The ubiquitous term ‘marketing mix modelling’ has been around for decades and with good reason. This strategy allowed marketers to identify the best channels and marketing techniques to maximise product performance. But as the channels themselves change, new digital trends emerge and customers begin to evolve, how relevant is traditional marketing mix modelling? Do the factors for a brand’s success still solely rest upon product, price, place and promotion? And if so, how has each of these 4 P’s evolved in the digital age?
The concept of the 4 Ps was created at a time when data remained largely stable, technological advancements were slow and consumer habits were predictable. Today, in the age of digital disruption, each of these facets has undergone a wave of change. In this climate, traditional marketing mix models are simply not equipped to deliver a realistic marketing strategy and accurate channel-wise attribution.
This change is primarily because of the following features of the digital environment:
A typical consumer today is bombarded by more advertisements on more platforms than at any other time in history. They might be exposed to a brand while watching a video, while reading a blog, or while listening to music, to name just a few. Because of this, it can be close to impossible to evaluate the performance of each ad in isolation. Each instance of exposure has a cumulative effect on the buying decision of a consumer. Most marketing mix models are not equipped to handle a multi-touchpoint customer journey.
Traditional marketing models are built on data extending from over one year. Marketers generally analyse long-term patterns of data to reach a conclusion on future trends. The digital age, however, does not afford the luxury of long-term analysis. Technology, platforms and algorithms can change within a matter of a few months, throwing even the most carefully crafted marketing mix model into disarray.
In a traditional marketing plan, platforms and budgets would be decided upon based on a marketing mix model, the plan would be executed and the learnings would be dissected later on. Today, however, digital marketing empowers marketers to completely overhaul their budget allocation and platform-wise strategies at the click of a button. A modern marketing strategy isn’t truly over until budgets are exhausted. Marketing mix models need to be adaptable and scalable in order to be successful.
Today’s changing market is completely different from what it was in the 1960s, which was when the concept of a marketing mix model was first introduced. Naturally, as a result, the traditional understanding of the 4 P’s needs to evolve to adapt to our current reality.
Here’s how marketers can reimagine the 4 P’s and build digital-ready marketing mix models for a full-funnel marketing strategy.
Reduced manufacturing costs, less expensive advertising channels and the rise of a thriving startup culture have lowered many of the entry barriers for new companies. As a result, the market is more competitive than ever before, with numerous similar products vying for the same customer. In this scenario, a brand’s product cannot sell based on a utilitarian guarantee alone. Customers now want to purchase a product that sells them an experience. They want a product that they believe will help them reach their ideal self, aligns with their values and sells them a lifestyle. Brands who capture this essence will ultimately capture the market.
Previously, the concept of ‘Place’ in a marketing mix model referred to the selection of optimum distribution channels to reach a customer. These channels in the modern age, however, are not as clear cut as they once were. Customers divide their time between numerous platforms; watching videos, scrolling through social media, reading blogs or listening to podcasts. Additionally, they can also make a purchase decision at any time of the day and in any place, for instance, during their morning commute to work. The introduction of Whatsapp for Business has allowed brands to penetrate even further into a consumer’s routine. Because of this, the focus needs to shift from having a physical presence in an area where the target audience is present to simply being everywhere each member of the target audience is, virtual or otherwise.
On the whole, customers today are a more cynical lot than customers from previous periods. They seek information on product ingredients, are more discerning of what they consume and are more aware of marketing strategies. Because of this, it is highly unlikely that a consumer will believe your product’s USPs at face value. Brands need to eschew a hard focus on promotion alone and instead supplement it with efforts to build credibility. Two tools have become indispensable for brands looking to do so: influencer marketing and content marketing. Influencer marketing builds awareness of a product using ‘influencers’ whom consumers already trust while content marketing helps brands inform and educate customers and develop long-term relationships with them.
Price is no longer the key differentiator it once was. This change can be attributed to two reasons:
(i) Improvements in technology and efficiency have allowed average prices of consumer products to hit an all-time low. Today’s customers need to pay less for a product than at any other period. As a result, most products are similarly priced and a consumer’s final purchase decision will rarely depend upon the price alone.
(ii) With customers seeking experience over utilitarianism, many are willing to pay a higher price for perceived quality. For instance, an eco-friendly sustainable brand might be priced higher than similar products, but customers will be willing to pay the higher price for what they believe is greater value.
Ushering in the age of digital marketing might mean saying goodbye to traditional marketing models, but it opens up endless possibilities for marketers. The availability of granular details, real-time analytics and diverse platforms enables marketers to create more effective marketing strategies than ever before.
With rapid technological innovation, analyzing the impact of channels and strategies for a period longer than 6-12 months would be futile. Technology and ad formats from over a year ago might be irrelevant or non-existent today. Limit your analysis to just 6-12 months at the most - anything extending beyond that is ancient history. To ensure accuracy of the analysis despite the shorter time frame, you can use more granular details at multiple relevant geographic and demographic levels.
Most digital marketing strategies today are characterized by their hyper-local, hyper-personalized nature. Unlike nationwide TV campaigns of the past, digital strategies now revolve around delivering personalized communication to customers. For instance, marketers might choose to speak to newly married women working in an IT job in Bangalore to promote their women’s health product. With such a wealth of targeting options available, it becomes critical for marketers to evaluate campaigns at an equally granular level. This allows them to uncover patterns and identify key drivers to further improve campaign performance.
With traditional advertising, budgets are usually allocated platform-wise, for example, separate budgets for television, radio and print. A common misconception is that the same technique can be used for digital platforms, for example, creating a separate budget for YouTube, Facebook and Search. However, digital platforms cannot be as easily segregated because multiple ad formats can co-exist within a single platform. On YouTube, for instance, brands can choose between masthead ads, 6-second bumper videos, TrueView videos or In-Stream ads depending upon your marketing objective. Each ad format will thus require a separate budget allocation.
In the same way that budgets need to be segregated by format not platform, performance analysis also needs to be done format-wise. The wealth of ad formats that digital marketing offers requires marketers to do an in-depth analysis of the performance of each to uncover which format resonated the best with the target audience. This type of analysis is important because marketers might uncover that whereas one platform as a whole performed better than the others, a specific ad format on another platform out-performed other formats. This can help optimize future budgets and campaign strategies.
Our client, a leading real estate developer based in Chennai, approached us to help them reach a massive goal. For just 100 hours, their projects would be available at highly-discounted prices. Within this limited period, we had to maximize their reach, ad efficiency and results.
To achieve this ambitious goal within such a limited time period, we had to set up a flexible and adaptable digital marketing mix. We developed two strategies: one aimed at raising awareness among a consumer base who was not aware of the developer's luxury segment and one who were aware of the brand, but needed the final push to invest in a home.
As part of the marketing mix, we leveraged a number of platforms and formats, including YouTube bumper ads, promotions across social media channels, Gmail video ads and countdown ads on Google. To create a holistic approach, we also launched roadblock ads on traditional print media, including many of India's leading newspapers such as The Hindu and Times of India.
This highly-segmented strategy delivered phenomenal results. Within the 100-hour window, we were able to generate an incredible 6,152 leads. These results highlight the fact that an adaptable digital marketing mix is critical for brands looking to drive business results.
Watch the youtube bumper Ad below:
Marketing mix modelling has long been an indispensable part of marketing literature. Rather than do away with this tried-and-tested method completely, marketers should adapt each of the principles of traditional marketing models to the digital world.