Is Your Brand Magnificent At Digital Marketing? A Diagnostic Framework.

Petals We like to believe that all there is to digital marketing is to do some search engine optimization, send out an email blast every once in a while, get our agency to create a flash-heavy "brand experience" website, or slap together a mobile app in the corporate-approved shade of eggshell white. A small bang here, a big sizzle there, one big paid search campaign and … VICTORY!

Reality, as is its wont, is much more complex.

Yes, some of these things can help. (Except the flash bit. Remember: Every time you use flash on a website, a puppy dies! )

But a robust digital marketing strategy for medium- or large-sized businesses encompasses so much more. It is not just what you do to attract traffic (what most people think of as marketing and advertising), but also what types of experiences you create (something people rarely think is marketing) and how good you are at delivering for where you should be in 2013 rather than 2009 (only the rarest of marketers think with this lens on).

How can a company know if it is staged for complete and glorious success when it comes to digital marketing? What is a good way to self-identify gaps in strategy, to discover the mistakes that might be making your strategy sub-optimal?

These two questions have been sloshing around in my head for a little while. I wanted to come up with a simple framework that companies could use to self-diagnose the sophistication of their digital marketing strategy. But nothing magical had come to me. That changed recently.

I met with the senior leadership of a multi-billion dollar company (think alcoholic beverages). I was surprised to learn that their primary digital strategy consisted of creating Facebook pages (and not much else). Something clicked in my mind. In a burst of inspiration (to help them) I created a diagnostic checklist that brings together a lot of my thinking into one simple question-and-answer process to quickly identify opportunities and gaps.

In this post I want to share my " are you ready to be magnificent at digital?" framework with you.

Context: The Approach.

I like thinking in layers. Do this. Then do this. Then do this other thing.

I also very much like figuring out what is the foundation, what are the next set of elements, what do you put on top of that, then what's the final layer of gloss that really puts the shine.

So, when you go through the exercise below, at least initially, try to do it serially. First step first, then second, then the next. And if at any stage you get stuck, don't skip it and move on.

Figure out what the problem is.

In each step, figure out what you do well and, more important, figure out what is it that you really stink at.

Identify the solutions, build them out, bully the people you have to, massage the egos that need massaging.

If you skip steps – or, rather, if you skip the solutions that need to be implemented – you'll be trying to pull off the ultimate trick: Building your digital castle in the air. Usually that does not work.

My promise is that if your company/brand/division goes through this diagnostic analysis, it will help identify your opportunities, point out current gaps, and create a much, much better step-by-step digital strategy. It will take some time to fix the gaps and truly monetize the opportunities, but in the long run you'll win big.

Is Your Digital Strategy Magnificent?

Put on your thinking cap and gather your key stakeholders (a mix of people who fund marketing and digital and people who actually do the work on the ground – don't leave the latter group out, they are both smart and responsible for what exists today).

Here are the questions that need answering:

1. Do you have both an "own" and a "rent" existence for your brand?

When all you have is a presence on Google+ or Facebook (ignore Twitter for now, it is a unique animal), you are renting an audience. Sure, people may circle/like you on those platforms. But everything there is controlled by the platform owner.

Google+/Facebook determine who will see your posts (how much to choke you with EdgeRank). They determine what you can do on the platform today, what you can do today that you can't do tomorrow, and the pace at which they innovate. For the most part, they also own the data about your circlers/likers, and in many ways the relationship too.

You do get to engage. You get to bring your creativity within the confines of the newsfeed system on either platform. You get to determine if you want to reply to comments, or allow x or y or z.

But you are simply renting.

No modern company will have a complete digital marketing strategy without a robust presence on Facebook/Google+. But to have only a rented digital existence is a profoundly sub-optimal and short-sighted decision.

rent vs own-social vs site

You need to have an owned existence as well. For almost all brands, that means a website on your domain and where you set the rules of engagement, own the content (and whether it can be deleted/kept/blacklisted), and determine the sophistication of the creativity; a destination where you send all the "clicks" you collect from your multi-channel inbound marketing strategy, the outcomes you can deliver for your customers, the data you collect (with permission), what you do with it, and so much more.

For brands that are a bit more advanced, an owned existence is increasingly a conversation- or solution-centric mobile website and mobile application. Again, same set of rules.

Having an owned existence means being in control of your destiny, the type of relationship you create and the 16 types of value you'll deliver to your audience when you attract them via Search Engine Optimization, Paid Search, Email Marketing, Display Advertising, and, yes, Social Media.

So what do you have? Do you rent or own?

You want to have both.

But if you can only have one, choose own.

2. On your "rent" existence, are you shouting or adding value to the audience's life?

It is heartbreaking to see how most big brands use Facebook and Google+ (Twitter is a unique separate beast). Vaseline's FB page is one product shot after another.If you follow Vaseline, do you really want to see a Vaseline product shot Every Single Day? The other thing they are good at? Labeling women by shape of lips: "Did you know round lipped women are flirtatious and rebellious? Why don't you tag your friends as such?" I'm not kidding, that's an actual post from Vaseline. #omg

But they are of course far from unique. Check out any P&G brand. Check out L'Oreal. Check out any other Consumer Product Goods (CPG) brand.

I mention CPG because of all other types of businesses in the world they should have something interesting to say! Something we would love to see in our newsfeed every day.

Don't stop there. Check out any B2B, B2Q, M2Z brand. In. Any. Country!

social media strategy

Now, check out my beloved Seventh Generation. Or my other fav, Innocent Drinks. Or the fantastic Red Bull. Or even ESPN on Google+.

Almost no shouting. Almost no pimping. No: BUY ME! BUY ME NOW! DID YOU FORGET I COME IN A BOTTLE?

And here's the test to apply to your brand: Would you want your brand's posts to in your own newsfeed every day? Multiple times a day? Day after day after day?

If the answer is no, shut down your Google+, your Facebook existence. You may be posting, but you are certainly not adding value to your business.

Ditto for YouTube brand channels. Do you have yet another lame brand channel full of just your TV ads, or does yours rock, like Tide's or Purina's, which offer tips and in many ways make your life better and really connect with you?

Another test to apply: How are you doing in terms of Conversation Rate, Amplification Rate, Applause Rate? Use those metrics to optimize your social existence.

If you are going to rent an existence, make sure it is an existence in which you can build a loyal, repeatedly reachable, truly connected-to-your-brand audience.

3. On your "own" existence: Are you solving for a local maxima, 2% (one outcome) or are you solving for a global maxima, 100% (a cluster of macro and micro outcomes)?

The most common "own" existence is your website. It is also your mobile website (if different from desktop). It is also your mobile app. It is your blog (hopefully on the company domain). Etc.

On an owned existence, you can deliver a cluster of macro and micro outcomes to your direct site visitors as well as to the people you invite via your digital campaigns (search, social, email, display). Unlike on Google+ or Facebook (and you should be on both) you can have product recommendation tools, you can have in-depth information about your products, you can have downloads, you can have lead gen forms, you can have games/videos/branded content, you can have credit card applications, support options, forums/peer-to-peer help areas, you can have … literally anything your customers are interested in.

If all you have is one conversion, say a buy now process or lead gen, then you are making a very poor use of the web. You can of course do ecommerce/lead gen. But what is amazing about the web, unlike TV or Radio or even your physical store, is that you can deliver against multiple customer expectations at a very low cost.

Here's a company in a direct-to-dentist supplies equipment business with macro (Add To Order) and micro (all others below) outcomes, solving for a global maxima:

macro micro outcomes tokuyama

So … is your digital outcomes strategy this robust?

Are you satisfied with a local maxima or is your digital existence solving for a global maxima?

Bonus: Are you tracking all the goals in your web analytics tool? Have you assigned economic values to each? Do you know what primary purpose (tasks) your visitors are there to accomplish? If the answer to any of these questions is no, you are not doing digital marketing, you are just waiting for a competitor to come and put you out of business.


All Advertising Can Be Classified Into Two Buckets: RC – PC

I want to take a moment and introduce you to two terms I've recently coined.

We have many advertising channels available. For the purposes of simplicity, I've defined them to serve two purposes. They are along a continuum, but just two purposes.

Reactively Create: This represents what we do on TV, in newspapers, on radio. We have products or services, new ones or ones we are just launching, and we use those channels to shout loudly and frequently to create an awareness to which people will react. We know little about the people at the other end, other than some simple demographic or primitive psychographic information. We don't know what they want. We don't know their needs. We don't know their current condition. We know they are there, we shout, we create demand. And I don't have to tell you that it works.

Proactively Capture: This represents what we do with search. People have a need/want. They go to Bing/Baidu. They seek information to fill that need/want. We show hyper-relevant ads that fit that need/want. Some of the people click on those ads, end up on our site, do business with us. A lot of that search also happens on YouTube. (My last one: "how do I pair sennheiser mm 100 headphones" Who needs Google? :)).

two types of advertising marketing

I believe that digital display advertising (on AOL or Yahoo! or YouTube or NY Times) falls at the Proactively Capture end because we don't know as much about the intent as in the case of search, we do know a lot about the audience's context. What are they reading? Have they visited our website? Have they done a search for our product? Have they clicked on other ads in our category? Etc. All that context helps deliver more relevant advertising (not hyper-relevant advertising).

Social is unique. There is little need/want or commercial intent (see above section on rent). But we know a bit about the unique context. People often proactively raise their hand and friend/follow/like/+1 our brand. So we are Reactively Creating with the hope that when the customer is ready they will proactively look for our brand.

The Reactively Create and Proactive Capture clusters have two other dimensions that are of value when we think about the opportunity they present.

Customer intent is significantly stronger as you go to the right. That makes sense because at the very left people are passively consuming content ("let me sit on my couch and you bombard me with ads!") and as you move to the right the consumer actions are much more proactive and directed.

Eyeballs on the other hand are still huge as we look at the far left, then we see a spectrum, and towards the right increasing again (though TV still has more eyeballs even if they are fragmented).


I do hope so. It is my attempt at taking the very complex and creating one slide that forces you to think harder about how you allocate your media budgets today.


Let's get back to our digital marketing readiness framework…

4. . Are you capturing 100% of the Proactively Capture possibilities on YouTube/Google/Bing/Yandex/Baidu Search?

Search marketing is a quantifiable numbers game. You know what is being searched. You know where. Often, you know by whom.

When you have an ad on TV you have no idea if someone's raising their hand and saying "I want laundry detergent!" But you have no such problem with Search. People come, raise their hand. Do you show up?

Why not? :)

In a recent presentation I'd framed the Search opportunity like this (I've changed the data to be fake below):

search opprotunity reality data

Brand searches. Then immediate category. Then adjacent category. You know the searches, you can also get your coverage – how often you show up in Organic or Paid listings on page one – (just ask your search engine partner).

I've also framed brand searches as capturing the convinced (people who have mostly made up their mind, are familiar with our brand). Category, immediate or adjacent, is capturing the unconvinced. These people have not made up their mind: in CPG parlance they are the trade-ins.

So what does your coverage look like?

Should you capture only 63% of your brand searches? Should it not be closer to 100%? After all, just because you don't show up does not mean your competitors are sleeping too.

What about the immediate category? It is hard to know what the perfect coverage should be. I typically decide based on a deeper clustering analysis of the keywords, intent expressed in those clusters (does it have anything to do with our brand, value, benefit), and, after we bid/optimize, economic value delivered.

What about the adjacent category? There is a range of intent inside adjacent categories. Some of it is definitely for you. Do the required analysis to figure out what your number should be. You have lots of data to decide that.

Very few people have a Proactively Capture strategy on a traditional search engine and YouTube that is well thought out as in the buckets above, and specifically targeted to capturing people who are raising their hands (regardless of whether they are convinced or unconvinced).

You can't be great – nay, magnificent! – at digital marketing until you have a well-thought-out, written-down, agreed-upon-in-blood-with-CxO Proactively Capture strategy.

5. Is your Display advertising strategy imaginative enough to Reactively Create demand? Does it max out the the spectrum of Yahoo!/Mommie Blogs/Facebook/Mobile Applications?

To keep our metaphor going, we have partially raised hands here. We have important context from site content, for example. The hands are a bit more raised in Social (even if less than Search). Consumers are expressing intent (even if weak intent).

Are you recognizing them? Understand their context? Are you then delivering the most relevant, unintrusive, display advertising possible?

What's your DoubleClick strategy? What's your YouTube TrueView strategy? What's your Facebook display strategy?

If your company is already good at TV/Radio/Print, you have all the raw ingredients to create a powerful (and measureable!) display strategy.

Win the Reactively Create game. Win digital completely.

Bonus: Facebook Advertising / Marketing: Best Metrics, ROI, Business Value

[After my recent keynote in Singapore someone asked me this: Which would you do first, Reactively Create or Proactively Capture? Good question. My answer: I would spend the budget I need to take 100% of the Proactively Capture (right most in the visual above) and then steadily spend rest of the budget moving from right to left. I hope that helps you.]

6. Do you have a 2009, 2012, 2015 mobile strategy?

In a recent engagement I defined three stages of a successful mobile strategy: 2009, 2012 and 2015.

If you have a mobile-friendly version of your desktop website, congratulations! You are ready for the year 2009!

If you are leveraging all the amazing ad formats and extensions to monetize the massive explosion of the opportunity in mobile search (via Bing, Google, Yandex, etc.), congratulations! Your mobile strategy is ready for 2012. As an example see the ad below, it uses mobile app extension, brand endorsement via social extension, plus the normal link to the site. Sweet!

2009 2012 2015 mobile strategy

If you are truly executing utility marketing via mobile platforms, then congratulations! You are ready for 2015! For more examples of utility marketing please see my detailed blog post with more examples. Beneful, above, is a great example of utility marketing. They not only have a mobile site, their site is uniquely created to leverage the mobile platform and its capabilities to truly become a part of your life. #awesome

So what's your mobile strategy? 2009? 2012? 2015?

Bonus: Does your mobile strategy bridge the online and offline worlds? We were shopping at Target recently. My young daughter asked for my phone, saying she wanted to buy a product. She took my phone, scanned the barcode on the back of the product box, clicked on Google Product Search button. Ranked #1 in Google was the product she was holding in her hand (yea, SEO!). When she clicked on the link, the manufacturer's product page displayed a picture of the product, ratings (4.4/5) and Facebook Likes (480). My daughter turned to me and said: "Daddy, let's buy this product." I was so proud.

When people scan the barcode of your product using their phones, do you show up #1? Does your product page have the content (reviews, likes, +1s) that customers need to decide if they should buy your product?

That's solving for 2013. Is your mobile digital strategy in place and rocking?

Closing Thoughts.

So there you have it. A textual Ishikawa diagram you need, with six serial stops, to help you diagnose if you have a digital strategy that puts your company in the best possible position to win.

I recommend doing the analysis in the order presented. 1. Rent or own or both. 2. Rent: Shouting or conversation. 3. Own: local or global maxima. 4. Proactively Capture distribution structure. 5. Reactively Create influence strategy. 6. Mobile: 2009 or 2012 or 2015.

At the end of this process you should have a crystal clear understanding of the gaps in your strategy and what actions you need to take to fill the gaps.

Once you are informed you'll still have to convince your CxO, corral/threaten your Agency/Consultants, fight the company bureaucracy and its love for status quo and slowness, find the right people to execute your vision, and do so many other things. None of which are easy.

But at least you'll know.

Your company will never again be able to make an ill-informed decision when it comes to digital. You might make the wrong decision, but at least it will be an informed wrong decision (and I genuinely mean this: that is ok, when you fail you'll know exactly why and that is a good thing).

Update: Here's my first attempt at summarizing this blog post into a simple, hopefully, easy to understand picture. It is best understood if you read the entire post (above), especially to truly grasp the nuances. But even if you don't read the post, this should help.

Digital Marketing Awesomeness Diagnostic Framework

I hope the picture helps.

As always, it is your turn now.

Think about your current employer/business: in which of the six elements are they weakest? Is there one element you've simply not been able to crack? Does the simplistic Reactively Create and Proactively Capture continuum help crystallize where you are spending money? Do you have favorite examples of companies doing Facebook, YouTube, Display, or Search right? What is the biggest missing piece in my framework? What will be your biggest obstacle to closing the gaps once you've identified them using the framework above?

Please share your wisdom, critique, feedback, and war stories via comments below.



  1. 1
    Kalu Charan Parida says

    I must say this post cleared a lot confusion from my mind about the digital marketing.

    Since the market is gradually going towards mobile marketing, this post gives a lot of information to implement. This complete framework is a great resource for me as well as people who are into digital marketing.

    Thank you so much Kaushik.

  2. 2

    You set a low bar on what it takes not to suck these days, Avinash, but the bar for greatness is still as high as ever.

    The low bar – are we seriously still in an age of social shouting? Shouldn't everyone be on some modified 70/20/10 of sharing others' great stuff/their own great content/their own commercial content? Let's get an editorial calendar together, people!

    The high bar – You take a pretty simple approach to the keyword strategy above, but I love how elegant it is when communicating to CxOs. We've taken this a step further and created a three-dimensional model that combines each marketing persona, where they are in the sales funnel, and what their goal tasks are. We find that tracking our keyword portfolio in this fashion provides us with extremely insightful info on where content is succeeding, where we lack inventory, and what content is is just plain not working. Organizing by persona is especially helpful in defining micro-conversions and in creating and defining desired experiences.

    Great post, as always, Avinash. Thanks for your insights!

    • 3

      Josh: Ha, Ha! This might be the first time I'm accused of setting a low bar!

      But for some companies/agencies/consultants this might be a low bar, sadly that is where a majority of companies are.

      That said I do believe that in a world where companies/consultants/agencies are hyper-siloed, it is very hard to do all six elements well because they required non-siloed thinking supported by the most senior company leadership.

      I've summarized this entire post into a simple picture, it is on my social channels: (Trying to practice adding unique value to social. :)).

      Thanks so much for the wonderful comment, and sharing your keyword-content analysis idea.


  3. 4

    I'm just blown away by having such wisdom in my inbox ;)

    Thanks again for such an informative and thought/action provoking piece.

  4. 5

    Everytime I feel like I'm slowing down on my e-marketing approach, I'm coming here for a few minutes, and leave half an hour later…

    I enjoyed this post, but I still am not sure to completely grab your continuum graph. Perhaps still a bit complicated. I do understand the need to "couple" notions together at both ends to make for a tale, yet it feels not as flowing as the rest of your framework (at least for me, French speaker).

    • 6

      Mathieu: I appreciate the feedback, and I'll think of ideas to make it flow better. The post, and the structure and framework, is very much fresh in my mind – I need to let it age like fine French wine. :)

      I just created a visual version of this post, see if that helps you understand the post a bit better. Here it is:


  5. 7

    Josh: Not only are most out there still in an age of social shouting, they also seem to be in a set it and forget it mode.

    I am working with a company now that was one of the first in its industry to be on the web selling, and they have not moved much further ahead in the last 10+ years then in the beginning. One good thing is they now admit they dropped the ball along time ago.

    Avinash: Thank you again for this great insight I have not been commenting enough on your recent post but I have been reading them all and most of all learning.


  6. 8

    Avinash… this post took WORK!

    I very much appreciate it.

  7. 9
    Salvatore says

    Thank you for this post, precious, inspiring and able to make things more clear when it comes to make up your mind regarding digital mktg strategy.

    I would only like to make a banal but basic (at least for me) point: every aspect of a strategy (the digital mktg one as well) must be calibrated on the type of business: what our company (or the company we work for) do??? I know it sounds stupid and obvious but it' s easy to forget it nowadays.

    We are all under a non stop bombing of innovations, new ways to engage customers, new ways to do ads etc. etc. etc. In this kind of context it' s pretty easy to lose one' s bearings and do useless and complex things. So, like the GREAT post of yours about "Convert Complex Data Into Simple Logical Stories", I think it's good if we underline it also when we start to approach a digital mktg strategy seriously.


    • 10

      Salvatore: I completely concur with you. Each company will come up with a different set of gaps and opportunities not only based on how much or how little they have done, but also based on where they are in their digital evolution.

      For most the priorities coming out of this exercise will also be very different, or should I say unique.

      My hope is to simply provide a framework any company in the world can use to diagnose where they are and plot a path uniquely for themselves for moving forward.

      Thank you.


  8. 11

    I loved the terms " Proactively Capture " and " Reactively Create"!

    My Favourite example of a company doing You Tube right is Hubspot. Their videos are quite entertaining and informative at the same time…!

    What does everyone think about Hubspot?

  9. 12

    I would love to see another post that would quantify (time x cost) what you say here!

    Great post!

  10. 13
    Prateek Ropia says

    "Proactively Capture" and "Reactively Create" confused me….

    Don't 'Capture Pro-active behavior', and 'Create Reactive content' make more sense (maybe when put in better packaging)…

    • 14

      Prateek: Capture proactive behavior is fine, makes total sense.

      Create reactive content might not quite do justice to what "reactively create" covers. Reactively create is actually "reactively create demand".

      I'll appreciate the suggestions. RC and PC are not final versions, just my first attempt. I'm hoping to some up with something better in the future. I need someone with good copywriting skills to help me come up with something sexier. :)


  11. 15
    Theunis Stoffberg says

    Avinash – You rock! Its exactly what I need going into next year as clients are asking for this.

    Getting and reading your post is a highlight of my week.

    Please clarify – not sure I am following:
    Section 5 last para: Do mean basically you will start off on left and move right gradually?
    "After my recent keynote in Singapore someone asked me this: Which would you do first, Reactively Create or Proactively Capture? Good question. My answer: I would spend the budget I need to take 100% of the Proactively Capture (right most in the visual above) and then steadily spend rest of the budget moving from right to left. I hope that helps you.]"

    • 16

      Theunis: I appreciate the kind words, thank you.

      Regarding that section…. I'm saying that first I will allocate my marketing budget to digital, search specifically. I'll "grab" the people who are already searching for our products/services. Then I'll allocate budget to category searches. In both cases I'm using my $$$ to engage people who are "already raising their hands." Then I move to the left. So Digital Display, were I have context around the person and the content. Use that to target hands that are a little riased. Then move left, and so on until we get to TV, Print, Radio. I don't know if anyone's raising their hands or not, but I can target a lot of eyeballs. I'll spend all my remaining budget on those channels.

      Also as you move from the right to the left you'll note that accountability (analytics!) increases. I like that, and that is partly the reason for my strategy above.

      I hope this clarifies my recommendation.


  12. 19

    Great post, but i think It's too theoretical.

    Avinash, we need more examples. :)


    • 20

      Shuki: I'll consider examples for future posts. My hope here is to provide a framework that anyone can take and walk through and figure out their best strategy. The small examples along the way should help.

      Usually I do this with large important companies, they don't like sharing their actual strategy/example. But I'll try to see if someone will let me. :)


  13. 21
    Shankar Desai says

    Great post as usual.

    You talk in depth about the different marketing channels that pan across the spectrum of RC to PC.

    You then move on to specifically write about mobile as a unique and growing experience that needs to thought about specifically within the diagnostic framework.

    You end there.

    But what about tablets?

    To me, it' a unique experience that users interact with differently than smartphone or desktop devices and is a growing device that should be part of the diagnostic framework.

    These posts are amazing.


    • 22

      Shankar: Tablets are increasing becoming their own unique medium, distinct from smartphones. But the principles you'll apply to deliver value (as outlined in the 2009, 2012, 2015 framework in the post) will be the same.

      If you do the diagnostic process right for mobile, you'll very well end up with a unique tablet experience. Hence I'd not broken them out.

      But as I think of new versions of the framework I'll consider creating something distinct. Thanks!


  14. 23

    Two paragraphs in and you had me thinking about all kinds of new ideas.

    What are your thoughts on Pro-Active Creation?

    The importance of continually strengthening your original intent. Forming the perfect message for your ideal customer.

    • 24

      Matthew: Hmm… that is such an intriguing proposal.

      My first thought is that pro-active creation is surely an optimal strategy. But having that an all encompassing element might not allow for the gradations that the spectrum of channels allow for. For example were would be put TV or YT or Search.

      But a great suggestion. I'll think about it some more. Thank you.


  15. 25

    I do not invest at Facebook and I realized that it does not interfere with sales

    All a question of investment against profit

    On the other hand I think that the next step of the investment will go to mobile strategy

    And I am considering investing in mobile strategy the upcoming budget

  16. 26

    I've always enjoyed your phrases, and still use your conversion model.

    Understanding intent and ones own capabilities to value/convert certain intent is always an interesting topic.

    You mentioned spending those marketing £,$,¥ on the lower funnel, converting traffic drivers first. I'm really interested in how you would suggest moving from right to left. Are there things we can pay attention to while spending on the right to help us convert on the left, after all the high conversion is why we're spending it there in the first place.

    The lifetime value (however you quantify it) is often better from the left, would you agree?

    Getting there is no easy task.

    • 27

      Kyle: Thanks for making me think really hard about all this stuff! :)

      The easy one first… lifetime value is hard regardless of what channel you are thinking about (left or right). I suspect though that right might be easier because of the simplicity of data capture. More on LTV here: Calculate Customer Lifetime Value

      The harder one… As you move from right to left you actually move slowly away from simply a high conversion goal. The reason is that intent weakens (first big arrow on the slide) and so you'll capture people in different stages of the "funnel" (likely higher up as you go left, but you don't know anything like that for, say, TV). Then the objective of your marketing goes from simply conversion to higher and higher shades of connecting with likely consumers / engagement / brand building.

      But if you want a perfect understanding of how best the combination of your TV – Radio – Digital Display – Search is working (and how budgets should be allocated) then the only optimal way to do it is to leverage controlled experiments. They are hard to do (from a process and people skills required perspective), but they are the only option.

      More on that here… Measuring Incrementality: Controlled Experiments to the Rescue!

      Hope this helps Kyle.


  17. 28

    I find it hard to believe that there are people out there who want to read a Vaseline Facebook page. Why would I care what's happening at Vaseline?

    Also, I stopped using yahoo mail because of the constant presence of the wrinkled woman ads. Offensive may get my attention but it won't sell me a product!

    • 29

      Deanna: Social, for any company, can be a incredible engagement channel. But you have to do it right.

      You don't want to see box shot after box shot of Vaseline and the other silliness that is prevalent on that Facebook page.

      But if your brand was smarter and engaged with you about their brand values, their social work, provided tips and tricks, made you smile, and make your life better in small ways then you would want to read their facebook page every day.

      Here's one of my favourite examples:


      • 30

        Wow! That actually did capture me, the total skeptic. I actually spent a little time looking at the knitted hats and thought of several others I know who would like to see that.

        So I have been wondering what Vaseline might do to interest me. If they had a Habitat for Humanity project going on in my town, that would get me to link to their page. But with that particular company, I would still associate their brand with petroleum jelly, not an easy hurdle to overcome but at least they would have my attention.

        The drink company has the advantage of a clean slate to start from.

  18. 31

    Re: "No modern company will have a complete digital marketing strategy without a robust presence on Facebook/Google+. But to have only a rented digital existence is a profoundly sub-optimal and short-sighted decision."

    Pardon me for stating the obvious but… Brilliant!

    While Facebook's future seems fairly credible, there once was a MySpace, a Friendster and an AOL. I often wonder how much marketing time and effort was sucked down the MySpace toilet. Yet, some brands still haven't learned. Sucks for them. But it's entertaining watching for the rest of us, eh?

  19. 32

    Very insightful prescription.

    Hopefully by 2016 we have more assisted reality gadgets to replace mobile phones :).

  20. 34

    Really good post. I've developed a similar model to your 'Reactively Create' and 'Proactively Capture' but have a third which sits in the middle so 'Pre Awareness', 'Situational Opportunities' and 'At Need'.

    a) The At-need is your Proactively Capture. We take the channels / tactics so brand search, generic search, competitor search, price comparison, re-targeting, on-site testing etc and plot these based on purchase intent and potential incremental impact.

    One size does not fit all either – KPI's should not always be the same. Purely having your brand visible on a competitor's search results page is value in itself but people compare CPA's against brand search?! Think how much people would pay in the offline world for the ability to place your ad next to your competitors brand!

    I would also argue you should always bid on your own brand term irrespective of whether your brand search results page is saturated or not as its the perfect opportunity to promote tactical initiatives, upsell or drive loyalty programmes. You can influence action and heighten purchase intent before they even come to your site!

    b) Situational Opportunities in our terminology is using contextual targeting to proactively capture audiences – finding a relevant hook to turn them to the 'at-need state'. It requires you to understand your audiences and be inventive but digital is a unique and cost effective mechanism to test these ideas! There are so many channels with great targeting options from networks, exchanges, YouTube, Google etc. Life stage can be a great starting point for this – moving home, starting a family, owning a pet, researching complimentary products, looking up the weather etc etc!

    The core challenge for clients in this area is creating suitable content otherwise its not a true test – generic ads won't do! If done right though it can tap into totally new audiences and inform broader marketing strategy. Its also a great way of identifying or evolving your utility marketing plans.

    c) Pre-awareness is generally audience centric targeting so broader reach to build awareness and are the foundation stones of building propensity to consider the brand when they have a need. This is evidently where the social networks reside.

    2) I think content strategy is the only area slightly underplayed in your post and is still the key challenge for almost all brands. It is element that gels all of your points together. Many still plan their content using the same methods they did decades ago with little to no ability to react to opportunities. The job for me is to convince companies to invest 10% less on media and substitute with a content team. I'd be interested in your view of content strategy: 2009, 2012 and 2015!

    • 35

      Paul: Thank you for adding this thoughtful and valuable comment. I appreciate that very much.

      We are broad agreement on the three big buckets. I wanted to just do two to make things as simple as possible, but they are not two extremes. They are more like two starting points, you explore them from either end (though I do recommend starting from the one on the right :).

      I'm in completely agreement with you on the three elements in your comment. I also agree with you on having to choose relevant KPIs and not judging simply based on CPA or Conversion Rate or (this is awful) measuring success based on first visit (this kills Social, TV, Display, and all brand advertising – digital or not!).

      I'll think harder about your suggestion about my pov on content strategy and write a post in the future. You are right, my recommendations in this post will fail if the company is executing a 1997 content strategy.

      Thanks again.


  21. 36

    Great Article, I love most of your posts.

    Just a little mistake in Innocent drinks link ;-)

  22. 38

    This is what I have been looking for!

    Avinash, you are a genius!

  23. 39

    Great post!

    From all your many excellent posts, the subject and framework from this post, is spot on in terms of my pitch for new biz.

    One of my slide shows a model like your figure on Reactively Create and Proactively Capture. I just use Pull – Push.

    Although I like how your terms "explain" the meaning, let's keep the buzzwords to a minimum ay?

    • 40

      Adrian: I'm totally with you on trying to keep things simple. I do like push and pull, they are simple.

      I feel that pull certainly works. But push has a slightly negative tint to it. We are not trying to push our current or future customers with TV ads, we are hoping to target them at the right time and create a demand for our product or create a halo around our brand.

      So we might have to think of a simple version of push that captures that more complex thought.

      I do admit that in this case I wanted to create "ugly hard to remember and yet aptly descriptive" terms because I wanted to make the names memorable. :)

      I appreciate the suggestions, thank you.


  24. 41

    Another thought provoking post, thank you, Avinash.

    I've been thinking about your marketing spend recommendation – "I would spend the budget I need to take 100% of the Proactively Capture… and then steadily spend rest of the budget moving from right to left" – and am wondering if this approach would be the equivalent of placing all the eggs in one basket, at least for a while.

    As we know, budgets are not unlimited so even if we don't have enough resources to capture 100% of the "Proactively Capture", we should probably aim to address the "Reactively Create" dimension as well.

    That, in turn helps build the audience we want to "Proactively Capture".

    • 42

      Dana: Remember what we are trying to do with that recommendation.

      We are essentially saying that the first bit of your advertising should be focused on people who are already raising their hand and telling you that they want your product/service or that they are interested in your category. Get them first because the intent is so strong.

      Compare that to, say, newspaper ads or TV or Radio or even randomly shot out display ads on the web. Where's the intent?

      So would you rather target the first part of your budget on people who express an interest or on people who you know nothing to very little about?

      Probably people who raise their hand.

      Then comes the second part… what if you exhaust all your budget showing ads to people who raise their hands in interest?

      Well that is a good problem to have. You have stuff to sell. You sold all of it thanks to your ads. You made profit. Use that profit to increase your budget for advertising selling more stuff. :)

      Most of the time of course this won't happen. There won't be enough people raising their hands, just some will do that. Get them first. Use the rest of your budget to reactively create!


  25. 43

    I always hate the word search engine optimization.

    If we have to optimize the site for search engine its the failure of that search engine, not the site.

    • 44

      Jaks: I'm personally unsure if it is that cut and dry. For example if you create a digital presence in a proprietary format then you'll forgive Bing for not indexing you, right?

      On the other hand Bing/Yandex/Google work very hard every single day to learn how to index and every exploding set of digital formats and experiences. It is in their best interests because they are trying to get a user the best possible answer to their question – and that can only happen if they know all the answers.

      So I think of this as a partnership. There are things we can do as digital content and experience owners and there are things the search engines can do.


  26. 45

    Hi Avinash,

    Great post. I was looking for that word 'rent' regards to those channels we think as 'owned'. In light of what happend with Instagram's privacy & terms regarding the ownership of photos, this blog post really speaks to what you're saying about that digital channels that allow you to control your destiny!


  27. 46

    You can have the best product or service in the world. You could blow the competition out of the water in terms of customer service and quality.

    But if you aren't marketing effectively it will never matter. It's an unfortunate truth.

  28. 47

    Online marketing competition is getting tougher. Avinash's posts are always thought-provoking, this one is no different.

    The "Reactively Create" and "Proactively Capture" discussion was really nice, thank you !

  29. 48

    Interesting read. I like the point that you made about keeping social streams light on advertising.

    Readers seek out interesting content and hate ads. Saturating your company's Facebook and G+ streams with advertisements will only heart your readership.


  30. 49

    Social media is currently the fastest growing method for marketing, especially for directly engaging with potential customers. With engaging content, pictures, and the sharing of the company’s videos and blogs, social media will keep our client’s brand or product in front of consumers who are ready to buy both now and later.

    Remember, social media is about just that: being social.

    I've been using socialbakers, hootsuite and socialkik to increase my followers and fans.

  31. 50

    Great post.

    It is so true how some brands, some HUGE brands, are still so ignorant of social media and don't know what their followers are actually wanting to see.

    This was very insightful. Hopefully they are reading this as well!

  32. 51

    Awesome post Avinash, please keep making these "frame-work"/checklist type post, they're very helpful. I've found myself several times in meetings now referencing blogs you've written.

    Thanks again.


  33. 52
    Puneet Kapoor says

    New to your blog…Its an ocean of info for me….at least now i see Google Search, Facebook, Google+, ALL Websites, my iPhone apps DIFFERENTLY ….

  34. 53

    Great post! It was very informative, easy to understand and an added value at the end of the day.

    Thanks for sharing!


  1. […]
    Is Your Brand Magnificent At Digital Marketing? A Diagnostic Framework. (Occam's Razor by Avinash Kaushik)

  2. […]

    Is Your Brand Great At Digital Marketing? A Diagnostic Framework.,


  3. […]
    En primer lugar, destacamos un artículo muy completo para saber si las empresas lo están haciendo bien en Marketing Online. Se llama ‘Is Your Brand Magnificent At Digital Marketing? A Diagnostic Framework’ y desentraña paso a paso qué debemos evaluar y mejorar para tener éxito en Marketing digital.

  4. […]
    How good is your digital strategy? Based on empirical evidence the answer is “It can be improved greatly”! But check for yourself: An easy-to-use framework based on six “simple” questions by Mr. Kaushik.

  5. […]
    Here’s ReTargeter’s weekly roundup of the top articles in digital marketing:
    1. Is Your Brand Magnificent At Digital Marketing? A Diagnostic Framework

  6. […]
    On Occam's Razor, Avinash Kaushik shares his ideas on creating a digital marketing readiness framework: Is Your Brand Magnificent At Digital Marketing? A Diagnostic Framework.

  7. […]
    En el lado internacional la cosa ha estado más movida, Avinash nos invita a hacer un diagnóstico para saber si nuestra marca lo está haciendo bien en el mundo del marketing digital, Gary Angel, por otro lado nos ofrece una hoja de ruta para crear una estrategia de medición funcional y comprensible.

  8. […]
    Marketing in any realm makes the best use of the tools, tactics, and channels to effectively appeal to and compel a target audience. This ALWAYS requires a working knowledge of all the mediums and channels used and a strategy designed to meet a goal or objective. Slapping a banner ad on a busy website or buying a few Google Adwords does not a digital marketer make. In all of marketing, it has been my observation that effective digital marketing requires the most intellect, experience, and intuition in order to produce satisfactory results.

  9. […]
    Is Your Brand Magnificent at Digital Marketing? — in this post from earlier in December, Avinash Kaushik not only offers up some concrete advice on improving your digital marketing efforts, but does so in his usual inspirational way. If you are looking for inspiration and incentive for the coming year, you can’t go wrong with a read (or re-read) of this post.

  10. […]
    Ostatnio przeczytałem 2 bardzo fajne posty o strategii marketingu internetowego. Jeden z nich na eConsultancy traktował o różnicy pomiędzy podejściem reaktywnym i strategicznym do marketingu internetowego. Drugi, na Occam’s Razor by Avinash Kaushnik, opisywał jak podejść do oceny i opracowania takiej strategii.

  11. […]
    Kaushik, Avinash. Is Your Brand Magnificent At Digital Marketing? A Diagnostic Framework. Occam’s Razor.

  12. […] Is Your Brand Magnificent At Digital Marketing? A Diagnostic Framework […]

  13. […]
    Marketing ROI. You can now calculate the ROI of most marketing investments based on data, where previously it simply was not a reliable calculation. For the first time, the old adage of “50% of my marketing budget is wasted, just wish I knew which 50%” has become nonsense. It can now be calculated with considerable accuracy using free web analytics. Given that data is free, there is no excuse not to use it.

  14. […]
    According to the article by Avinash Kaushik, each company should have both rent and own existence. Rent refers to a promoting and engaging the audience throughout platforms. This platform can be either Google+ or Facebook, something that can be accessible to everyone by using the internet. Own, on the other hand, is to establish a website where the company is in control of everything, from the structure of the website to the content of the website.

  15. […]
    According to an article by Avinash Kaushik, companies need to have both an “own” and “rent” existence online. Fin and Feather H2O does a great job with their “rent” existence with their presence of a successful Facebook page dedicated to their followers. The creators of this Facebook page do not simply “shout” at Facebook followers to use their products, but create a friendly and engaging page to answer questions, wishing people a happy holiday, and creating events that everyone can be involved in if interested. The most successful part of their Facebook page is the subliminal marketing through the advertisement of the new Terry Trueblood Recreational Area. Getting followers excited about this new place for activities is important to the success of their business due to the fact that Fin and Feather H2O is located there.

  16. […]
    So: Do you “OWN” or “RENT” your brand existence? I recently read an article by Avinash Kaushik that presented this concept of online brands and use of e-marketing and mobile marketing. If you haven’t read it, I recommend checking it out and assessing your own online presence. [Is Your Brand Magnificent at Digital Marketing? A Diagnostic Framework]

  17. […]
    Not only give your content to Facebook and other networks. Also own your content. “For almost all brands, that means a website on your domain and where you set the rules of engagement” – Avinash Kaushik (read this article:

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