Top 5 Rules for Digital Marketing Success

Today’s consumers have high expectations for their online interactions with businesses. Taken from Rick Mathieson’s new book, The On-Demand Brand: 10 Rules for Digital Marketing Success in an Anytime, Everywhere World, here are five rules for generating loyalty and engaging your customers through digital marketing.

  • Rule #1: Insight Comes Before Inspiration. The most successful digital initiatives typically don’t start with the idea for a cool new digital experience. Instead, they start with consumer insights culled from painstaking research into who your customers are, what they’re all about, how they interact with consumer technologies, and what they want from the brands they know and trust. Case in point: Dove’s “Campaign for Real Beauty.”
  • Rule #2: Don’t Repurpose, Reimagine. Creating multiplatform strategies that connect with audiences where they live doesn’t just mean posting television spots on YouTube in the hopes they go viral. In a medium where the possibilities are endless, television is the jumping off point to much more interactive and engaging experiences. You’ve got to invent new ways to help your customers make your brand their own. Case in point: HBO’s Voyeur Project.
  • Rule #3: Don’t Just Join the Conversation — Spark It. Out of the over 600,000 branded pages that Facebook Page Tracker monitors, a mere 57,000 have more than 1,000 “fans.” Apparently, most people don’t want to be friends with a brand. If you want to be part of the conversation on social networking sites, be the party that initiates it — through compelling experiences that keep customers talking. Case in point: Johnson & Johnson’s BabyCenter.
  • Rule #4: There’s No Business Without Show Business. Your brand is a story; tell it. Don’t just sell product; sell the problem it solves, the feeling it gives, the status it conveys, or the value it embodies. But beware of pushing to transform your brand’s website into an “entertainment portal” simply for entertainment’s sake. In the on-demand era, the best branded entertainment experiences are P-O-S-itive — that is: personalizable, ownable, and sharable. Case in point: Degree antiperspirant’s webisode series “The Rookie.”
  • Rule #5: Want Control? Give It Away. “User-generated content” (UGC) might not be cutting edge (it’s been featured on ABC-TV’s America’s Funniest Home Videos for nearly twenty years), but it’s a big-time buzz builder. Young consumers, especially adolescent males, seem more than happy to create their own video ads to upload on YouTube and email to friends. How do you give away control while simultaneously getting what you want? Ensure rewards for making UGC promote your brand, rather than mock or bash it. Case in point: Doritos’ $1 million contest for creating a Super Bowl commercial, which, according to the company, generated $36 million in free publicity for the brand before and after the big game.

Adapted from THE ON-DEMAND BRAND: 10 Rules for Digital Marketing Success in an Anytime, Everywhere World by Rick Mathieson (AMACOM; April 2010; $24.95 Hardcover; 978-0-8144-1572-6).

© 2010 Rick Mathieson

Rick Mathieson, author of The On-Demand Brand: 10 Rules for Digital Marketing Success in an Anytime, Everywhere World, is an award-winning writer and leading voice on marketing in the digital age. His insights have been featured in ADWEEK, Advertising Age, Wired, Broadcasting & Cable, and on MSNBC, CBS Radio and NPR, while his next-generation business models have earned recognition from USA Today and Dow Jones Interactive. His first book, Branding Unbound (AMACOM 2005) was widely praised in the business press. A regularly featured speaker at industry events, Mathieson also serves as vice president and creative director for Creative: Advertising & Interactive Media, one of Silicon Valley’s most prominent advertising agencies. He lives in San Francisco, California.

For more information, please visit, read the author’s blog, become a fan on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter!

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