Marketers seeking to win on the Web must tailor their digital campaigns so that they cater to potential customers as either seekers or providers, said Microsoft’s Mich Matthews.
Marketers who want to successfully use the Internet to promote their products must harness its power as a participatory medium, said Mich Matthews, senior vice president of Microsoft’s central marketing group.
Matthews and her team realized just how effective customer participation marketing can be during the recent holiday season, when it found that 400 different “mashups” of the TV commercial introducing its new Gears of War video game had been posted to YouTube and seen by millions of people around the world. A “mashup” is a new version of a piece of content that has been personalized, for example with different music.
The mashups gave Gears of War more than publicity: it helped it become the No. 1 selling game of the holiday season, Matthews said.
“We didn’t built this ad for customer response but we now factor it in whenever we go through the creative process for a product,” she said. “Everything must enable or accelerate a provider’s ability to pass along or repackage content.”
Speaking at the American Association of Advertising Agencies’ Media Conference in Las Vegas, Matthews said there are two kinds of customers cruising the digital world, and marketing campaigns must cater to them in order to be effective.
The first kind of consumer is the seeker, someone who comes to a site looking for information or entertainment. “The goal is to get them through the funnel to what they want as quickly as possible and then to further engage them,” Matthews said.
Another type of digital consumer is the provider, the person who passes content along or creates their own content.
In the old world, reach and GRPs were the focus of marketers,” Matthews said. “Now, interaction is even more important than exposure.”
With that in mind, Microsoft allows consumers to try out new products online, rather than simply promoting their features there, Matthews said. The company permits visitors to try out a new feature of its latest version of Office, she said. Likewise, Ikea lets visitors download planning software that they can use to remodel a kitchen, then upload the plan to the nearest Ikea store. “Experiences can shorten the path from awareness to action.”
Ad agencies are most effective at helping Microsoft plan such campaigns when the media, creative and PR agencies all get in on the ground floor of a new campaign and collaborate, Matthews said. PR agencies don’t always understand advertising and advertising agencies don’t always understand PR, she said, but they need to work together. “Digital changes the game dramatically,” Matthews said, and when planning a new campaign, “I want my entire team in the room together.”