To Really Understand Digital Marketing, All You Need Are the 4C’s
You might say digital marketing is a lot like driving a car. Whether you know how to drive or have a car of your own, that doesn’t necessarily mean you know what goes on under the hood. And when it comes to tune-ups, maintenance and repairs, these are best left to professionals who are handy with a wrench and know their way around a V8.
That said, maybe you are aware of the need to be online, and maybe you already have a website. You’ve heard of Google ads and may have run an ad set or two, or may even have paid to boost a few posts on your Facebook page.
But to really get the most out of your digital marketing—or at least, to understand how the digital marketing machine works — you need to have a firm grasp of what we call the 4C’s:
Understanding the 4C’s, in that order, will show you what you truly need for your digital marketing to be effective. Only when you’re clear on how the digital marketing engine works, will you be able to take the necessary steps to adjust your current marketing strategy, and reap the benefits of digital that is well done.
The 1st C: Conversions
One of the things that strikes us over the 10-odd years we’ve spent working with clients is how the 4th C, Cost, usually comes up first whenever we start discussing digital. While we understand the reasons behind this perfectly (being business owners ourselves), we can’t help noting how this is very much like putting the cart before the horse.
There’s a reason why there’s a sequential order to our 4C’s, and why Conversions come first in the digital marketing chain. You see, Conversions have to do with setting your objectives or your business goals, and plain common sense tells us that any strategy for getting somewhere must first determine where it is you want your business to go.
A “conversion” is, of course, digitalese for when your target audience does what you want them to do, such as
- Click on a link
- Fill out a form
- Subscribe to a newsletter
- Download an ebook
- Add to cart
- Book an appointment
- Buy your product
Each of these actions is aligned with a particular, quantifiable objective, and all of these objectives contribute towards the achievement of the goal you have for your business.
Say your goal is to increase the number of clients you have within the quarter by 20%. To get X number of clients, you need X number of people to click on your link, fill out your form, sign up for your webinar and so on. Determining the conversions or the actions you want a specific number of people to perform is to determine what your objectives or business goals are.
The 2nd C: Channels
Now that you know where you want to go, you must now figure out how to get there—and so, in comes the selection of Channels or the second C.
These important and common channels include but are not limited to:
- Search Engines (Google, Baidu, Bing, Yandex, Naver etc)
- Social Media Networks (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Wechat etc)
- Display Networks Any Websites and/or Mobile Apps that accept Advertisements (Bloomberg, Straits Times, Channel News Asia, New York Times and Youtube etc)
- Marketing Automation - Your database of email contacts comprising of prospects and even clients (yes, you ought to market to your customers too)
Unfortunately, many businesses, who might have skipped over careful consideration of the first C, end up stopping at having a website alone or content themselves with putting out Facebook ads—in short, limiting themselves to just one or two channels.
What they might not be aware of is how each channel has a different, specific role to play in the digital marketing machine. Display ads are great for creating awareness, while search (paid and/or organic) and social ads (and/or organic social content post) are fantastic lead generators. And to nurture the leads that have come in, in order to turn them into customers and advocates of your brand, is the role of marketing automation.
How you choose which channels you use to reach out to your target audiences will depend on the business goals you identified while considering the first C, and where your targets are in their individual customer journeys.
The customer or buyer’s journey tracks how your target or potential customer moves from becoming aware of his need for your product or service, to his consideration of the available options, to his decision on a particular brand or service provider (hopefully, yours).
The 3rd C: Content
Having mentioned the buyer’s journey, we now move on to Content, or the third C, which is all about giving your potential customer the information he needs to ultimately decide on your product or service. If the first C was all about the destination, and the second was the road, you might consider this C as the engine or the car itself.
Your potential customer will need different kinds of information depending on what stage he is at during his buyer’s journey. If your customer isn’t even aware of your brand or of his need for your product or service, for instance, then talking about your product features or highlighting what sets your service apart might be a little premature.
This information needs to be carefully prepared for it to be as effective as possible—meaning it has to be creative and engaging, and it has to be personalised. This means that your information (meaning you) can be readily found by your target audience the instant they come looking for a solution to meet their needs.
Now there are many forms of content, such as
And just like the selection of channels, the kind of content you put out there during each particular stage depends on the kind of information you have to offer.
Videos, for instance, are an excellent way of presenting demonstrations and quickly building trust, while infographics are great for presenting facts, statistics or data. On the other hand, long form content, or blogs, might be more effective when you need to explain something pertaining to your product or service (just like how we're doing it now in this blog post).
Chances are that businesses who have already begun their digital marketing without a thorough understanding of the first two C’s, already have a fair amount of content. If so, this content may be repurposed or re-prepared, if you will, to make them more suited to a specific buyer’s journey stage. If not, you can always create or commission new content as needed.
The 4th C: Cost
Having considered, in due order, the first three C’s, now is the time to think about the 4th C or Cost. Now that you know what your business goals are, what platforms you’ll be using, and what content you need, you’ll be able to calculate how much you’ll need to get your digital marketing machine up and running. In this sense, you could say the 4th C is the petrol.
The three main aspects of digital marketing that incur costs are
- Production Fee
- Management Fee
- Platform Fee aka Advertising Fee aka Media Cost
Even if you don’t intend to spend on a Hollywood-scale project, creating content involves production costs to cover the likes of graphic designers, writers and photographers as well as their man hours. Production may not necessarily factor into your digital marketing costs if your content was created in-house or will not be created by your digital marketing agency.
Once that content is used for digital marketing purposes, however, management costs come in to cover the campaign preparation, implementation, monitoring and adjustment performed by your agency. Lastly, there are the media buying costs which cover what the platforms such as Google or Facebook/LinkedIn/Twitter charge for using them to put out your ads.
As you calculate your digital marketing budget based on the previous three C’s and the three aspects, be sure to keep your business revenue goals in mind. If your goal, for instance, is to make X number of dollars in revenue in X amount of time, how much will you need to spend on your digital marketing to achieve this?
4C’s are a lot to keep an eye on when running your digital marketing machine which, after having gone through each C in detail, might seem a little more complex after all than “just having a website”. The good news is that, just like driving a car, you don’t have to change your oil or spark plugs on your own, even when you do understand what goes on under the hood.
Keep your digital marketing machine running smoothly—find the mechanics and engineers you need at NEO360, now.