The internet as intelligence

File under: Relationship Marketing

In most of my conversations with health care marketers, campaign strategy is not complete unless it includes an internet strategy. Everyone wants and needs an internet strategy (and now a mobile strategy, too) to stay relevant.

Usually when people talk about using the internet for marketing, they are thinking of it as a promotional channel. Call it digital marketing, non-personal promotion, or online communication, it doesn’t matter. The point is that for a truly integrated marketing plan these days, there needs to be a set of online tactics to make it complete.

But there is something missing from this picture. Yes the internet is a convenient, cost-effective promotional channel. It doesn’t require sales reps or postage or expensive TV buys. It’s the internet, and everyone is connected. So there you go, right?

No.

The power of the internet is not that it’s an inexpensive marketing channel (although it is), it’s that it has the potential of being an intelligence-rich interactive channel.

As marketers, want we really should care about is understanding our audience better so we can be smarter in what we say. Building an intimate understanding of individual customers is where we get the real value from digital marketing.

Our digital strategy activities must start with this: do user research, capture interaction data, extract insight, define personas, and begin segmenting our audience into cohorts of similar people that care about similar things. Work in from the aggregate to the individual.

Only then can we provide increasingly intelligent, relevant communication. Only then can we pay attention to content, tactics, and the channel mix.

Once we’ve done this level of homework on our audience, the value of the internet can really shine, because you know in your heart that you’re not spamming your audience with unnecessary advertising, you’re sending target messages to the people who care about them.

Yes, the internet is a convenient, inexpensive channel, but even more importantly, it’s a source of rich intelligence. Tapping into the source of intelligence will make you a smarter marketer with a more relevant message.

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