering

Adding metadata, describing
content, subscribing updates,
combining, rating, serendipity

Tagging, social
syndications, add-ons

Feedly, Flipboard, Pinterest,
Foodgawker, StumbleUpon,

Combining: mixing
and matching

Combining other tools and
technologies according to
situation and needs

Mash-ups, platforms GoogleMaps, Hootsuite

Source: Adapted from Vuori and Jussila, 2016

The 5Cs is a useful way to help decide which tools are more relevant for organisa-
tions. It may be that an organisation you work at simply wants to communicate, so
they may not need all the other platforms available.

Professor Axel Bruns from Queensland University of Technology in Australia coined the term
‘produsage’ in 2006. He defined produsage as ‘the collaborative, iterative, and user-led produc-
tion of content by participants in a hybrid user–producer, or produser role’ (Bruns, 2006, p. 276).

Activity 11.1 Application of the 5Cs
Think about an organisation of your choice. Use Table 11.3 as a framework and apply the 5Cs to
the organisation. Investigate which applications they use and identify the purpose. Consider which
categories work well and where they could improve.

See Template online: Application of the 5Cs


Using social media within organisations varies enormously. It depends on the senior
management team and their understanding, as well as their commitment to purpose-
fully use the platforms, rather than jumping on the proverbial bandwagon where you
hear the words ‘we need Instagram because our competitors are using it’, which is
hardly a strategy, but it’s scarily commonplace.

Social media adoption and implementation is a journey. It often starts with some
form of experiment and registration with one platform, say Twitter or Facebook. Then
there is some understanding of how the platform works and the benefit to business
and this is followed with a greater adoption and focus.

So how we do measure or pinpoint where an organisation is in terms of its social media
journey? Two researchers based in Ireland, Aidan Duane and Philip O’Reilly, developed
a stage model of social media adoption, showing the five stages that businesses step
through until social media is fully integrated into the organisation. This is a strategic
model and identifies the organisation’s focus as well as the structure – if any – and the
management involvement. Shown in Figure 11.3, it is a useful tool to assess organisa-
tions’ social media presence and to review their competitors. It provides a benchmark
with a clear map of the next stage in the journey. If you are seeking a job interview
with an organisation or working on a placement you could identify their current stage
and recommend a digital marketing plan to increase social media adoption!

Stage Strategy Focus Structure Management

1. Experimentation
and Learning

It is experimental
with every
department doing
their own thing

Announcing launch
of SMBP, posting a
number of comments,
images and videos,
and providing some

Individual or
departmental drive

None or
very little

2. Rapid Growth It is coordinated
across all
departments by
management, and
a number of goals
and objectives
have been

focus. Efforts
aimed at increasing
internal and external
awareness. Customers
are encouraged to
connect, follow, like,
recommend, and
comment on products
and its service

widespread user
coupled with top-
down management

Support and

3. Formalisation It is formalised
and controlled
across the
company, with a
strategy aligned
with the business
plan. Staff adhere
to an established
set of rules

Planning, strategy,
governance and
alignment with overall
business strategy

A more centralised,
model to coordinate

Controlled by



Stage Strategy Focus Structure Management

4. Consolidation
and Integration

It is very well
integrated with
key business
processes across
the company,
and it is driving
a fundamental
change in how we
do business

Optimisation of
processes and creating
scale. Fundamental
business change.
Pursue alignment with
external partners/
suppliers. Co-
crowdsourcing emerge

Extension of
corporate model to
integrate external
partners, suppliers,
experts, etc. Micro-
outsourcing of
activities may also

Shared by

5. Institutional

It is embedded
into the core of
what we do, and
how we do it,
from customers
to suppliers, from
internal partners
to external

De facto application
for key business tasks.
Enterprise-wide social
media technologies for
the entire workforce

Generate new/
reengineer existing
business models

Aimed at customers,
and partners,
as business
connectivity is
to establish
wider business

Shared by
staff or

Figure 11.3 Stage model of social media adoption

Source: Duane and O’Reilly, 2016, p. 82

Figure 11.3 (Continued)

Activity 11.2 Investigation of the Social
Media Adoption Stage Model
1. Select an organisation of your choice.

2. Investigate their online social media presence. Based on the stage model of social media
adoption shown in Figure 11.3, analyse whether this is experimental, coordinated, formalised
or fully integrated.

3. Make an appraisal, based on some research and select a stage and provide evidence or
examples to support your claims.

4. Compare with classmates to see if different people have identified organisations at different stages.

See Template online: Stage model of social media adoption

Having agreed which types of social media applications might be used and where
the organisation is in its journey, the next step is managing social media, but where
should you start?

Writing about the needs of financial institutions, researchers Jeffrey Loop and
Alexander Malyshev identified five requirements for managing social media (Loop
and Malyshev, 2013), which could be applied to a range of organisation types:


1. Risk management programme

2. Governance structure with clear roles and responsibilities

3. Policies and procedures regarding use and monitoring

4. Employee training programme

5. Due diligence process for selecting and managing third-party service providers

Other researchers have considered factors in managing social media too. Moving
from requirements to roles in examining strategic responsibilities in social media
management, public relations experts Marlene Neill and Mia Moody (2015) identified
nine job roles with responsibilities for social media:

• Policy Maker: Developing policies for employee use of social media

• Technology Tester: Choosing new social media channels and software

• Communications Organizer: Creating and distributing messaging, scheduling
posts, and monitoring conversations and sentiment

• Issues Manager: Identifying potential crises through monitoring of social media
channels and developing protocols for responding to negative comments

• Relationship Analyzer: Identifying and engaging with influencers such as the

• Master of Metrics: Choosing appropriate metrics for social media channels and
reporting results, may involve budgeting and selecting external services

• Employee Recruiter: Portraying their company/organisation as an attractive place
to work, using social media to recruit new employees, screening job applicants’
social media profiles, and using social media to recruit candidates

• Policing: Educating employees about the social media policies, putting controls
in place and notifying employees of inappropriate conduct; controlling number
of social media accounts on various channels

• Internal Collaborator: Working with other internal departments to manage social
media channels

What’s interesting is that several of their themes cross over with those identified by
Jeffrey Loop and Alexander Malyshev.

Let’s explore each of Loop and Malyshev’s five recommendations, combined with the
work of Neill and Moody, to understand why they matter and how this could work
in practice.

Similar to a crisis PR plan, a risk management programme would identify potential
risks and recommend mitigation should these occur. It is important to be prepared
for unexpected events, as in social media bad news spreads fast. This is not just my
intuition (and possibly yours) but is also based on formal research. Computer scientists
Anna Fang and Zina Ben-Miled (2017) in the United States conducted a survey using


news about Brexit on Twitter to prove this. Their results indicated that bad news had
a higher re-tweet ratio, and was shared and spread further on Twitter.

The accepted definition for eWOM or electronic word of mouth was created in 2004 by Thorsten
Hennig-Thurau and his colleagues as:

any positive or negative statement made by potential, actual, or former customers about
a product or company, which is made available to a multitude of people and institutions
via the Internet. (Hennig-Thurau et al., 2004, p. 39)

Sharing news online is often referred to as eWOM (see Key Term) and will have a
positive, negative or neutral valence (see Key Term) or tone. Jacob Hornik and his
colleagues noted that other researchers suggested that negative information may
draw more attention due to the surprise factor and could also have greater impact
(Hornik et al., 2015). To address this, Marlene Neill and Mia Moody identified several
dedicated roles: ‘Issues Manager’, ‘Communications Organizer’, ‘Relationship Analyzer’
and ‘Employee Recruiter’, all of which manage social media content within organisa-
tions. These roles will become more popular as social media continues to grow. The
change will be that greater expertise will develop based on both the experience and
theory that’s being created.

Before launching an activity on social media, you may decide to evaluate the risk. See
Case Example 11.1 #AMA Ask Me Anything for an example of an evaluation.

Case Example 11.1 #AMA Ask
Me Anything Risk Evaluation
A long-established, smaller charity that collects and redistributes clothing was considering a change
in policy. The directors had embraced social media and were very enthusiastic about asking fans if
they would agree to this. The mechanism was through an #AMA session for one hour on Facebook
(see Key Term – Ask Me Anything #AMA in Chapter 8, Audit Frameworks).

The idea was that questions would be posed on Facebook and the fans or other respondents could
ask anything in the one hour allocated and the charity would need to respond.

With over 100,000 Facebook fans this was a brave aim and I asked if we could conduct a risk
evaluation before launching the event. It was agreed that we could evaluate the potential risk of
holding the event and we would present our findings back to the senior management team. The risk
evaluation summary is shown in Table 11.4.


Table 11.4 Risk evaluation for an #AMA event

Factor Issues

Agree specific aims for the session – what did we want
to achieve?

Clear aims agreed

Was the #AMA the only way to achieve the aims? Aims could be achieved outside Facebook, via
surveys or focus groups

Imagine every possible scenario that could happen,
list every ‘what if’ situation that could occur

What if we missed something big?

Create a response for all scenarios Again, what if we missed something big?

We need to consider the potential for trolls to invade
the session and take over. How would we respond?

We would need to recruit additional help and could
risk brand reputation

We should plan the response team who would be
involved in responding to comments

Small team, and although others could be brought in,
they would need training, which requires additional

We need to monitor several channels as this could spill
over from Facebook to Twitter and beyond

How many channels and how could we do this? We
could use a social media management system, but
there’s a time lag with many of these and they might
miss critical factors

As messages can be circulated for hours afterwards
(Laufer and Brassell-Cicchini, 2013), for how long would
we monitor the channels?

We might need to organise a shift system as some
people may join in the conversation much later at
night. Investment needed to manage this

Having evaluated the potential risks we recommended that the #AMA should not go ahead. The
risks were too great, the team too small and additional investment would be required. The senior
management team agreed. The decision was to explore the change in policy using other means, such
as focus groups or online surveys. These would be within a closed environment and less susceptible
to the external negative backlash that could occur.

Case Questions
• Was it a good decision not to go ahead with the #AMA?
• Are there any risks we should add to the evaluation that we missed?
• Can you think of a situation where an organisation has gone ahead with an event or activity

online and it went wrong?

Ensuring no laws are broken and everyone knows who is in charge is critical in any
aspect of business, so this is not a surprising addition. The challenge in social media
management is that often the senior management team don’t always understand social
media. To a certain extent the ‘Policy Maker’ role, defined by Neill and Moody (2015),
meets these requirements and the ‘Technology Tester’ role may also have a part to
play to ensure appropriate channels are selected from the start.


In psychology and marketing, valence means the strength of an emotion.

Usually considered on a binary scale such as positive or negative, attractive or repulsive,
it is often referred to as message valence and in research is often combined with message
frequency (volume).

Message valence is used during elections to measure positive and negative messages
about candidates. An example is an investigation into the role of valence in online reviews
by Nathalia Purnawirawan and her colleagues (Purnawirawan et al., 2015). Their research
found that the review valence had an impact in influencing attitudes – perhaps not altogether
surprising, but it demonstrates the importance of positive online reviews!

These articles consider valence in different settings.

• ‘Understanding branding in a digitally empowered world’ by Tulin Erdem and colleagues,
published in the International Journal of Research in Marketing (Erdem et al., 2015).

• ‘The role of emotions for the perceived usefulness in online customer reviews’ by Armin
Felbermayr and Alexandros Nanopoulos, published in the Journal of Interactive Marketing
(Felbermayr and Nanopoulos, 2016).

• ‘Social media and relationship development: The effect of valence and intimacy of posts’
by Amy Orben and Robin Dunbar, published in Computers in Human Behavior (Orben
and Dunbar, 2017).

Marlene Neill and Mia Moody see this requirement being managed within a policy
maker role and they suggested that this may involve staff from PR and human
resources along with legal teams. Whilst this is likely to be the case in larger organi-
sations, in smaller firms, this role and others may be given to one person.

The whole area of social media policy is a mess. Technically when you start work
and sign your employment terms and conditions, this will generally include a clause
about focusing on working at work (rather than messaging friends on WhatsApp
and sharing Snaps) and often there’s a sentence about ‘not bringing the firm into
disrepute’ – saying or doing something you shouldn’t. But, this is the issue: most
people don’t translate the idea of using social media as breaking the rules.


And it gets worse. On one hand organisations want you to engage with customers, on
the other they don’t want you spending time on social media. One example is shown
in Case Example 11.2, which looks at the National Health Service and social media.

The issue regarding social media and policy is that it is still in its infancy. Policies tend
to be created after legislation has been passed and there is still a lack of legal prec-
edents in this domain. In the United States Kimberly O’Connor and Gordon Schmidt
have written articles about staff being fired for comments on Facebook (Schmidt and
O’Connor, 2015) and also students being suspended for inappropriate use of personal
social media (O’Connor et al., 2016) (see Ethical Insights: Sacked for social media).

Ethical Insights Sacked for
Social Media
Be careful what you tweet and post! Twitter’s terms of service state ‘You should only provide Content
that you are comfortable sharing with others’ (Twitter, 2017, p. 9), yet many people have been sacked
for speaking badly about their workplace or co-workers on social media.

In 2017 a long-serving employee, Mrs Plant, published negative comments about her employer,
API Microelectronics Ltd, on Facebook. Several colleagues talked about the post and her employer
invited her to explain the comments. As they were not satisfied with the explanation, she was sacked
under the company’s policies. She was unhappy about this, feeling that it was unfair, so took her
case to court. The court found that she had been given sufficient advice by the company regarding
social media settings and she was in breach of the social media policy and therefore she lost her
case (and her job).

Her post is now forever public. It is available online via the UK’s Ministry of Justice website and
anyone searching for her name in the future will find the whole sorry story. Whilst the post doesn’t
seem too bad (I have seen much worse), it had a negative impact on the company and was shared
with colleagues who re-shared it amongst a wider group (Ministry of Justice, 2017).

There are many situations like this and they are growing on a worldwide basis. For more examples
read the article ‘Fired for Facebook: Using NLRB guidance to craft appropriate social media policies’
by Gordon Schmidt and Kimberly O’Connor (2015).

Smartphone Sixty Seconds® –
Seeking Tribunals
• On your mobile phone, search for Mrs E Plant v API Microelectronics Ltd: 3401454/2016
• You will find the employee tribunals page and can open the entire court transcript.
• In the employee tribunals page you can also search for ‘social media’ and filter by organisations –

select ‘Ministry of Justice’ as the filter.
• How many cases can you see?


However, the entire legislative system in the United States is different from European
and UK law, so until more legislation is in place and social media usage is fully under-
stood, the roles of the policy maker and policing will continue to be needed. One
short-term solution is a form of social media policy and if you are not sure where to
start with that, see Digital Tool: Social media policy maker.

Digital Tool Social Media Policy Maker
Creating a social media policy involves answering a few questions. Whilst it is not a substitute for a
properly prepared legal agreement, this blog article is a great starting place to understand what is
needed in a social media policy.

To use the tool, visit the website and look at the 12 questions. Work through each one to create
your outline policy!

• See https://blog.hootsuite.com/social-media-policy-for-employees

Many researchers recommend training in social media usage for several reasons:

• To inform about policy

• To educate about the influence of a message

• To understand the language and terminology within the policy

• To explain the impact on future careers.

The fascinating fact is that most training is aimed at employees. However, when big
mistakes happen online, they can be due to the senior management team! And it is
not just about the misuse of social media, it is also about poorly considered cam-
paigns that go wrong on social media. Marlene Neill and Mia Moody recommend an
‘internal collaborator’ role to manage this and it may be that if marketing and legal
had a conversation about possible campaigns, there would be fewer campaigns that
end up on Twitter as #fail stories!

As Jeffrey Loop and Alexander Malyshev were writing in a law journal, it is not
unusual that they included an element of due diligence or reasonable steps to avoid


committing an offence. Applied to digital marketing, we would probably consider this
some form of appraisal to verify security measures and understand how the system
worked as well as keeping data safe. The ‘technology tester’ role might be useful
here, as could the ‘master of metrics’ who may notice unusual activity and remove
potentially difficult situations before they developed.

The process could be as complex or simple as the organisation needed. We have
looked at issues concerning managing social media online; the next factor is about
customer data. To advertise on Facebook (or Instagram) you might share your customer
database. How do you know it will be secure with so many hacks taking place? If
the data is not secure there could be big fines ahead (see Key Term – General Data
Protection Regulation (GDPR), p. 19).

One example is a large supermarket in the United States, Target, who suffered a major
data breach when one of their service providers fell for a phishing email. The end
result was Target agreeing to pay out around $10,000 per customer whose personal
and financial details were hacked (Kluwer, 2015).

This indicates that it is not just staff that need training, but third-party suppliers too.

Having understood the issues in managing social media, the next question is how?
Whilst there are agreed job roles, social media is a 24/7 always-on environment so
how is it possible to monitor and manage all comments and stay up to date?

There is a plethora of tools to manage different aspects of social media, which I will
discuss in this section.

Social listening involves monitoring conversations about a brand or other organisation.
In a pre-digital era a conversation between a consumer and a company tended to be
a monologue (one-way conversation), which is classic communications theory. The
organisation broadcast its message to its audience and there was little opportunity to
respond. Imagine responding to an advert in a newspaper – much more effort than
commenting on an advert on Facebook! The one-way ‘conversation’ or monologue
was limited by the lack of technology. A comment was made, followed by a response.
Without technology, this could take days or weeks.

Over time, this moved towards a dialogue where, for example, if you emailed a com-
pany and gained a response, a two-way discussion started. This evolved and became
a trialogue where a three-way conversation could take place with different people
entering into the conversation or debate. For the first time, people could add com-
ments after content such as a blog post and others could contribute their feelings too.

The advent of web 2.0 changed the dynamic. A key change in technology enabled
individuals to comment and share opinions between each other, potentially men-
tioning the brand name but not speaking directly to the brand. These multi-way


communications are known as polylogal conversations or a polylogue. We could also
call this a totally messy conversation – a bit like being at a party where five people
are speaking at once to everyone!

Having seen that all these conversions are taking place at the same time, what are
the best ways to monitor what’s happening? You can monitor mentions of the brand
name or product types and you can analyse the valence using sentiment analysis
tools (see Key Term in Chapter 3).

Although sentiment analysis can be automated, the computing tools have a downside
as they are unable to detect sarcasm, humour and irony. Marketing researchers Ana
Isabel Canhoto and Yuvraj Padmanabhan (2015) conducted a comparative study of
automated versus manual analysis of social media conversations and their results show
flaws in many computing tools. This software is still at an early stage and improving,
but it is worth sampling some content manually, as a sanity check, if you conduct
this type of research.

You may wonder why you would bother monitoring the brand name. This is for
several reasons. Firstly, it allows you to provide customer service where it’s needed –
customers don’t always shout on your doorstep; they may be somewhere else, such
as in a forum or on a Facebook page. Secondly, you can identify potential influencers
and brand ambassadors who speak positively about the organisation. Thirdly, you
can provide advice where needed.

There are many sophisticated social media monitoring and management tools, as
shown in Table 11.5. It is worth noting that the creation of social media tools is one
of the fastest growing businesses in social media, and with fees from a few dollars a
month to hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, you can see why!

Table 11.5 Social media monitoring and management tools

monitoring Scheduling


and reporting

service Company Web address

X X X Agora Pulse agorapulse.com

X Buffer buffer.com

X Content Cloud


X CoSchedule coschedule.com

X X Crimson


X X X Edgar meetedgar.com

X X Gorkana gorkana.com

X X Hootsuite hootsuite.com

X X X Marketing
Cloud (was
Radian 6)


X Netvibes netvibes.com


monitoring Scheduling


and reporting

service Company Web address

X Social Bakers socialbakers.

X X X X X Orlo Orlo.tech

X X X SparkCentral sparkcentral.

X X X X Spredfast spredfast.com

X X Sprinklr sprinklr.com

X X Sysmos sysomos.com

These tools provide a range of functions from monitoring conversations and alert-
ing teams when a crisis may be starting, to joining up each aspect of the customer
journey to better attribute conversion actions.

Scheduling tools allow the user to schedule or plan in advance the content to be
issued. This means you can schedule a whole month’s worth of tweets in a single hour.

Where content is evergreen (see Chapter 4, Content Marketing, p. 109) and has no
sell-by date, it can be used at any time and is useful in this situation. Other times when
scheduling might be used is when an organisation is exhibiting at an event and they
provide a countdown, as well as reminders, to attend their booth or exhibition stand.

Activity 11.3 Use a Social Media
Scheduling Tool
Go to Hootsuite.com

• Select PLANS and FREE.
• Register for a free account and connect your Twitter account.
• Prepare and schedule some posts.
• Search for a subject of interest, add as a content stream and monitor for 10 days.

Content management tools are slightly more sophisticated than simple scheduling
tools and enable you to search for content streams, share content plans across teams
and manage when content is issued. If you are a fashion business, you may create a
content stream that follows London Fashion Week or Paris fashion houses. You can


see all the conversations in one place, as can your team. If you promote a hashtag for
an event, you can establish a content stream to monitor the hashtag use.

Digital Tool Hashtag Finder
If you are thinking about using a hashtag it is a good idea to see if it has already been used. These
free tools allow you to see if, when and where the hashtag has been used:

• HashAtIt.com
• hashtagify.me

Management and reporting tools look at the amount of engagement (see Key Term)
your social media content attracts, as well as the positive and negative valence or
sentiment surrounding the brand, product or organisation.

Although these tools provide insights – which are also freely available via the social
media platforms – the difference is that these tools aggregate the data into one page
or report. If you were to get a job as a social media manager, you would probably
appreciate the time that this would save! As you might imagine, such fabulous time-
saving tools also come with a price tag. At the top end you might budget £500,000 a
year for a comprehensive social media management and reporting tool suite.

Engagement or consumer engagement is broadly explained as a customer’s psychological
and emotional relationship with an organisation. The concept was first suggested in the field
of marketing in 2005 as Roderick Brodie and his colleagues undertook an exhaustive review of
when, where and how engagement was used and explained the concept in some detail. As a
result they offered their own definition of engagement based on five fundamental propositions
assembled from their research:

Customer engagement (CE) is a psychological state that occurs by virtue of interactive,
cocreative customer experiences with a focal agent/object (e.g., a brand) in focal service
relationships. (Brodie et al., 2011, p. 261)


As the name indicates, these tools provide a customer service function. Usually across
several teams, these tools enable managers to allocate support notices or tickets to
different individuals as they occur. So if I contact a brand with an issue about a prod-
uct, or delivery or a general enquiry, it can be filtered to the right team to provide a
speedy response.

Typically these tools are charged on a licence basis, so if I have 150 staff I pay for 150
licences. There is often a minimum monthly fee which makes some of these tools too
expensive for smaller organisations.

Bringing all the social media management skills together, Case Example 11.2 shows
an example of best practice applied to a small charity with limited resources. This is
also a blueprint for a social media strategy.

Case Example 11.2 Midlands Air
Ambulance Charity Social Media Strategy
The air ambulance in the UK is an amazing service that is a collective of registered independent chari-
ties, often based on regions, that all provide helicopter emergency medical services. If critical medical
help is needed, the air ambulance may be called even if a land ambulance is present.

The Midlands Air Ambulance Charity funds and operates three air ambulances across six Midlands
counties: Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire and the West Mid-
lands. This constitutes the largest air ambulance operating region in the UK. The charity also provides
secondary cover to the surrounding areas, such as Warwickshire and mid-Wales.

They have adopted a social media strategy, which we will explore here.

Conduct a Social Media Audit
Before using different social media channels, they reviewed other charities to see how they used
social media. This provided useful background to better understand what channels to consider and
the potential resources required.

Create Social Media Marketing Strategy and Goals
The Midlands Air Ambulance Charity has aligned its digital marketing and social media strategy and
uses the social media framework (see Chapter 9), as shown in Table 11.6.

Research Your Audience
Their audiences include supporters, volunteers, survivors, corporate supporters, air crew and staff.
The levels of engagement vary between groups.



Build Your Social Media Accounts
The charity’s primary social media channels are Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. These are regularly
updated and generate significant interaction in terms of traffic, engagement and messages.

Another social media account under consideration is Instagram. The challenge is the way this
platform works as it is not possible to schedule content. As images need to be added immediately,
it could be dangerous if the social media manager creating the content has their own Instagram
account on their own phone and forgets to switch accounts when posting!

Create Content Calendar
The Digital Communications Coordinator has created content themes as well as calls to action. There
are guidelines on posting frequency so that the charity is not ‘too noisy’ and seen to be spending all
day posting on social media channels.

A master content calendar (see Key Term in Chapter 4, p. 111) has been created, based on the
strategic plan and the communications plan. This included identifying (a) a theme for each month;
(b) a focus on events; and (c) any relevant external content.

A more detailed monthly content plan is developed with topical or other pertinent material.

Post, Listen and Engage
There is a process in place to listen to the audience:

• Positive comments are shared and liked.
• Negative comments may initially be ignored if not relevant. If there is a specific issue, the indi-

vidual is messaged to try and provide a resolution. If the content is abusive or offensive, the
individual may be blocked.

Track and Measure Results
A monthly report is created to measure the activity against the social media goals. This tracks how
information has been shared and the audience engagement.

Recognition of the supporters and volunteers is measured through the number of shares, especially
of images demonstrating fund-raising activities.

There are plans to attribute donations, although many of these can occur offline with donations
in shops, giving at events or other activities.


Table 11.6 Midlands Air Ambulance Charity aligning the digital marketing and social
media strategy

Digital marketing strategy Social media strategy

Awareness Share information

Consideration Audience engagement

Conversion Fund-raise

Evangelism Recognise supporters and volunteers


Review and Improve
Quarterly update meetings look at overall activity and if improvements are needed. This raised the
question about Google+, and with so few people using the network there was a question as to
whether to continue. On balance it was decided to continue adding content for a further six months
as Google+ is beneficial for search engine optimisation, rather than real engagement.

An annual review takes place for a more in-depth review and to develop the outline content
calendar for the following year.

Case Questions
• Identify an example of best practice of social media management.
• Explain why you selected this example and how the best practice is demonstrated.

1. Identify and justify the benefits of using social media, for either a fashion retailer,

a games company or a sports organisation.

2. Discuss the risks of using social media for an organisation of your choice and
provide recommendations on how these risks could be mitigated.

3. Create a plan to manage social media within an organisation. This should address
responsibility for sharing content and identify the roles required within the team.

This chapter has explored:

• The type of social media available for organisations.

• How social presence and media richness theory apply to social media usage.

• The benefits of social media for organisations.

• Factors in social media adoption by organisations.

• The different tools available for social listening and online management.


When you have read this chapter, you will be able to:

Understand all types of resources within organisations

Apply resource-based theory to organisations

Analyse the SAF framework

Evaluate roles and responsibilities using the RACI matrix

Create suitable options for an organisation using the SAF framework

When you have worked through this chapter, you should be able to:

• Assess your personal digital skills to understand what type of digital marketer
you are

• Apply a resources framework to identify gaps in an organisation

• Recommend digital staffing models


This chapter explores issues in managing resources with useful frameworks to ensure
no elements are missed. You will discover more about different digital marketing
roles and understand if you are a T-shaped web marketer or if you need to add some
skills to your portfolio.

The SAF framework will show if you have selected the right resources, and at the
end of this chapter you will better understand how to manage resources, whether at
home, university or work.

Resources in organisations refer to the assets, from the people to the processes and
the knowledge to the networks. Resources are the reasons why organisations succeed,
and in digital marketing all actions, and therefore all resources, can be measured, so
that it is easier to understand what contributes to an organisation’s success.

This is not just my view, it is recognised in business management and practised by
successful organisations, as well as being supported by academic theory.

The Danish economist and management theorist Birger Wernerfelt explored the
resource-based view of the firm (RBV), which subsequently evolved into resource-
based theory (RBT). Wernerfelt’s work took place at a time when success within
an organisation, especially business, was deemed to be down to the product mix,
whereas he suggested that both products and resources needed to be considered.
He proposed examples of resources such as: ‘brand names, in-house knowledge of
technology, employment of skilled personnel, trade contacts, machinery, efficient
procedures, capital’ (Wernerfelt, 1984, p. 172).

Whilst Wernerfelt provided some initial examples of resources, this has developed
into a broader list to incorporate: tangible or intangible aspects of the business; physi-
cal or human processes and intellectual property (Davcik and Sharma, 2016), and
RBT is used in marketing strategy, international marketing and marketing innovation
(Kozlenkova et al., 2013).


Read ‘Resource-based theory in marketing’ by Irina Kozlenkova and her colleagues in the
Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science (Kozlenkova et al., 2013).

Thinking about turning resources into assets, for the tech giant Amazon its processes
are its key resource: the systems in place to deliver goods ordered online the next
day, or the same day in some locations.


Case Example 12.1 Line Adapts Internal
System As New Social Media Platform
The social media system Line (see https://line.me/en) started as a web-based internal communica-
tion process for employees of NHN in Japan. It became so popular inside the organisation that it was
decided to turn their system into a product and it was released across Japan for use by anyone, not
just company employees.

Seemingly similar to WhatsApp and Snapchat, Line operates on all mobile devices and PCs – that’s
what makes it really different, a multi-device messaging system.

Plus, Line is said to be more fun, with many stickers, animated profile pics, group video chat and
the ability to send lots of images and videos at the same time.

Line is a clever example of maximising the value of a system as a resource and is said to have
around 200 million monthly users. It generates additional company income through the sales of
stickers, animations and other kit in its marketplace.

Figure 12.1 Line messaging system

Source: https://line.me/en

Case Questions
• Have you or anyone you know worked in an organisation where the process has become the

• Have you worked in organisations where the systems are a pain and stifle the resources?


In digital marketing there is a concept known as the ‘T-shaped web marketer’. It was
started by Tim Brown, the chief executive of international design agency IDEO, who
suggested the notion of T-shaped stars in an interview with the Chief Executive
website in 2010 (Hansen, 2010) and this evolved into the T-shaped web marketer
when Mike Tekula, from an online marketing agency, discussed how and why to build
a ‘T-shaped web marketing skill set’ (Tekula, 2012, p. 1).

He also created a much-shared diagram, shown in Figure 12.2, which shows the skills
in the shape of the letter T.

Cross-Discipline Competence


Technical SEO UI/UX Content Press & PR Analytics

Figure 12.2 The T-shaped web marketing skill set (Tekula, 2012)

Source: www.distilled.net/blog/seo/building-a-t-shaped-skill-set

Mike Tekula’s discussion focused on search engine optimisation (SEO) and he
advocated a T-shaped marketer who could grasp a wide range of digital market-
ing projects and had an added specialism. He considered the alternatives to the
T-shaped marketer as those at two extremes: those with no specialism – jack of
all trades, or those that could only contribute on a narrow focus with a single
specialist skill.

A person with broad skills and expertise could work with other teams and have some
understanding of the bigger picture. He mentioned and dismissed the idea that people
should become a jack of all trades, which was suggested by Tim Ferriss, the American
businessman and author of the ‘four-hour work week’ (Ferriss, 2007).

Rand Fishkin, long-time SEO expert and founder of the software company Moz,
extended the concept of the T-shaped marketer further and adapted the original image
to build in more digital marketing roles, as illustrated in Figure 12.3.


Figure 12.3 The T-shaped web marketer (Fishkin, 2013)

Source: https://moz.com/rand/the-t-shaped-web-marketer

In the future, digital marketing will simply be marketing. Right now it’s seen as a
separate area as there are many people classically trained in marketing, public relations
and copywriting who are defending their roles and retaining separate departments.
It takes time, often generations, to bring in entirely new concepts and digital is still
considered new. Whilst this situation exists we need to consider staffing models for
digital marketing teams.

Digital marketing has created new digital management and specialist job roles such
as those shown here.

Digital management and admin roles
• Head of Digital Marketing

• Head of eCommerce

• Digital Strategist

• Digital and Social Media Manager

• Social Media Community Manager

• Digital Marketing Manager

• Digital Project Manager

• Digital Account Manager


• Digital Marketing Executive

• Online Marketing Executive

• Digital Marketing Coordinator

• Digital Communication Coordinator

Specialist digital roles
• Digital Product Owner

• Digital Content Lead

• Digital Copywriter

• Strategic Digital Content Executive

• SEO and Content Executive

• SEO Specialist

• PPC Executive

• Programmatic Trading Manager

• Paid Search Executive

• Insight Analyst

• Senior Digital Designer

• Digital Designer

Smartphone Sixty Seconds® –
Exploring Digital Job Roles
• Take out your mobile phone and search for ‘digital marketing jobs’.
• You will probably find an online job board or job website where they list the different jobs.
• How many jobs are available for digital marketing?
• Can you see any new or emerging roles that are different from those listed in this chapter?

There is a question about who manages these newer roles and where they fit into the
organisation. There are five approaches to managing the team, depending on when
and how the organisation was established. These team formats and the rationale for
each approach are discussed here.

Marketing team
This approach is where the senior marketer, whether the marketing manager or direc-
tor, does not understand digital. There may be one or two specialists in different
departments within the company or all their digital work may be managed by agencies.


Marketing team and communications team
More often this team format exists in public sector organisations, major corporations
with shareholders or when external communications represent a significant part of
the organisation. Social media community managers may sit inside the communica-
tions team rather than in the marketing team.

Marketing team and digital team
This often happens where there is a long-established marketing team and digital is
seen as a new idea and a new team is introduced, often with a new digital market-
ing manager.

Digital marketing team
Newer organisations that were launched in a digital environment or those where
digital has become the critical part of the business tend to embrace all marketing
roles in a single digital marketing team.

Integrated marketing team
This approach is where the senior marketer, whether the marketing manager or direc-
tor, understands digital and incorporates all staff into one overarching marketing team.

One of the difficulties with separate teams is that they can operate in silos, as men-
tioned in Chapter 10, Building the Digital Marketing Plan. This leads to weaker plans
and complications with communications as teams don’t always share all activities
with each other!

Some organisations have additional product teams, web teams and ecommerce teams,
all of which may involve some of the digital marketing specialists. One of the ways
around this is to organise project teams or working groups, where members of staff
from different departments work together on a single project. If you are at university
and have had group assignments you may have discovered that some groups work
better than others! There are reasons for this and we will explore roles and respon-
sibilities in groups in the next section.

Activity 12.1 Are You a
T-Shaped Web Marketer?
Assess your skills that you have gained whilst at university and perhaps in a part-time or other role:

1. What are your key skills and how are these evidenced on LinkedIn?

2. Look at the gaps in your skill set and make a plan to build your personal portfolio for when
you leave university.


Clarity is essential to understand who is doing what and when in any organisation
or with any type of project. It also ensures there are no gaps and no duplication. It
removes confusion and assigns clear accountability for specific areas.

There are two popular models for identifying roles and responsibilities in a group or
project: the RASCI model, which stands for Responsible, Accountable, Supportive,
Consulted and Informed (Hightower, 2009) and the RACI model, which represents
Responsible, Accountable, Consulted and Informed (Project Management Institute,

The eagle-eyed among you will have noticed that the only difference between the
two is that the earlier RASCI model included an additional feature as a supporter
or supportive role, which we might call a project assistant. The newer RACI version
removed this, as shown in Table 12.1.

Table 12.1 The RASCI and RACI models

RASCI model
(Hightower, 2009)

The RACI model
(Project Management Institute, 2013)

Responsible Those responsible for carrying
out the task

These people have responsibility for certain tasks

Accountable The person who approves or
‘signs off’ the task

The person accountable for the job in hand who will
give approval

Supportive Those who support the


Consulted Those who have information and
the capability to complete the task

These people would like to know about the task
and their opinions are needed before a decision is
made or action taken

Informed Those who should be notified of
the outcomes

This group get one-way communication to keep
them up to date with progress and other messages
after a decision is made or action taken

Project management is a science in its own right and there is a formal system called
PRINCE2®, which stands for PRojects IN Controlled Environments, which evolved
within the UK government where project owners needed to ensure that they delivered
projects on time, to budget and at an agreed quality level.

RACI roles and responsibilities
Imagine you are launching a new advertising campaign using Facebook. Table 12.2
shows an example of how the RACI roles and responsibilities chart might look.


Table 12.2 RACI roles and responsibilities example

Digital Marketing

Assistant Designer
Digital Marketing


Justification for

A – R C

Target audience


Copy for campaign R – C I

Image options for


Campaign execution R – A –

Campaign monitoring R – I –

Campaign feedback R C A I

R = Responsible, A = Accountable, C = Consulted, I = Informed.

Why bother using the RACI or RASCi matrix?
Trust me, this soon becomes clear when working on a project! Here are some reasons
why roles should be clarified and agreed, in advance:

• If the roles and responsibilities are unclear, it takes ages to get a decision and no
one knows whom to contact and how to get a ‘yes’ when needed.

• Plus, if the work doesn’t go according to plan, it is not clear why or who is

• Too many people focus on doing the same thing. ‘I didn’t know you were doing
that too!’ becomes a common mantra.

• Stuff just doesn’t happen: ‘I didn’t know we needed to do that, oops’.

• It’s demoralising: some staff are taking on too many tasks to catch up, others
rock up at 9:00am, leave at 5:00pm and take a full hour for lunch, and when they
return get the evil eye …

Think back to the last time you had a group work project. Did it work well? It
can be the same in business too. In organisations where projects are assigned,
some people do more than others and they use the same excuses you have heard
in group work!

Some people say they are doing the work but adopt cyberdeviant behaviour (see
Ethical Insights: Cyberdeviancy) and use the technology or systems for their own
benefit, rather than for the good of the organisation.

Or worse still, a friend (!) picked up your phone and checked your email or Snapchat
account when you weren’t looking and either signed up for undesirable emails or
added inappropriate accounts! Check if you have been hacked with the Digital Tool:
Have I been pwned?


Ethical Insights Cyberdeviancy
Technology at work is intended to help the organisation and enable more productive processes. The
use of work equipment for other purposes or for aggressive means is called cyberdeviancy. The aim
is to either threaten or harm the organisation or its staff (Weatherbee, 2010). Cyberdeviancy involves:

• Cyberloafing – constantly looking at your Facebook page, web surfing, or shopping online whilst
at work.

• Cyberaggression – where individuals point out errors in documents and publicly share the mistake
by copying in entire departments, intending to score points and look better than others.

• Hacking – this doesn’t always refer to finding ways into other computer systems and can involve
checking colleagues’ emails when they forget to lock their computers! I have known this to
happen where people have taken advantage of someone failing to lock their PC and they have
signed them up for unpleasant websites and newsletters, thinking it was amusing. What they
didn’t realise is that most organisations can track dates and times of all actions and check back
to see what happened!

• Cyber whistle-blowing – possibly revealing secret or company confidential material.

Cyberdeviancy is best avoided, as when discovered it can result in disciplinary action, potential dis-
missal or legal action! There are several cases of students in the UK and the USA who hacked into
their university systems to improve their grades and who destroyed their careers because they were
arrested and charged with criminal offences (Espinoza, 2015; Thompson, 2016).

Digital Tool Have I Been Pwned?
In case you are concerned whether your data has been compromised, a Microsoft regional director
has created a free website where you can check to see if your email address has been subject to a
data breach or has potentially been hacked.

Go to haveibeenpwned.com and add your email address. Has your data been compromised?
And if you are wondering why it’s pwned not owned it’s because in the myths of computer gaming

a designer is said to have mistyped owned as pwned and the meme has continued.

Activity 12.2 Evaluate Roles and
Responsibilities with the Raci Matrix
Imagine you are working on a group project for one of your assignments. There are specific tasks
required at different times. You all have different roles and are sharing the tasks to save time.

Using Table 12.3 as your framework, note the top seven tasks and identify the roles you will all
take. When you have done this, add in the RACI factors to show who will be responsible, accountable,
consulted and informed during your project.

See Template online: Evaluate roles and responsibilities with the RACI matrix


Your digital marketing plan may have listed the resources required (see the 9Ms in
Chapter 10) and this may be a wishlist for some organisations, including items like:
extra staff, new software systems to improve the customer journey, extra training for
current staff and more! The issue is whether this is possible. As an example, smaller
organisations face greater challenges and may not be able to afford new IT systems
or to simply recruit larger numbers of staff as soon as needed.

The issue is, how do you assess whether your list of actions or requirements is suit-
able? UK-based lecturers Gerry Johnson, Kevan Scholes and Richard Whittington wrote
a textbook called Exploring Corporate Strategy (Johnson et al., 2008) in which they
created a framework for justification of actions and strategies, in terms of whether
they were suitable, acceptable and feasible. Called the Suitability, Acceptability,
Feasibility (SAF) framework, it seeks justification of actions and strategies to see if
they demonstrate suitability, acceptability and feasibility in relation to the organisa-
tion, its purpose and environment, as shown in Figure 12.4.

• Will the expected performance
outcomes meet stakeholders’

• Does the organisation
have the resources and
competencies to deliver?

• Does the strategy address the
circumstances in which the
organisation is operating?

Figure 12.4 The Suitability, Acceptability, Feasibility (SAF) framework

You may already be using the SAF framework! Imagine when you are thinking about
a new mobile phone:

• Is the phone battery life suitable for long commutes and the three-day festivals
you are planning to go to this year?

• Will it be acceptable in size, style and brand and considered as OK by friends?

• Is the phone feasible in terms of the contract price affordability and will you be
able to re-sell at the end of the contract?


These are important factors as buying a mobile phone or taking on a new phone contract
may involve a one-off payment or a monthly fee of £10 to £60 depending on the type,
the length of contract and other variables. In this case you are justifying your decision to
yourself and your bank balance! You process the SAF framework in your head in about five
minutes, but when applying this to an organisation, especially where you may have been
given a budget, the best approach is to follow the four SAF steps that we will explore here.

Step 1 – Suitability, Acceptability, Feasibility
Justification is the key here. Imagine you have recommended developing a new app
for a business. This involves a major investment. If you are working as a digital mar-
keting manager, you are responsible for bigger and costlier decisions and need to
address the key considerations, as shown in Table 12.3.

Table 12.3 Key considerations in the SAF framework

Element Key considerations

Suitability • Will the strategy meet the organisation’s objectives?
• Does it fit with future trends, environmental opportunities and digital disruption?
• Does it exploit the strategic capabilities of the organisation?
• Is it sustainable over the long term?

Acceptability • Will the strategy be acceptable to key stakeholders?
• Will the strategy meet the expectations of key stakeholders?
• Are the expected performance outcomes (e.g. return on investment) acceptable?
• Are the associated or potential risks containable?

Feasibility • Can we afford it?
• Can the strategy be made to work in practice?
• Do we have the resources and competencies to make it happen?
• Do we have experience or success in delivering similar strategies in the past?

It’s possible that you may not know all the answers and so need to gather more
information – that’s step 2.

Step 2 – Information sources and analysis
It is worth going back to Chapter 8, Audit Frameworks to ensure your information
sources are valid and rigorous!

You probably need to carry out research to justify the investment. This could include
a digital marketing audit and analysis of customer behaviour. Another factor is the
financial analysis, which needs potential income (based on your proposal) and the
costs of development and delivery. The more detail and analysis included, the stronger
the recommendation will be.

Step 3 – Ranking/Comparison
You use step 3 when you have several choices and you are not sure which to
select, so ideally you compare the options. You might introduce a scoring system


or a yes/no approach. The more yes answers, the more likely that option is to
go ahead.

Let’s work through an example of how to score different options using SAF. To do
this, I have applied a score from 1 to 10, where:

10 = the option fully meets criteria = YES

5 = there are some limitations in meeting the criteria = MAYBE

1 = a significant issue exists in meeting the criteria = NO

I will use Airbnb as my example case. Their current focus is enabling people to rent out
spare rooms and properties to others for a few days or longer. Let’s step into the future
and imagine that they introduce PetBnb so you could take your cat, dog or iguana on holi-
day with you too. OK, I know it’s a bit tenuous, but it’s to show how the scoring works!

Table 12.4 works through an adapted version of the SAF framework, where I have
scored the option of developing PetBnb.

Table 12.4 SAF framework scoring example applied to PetBnb

SAF framework
element Key considerations

score Comment/Implication

Suitability Will the strategy meet the organisation’s

10 Represents business growth

Does it exploit the strategic capabilities of
the organisation?

10 Yes, the systems are already in

Is it sustainable over the long term? 5 May require an emergent strategy
as competition increases

Acceptability Will the strategy be acceptable to key

10 They will love the idea!

Are the expected performance outcomes
(e.g. return on investment) acceptable?

5 It’s been requested and people
specify when they don’t want to
stay in homes with pets, so the
reverse could happen too

Are the associated/potential risks

1 A few risks, may need contingency
plans, such as to partner with
local vets

Feasibility Can we afford it? 10 Investment available internally or
short-term loan

Can the strategy be made to work in

5 Short-term partnership required
for market knowledge about pets

Do we have the resources and competencies
to make it happen?

10 Experienced project team can be
established quickly

Do we have appropriate experience/success
in delivering similar strategies in the past?

10 Skills and systems in place

Total score 76

I have kept this fairly simple so there are 10 questions to be answered, a maximum of 10
for each response, so the maximum total could be 100. With 76/100, this is an acceptable
recommendation. If this had been 30/100 it might be rejected. This takes us to step 4.


Step 4 – Conclusion
If the PetBnb example was assessed against other options such as PartyBnb to rent a
party house or WeddingBnb, it is easier to decide which will work best. In the PetBnb
example in Table 12.4 this requires some judgement, so more research might be needed!

There is subjectivity in scoring the different elements, so a discussion can be useful
if you are working in a team.

Other benefits for scoring the options include:

• Highlights potential limitations or gaps in the organisation’s capabilities

• Indicates actions needed to fully meet the criteria which could have been over-
looked earlier

• Clarifies the options that best suit the organisation

Don’t lose heart if the options seem unattainable! If you have ever had a placement
with or worked in a small organisation, you will know that they can’t always recruit
new staff as needed. One option may be crowdsourcing.

The power of the crowd has spread into online freelance marketplaces which can be
useful for organisations needing short-term help, as well as for students seeking project
work. Plus there are crowd-based websites that generate ideas, such as 99 designs,
Crowdspring, OpenIdeo and websites to raise funds for new ideas (Crowd-cube,
Crowd-funder, Kickstarter). You are probably also aware of crowd-selling websites
(eBay, Etsy, PeoplePerHour), crowd-support (Quora) and crowd-creation (Wikipedia).

Activity 12.3 Assess Your
Options for Crowd-Based Power
Look at a crowdsourcing website (you may need to sign up) and identify if there are any areas where you
could contribute: perhaps designing a logo, conducting a digital marketing audit or building a website.

Crowdsourcing has been used by countries worldwide, as Case Example 12.2 shows!

Case Example 12.2 Crowdsourcing
for Gold
A smaller gold-mining company from Quebec, Canada, Integra Gold, wanted to identify the best loca-
tions on which to focus their resources to identify new gold streams. They had heaps of data – more
than 6 terabytes that covered a 75-year history.



Typically mining companies are extremely secretive but the style of the MD and senior manage-
ment team was totally different. Instead of paying analysts to examine the data and spend years
checking results, they decided to seek help from the crowd.

They launched a crowdsourced competition, sharing the data with all interested parties, with a total
prize pot of 1 million Canadian dollars for those presenting the most innovative and creative solutions
(Integra Gold, 2015). The aim was to get much faster results and share the reward. This was a totally
unheard-of method of working in this sector and heralded a new disruptive style.

The five winners included one firm that already provided this service but they adopted a different
approach, using virtual reality to better explore the mines (Market Wired, 2016).

Case Questions
• What do you think about crowdsourcing for a strategic aspect of the business, as in this case

• What are the risks involved in sharing data in this way?
• How else would you have solved the issue of analysing years of data?

1. For an organisation of your choice assess its key resources using resource-based

theory. These resources may include brand names, in-house knowledge of tech-
nology, employment of skilled personnel, trade contacts, machinery, efficient
procedures, physical or human processes or intellectual property.

2. For an organisation of your choice, analyse and explain which approach it has
adopted for staffing. Compare to a similar organisation and discuss which staff-
ing model for digital is most successful and why.

3. Using the SAF framework, propose amendments to either (a) the way your uni-
versity or (b) a well-known brand operates.

See Template online: The Suitability Acceptability Feasibility assessment

This chapter has explored:

• Managing resources which requires a balance of understanding what they are,
ensuring their potential has been realised and planning for the future.

• Different digital marketing roles and team formats.

• How to apply the SAF framework to choose the best option.

• How to use RACI when allocating team roles and responsibilities.



When you have read this chapter, you will be able to:

Understand the benefits of metrics in marketing

Apply the Plan–Do–Check–Act (PDCA) framework

Analyse the Uses and Gratifications theory

Evaluate dashboards for marketing

Create a marketing dashboard

When you have worked through this chapter, you should be able to:

• Evaluate metrics within an organisation

• Create a dashboard to measure what matters


Measuring online marketing is the key difference in digital. Every web visitor, every
device used and every page viewed can be analysed using onsite and offsite tools.
This chapter looks at metrics, from web to social media analytics, from email to SEM
and content. The analytics and insights available from a range of online sources form
a large picture.

This chapter explores all types of analytics from web to social media, email to con-
tent marketing, and to ensure the data isn’t shared as a boring report, we will also
look at dashboards.

From an early age everything we do is measured – our birth weight, height, the year
we started to walk and talk, then at school there are so many tests to measure our
performance: how well we perform in specific subjects, over the whole year and
compared to our peers. In the same way, organisations measure performance. Instead
of measurements we call these metrics (see Key Term), which I could argue sounds
more scientific, although as Tim Ambler at the London Business School said, ‘a metric
is a performance measurement’ (Ambler, 2000, p. 61) and is part of the ongoing call
for marketers to be more accountable.

Metrics or measurements in isolation may not matter; what does matter is being able
to apply the data, which means:

• Understand the metric and evaluate the impact, for example how does this
compare? How did that work?

• Provide feedback and recommend, for example, that this means our campaign
worked/failed, the website changes had a positive/negative result.

• Take action to improve a situation, for example we should now monitor, adjust,
change, add, remove.

In the field of quality management the PDCA cycle was created by Walter Shewart
and refined by his student Edward Deming (Johnson, 2002). It is a basic circular
concept that dates back to the 1920s, but it is still valid and encourages managers
to plan what is needed (identify the problem), do something about it (develop solu-
tions), check the results (evaluate the metrics) and act to fix it (make the necessary
changes). This section explores the ‘check’ stage so that you can recommend actions
for positive change.


Activity 13.1 Application
of the PDCA Cycle
Table 13.1 contains data from Twitter relating to one tweet. The aim of this tweet was to drive traffic
to a website, as part of an awareness, consideration, conversion strategy (see Chapter 9, Strategy
and Objectives).

You can see there were many impressions but they only converted into 25 link clicks or visits to
the website. The tweet contained a static image, one hashtag and one link. Typically from a link click
there is a 2% conversion rate for people sharing their data or completing a sale.

1. Using the PDCA elements, review and analyse the data. This should identify:

• What worked and what didn’t?

• What were the percentages from impressions to engagements and link clicks?

2. Based on the data analysis, develop solutions, suggest metrics and recommend changes.

Table 13.1 Twitter data

Activity What this means Volume

Impressions How many people saw the tweet 20,192

Total engagements How many times people interacted with the tweet 1,070

Profile clicks Number of clicks to Twitter profile 371

Media engagements Number of clicks on images posted 282

Likes How many times people liked this tweet 201

Detail expands Number of times people viewed the details about this tweet 112

Retweets Number of times people retweeted this tweet 73

Link clicks Number of times people clicked in a link in this tweet 25

Replies Number of people that replied to this tweet 11

Hashtag clicks Number of clicks on a hashtag in this tweet 12

See Template online: Application of the PDCA cycle

There are two definitions of metrics which are helpful:

Tim Ambler in Marketing Metrics suggested that ‘a “metric” is a performance measure
that top management should review. The term comes from music and implies regularity: the



reviews should typically take place yearly or half-yearly. A metric is not just another word for
measure – while all metrics are measures, not all measures are metrics. Metrics should be
necessary, precise, consistent and sufficient for review purposes’ (Ambler, 2000, p. 61).

Paul Farris and his colleagues in their book Key Marketing Metrics defined a metric as ‘a
measuring system that quantified a trend, dynamic or characteristic’ (Farris et al., 2009, p. 1).


Metrics have evolved as online channels provide greater visibility and more data for
marketers. Digital marketing metrics are a way that organisations measure their online
performance and Table 13.2 shows a range of measures from traditional to digital.
Apart from the change in data accessibility, there has also been a change of attitude
with a move away from quantifying negative to positive comments and abandoning
the concept of measuring complaints but rather capturing customer satisfaction.

Table 13.2 Metrics from traditional to digital

Metric type Traditional Digital

Financials • Sales
• Return on investment

• Sales
• Return on investment
• Conversion rate
• Cost per action
• Cost per lead
• Cost per customer
• Customer Lifetime Value


• Total number of customers • Number of views (posts, videos, ads)
• Fans, likes, followers


• Loyalty/retention • Volume/value of repeat sales
• Willingness to recommend


• Number of complaints (level of

• Net Promoter Score/Customer Satisfaction Index
• Sharing, re-tweets
• Favourites
• Feedback to your business
• Comments on the site
• Ratings/Reviews
• Advocates positively promoting your business

Product quality • Relative perceived quality • Number of returns
• Review scores

Market share • Volume or value • Number of visitors to owned media

Market growth

• The percentage at which
your market is growing (or
declining) offline

• The percentage at which your market is growing (or
declining) offline and online

Awareness • Unprompted recall • Share of voice
• Brand sentiment
• Talking about you off site

Engagement • Mailing list • Email subscriptions
• Group membership
• Downloads
• Love/Like this


• Number of stockists • Online availability


Metrics, also called analytics and insights, are available within all social media plat-
forms. You can see the numbers of visitors, viewers, followers and more. In addition
to the customer volume measures, digital marketing metrics cover specific processes
such as web analytics, social media analytics, email analytics, pay per click (PPC)
analytics and content analytics, which are covered in the following sections.

With data from diverse sources, you might think that you could look at just one
source for all your information. However, there are issues with comparative analysis.
You might imagine that the results you get on your Google Analytics dashboard will
tally with your Facebook Insights or Twitter Insights, but not so. All collect data at
separate time points and use different methods of calculation and there have been
many reported errors! (See Ethical Insights: What you see isn’t what you get.)

Ethical Insights What You See Isn’t What
You Get
The numbers matter, as it’s how advertisers are charged, so if you are told there have been 1,000
views, you pay for 1,000. But if in fact it’s only 600 views you have been overcharged!

Facebook, YouTube and Twitter have all had issues calculating metrics, and one by one they have
all apologised for getting the numbers wrong.

• In December 2016 Twitter noticed they had wrongly calculated video viewings after an Android
update – they refunded all affected advertisers (Twitter, 2016).

• In January 2017 YouTube apologised as video views suddenly dropped as the company
re-calculated how views were counted (Marissa – Community Manager, 2017; YouTube, 2017).

• In May 2017 Facebook reported a bug that ‘misattributed some clicks on video carousel ads’
(Facebook, 2017).

New standards have been demanded by advertisers and as Thomas Hobbs reported in Marketing
Week, ‘Marketers becoming “paranoid” over reliability of marketing metrics: Almost three-quarters
of senior marketers believe media measurement currencies are becoming “increasingly corrupted”
and that players such as Google and Facebook have too much control’ (Hobbs, 2017, p. 1).

Metrics or KPIs or OKRs?
Whilst we are talking about metrics, many firms develop and measure Key Performance
Indicators (KPIs) and many tech companies consider Objectives and Key Results
(OKRs) which are similar to KPIs and include the objective (see Digital Tool: Google
OKRs spreadsheet and scorecard).

These KPIs are the agreed metrics they wish to understand. KPIs are often finan-
cially focused and Table 13.3 shows the most common financial KPIs and there
are many more – if you’re interested, visit the library and check out textbooks on
financial management!


Table 13.3 Financial KPIs

Financial KPIs What this means Example

Sales or revenue Total income from sales In 2016 Facebook’s revenue was $27,638 million

Net profit or net

The amount of money left after all
deductions (cost of sales less all
operating costs and overheads)

In 2016 Facebook’s net income was $10,217 million
or 37%

Gross profit The amount of money left after
all direct sales costs (before
operating costs and overheads)

In 2016 Facebook’s revenue was $27,638 million
and the cost of revenue was $3,789 million,
therefore the gross profit was $23,850 or 86%

Return on investment

Net profit divided by the
investment cost, usually as
a percentage

ROI = (Net Profit/Cost of
Investment) x 100

If you invested in Snapchat’s shares when the
company launched on the stockmarket, you
would have paid $27.09 per share. After 3
months the shares were valued at $17.77 so you
had a negative return on investment

Digital Tool Google OKRs Spreadsheet
and Scorecard
Google and others have formed a collaborative team called re:Work and their aim is to share best
practice in data-driven management. They have created two downloadable online tools to help build
Objectives and Key Results (OKRs). Before diving in, watch the video first, which explains Google’s OKRs:

• https://rework.withgoogle.com/guides/set-goals-with-okrs/steps/watch-googles-OKR-

Download the spreadsheet and scorecard to measure and track OKRs:

• See https://rework.withgoogle.com/guides/set-goals-with-okrs/steps/grade-OKRs

There is a question with so many metrics: what really matters? Figure 13.1 shows
examples of weak, acceptable and strong metrics. The weak metrics shown here are
often called vanity metrics (see Key Term). They don’t contribute meaningful data,
for example on Facebook you may have 100,000 fans, but fewer than 2000 may see
your content due to the algorithm (see Chapter 3, The Digital Marketing Toolbox)
so the number of fans has no impact on content shared. An organisation may have
50,000 Twitter followers, but if the followers miss a few hours looking at Twitter, they
may not see any tweets that have been shared.

These metrics follow the social media framework of awareness, consideration, conver-
sion, discussed in Chapter 9, Strategy and Objectives. The stronger metrics are those
that generate conversion actions such as a sale or provision of an email address or
other data, to start a one-to-one conversation.


• Views (posts, videos, ads)
• Fans, likes, followers
• Sharing, retweets
• Favourites
• Feedback to your business
• Comments on the site

• Number of visitors to owned media
• Email subscriptions
• Group membership
• Downloads
• Ratings/Reviews
• Love/Like this
• Brand sentiment

• Advocates positively promoting your business
• Return on investment (ROI)
• Conversion rate
• Cost per action
• Cost per customer
• Conversion action (sale, data swap, applicants)
• Repeat sales (retained, returning customer)

Weak (Awareness)

Acceptable (Consideration)

Strong (Conversion)

Figure 13.1 Weak, acceptable and strong metrics

Vanity metrics are considered as those that make you look good but have little substance.

Writing in the Journal of Advertising Research, Stephen Rappaport (2014, p. 110) commented
that numbers such as likes, page views and time on site ‘make people feel good even as they
give the impression that digital marketing efforts are paying off, but they don’t answer any
number of more pertinent concerns, including the following:

• Why were these metrics reported?

• How do they relate to an objective?

• After data analysis, what remain unanswered?’

Having understood which metrics matter most, how can we use them? Table 13.4
shows the strong metrics identified in Figure 13.1, explains who these may be useful
for and how they are applied. What’s interesting is that this shows the figures mat-
ter for people outside the marketing team and may include community managers,


content creators which may involve external agencies, customer service, finance,
general managers, product selectors, sales teams and web developers.

It is wise to relate the metrics being used to the organisation’s overall objectives or
KPIs as they will be recorded on a formal basis and everyone is using – and hopefully
understanding – the same measures.

Table 13.4 Metrics and how to apply them

Metric Explanation Who useful for How to apply

Number of visitors to
owned media

Number of visitors to a
website, by hour, day,
week, month

Content creators To see if website and other owned
media are performing or growing
and if not why

Email subscriptions Number of people
signing up for your email

Content creators,

To see if ‘email collectors’ such as
‘subscribe here’ are working

Group membership Number of people joining
a group created by the


To see if it is worth continuing or
adapting the group

NOTE: specific group objectives
are needed (see Chapter 5, Online

Downloads 100 people downloaded a
‘how to guide’

Content creators To see how many people
downloaded information and if it is
worth (a) creating the information
and (b) asking for personal data
before the download

Ratings/Reviews Ratings that may be
verified or unverified,
e.g. rated five stars on
TripAdvisor® or product
given one star


To understand what is happening
with frontline teams, to gauge
feedback on products that do/don’t
work and make changes quicker

Love/Like this People clicking the ♥ to
show their friends they like
the item


To understand trends and if the
‘love’ becomes a purchase

Brand sentiment People talking about the
brand online

Marketing To understand brand strength and
make changes if needed

Return on investment

The investment divided by
the resources employed,
e.g. if a new website
costs £50,000 to develop
and generated sales of
£180,000 over 12 months,
the ROI was £130,000 or
2.6 times


To see if the money and resources
invested generated the expected
return which is a useful way of
planning future budgets but a
strategic measure which may need
consideration after 12 months

Conversion rate Often a percentage
showing the number of
people who visited your
site and the number who

sales, web

Small tweaks can make a big
difference. If you generate 10,000
visitors to a website with a 2%
conversion rate, this is 200 sales,
so conversion rate optimisation
techniques (see Chapter 14,
Integrating, Improving and
Transforming Digital Marketing) to
increase to 2.5% could generate an
extra 50 sales


Metric Explanation Who useful for How to apply

Cost per action The cost per click, video

Marketing To understand how much it costs
for each action and whether it is

Cost per customer/
cost per acquisition

The cost of acquiring a
new customer

Marketing To understand how much it costs
to acquire a customer and whether
it is viable

Conversion action
(sale, data swap,

When people complete a
conversion, such as buying
a product online, sharing
their email address,
registering to donate

Sales, Marketing To understand which actions were
more successful and adapt other

Repeat sales (retained,
returning customer)

The number of customers
that return and make
a second and ongoing
purchases, or continue
to subscribe (rather than
unsubscribe) and maintain
their donations


To see if customer service and the
customer journey are working and
calculate the customer lifetime
value (see Key Term – customer
lifetime value)

Case Example 13.1 shows how a business to business (B2B) organisation measures
and uses digital marketing metrics.

Case Example 13.1 B2B Digital
Marketing Metrics
Amy Staniszewski, a digital marketing specialist working in a business to business environment,
shared details about the metrics she uses to measure their B2B marketing campaigns. She explained
that the main metrics included engagement and sales volume measures. There are examples here,
with why they matter:

• Engagement metrics such as retweets and likes on social media – to understand what content
is effective

• Open rates on emails, particularly in A/B testing – to understand which headlines and images
work, to inform future campaigns

• Number of Playbook downloads – to see what works and if these convert to webinar bookings
• Number of signups to webinars – to see what topics work and provide leads for the sales team
• Number of attendees for webinars – to see what topics resonate with the audience and provide

leads for the sales team after the webinar
• Number of people who drop out from webinars – to understand why the engagement wasn’t

completed and inform future timing of online events
• Number of leads created – to measure how many convert to sales and monitor conversion rate

Case Questions
• What other metrics would be beneficial for the company?
• What is the best way to report these metrics?


Customer lifetime value
A concept that is measured is customer lifetime value (CLV), which was first mooted
by F. Robert Dwyer followed by a description by Gordon A. Wyner (Wyner, 1996;
Dwyer, 1997). The factors in CLV are:

• Establish the relevant universe – who are the actual and potential sources of

• Develop measures of components of value – this is customer revenue and cost
over time

• Determine overall customer value – from the probability of being acquired, the
expected annual expenditures and the expected lifetime of the customer

The notion of customer lifetime value (CLV, also labelled LTV) is part of the concept of relation-
ship marketing.

Rather than a one-off sale, the idea is that there is an ongoing relationship where the
company provides useful products or services wanted by the customer who makes repeat
purchases. Instead of calculating the initial order value, the whole of life value is calculated.

As an example, men’s grooming has become popular. To look good, chins need mainte-
nance and it is easy to sign up to a regular pack with companies like Dollar Shave Club (see
https://uk.dollarshaveclub.com), which charges £5 for its starter set and then £8 a month for
standard razor cartridges.

If we imagine that a man stays beard-free for 3 years, that would mean possibly a 35-month
arrangement, which is £285, yet the initial cost is £5. If you add the trial kit set at £5 and a
few more items from the grooming kit every quarter, it could take the customer lifetime value
to £300.

According to Musfiq Mannan Choudhury and Paul Harrigan there is a hierarchy of
customer value (Choudhury and Harrigan, 2014):

• Customer lifetime value (CLV): Present value of future profits generated from a
customer over their lifetime

• Customer referral value (CRV): Referrals generated by the customer

• Customer influence value (CIV): Value of customers influencing and sharing
product and brand knowledge

• Customer knowledge value (CKV): The value of customers with expert knowledge
about a product or brand who help other customers


The change from a traditional measure of lifetime value to knowledge value represents
the influence of digital marketing where individual customers can become advisors
and experts. Interestingly in an online environment Dipak Jain and Siddhartha Singh
observed that ‘the cost of acquiring a customer is higher on the Internet, and profit-
ability from a customer can only come if that customer makes many repeat purchases’
(Jain and Singh, 2002, p. 35).

Another consideration is understanding where the sale came from in the first place,
which we will explore next.

Multi-touch attribution modelling
Beware! There are challenges with metrics as they don’t always tell the right story …

You might think that an advert on Facebook was the reason for the sale, but perhaps
it was the email? Or was it the search results? Added to this, the customer might have
searched online for the item at work and continued the search when they arrived
home, on a different device!

The issue is about attributing the source of the sale, so that marketers know where to
invest their resources. This is one of the greatest difficulties for digital marketers. In
an online world there are multiple touchpoints and this is referred to as multi-touch
attribution modelling or attribution. It was defined by Google, for two reasons:
(a) an advanced analytics package was needed to see the touchpoints; and (b) this
originally referred to results from paid search adverts (see Key Term), although we
could say this considers the customer’s entire path to purchase (see discussion of the
customer journey in Chapter 2).

Chris Anderson and Ming Cheng conducted research into attribution modelling and
stylised a customer search, as shown in Figure 13.2. This demonstrated how a cus-
tomer might purchase immediately, but also might not.

Attribution modelling will continue to grow so that marketers can better understand
how sales were generated, although the analytics packages that provide greater insight
tend to be aimed at enterprise level. The standard packages require time and effort
to add in all potential channels.



An attribution model is the rule, or set of rules, that determines how credit for sales and
conversions is assigned to touchpoints in conversion paths. For example, the Last Interaction
model in Analytics assigns 100% credit to the final touchpoints (i.e., clicks) that immediately
precede sales or conversions. In contrast, the First Interaction model assigns 100% credit to
touchpoints that initiate conversion paths. (Google, 2018, p. 1)


Search start

Enter search
query at time t-1

Search results


Search end







No Yes

Enter search
query at time t

Enter into
advertiser j’s


Figure 13.2 Flowchart of customer search loop

Source: Anderson and Cheng, 2017, p. 255 Cornell Hospitality Quarterly


‘The path to purchase and attribution modeling: Introduction to special section’ by P.K. Kannan,
Werner Reinartz and Peter Verhoef, published in the International Journal of Research in
Marketing, provides a useful background (Kannan et al., 2016).

The next sections explore different metrics based on specific digital channels.

Web analytics can be described as the assessment of a variety of data, including web
traffic, web-based transactions, web server performance, usability studies, user-
submitted information and related sources to help create a generalised understanding
of the online visitor experience. The official Web Analytics Association definition
of web analytics is ‘the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of Internet
data for the purposes of understanding and optimizing Web usage’ (Web Analytics
Association, 2008, p. 3).

Web analytics come in two forms; onsite and offsite analytics. Onsite analytics measure
actual visitors to the page and this is based on access to the data, i.e. you control or
manage the website and can look at the detail. Offsite analytics do not require access
to the data. Based on aggregated data from companies like Google, offsite analytics


measure potential web audience numbers and show how your website compares to
others. These tools are often freely available with some limited data.

There are two major methods for gathering information for this web analytics: web
server log files (see Key Term) and page tagging (see Key Term)

Web server log files or web log files is a record (log) of every action (hit) on a website. This
includes a visit to the site, clicking on specific items and the steps through the website. The
web log file is created and is available to the website administrator. They can see the visitor
behaviour but will not always know who the visitor is.

There are challenges with cookies because they can be rejected or blocked or removed.
Sometimes the cookies time out before a page loads, especially when it is a slow load-
ing page – busy visitors may click off the page before it loads fully. Other challenges
include the page tagging not reporting on non-pages such as PDFs or downloaded
files, so the data may not be accurate.

Page tagging is adding tags to web pages; these tags are better known as adding cookies
when visitors arrive at a web page.

See also Key Term – cookie, p. 42.

Web analytics include a range of metrics, as shown in Table 13.5.

Table 13.5 Web analytic data elements

Web analytic element Data available

Site usage/audience • How many visitors came to the site
• How frequently they visited
• Geographic data
• Some demographic data
• Technical data; browser, device type
• Path through the website (visitor funnel)



Web analytic element Data available

Site content • Top entry pages
• Top exit pages (where shopping carts were abandoned)
• Top performing pages
• Least performing pages
• Length of visit (duration and bounce rate)

Visitor sources • Where the visitors came from
• Percentage of visitors from social networks
• Some data on the search terms to arrive at the site

Quality assurance • Broken pages
• Site speed

Table 13.5 (Continued)

The best-known web analytics program is probably Google Analytics. People always
say this is free, which it is at one level, although in exchange for the free service,
Google captures and uses your data. So, whilst it may be without charge, Google
benefits from knowing about your data.

There are companies that opt for the paid-for version, so they control and manage
their own data. For example, financial institutions often don’t want to share their
data with Google, so whilst they use the program, they pay to store and retain their
own data. For a fully customised Google Analytics package the fees start at around
£100,000 a year.

Digital Tool Google Analytics Academy
Google is keen for students to learn more about analytics and has created a series of free, online
workshops. Visit the link below to start exploring!

• https://analytics.google.com/analytics/academy

To get started you add a tag to your website which allows Google to share data with
the web team. Some of the Google Analytics terminology includes:

• Users: Visitors to the website.

• Sessions: The period of time a user is active on your site and if they are inactive
for 30 minutes or more (say they pop for lunch and leave the web browser open)
this is counted as a new session.

• Page view: A webpage being loaded (or reloaded) in a browser. Page view is a
metric that means the total number of pages viewed.


• Bounce rate: A bounce is a single-page session on a website. Typically, a single-
page session lasts less than one whole second! It often occurs when someone
visits a website by mistake.

• Session duration: The average time a user (visitor) spends on your site – it is a
basic measure as it is simply total visitor numbers divided by the total time on
the site.

• Conversion: A completed activity, online or offline, such as buying a product
online, downloading a white paper or clicking the ‘live chat now’ button.

• Attribution: The process of assigning credit for conversions to touchpoints in the
customer journey.

• Tag: A snippet of code (JavaScript) that sends information to a third party, such
as Google. The Google Analytics tracking code or Facebook pixel are examples
of tags.

Activity 13.2 Create Your
Own Analytics Data
1. Start a blog!

2. Use free blogging tools such as WordPress or Blogger and create some posts about your
digital marketing experience. Ideally posts should contain at least 350 words – that’s less
than a page of A4 – so that Google can see and index the posts.

3. Add some copyright-free images and credit the image source.

4. Share the blog posts across social media to encourage people to read your content.

5. The blog will provide access to basic analytics and give you an appreciation of how this works.
To gain access, after a month review the data in the analytics section of the blog. You can

• Numbers of visitors

• Which posts were more successful.

Web analytics has become a job role in its own right and can help information profes-
sionals use tested keywords to achieve their SEO (search engine optimisation) aims.
(For discussion of SEO see Chapter 3, The Digital Toolbox.) It can change the way
organisations approach paid search, leading them to focus less on expensive keyword
bidding (Google Ads), and this information can be used to fine-tune the website, to
provide visitors with more useful content and to improve navigation through the site.

Web addresses for specific campaigns can be constructed in such a way, using UTM
parameters (see Key Term – Urchin tracking module (UTM) parameters), that


marketers can analyse exactly which aspects of a campaign were most successful.
For the first time you can tell which ads worked and which ads didn’t.

The downside is big data (see Chapter 1, The Digital Marketing Landscape). There
is such a volume of information that it’s difficult to know where to start and what to
consider when looking at an analytics page. You could get lost in a sea of data and
spend so much time looking, that you don’t discover what’s really needed.

The data changes in real time, so as soon as you have a clear picture, the situation
changes. This speed of data change or its velocity is a challenge and it means agree-
ing when the data is collected to ensure consistency.

And some years ago Google started protecting the searcher by encrypting some data
and not revealing the keywords or key phrases searchers used to find your website.
This means that you look at a Google Analytics page and the top keyword shown is
‘not provided’. This is likely to increase as more web browsers protect their visitors
by not providing the search terms.

There’s also a real variety in the data and in accessing the data. If you are using the
free version of Google Analytics, the company occasionally changes where and how
information is accessed.


One feature that Google retained when it purchased Urchin analytics was their Urchin tracking
module parameters or UTMs. Google described UTMs as custom campaign parameters for
advertising URLs (Google, 2017). These custom parameters (or elements) are added to a web
address so that marketers can identify which website, advertising method, campaign, search
terms and content type worked.

All five parameters must be used and Figure 13.3 shows an example of a web address that
contains these five UTMs.

The main benefit of using UTM parameters is that marketers can better attribute how
the sale or other conversion activity took place.

At one level we have web analytics, which provide data about web visitors, and the
next level of data is within your social media pages.


Figure 13.3 Example of web address using UTMs

As social media pages have visitors, they also gather data on their behaviour. This
enables the social media companies to sell advertising space to organisations as they
have rich details on which Facebook pages are popular, which YouTube channels are
most watched and which interests are visible on Twitter.

Initially social media channels were reluctant to share this data and it is only after many
requests that insights have become available. Whilst there are some benefits with social
media analytics, they are not without challenges. The advantages of social media analytics
are that they provide a useful overview of how content is performing and you can see the
engagement (retweets, link clicks, likes, replies) on different content types. The disadvan-
tages of social media analytics are that they lack depth and detail; the data often doesn’t
tally with other analytics programs and the focus can be on promoting successful posts.

To counteract challenges with big data, the social media platforms typically limit the
analytical information available, which is why it lacks depth and detail.

Two key measures in social media are (a) daily active users (DAUs) and (b) monthly
active users (MAUs). Sometimes you also hear of WAUs – weekly active users.
Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, WhatsApp and Snapchat all measure DAUs and MAUs –
the details are often included in the reports to shareholders as an indicator of growth.
The difference between DAUs and MAUs is engagement. Daily active users visit the
sites daily whereas monthly users could be said to be less active. Table 13.6 shows
the main terminology used in social media analytics.

Table 13.6 Social media analytics terminology

Expression What this means

Reach/Impressions How many people were shown the post

Engagements/Actions on page Total number of times a user interacted with a post or page: clicks,
shares, replies, follows, likes, links

Engagement rate Number of engagements divided by impressions



Expression What this means

Likes, fans, follows Times a user followed you

Clicks Number of clicks on the page, post, profile, hashtag, links, attached

Reactions Number of people reacting to, commenting on and sharing your posts
(like, retweet, share)

Table 13.6 (Continued)

These expressions are often used as the social media metrics; although it doesn’t
always matter how many people were reached, it matters how many people clicked
on the link to your website and completed a conversion action!

Facebook was initially slow to provide data, which they call insights. Typically, in a
business to business environment users are online during the week, not at the week-
end, and an example of this is shown in Figure 13.4. This is fondly referred to as the
Facebook whale, as the shape never seems to change!

03:00 06:00 09:00 15:00 18:00 21:00


Figure 13.4 When Facebook users are on site for a business to business organisation

What Figure 13.4 provides for marketing managers, is an indication of when to add
content. The dip shows when the weekend happens, so for these companies the
optimum time to share content is after Monday morning.

In Chapter 3 I explained why social media advertising is used and the challenge for
organisations is that Facebook shows very little organic content to people who have
liked the page. Another issue is that people generally respond to more vivid and
interactive content (for more on vividness and interactivity see Chapter 4, Content
Marketing). Typically, photos gain greater reach than videos and regular links fare
badly. This informs social media managers and content managers as to what is needed
on the page – what works.


Twitter’s analytics are similar to those of Facebook and focus on numbers of views
(impressions), such as:

• Impressions: The number of times the tweet appears in a timeline.

• Engagement: The number of times users interacted with tweets, clicked, retweeted,
liked or checked your profile.

• Tweet performance: How many times people viewed and interacted with a specific

• Engagement rate: The number of engagements divided by impressions, shown
as a percentage.

Like web analytics, there is onsite and offsite data in social media. Onsite data is only
available to page administrators. Offsite data is generally available through commercial
providers. If you are a researcher, you may have access to programs like QSR Nvivo
which allow you to copy and paste data from websites and social media pages – this
is known as data scraping, data mining or text mining.

Twitter has different functionality from other social media channels. It has an open
application programming interface (API) which means that developers can access
the system. As a result, there has been much research conducted into Twitter and to
capture Twitter data, I have used a data-mining tool called twDocs (see www.twdocs.
com). This provides access to up to 3200 tweets per session, that can be downloaded
for analysis. The raw meta data can be imported into Excel (and other statistical
packages) and includes an array of data such as the organisation name, date and time
tweet created, tweet content, retweet count, favourite count, link to the tweet, time
zone/location and the Twitter software used.

As social media pages include ‘regular users to celebrities, politicians, company rep-
resentatives comprising of different social and interests groups’ (Su and Chen, 2016,
p. 393), you can access their data for research or other purposes by simply using a
data-mining tool. You don’t even get a notification when your data is downloaded, as
any Twitter account that is publicly available can be mined! Plus you can explore your
Twitter data without the need for any software. You log in to your Twitter account,
go to settings and privacy and request your archive. When it arrives you can open it
in Excel to look at it in more detail!

In the past, direct mail revolved around the use of letters sent by post. The challenge
was that you didn’t know if they had reached the intended recipient, whether they
opened or simply binned the letter, and the only way of knowing if they took direct
action as a result of receiving the letter was to include some form of code that could
be redeemed against a purchase and checked later – sometimes months and months

With email it is so different. As Antun Bilos and his fellow researchers from Croatia
noted, ‘accurately measuring achieved results of any given email marketing campaign


can help companies understand and improve the marketing activities they conduct in
order to ultimately reach their business goals’ (Bilos et al., 2016, p. 97).

Detailed email tracking and measurement are only available if you use an email soft-
ware system, sometimes called an email delivery system. If you send a batch email
to say 1000 people, direct from your Google or Outlook accounts, it might look like
it’s a spam attack. The internet service providers (ISPs) like BT, Sky and Virgin may
decide to block the emails so that they are not delivered at all. And again, if they are
delivered, you don’t know who has opened the email or clicked on links unless you
have requested read receipts and created dedicated landing pages.

Using an email software system such as campaignmonitor.com, emailit.co or mailchimp.
com, allows you to gain more accurate data as to who has looked at what and when.
Plus, it facilitates better management of the data as people can automatically subscribe
or unsubscribe to your mailings.

Analytics provided through email software include a large amount of data in terms
of who received the email and the action they took as a result. Table 13.7 shows the
type of email analytics data available.

Table 13.7 Email analytics data available

Data provided What this means

Total recipients Total number of people that the email was sent to

Successful deliveries The total number that the email actually got through to

Bounces The number of people (a) whose mailbox is full – this is a soft bounce – or (b) who
have left the organisation or deleted the email account – this is a hard bounce

Times forwarded How many times the email was forwarded to others

Forwarded opens How many of those who received the forwarded email opened it

Recipients who opened The details (email addresses) of the people who received the email and
opened it

Total opens The number of people who received the email and opened it

Last open date The last time the email was opened – this indicates the ‘shelf life’ of an email

Recipients who clicked The details (email addresses) of the people who received the email, opened it
and clicked on one of the links in the email

Total clicks The total number of clicks

Last click date The last time someone clicks – this often happens when someone thinks ‘I saw
that recently’ then they search through their emails to find the link to click

Total unsubscribers The number of people who unsubscribed following this email

Total abuse complaints The number of people who reported this as spam – too many of these and you
won’t be able to send any emails

Email software systems provide summary reports that show the number of success-
ful and unsuccessful deliveries, whether the email was forwarded and the number
of unsubscribers. These systems can include integration with social media so that
newsletters, offers or other information can be shared across social media platforms
at the same time. There is also research into why email works (see Figure 3.3 Why
email works, on p. 58).


There are options to test and review the data to see what worked within email software
delivery systems. One popular option is A/B testing. which has long been available
as a concept in traditional marketing. In the email software systems you can create
headline A and headline B, issue both newsletters and the systems will send headline
A to 10% of the audience and headline B to another 10% of the audience. Based on
your definition of success, whether that’s number of opens, click-throughs or other
conversation mechanism, the system will automatically send the most successful
email to the remaining 80%.

Apoorv Durga, a marketing analyst, has created a useful, two-page ‘Guide to email marketing
and marketing automation tools’, published in EContent (Durga, 2015).

Although it’s a few years older, the article ‘Web advertising: The role of e-mail marketing’ by
Fiona Ellis-Chadwick and Neil Doherty is useful as a framework for what works (Ellis-Chadwick
and Doherty, 2012).

Search engine marketing (SEM), pay per click (PPC) or search advertising analytics
allow you to see the results from paid adverts when visitors are searching online (see
Chapter 3). The different SEM metrics that are used include:

• Clicks: The number of people who clicked on the ad and then to your website.

• Impressions: The number of people who were shown your ad.

• Average CPC: The average cost per click.

• CTR: The number of people who click on your ad from the number of people
who saw your ad. For example, the ad was shown to 1000 people and 100 clicked
on the ad, so that’s a 10% CTR.

• Conversions: The number of people who took an action (sign up, downloads, form
submissions app download, newsletter registration, enquiry form completed, live
chat session, customer feedback, ratings, reviews, contact us).

• Conversion rate: The percentage of people visiting your site and completing a
conversion action.

• Cost per conversion: The cost per conversion action.

Like Google Analytics, Google Ads provides campaign overviews that show the clicks,
impressions and average CPC in one page. And whilst we mainly refer to Google Ads
because it is the leading channel, there are alternatives, including:


• Bing Ads

• Yahoo

• Amazon

• Directories such as TripAdvisor®, Yelp

• Social media ads such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat (see
the previous section on social media analytics)

Google has set the benchmark and most online advertisers follow their systems as
this is where most people learned how to use SEM. And they have made it easy, as
reporting on SEM and PPC metrics often takes place automatically. You set up your
reports and run when needed!

Case Example 13.2 Bidding on
Competitors’ Trade Names
Interflora® is a flower delivery network that allows you to call one florist and get flowers delivered
by another in the network. They have agreed flower ranges and set processes, which are methods
of guaranteeing brand consistency. Interflora® is also a registered trademark and in May 2008 UK
retailer Marks & Spencer used Google Adwords to bid on the word ‘Interflora’.

Understandably the team at Interflora® were very unhappy and legally challenged Marks &
Spencer in court for infringement of their trademark. Interflora® argued that the adverts misled the
public (they could be tricked into thinking that Interflora® flowers were available form Marks & Spen-
cer), it increased the price of the advertising as a bidding war started and it damaged their brand. A
five-year battle took place and Interflora® finally won the court case at the European Court of Justice.

Generally in the UK we avoid tactics of naming competitors in adverts and this had applied to
bidding for ads online. We tend to think that this is unacceptable behaviour even though it is common
practice in countries like the United States.

Two points to note from this:

• Firstly, if you are working somewhere and the organisation is being challenged by competi-
tors, it is wise to gain formal trademark registration to protect brand assets, especially in a
world-wide online environment. This is probably better managed through a trademark spe-
cialist as there are no worldwide trademarks – you need to register in specific locations, such
as the UK, Europe, the United States and Japan.

• Secondly, if you are on a placement year and, as you are the digital marketing person, they
ask you to bid on a competitor’s brand or name, think carefully – it could all end in court!

Case Questions
• If working on placement, how would you manage a request from a manager to bid on a com-

petitor’s name?
• What other options might be available?


Content analytics considers qualitative as well as quantitative factors. Qualitative
measures include analysing key words in the text as well as the sentiment or the
feeling of the person communicating the message. Quantitative measures of content
are also known as glottometrics, which include word length, word order, richness of
vocabulary and word frequency. Beyond glottometrics, other quantitative measures
for content include: the volume of terms mentioned, the reach of the message (how
far it spread) and the number of clicks on links, photos, videos or other material.

If you are exploring an organisation’s use of social media, you might also consider
the message type, which may include: brand awareness; product awareness; cus-
tomer service; engagement; corporate social responsibility; promotional or seasonal
messages (Coursaris et al., 2016).

You may wish to measure paid media, owned, shared media or earned media (see
Chapter 4, Content Marketing).

Smartphone Sixty Seconds® –
Instant Engagement Metrics Score
Likealyzer is a free content metrics overview tool from the analytics reporting company Meltwater.
You can use this to gain an overview of how well (or how badly) content on Facebook pages works.

1. On your mobile phone log in to Facebook.

2. Go to https://likealyzer.com.

3. Add in the name of your favourite shop’s Facebook page (or somewhere you may be working).

4. What are the results for the response and engagement metrics?

5. How do these compare with others in class?

6. What are the recommendations for improvement?

When you have captured your data, it is time to consider reporting. From an early
age everything we do is reported: school reports, subject performance reports and
end of year reports. These reports are often attached to performance or grades which
are entered into a report that is shared. It’s no different at work. When you carry out
any marketing activity it has to be measured, monitored and reported, regardless of
the organisation type. For example:

• Companies with shareholders have to create and share annual reports, interim
reports, statistics, presentations, press releases and other knowledge-based


• Universities create and share their strategy for people, education, research and
innovation, the corporate plan, financial review and results.

• Charities create and share their annual report and accounts, strategic plans and

All this information requires knowledge and data. It can be too late if you reach the
end of the year and start to gather the data because:

• The organisation may have performed worse than expected.

• There may be issues that have been missed.

• They may have outperformed competitors.

• Urgent actions may be required due to the results of some data.

Think about your university grades and how you might wait until the end of the year
before realising action is needed. This is why it is critical to collect the data on an
ongoing basis, to anticipate requirements in the organisation and take the necessary
action as soon as possible.

Options for reporting are varied and depend upon (a) legal requirements for a meet-
ing; (b) audience type; (c) time available to organise; (d) amount of detail to share;
and (e) required action after the meeting. There are variations in reporting formats,
from those that need to take place in person or where either written or visual material
will be needed, as well as the type of written or visual material that will be needed
to support the data delivery.

Although the report design depends on the audience to be addressed, the most fre-
quently used internal data delivery system has become the dashboard. According to
researchers Ginger Killian and Kristy McManus, ‘Social media dashboards can enhance
the impact of content posted on a given platform and provide metrics to compare
effectiveness across platforms’ (Killian and McManus, 2015, p. 547). Dashboards
are often internal visualisation systems to see how key metrics are performing, at
a glance. This data can subsequently be embedded into other report formats. Let’s
explore dashboards further.


Koen Pauwels and colleagues defined the marketing dashboard as ‘a relatively small collection
of interconnected key performance metrics and underlying performance drivers that reflects
both short- and long-term interests to be viewed in common throughout the organization’
(Pauwels et al., 2008, p. 7).


In all types of vehicles, from motorbikes and cars, from boats to aircraft, dashboards
have been a common feature. They let you know the amount of fuel, your speed
and indicate if there are any issues such as lack of oil or light bulbs have failed. In
recent years dashboards have become more sophisticated and often include average
fuel consumption, outdoor temperature and elapsed journey time. The purpose of
these functions is to inform and make you aware, so that you can re-fill with fuel
before running out, slow down in traffic and ensure the vehicle is maintained.
Dashboards are visual information systems enabling users to immediately see the
overall situation.

In situations where there is an urgent or critical need to see key information quickly,
dashboards can literally save lives. They are popular in hospitals and medical facilities
for this reason and are used in many other different situations, including airports,
stock markets, call centres and retail goods stores.

Dashboards have further evolved in digital environments, and if you use a smart band
or watch, you are wearing your health dashboard which tracks your activity level,
breathing rate and even your sleep cycle!

The reason for their popularity in marketing was summed up by Koen Pauwels and
colleagues who stated: ‘Dashboards respond to the increasing complexity and diver-
sity of market data faced by senior management in the information age’ (Pauwels
et al., 2009, p. 176). If you think back to the concept of big data and the many differ-
ent types of metrics we explored earlier in this chapter, you might start to agree that
a dashboard provides the essentials for busy marketing managers.

Dashboards are not without flaws and whilst they have many benefits, there are dis-
advantages too. Advantages of dashboards include: a consistent set of metrics, which
is useful for comparable analysis and enables teams to measure agreed actions and
activities. You can see trends and make changes faster. Plus, dashboards save time
by gathering all information in one place and there is faster reporting as the focus
is on the key metrics. Two critical factors are that dashboards enable teams to focus
on what matters and can help set goals.

Disadvantages of dashboards include: they might display smaller amounts of data
and mislead the overall picture. There can be a tendency to focus on the numbers
(what) rather than reasons (why) and they may provide a simplistic overview rather
than the in-depth detail that may be needed. Plus they can become a support system
rather than an enabler.

The critical factor is ensuring the dashboards are not just watched, but action is
taken and discussions about the content take place too. Looking at this we can see
that the Plan–Do–Check–Act (PDCA) cycle (see section 13.1 above) starts to become
more important.

Michael Krush, from North Dakota State University, and several colleagues reviewed
the use of dashboards for business and concluded that they were relevant to the man-
agement team and their value was the ability to increase the speed of implementing
strategy (Krush et al., 2016). The question is, what’s needed in a dashboard?





























































When creating a dashboard you need to consider the essentials:

• What type of dashboard is needed?

• Who is the audience?

• Where is the data?

In terms of type of marketing dashboards, there are three main options:

• Strategic: Focusing on larger organisational goals such as total monthly sales
value, number of customers that month

• Tactical or project focus: Showing status of campaign with details such as conver-
sion rates, number of shares, email marketing results, adwords performance

• Operational: Aiming at specific business activities such as number of outstanding
responses, number of orders to despatch

As an example, Figure 13.5 shows a strategic dashboard aimed at executives which
focuses on the performance of the sales team and the sales results.

Factors to consider when creating a dashboard
When creating dashboards, you need to consider the audience and their requirements.
Senior executives may require specific data. Marketing teams may be more interested
in the granular detail of how content is performing.

Where the data is located can be a challenge; you don’t want to create the task for
yourself of trying to pull data from many sources. This is why so many commercial
systems have evolved – all the data is pulled into one location. It is important that
the data is accessible and integrated. Koen Pauwels and his colleagues recommended
that dashboards should be integrated on three levels (Pauwels et al., 2008):

• Integration of data – taking and combing data from diverse sources

• Integration of processes – relating inputs and outputs

• Integration of viewpoints – enabling different teams to share and see the same data

Building a dashboard
Having agreed the audience, the source of the data and the type of dashboard, the
next step is confirming what data is needed. This data contributes to the success of
the dashboard and must include the metrics required by the team.

Having considered, discussed and agreed the metrics it’s time to build your database.
You can do this in spreadsheet programs like Excel or Sheets, but it will take some
time. It is easier to obtain marketing software to trial how it works.

Commercial software has grown dramatically and Table 13.8 shows some popular
options. Some have a free function with limited detail and many include a trial ver-
sion. In terms of budgeting, most are paid for on a per user, per month, licence basis.










































l d






















































































































































t a



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Table 13.8 Management and dashboard systems

Company Web address Free version available

Crimson Hexagon crimsonhexagon.com

Cyfe cyfe.com Yes

Dash thedash.com Yes

Freeboard freeboard.io Yes

Hootsuite hootsuite.com Yes

Hubspot.com hubspot.com

Infusionsoft infusionsoft.com

Sysmos sysomos.com

Qlik qlik.com Yes

Tableau tableau.com

Zoho.com zoho.com Yes

Most of these systems are available online and can be used at any time from any
device. The key is identifying the metrics that matter!

Introduction of the dashboard
Introducing any new software is fraught with difficulties and it is therefore impor-
tant that the introduction of a dashboard is successful. In another research project,
Koen Pauwels and colleagues proposed a framework for the adoption and success
of dashboards, shown in Figure 13.6. This starts by considering the demand side
(1), who wants and will use the dashboard. The next factor is the dashboard func-
tionality (2), followed by joining up the demand and supply sides (3). The next step
is implementation and getting different people involved and testing before a launch
through the use of prototypes (4). Psychological factors follow, with how users feel
about the idea of a dashboard (5), and finally its adoption and success (6). These
last factors resemble elements of the Technology Acceptance Model (see Chapter 2).

If these steps are not followed and a dashboard simply imposed on a team it will be
less likely to work, resulting in another failed software investment!

1. For an organisation of your choice evaluate the current metrics used. Identify

why the metrics were selected and why they are used.

2. For an organisation of your choice create a dashboard that illustrates the metrics
that matter.

3. For an organisation of your choice recommend metrics to measure customer
acquisition and retention. Consider what the chosen organisation needs to meas-
ure and any benefits or drawbacks of carrying out this measure.


This chapter has explored:

• How to use the Plan–Do–Check–Act (PDCA) cycle to ensure you are using the
right metrics.

• The move from traditional to digital metrics.

• What metrics matter, with examples of weak, acceptable and strong metrics.

• Web analytics, with the key Google terminology.

• The potential metrics in social media, email and content.

• Benefits of types of reporting, with examples of how dashboards can help.




When you have read this chapter, you will be able to:

Understand integrated marketing communications to digital marketing

Apply the IMC framework

Analyse elements of competitiveness

Evaluate the impact of cross-platform integration

Create the 9 steps to digital transformation


When you have worked through this chapter, you should be able to:

• Use heatmapping tools

• Perform website usability analysis

• Create a plan for digital transformation

Once metrics have been considered, the next stage is improving aspects of digital
marketing. This chapter shows the factors involved in these elements and adds to the
theory as well as showing you the different marketing models around integration and
how to assess digital skills within an organisation.

The last part of the chapter explores digital transformation and the steps required. If
you cannot move beyond step 1, the project is unlikely to succeed. If you do progress
through the steps, you will learn more about the path to superior firm performance,
taking the organisation into an entirely different league.

Having considered different aspects of digital marketing, it is time to join up and
connect with traditional marketing practices. Some organisations separate teams into
digital and marketing rather than embracing a holistic approach across the firm, which
I will discuss around the concepts of digital transformation.

Digital marketing has a direct impact on integrated marketing communications
(IMC) (see Key Term) as the customer controls the brand rather than the company.
Customers can write about every aspect of their brand experience – from how the
website works, the shopping process, and of course, any complaints are shared online.
Customers discuss and comment about the convenience of the deliveries available and
then as the package arrives, they record the ‘unboxing’ process to share with their
own audience. This is often followed by a review of further feedback at a later stage.
All customers are now influencers and, as mentioned in Chapter 2, one organisa-
tion that recognised this is Adidas which created specialised and exclusive content
for their micro-influencers (The Tango Squad) to partially retain control and better
understand where their brand is being discussed.

For the definition of IMC I have looked at the specialist journal the International Journal of
Integrated Marketing Communications, and the review undertaken in 2009 which looked at


the main descriptions and argued the case to use the explanation proposed by the same
author in 2008:

IMC is an audience-driven business process of strategically managing stakeholders,
content, channels, and results of brand communication programs. (Kliatchko, 2009, p. 9)

When running campaigns we know that we need a range of communications methods
to have a greater impact and at the same time we need to ensure the messages don’t
clash with each other and create cognitive dissonance (see Key Term – cognitive
dissonance, p. 266). This is about ensuring the advertising appeals are integrated,
regardless of platform (see Key Term – advertising appeals in Chapter 11). We are
aware that communications focus on appeals to the audience which usually fall into
two areas: emotional and rational. Table 14.1 shows more details with examples of
where they are used.

Table 14.1 Message appeals applied to digital marketing

Appeal type Explanation Examples

Emotional: Value-
expressive or
symbolic appeal

• Building a ‘personality’ for
the product

• Creating an image of the
product user

• Clothing brands portraying their users across
social media

• Influencers such as Lucy and Lydia use
emotional appeal to engage their audience.
They sell a lifestyle and have created their own

Rational: Utilitarian
(functional) appeal

• Focusing on key benefits
• Highly functional, factual
• Informational advertising

• Sports goods focusing on functionality in
online ads

• YouTube education videos that focus on ‘how to’

Integration of traditional and digital marketing activities is essential to ensure an
organisation presents a clear, credible and consistent plan to its target audience. But
it’s not just about integrating the marketing activities, it’s about combining or joining
up or incorporating all aspects of marketing into the business unit.

Integrated marketing communications or IMC is just one element of marketing to be
addressed. It’s the most popular as it’s often responsible for the most externally vis-
ible outputs, such as communications and campaigns.

Whilst the definition of IMC revolved around brand communication programmes,
the newer definition included the notion of content as a pillar of IMC (Kliatchko,
2009). This aptly named article, ‘IMC 20 years after: A second look at IMC defini-
tions’, discussed how content is ubiquitous (available anywhere, at any time), can be
collaborative and recipients can also be the content creators. It’s difficult to integrate
content from your customers, although not impossible (see Case Example 14.1).


Case Example 14.1 Vanish
‘Tip Exchange’
The worldwide consumer goods company Reckitt Benckiser uses customers as the heroes with one of
its products, Vanish stain remover. The company encourages and integrates user-generated content
through the YouTube ‘Tip Exchange’, where real-life customers post advice to other consumers about
how to remove stains from clothing.

Users submit their video via Facebook or a dedicated country website such as www.vanish.co.uk/
tip-exchange in the UK; there are other sites for Germany, France and Spain. Some light touch edit-
ing takes place by Reckitt Benckiser, who add the brand logo in the corner of the video, as shown in
Figure 14.1. These ads are used across multiple channels: TV, YouTube and magazines.

Figure 14.1 Vanish Tip Exchange example

Case Questions
• Those submitting videos gain the thanks of a grateful audience, some products as a reward,

but no formal payment. What do you think of the ethics of companies benefiting from user-
generated content?

• Why do you think the user-generated content works within IMC?
• Imagine that you are a brand manager for a consumer product such as washing powder.

How could you better integrate advertising using digital marketing?

Writing in the Journal of Marketing, Professors Rajeev Batra and Kevin Lane Keller
reviewed earlier research into IMC and noted how marketing has evolved from initial


methods of mass market communication via broadcast TV advertising to a ‘much richer
array of communications possibilities’ and more personalised communications using
social media (Batra and Keller, 2016, p. 122).

Whilst they initially included consistency and the ability to deliver the same key mes-
sages, regardless of platform, this was not included within the final model, as they
stated that the recognised recurrence of the concept of consistency throughout all
aspects of communications and wider integration had been sufficiently researched.

Their research highlighted seven factors within integration, which, as is usual in
marketing, is an alliterative model and is shown in Table 14.2.

Table 14.2 The 7Cs of integration

Element Explanation

1. Coverage The percentage or proportion of target audience reached by the communication

2. Cost Working to the best value and testing options to maximise the budget

3. Contribution The impact of the communication and the results generated for the organisation

4. Commonality The degree to which different options share the same meaning

5. Complementarity The extent to which the organisation delivers the same messages across platforms
and harnesses the platform’s strengths and weaknesses

6. Cross-effects Using different communications options that interact and bring synergy

7. Conformability How well a specific communication option works for a specific target audience and
how it conforms to the needs of that consumer group

The 7Cs of integration is a useful checklist when retrospectively reviewing an online
campaign. You wouldn’t know how many people were reached until the campaign
started and the impact wouldn’t be clear until the end. This framework is useful as
a benchmark to compare different digital marketing campaigns.

Professors Batra and Keller remarked how research into IMC has tended to be focused
in certain areas, probably due to the researchers’ own interests or knowledge. They
placed IMC within the customer journey (see Chapter 2 for examples of customer
journeys) and also noted that traditional models such as AIDA are no longer adequate
for the complex paths to purchase customers take in today’s digital environment.
They suggested that communication goals should include several stages, as shown
in Figure 14.2.

Some of these goals are fairly traditional, such as (1) create awareness, (4) build trust,
(5) elicit emotions and (6) inspire action.

To instil loyalty (7) is a big request, especially in a digital environment where product
pricing is transparent and where consumers may experience flow when using social
media, discover and subsequently purchase an alternative product, perhaps uninten-
tionally (for more on the flow construct see Chapter 7). It is widely recognised that
brand loyalty is valued by brands due to repeat purchasing power.


1. Create

2. Convey


3. Create
imagery and

4. Build

5. Elicit

6. Inspire

7. Instil

8. Connect

Figure 14.2 Communication goals

Source: Adapted from Batra and Keller, 2016, pp. 131–2

Researchers Ana Margarida Gamboa and Helena Martins Goncalves explored customer
loyalty through social networks, using the fashion store Zara and their Facebook page
as examples (Gamboa and Goncalves, 2014). They concluded that loyalty online was
driven by customer satisfaction. We know that online satisfaction is often achieved
via the speed of response (Istanbulluoglu, 2017), so perhaps item (7) instil loyalty
should be ‘drive customer satisfaction with speedy responses’.

To connect people (8) is facilitated by digital environments where consumers can ask
questions, answered by other consumers – this is typically how customer support
on Apple products works. In a business to business environment connecting people
is normal, as it is when buying major purchases such as a house, car or other high-
value item, which requires the purchasers to be present and greater connection with
sellers to take place.

In other objectives, Batra and Keller have blended, or mixed, emotional and rational
appeals such as (2) convey detailed information, which is a rational or functional
appeal and is situated next to a partly emotional appeal, (3) to create imagery and
personality. The key here is that some of these goals may be relevant or irrelevant at
different times for different campaigns.

Figure 14.2 should be considered as a framework, rather than a rigid model to fol-
low, step by step. It should be adapted based on the organisation type, the message
platform and the audience. For example, it is difficult to get emotional about a


































































































































































































































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government service such as the passport office. It is needed but may not be loved,
and loyalty does not feature as there may be no choice.

Based on these goals, as an overarching theme, Batra and Keller created a concep-
tual framework for IMC, which is shown in Figure 14.3. This considered the major
communication platforms, the communication outcomes and objectives as well as the
stage of the consumer decision journey. This is a useful integrated framework and,
again, some elements may or may not be relevant to the organisation.

This conceptual framework is in three parts, with major communication platforms
at the top level, the stages of consumer decision journey at the bottom and the com-
munications outcomes and objectives in the middle.

As an integrated model, the major communication platforms encompass both tradi-
tional and digital communications.

Advertising, which could be online or offline, is seen as playing a role at the start to
create brand awareness. Sales promotion, which includes vouchers, offers and trials,
could be a clever way to convey detailed information and the platforms used will vary,
as it is difficult to contain significant amounts of information in, say, a Facebook ad
or a Twitter post, but it could contain enough to take the target audience to a landing
page where more information is available.

The next element, events and experiences, can be more complex for smaller organi-
sations and it is worth remembering that in their examples the professors looked at
major car brands, which clearly have major budgets.

PR and publicity can take place both online and offline and is still a mechanism to
build trust. Again, using major car brands as the example, they probably engaged
PR companies as well as having in-house teams, so this may not be possible for smaller
organisations that may need to adopt a self-service approach to online PR, creating
their own news stories and posting to various blogs.

Online and social media is positioned as a method to generate emotions, followed
closely by mobile, to generate action. This very much depends on how the mobile
marketing takes place (see Chapter 6) and how the consumer receives this. The final
stages are direct and database marketing to instil loyalty or some form of response,
which we could describe as retention.

The model concludes with personal selling in order to connect people. I am not sure
that personal selling could be scaled in a digital environment. For example, imagine
that you have 50,000 online customers. Would they all need a personal visit?

On the lower level in Figure 14.3, the stages of the consumer decision journey (see
Chapter 2, The Digital Consumer) move through the usual problem recognition, to
trust and willingness to pay (WTP), then towards the commitment or purchase, satis-
faction and advocacy.

The IMC conceptual framework shown in Figure 14.3 is a useful blueprint to capture
all aspects of marketing communications within an organisation and ensure it is all
connected. Although application to organisations may need adapting based on its
nature and size, this framework is a practical checklist to confirm that all elements
of the customer journey are captured.


Consistency is a core theme within marketing integration, and it means ensuring the
service or offer, the message and any promotions are consistent, regardless of chan-
nel. When constructing a mission or vision statement, there should be consistency.
Changing company direction on a regular basis confuses staff, customers and other

In 1995 Amazon created its vision statement as ‘to be Earth’s most customer-centric
company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy
online, and endeavors to offer its customers the lowest possible prices’ (Amazon Inc.,
2017). Amazon started with a bold vision as they weren’t aiming for customers located
only in their home country of the United States, but across the globe. It wasn’t just
about books – their initial product offer – this was about anything a customer might
want online. This vision still holds true today and has remained consistent for over
20 years.

Being competitive means having an advantage that is difficult for competitors to copy.

Researchers Varun Grover and Rajiv Kohli explored hyper-competitive conditions
and suggested there were three aspects within competitive value (Grover and Kohli,
2013, p. 656): (a) software; (b) processes; and (c) information.

• Competitiveness from software:

� The world’s largest taxi firm, Uber, doesn’t own a single vehicle – they have
clever software that matches drivers to passengers.

� The world’s largest accommodation agency, Airbnb, doesn’t own a single
hotel room – they have clever software that matches hosts to guests.

• Competitiveness from processes:

� The world’s largest retailer, Amazon, doesn’t own a single product – they
have clever processes that match buyers to sellers, facilitate easy purchasing
with the one-click to buy now and encourage customers to pay in advance
for delivery with Prime. This results in customers using the platform for all
shopping requirements.

• Competitiveness from information:

� One of the world’s largest social networks, Facebook, helps sellers specify
exact buyer types based on user profiles and behaviour – their source

Grover and Kohli’s work was based on creating digital business strategies and
mashing up aspects of the business to identify where the opportunities existed,
which may include sharing aspects of the business processes, which in the past
was unheard of.


The challenge with competitive advantage is described by the Dutch university teacher
Anne-Madeleine Kranzbühler and her colleagues as potentially ‘marginal, subject to
change and open to imitation’ (Kranzbühler et al., 2018, p. 433), which is why organi-
sations need a clear purpose to become and remain successful.

14.4 THE 4CS OF
The 4Cs of marketing communications is a valuable framework for assessing the
integration of campaigns as well as considering the organisational vision, and in mar-
keting – as you may have discovered – we are fond of alliterative models. Another 4Cs,
focused on cross-platform integration, is suggested by Dr Ginger Killian and Dr Kristy
McManus, who described the need for Consistency, Customization, Commitment and
Caution, which were centred around integration across marketing channels (Killian
and McManus, 2015) and are shown in Table 14.3.

Table 14.3 The 4Cs of cross-platform integration

Element How this is applied

1. Consistency All actions must be consistent across all channels, for example the same brand
personality should be visible and discernible in all channels

2. Customization Social media can be used to customise campaign messages and the brand must
understand which channels are being used and for what purposes. The brand might
use Instagram for a specific audience and newsletters for another

3. Commitment When selecting new social media channels, brands need to be clear about their
purpose and commit to adopting and using the channel which means frequent content
and communication and ensuring there is a connection between the channels and the
brand’s goals

4. Caution Organisations are often cautious about fully integrating all aspects of social media,
such as building in reviews and enabling customer comments to be heard on their sites.
A policy is needed to understand how and when responses are provided, as well as the
tone of voice used when replying to comments, compliments and complaints

Activity 14.1 Assessment of the 4Cs
of Cross-Platform Integration
• Using Table 14.3 as a framework, select a brand of your choice and assess how the organisation

applies the 4Cs of cross-platform integration.
• Look at various sources, from their website to social media, as well as searching for the brand

name with ‘+ complaint’ or ‘+ fail’ in the search terms. This should provide you with information
about the brand from the organisation, its customers and unhappy customers too.

• You should note the level of integration across the channels to see if it is consistent, customised
on different channels, whether the brand is committed to regular content and responses and
if the tone of voice used in complaining situations echoes the rest of the content or adopts a
different tone.


Once a plan has been created, data has been gathered and you are seeing that
improvements are taking place, it’s time to consider specific actions to improve
digital marketing.

The thread that connects or integrates all aspects of marketing is the customer jour-
ney and it seems logical that as an initial step to improving tactics we might decide
to conduct user journey analysis.

Norwegian researchers Ragnhild Halvorsrud, Knut Kvale and Asbjørn Følstad (2016)
explored customer journey analysis (CJA) procedures and identified five phases.
Considering their approach as similar to taking on a project, they started with phase 1:
overview and scope, agreeing the reasons why the analysis was needed; what had
happened and who would be involved. It may be that it is only one aspect of a website
that will be explored, or if social shopping, just one channel.

In phase 2 they mapped out what was believed to be the planned journey. This can
often be discovered by those who created the website as they may have been given
this information at the start. A linear customer journey, which is simplistic but plausi-
ble, may include: step 1 reads social media post; step 2 visits website; step 3 explores
products; step 4 makes purchase; and step 5 writes online review.

Phase 3 starts to involve customers and data. Tools that can help with this include:

• Review of web analytics data to see where customers entered and abandoned
the website, which pages were viewed and which were ignored and these issues
are covered in Chapter 13, Marketing Metrics, Analytics and Reporting.

• Online surveys to ask why customers didn’t buy from you today.

• Live chat analysis to read the conversations and see where customers dropped
out of the user journey.

• Heatmaps (see Key Term) which show where on the web page visitors are click-
ing, and equally what they’re ignoring!

• Usability analysis (see Key Term) to see how well the website does or doesn’t

Heatmaps visualise where someone looks on a web page with colours graded from looking
here a lot (red) to glanced at this section (blue). Researchers Mariusz Trojanowski and Jacek
Kułak provided a useful definition of heatmaps as ‘graphical representation of data with colors,



showing which part of the page is scanned by the user most frequently and different metrics
such as bounce rate’ (Trojanowski and Kułak, 2017, p. 110). Figure 14.4 shows an example of
a heatmap.

Figure 14.4 Example heatmap

Source: Hotjar.com


Digital Tool Heatmaps
Explore these heatmapping tools:

• hotjar.com
• heatmap.it

As an alternative, Openheatmap allows you to upload Excel or other spreadsheet data that contains
location information to create your own heatmap. You can visit the site and use the sample data they
provide to see how it works:



Usability analysis considers how well a website does or doesn’t work. Writing in the Journal of
Computer Information Systems, researchers James Cappel and Zhenyu Huang discussed how
web usability concerned ‘the importance of clarity, simplicity, and consistency in web design so
that users can perform desired operations efficiently and effectively’ (Cappel and Huang, 2007,
p. 117). Although this article was published over a decade ago, it is still valid and described all
aspects of web usability, many of which we take for granted today, such as a site search facility.

Dr Jakob Nielsen registered many patents on ease of website usage. He was one of the pio-
neers who explored the concept of usability.

To discover more, read his book Designing Web Usability and visit his website, www.
nngroup.com, which includes more depth on usability (Nielsen, 1999, 2012).

Digital Tool Usability Tools
A US government website is dedicated to usability. See www.usability.gov for a glossary and details
about the benefits as well as key issues when designing a website.

Whilst heat mapping, usability analysis and analysing the data can provide some
answers and can tell you what has happened, it may not be able to explain why. As an
example, Figure 14.5 shows an actual customer journey, based on looking at the ana-
lytics and seeing the funnel or path customers took once in the website.

It is more likely customers will need to be involved to acquire additional qualitative
data to understand why specific actions were taken. Halvorsrud and his colleagues
recommended that customers kept diaries, which may not be practical or possible
in some cases, so you may decide to use online chat and surveys as alternatives. For
example, one way of doing this is to gain volunteers at university, book a computer
lab and ask them to perform a task on a website, such as buying a specific product.
They are monitored performing the specific task and all steps are noted. The downside
is that the test group may bear no resemblance to the actual users, in which case the
findings could be erroneous.


Step 1
reads social
media post

Step 2

brand name

Step 3


Step 4

Step 5
looks at


Step 6

reviews on
the site

Step 7


Step 8

Figure 14.5 Actual customer journey

The final phase is capturing all the data and summarising it into a report for those
involved in phase 1. This also provides a benchmark from which the organisation
can measure future customer journey analysis.

Whilst you may be at university learning digital marketing skills, there are many
non-trained and traditionally trained marketers. This means that there may be an
argument to upskill existing teams.

Across Europe there are efforts to improve digital capabilities. One driving factor in
the UK is the government’s strategy ‘digital by default’ (Cabinet Office, 2012), requiring
citizens and businesses living and operating in the UK, where practical, to request
and file all information online.

Digital transformation is the process of moving an organisation from a traditional
marketing focus to one that embraces digital business. This does not mean the organi-
sation ceases any traditional activities, but instead focuses on the activities that most
closely meet the customers’ requirements.

There have been several examples of well-known and long-established companies
that ignored the move to digital and subsequently failed. How many of the companies
in Table 14.4 still exist on the high street?

At the same time, there have been companies that have embraced digital marketing,
usually after an incident, and succeeded (see Case Example 14.2 JetBlue becomes
the digital hero).


Table 14.4 Companies failing to adopt digital business

Failed business Digital disrupter that precipitated the failure

Blockbuster, the video chain. The idea was that you
visited the store and collected your video. Do you still
have a VHS machine?

Netflix – an idea that developed when one of the
team was fined for returning a video too late. Netflix
has evolved over time

Kodak films and cameras. How many in your class
own a real camera?

The rise of digital photography and smartphone

Comet, the electrical retailer selling electrical goods
in store

The growth in online shopping and price comparison

Smartphone Sixty Seconds® –
Seeking Disrupters
Using your mobile phones:

• Search for ‘disruptive brands’
• Pick one disruptive brand
• In which sector are they based?
• Which companies will they most disrupt or damage in the next 12 months?
• Share findings with classmates.

Case Example 14.2 Jetblue
Becomes the Digital Hero
JetBlue has a mixed history within social media. It had major difficulties one Valentine’s Day, when
passengers were stranded on a plane for nine hours whilst de-icing equipment was sought.

This was the moment the company adopted digital marketing and its CEO publicly apologised via
YouTube. After this event the firm developed its own bill of rights and automatically provides details of
compensation (Kaplan and Haenlein, 2011) and uses Twitter as a customer service platform, allowing
staff to display personality and use humour. The transformation that’s taken place is demonstrated
by the language in these tweet responses:

@NAME Bummer! We’re hoping it is back on soon!
@NAME We love you back 
@NAME Glad to hear someone is liking it!  

Case Questions
• Consider a time when you complained via social media. How did the organisation respond?
• Were there any surprises in terms of the tone of voice used, or the format of the response?
• What organisations can you identify which have transformed their business via digital marketing?


The key to digital transformation is leadership. The CEO or MD has to want to make
the change. If they don’t want to make the change or if they won’t support the actions,
it’s very unlikely that it will succeed.

Writing in Strategy and Leadership, Saul Berman, who has explored the subject of
digital transformation for some years, suggested three main approaches (Berman,
2014, p. 18):

1. Focusing on customer value propositions.

2. Transforming the operating model.

3. Combining those two approaches by simultaneously transforming the customer
value proposition and organizing operations for delivery.

Berman discussed ways to ‘enhance, extend and redefine’ the customer value propo-
sition which may involve providing additional features online that may be free or
chargeable, as well as reviewing the core business offer (Berman, 2014, p. 19). He rec-
ommended that the approach taken depends on the industry, the competitors as well
as the product and service offer. None of this is surprising, but look back at Table 14.4
and reflect on those companies that ignored all the warnings, saying it would never
happen in their sector …

Read the full article by Saul Berman, ‘Digital transformation: Opportunities to create new busi-
ness models’, in the journal Strategy and Leadership (2014). Although published a few years
ago, it is still valid.

As a university student and later as a graduate in digital marketing you may be given
a role to introduce digital tools into the business. It is often the case that younger,
newer staff are given responsibility for social media in different formats, especially if
you have a digital marketing qualification. You may also be asked to help introduce
digital working practices into the business and to encourage others to use social
media. The challenge you will face is that whilst being given an interesting project,
you may not have all the authority to make this happen, so you will need to adopt
influencing skills. Part of this may involve using the Technology Acceptance Model
(see Chapter 2) to better understand where roadblocks may occur. You may also need
to introduce a social media policy or at least raise awareness of what could happen
(see Digital Tool: Social media policy maker in Chapter 11).


The issue is, how do you start the process? The critical factor is to start with evidence
and to involve others in the process. The 9 steps to digital transformation are:

1. Find the advocate

2. Create an online customer journey

3. Construct the customer experience

4. Map the digital toolbox

5. Review content assets

6. Identify community support

7. Identify the strategic options

8. Create a strategy

9. Pause and present the strategy

Step 1 – Find the advocate
When embarking on any new project, to get commitment for future actions and also
to ensure it is successful, you need an advocate, supporter or project champion. This
is often a senior person who might be in the marketing department, but they might
not be. It is important that the advocate has some authority or power and is able to
persuade or influence others.

For example, if one of the drivers for the project is about cost saving, find the finance
director, as he or she may have a vested interest and may be willing to support
the project.

In not-for-profit businesses, one of the trustees may be willing to help. There may
be a well-respected trustee who could be shown the potential benefits or who may
be recommending this course of action. Check the minutes of recent meetings to
identify the advocate.

If you don’t have the advocate, it can be difficult later in the project. You might also
ask others in the organisation ‘who would be interested in this type of project?’ and
they may be able to make useful suggestions.

Step 2 – Create an online customer journey
When the advocate has been identified, you need to ensure that you have evidence
to support future recommendations. A useful mechanism for this is to start with the
online customer journey (see Chapter 2, The Digital Consumer).

But don’t do this alone! Involve others in the organisation and ask if they could help
and do the same. Gather these together and compare the journeys. In an ideal world,
get those who helped into the same room at the same time and from this create a


single agreed journey. At this stage you have included other team members, and
as they have contributed some content they have a greater interest in how this will
be used.

At the same time you should create a customer journey for the top two or three com-
petitors. This can often be the lever that makes things happen as there is a need to
stay up to date with, or ahead of, the competition.

Step 3 – Construct the customer experience
Using the customer journey as your foundation, the next step is to construct the
customer experience from start to finish. This helps to identify other partners that
may need to be involved in the process of digital transformation. It also allows you
to make contact and gain their opinions too.

Step 4 – Map the digital toolbox
It is worthwhile looking at the current activities and how they apply to the customer
journey. Some may be relevant, some less so. Mapping all items in the toolbox pro-
vides an indication of where the organisation is right now. It is a useful snapshot to
see the digital tools that are or are not used.

Work through Activity 14.2 to apply the digital and traditional marketing tools to the
customer journey.

Activity 14.2 Construction of the
Integrated Customer Journey
For an organisation of your choice, select one action (e.g. making a purchase, registering for a webi-
nar, downloading a report). From this construct all stages of the customer journey and identify the
different tools used at the different steps in the journey.

When this has been completed, make recommendations to better integrate the customer journey.

Step 5 – Review content assets
One of the fears when working on digital transformation is that all current work-
ing practices will be ignored or removed. One of the factors you will have noticed
throughout this book is that content will be required at every step of the journey.
Organisations often have vast content assets, yet they don’t realise what’s there. It’s
important to review the current content as a useful way to understand what the organi-
sation has available when making future plans. Look back at Chapter 4 (section 4.6)
and conduct a content audit to identify what is available.


Step 6 – Identify community support
Online communities can talk about organisations, their products and services, as well
as generating new ideas. It is also a useful lever to positively encourage organisa-
tions to adopt elements of social media which they may have previously ignored. I
remember working on a digital project and an organisation advised me that they had
no need for Facebook and their customers would never use it. I had to explain that
they already had nine separate Facebook pages, being run by brand advocates who
sadly couldn’t use Photoshop and had wrecked their logo! Their options at that time
were to continue to blissfully ignore these pages, or to create an official page and
ensure the brand advocates were aware of and mentioned this on their pages. We
could also provide the advocates with properly sized logos so the online brand image
met the brand standard. I am glad to say they decided to create an official page and
today they have over one million fans online.

Review whether the company has any online communities, whether formal or infor-
mal, and if yes, identify where they are located as this is a great story to share with
the organisation: ‘We may not be online, but our customers are, perhaps we should
join the party?’

Step 7 – Identify the strategic options
The organisation needs to understand where digital fits into the business. In an ideal
world it is simply part of the business, but at this stage it may be a new idea. Let’s
imagine it is a new idea and there is already a strategy in place. Using the evidence
gathered in steps 1 to 5, look back at Chapter 9 on strategy and objectives to easily
identify the strategic options for the business.

Step 8 – Create a strategy
Once the options have been identified, select two or three which are easiest to gen-
erate quick wins and refer back to Chapter 9 to build your recommended strategy.

Step 9 – Pause and present the strategy
At this stage you need to pause and to share the evidence gathered and present the
strategy. There is no point spending time creating objectives and a plan if the senior
management team has not seen the evidence and don’t agree with the strategy. The
most effective way to do this is to speak with your advocate and ask if you could
both meet a few of the senior management team and ‘ask for their opinion’. Share
some of the evidence and say you are thinking about recommending the follow-
ing strategy. This allows you to test the likelihood of the recommendations being
adopted. This could result in several outcomes:

• The advocate can organise the meetings, which work well and result in the adop-
tion of all recommendations.

• Meetings are organised with some members of the senior management team and
some recommendations are adopted.


• The senior management team is unwilling to adopt any of the ideas, in which
case a meeting is required with the advocate and the CEO to agree the best way
to move forward.

• Alternatively it could be an unexpected response or a mix of these possibilities!

Activity 14.3 Organise the 9 Steps
to Digital Transformation
Using the 9 steps to digital transformation, for an organisation of your choice, organise a plan of
where they are on the journey of digital transformation.

What has been completed or needs to be done?

See Template online: Organise the 9 steps to digital transformation

Ethical Insights Digital Transformation
Via Robots
Employing people is expensive. They need salaries, pension contributions, time off for holidays, and if
they are sick someone else has to cover their work and you still have to pay them! Sounds outrageous?
Many companies agree and this has created digital transformation projects where robots will step in.

Robots don’t take time off, they don’t need an office, they don’t take tea breaks, they work any hours
they are programmed for and when they cease functioning, there is no pension, just a recycling plant.

Senior business leaders recognise the benefits, but also the downside. Bill Gates has suggested
that a robot tax should be introduced, partly to protect staff and to ensure companies don’t replace
them all with machines.

Whilst this may seem like a story from a sci-fi movie, the future is already here, as the telecoms
company Nokia is working on a smart factory that includes ‘Robot2robot collaboration and machine
learning’ (5GFWD, 2017).

When you graduate if you land yourself that amazing role where an organisation has
already embraced digital marketing, you may wish to move beyond digital transfor-
mation towards ‘superior firm performance’.

In 2016 the Journal of Marketing’s special issue considered the future of market-
ing, and writing in their introduction, three very well-known marketing professors,
V Kumar (he is known as ‘V’), Kevin Keller and Katherine Lemon explored the


boundaries of marketing (Kumar et al., 2016). Within their article they provided a
‘path to superior firm performance’ which I have included in Figure 14.6 and which
is based on integrating all aspects of marketing.


in �rms

value to
and from


the power

of data






the value of

Figure 14.6 Path to superior firm performance

Source: Kumar, Keller and Lemon, 2016, p. 2

The first step to create marketing excellence, via the path to superior firm per-
formance, started with the 7As in the marketing strategy process: Anticipation,
Adaptation, Alignment, Activation, Accountability, Attraction and Asset management
(Moorman and Day, 2016). This is an alternative method of a marketing strategy
process where anticipating is about the application of the audit phase, so that the
marketing team is aware of what could happen and when it does, respond by mov-
ing to step 2 (where are we now) and adapting the firm by aligning processes and
activating the right types of behaviours. Accountability concerns the metrics, and
attraction is more about staff retention than customer retention. The final ‘A’, asset
management, considers all types of assets from content to people and customers.

The second element in Figure 14.6 is measuring or understanding customer value.
This is more contentious and a subject that has been covered in marketing many
times. Kumar and Reinartz (2016) use the idea of recency and frequency (how often
do I spend money there) as well as total value and share of wallet. The conclusion
focused on customer lifetime value, which I have discussed in Chapter 13, Digital
Marketing Metrics, Analytics and Reporting.

The third element in Figure 14.6 is enhancing the customer experience, which is a
critical part of the customer journey (see Chapter 2) and I would agree that this is a
key starting point in any digital transformation project because it places the organi-
sation in the customer’s shoes and highlights the ease or difficulty created by the
organisation in conducting a transaction.

The fourth element in Figure 14.6, analytics, is a critical part of marketing which we
addressed in Chapter 13. This is the one area most employers say is the largest gap
for new graduates!

The fifth element in Figure 14.6 is about integrated marketing communications, which
we have covered in this chapter. Professors Batra and Keller’s 7Cs of integration in
Table 14.2 is a useful framework for integration.


In Chapter 11 we covered comprehensively how to manage social media and Chapter 3
explained the different tools that are available and addressed the sixth element in
Figure 14.6.

The final stage in the path to superior firm performance concerns demonstrating
the value of marketing. This is a thorny subject and one covered well by professors
Dominique Hanssens and Koen Pauwels in their consideration of the use of dash-
boards (see Chapter 13) to visually display the impact of marketing results (Hanssens
and Pauwels, 2016). The real benefit of digital marketing is the ability to measure,
better manage and adapt as needed, to realise the value of marketing and make it
obvious to others.

1. What is your experience of cross-media effects? Think about an ad campaign you

have recently seen and identify what types of ads you saw and where. Discuss
and evaluate the differences in the ad formats.

2. You have acquired some knowledge about integrated marketing frameworks.
Using one of these frameworks, take an organisation of your choice and pro-
duce an integrated marketing plan that addresses all methods of communication
throughout the customer journey.

3. Design a digital transformation plan for an organisation of your choice. What
do you consider to be the main challenges? How and where will you find the

This chapter has explored:

• How to integrate online and offline marketing using the 7Cs of integration.

• Ways to assess cross-platform integration.

• Methods of improving digital marketing from heatmaps to usability analysis.

• The 9 steps of digital transformation.

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