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By Alice Galvin, Principal: Marketing Communications, Product & Insights

For the past few years, regardless of industry or sector, “integration” has been the buzz word surrounding marketing and communications teams. As businesses explore different ways to interact with their customers across both pure play and omni environments, marketing departments are increasingly looking to develop multi-channelled content and digital storytelling to align themselves with their consumers. With this in mind, where does marketing end and communications begin?

According to a Nielson report, every day, 10 million Australians are active on Facebook, of which 9 million are on a mobile device. Other social media channels are not far behind as the Sensis Social Media report, released last year, shows increased levels of engagement in Australia, with almost 50 percent of consumers now accessing social media every day, increasing to 79 percent for those aged between 18 and 29. Businesses need to be connecting with these users but how? The one word answer to this is simple. Content. Seems it is still king.

Content, like integration and transformation, has been another buzz word on the lips of every head of marketing, communications and digital leader (whether in house or within agency) for the past few years and it makes sense. Leveraging content across different channels enables a business to speak to multiple audiences in different ways with the same story. This is not a new concept, but as consumers are accessing more channels, creating consistent messaging (whether through print collateral, advertising, direct mail, eNewsletters, social media, influencers or video), it is increasingly important for businesses to be truly accessible and visible. The difficulty is that when marketing, communications and digital are run as separate entities, consistent messaging is lost.

The upshot – they are in fact one of the same. No longer do we only hire a Director of Marketing who runs great above the line campaigns – the comms brief. Now, it’s imperative that marketers are in fact transforming themselves into front-end digital experts. Digital integration and transformation from a customer perspective, is in fact, marketing.

Resulting corporate shifts across new investments in technology platforms to accommodate continued customer acquisition, retention and best practice customer experience, sees the critical importance of digital (channels), technology, marketing and communications working in complete collaboration to deliver seemless customer experiences.

In agency land, this is apparent as traditional PR firms are now positioning themselves as integrated or full service propositions. The multinationals are leading the way in this, with Edelman and Ogilvy examples of two businesses investing heavily in digital content and integration but the independents are noting the change. One of my corporate communications and PR clients recently commented that five years ago his firm’s revenue was one hundred percent driven by media relations and reputation management, whereas now it makes up less than thirty percent. The balance is now being absorbed in content, UX/CX, social and digital brand engagement.

The corporate sector, with financial services taking the lead, are not far behind the curve. Digital communication roles spanning everything from online communications to social media and video, are now sitting within corporate affairs teams. At a grass roots level, progressive universities such as University of Sydney are taking their communications programs out of humanities and placing them alongside marketing and business faculties – a shift that should have occurred well before now. Simply put, entry level talent doesn’t know a world before integration.

As brands open themselves up to consumer engagement via digital and social connectivity, the price they have to pay is public review and scrutiny. Why would a customer spend twenty minutes on hold to a helpline complaining about a network outage when they can send a tweet and have a dedicated customer service representative support them within minutes? Australian businesses are taking, on average, less than half an hour to respond to social media posts from customers, with the telecommunications industry leading the way, with a 3 minute response time.

This means that content needs to be authentic, consistent, relevant, immediate and of value. Customer experience and interaction needs to be meaningful. Consumers are now wise to click-bate titles and having developed open lines of communication, now is not the time to be letting them down. Content is still irrefutably king, the only question left is, who is producing it?

 

Alice Galvin

Principal: Marketing Communications, Product & Insights

T.  +61 2 8014 5572  |  E.  agalvin@ampersand.com.au 

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