Invest in six digital senses to power your Customer Experience strategy… today

Data, Experience Design, Live, Local, Mobile, Product, Social

New Order in Digital Marketing and Strategy – Revisited

I wrote a manifesto 18 months ago, about the global shift in digital strategy. The idea was to lay out a framework for how the companies are investing in six business ‘senses’ that are differentiating them in the Age of the Customer:

The first take for that manifesto was to pick at least two primary senses, position yourself strategically in your market and focus on selected ones better than your competition to dominate.

The Huffington Post (HuffPost) has passed the New York Times (NYT) for the first time as of April 2011 (unique visitors). Both have strong ‘Real-time’ sense, but Huffingtonpost pioneered the publishing media market with ‘Social’ and ‘Design’ senses by integrating its business with thousands of bloggers and other news media that still since then no other publisher could replicate. The wonderful NYTimes Innovation report and the introduction of NYT Now app were good steps forward by NYT.


How HuffPost strategically outpaced NYTimes

Since then technology has enhanced significantly, many new players emerged, succeeded or failed, the marketplace got crowded more than ever with many exciting business models and marketing technologies. Hence, I wanted to revisit the six senses framework and highlight the recent trends and new best practices in each.

However, before jumping into six senses, I want to explain briefly why identifying and investing in the strategic senses are so important. We are now in the age of the customer and providing a remarkable Customer Experience has become the core advantage that is translated into business value in terms of incremental revenue, customer satisfaction, and shareholders value.

I’d like to share a recent study conducted by L2 Research group. L2 created aDigital IQ Index measured by many parameters of digital marketing, mobile, social and site capabilities of enterprises and published a ranking for Big-Box retailers. The report segments brands to different categories (genius and gifted are the top two category). ‘Two-thirds of Genius brands are part of multi-brand enterprises that have leveraged scale around technology platforms, best practices, and online media buys. The market capitalization of publicly traded Genius companies grew 108% in the past ten years and 69% in the past five years.’ L2 Report

Office Depot is at #4 among sixty-one retailers in 2015, a significant improvement from 13th rank in 2014. This ranking is no surprise considering the big push in mobile and personalization efforts throughout the whole organization. Below you can see a visualization of the score by dimensions compared to the average and the top ranked company Home Depot.

Six Senses Framework

SoLoMo concept (social+local+mobile) has been popular in the market for at least 4-5 years now. It used to refer to mainly smartphone applications and marketing campaigns that incorporate social gamification, local interactions, and mobile plays into their business models. The concept has matured in the recent years, and it is applicable not only to phone application but to all channels now – where the infamous buzword: omni-channel comes into play.

However, SoLoMo is not the only differentiator for digital strategy. Next five years will be very significant for other three senses: ReDD. (real time, data and design). Many innovators and digital pioneers already made headways to real-time data (collection, activation, automation) and real-time design will follow the suit. More to come on my next posts.

Every sense has three layers that are all intertwined with each other, and it is almost impossible to separate these layers when defining your strategy and positioning.

Product (UX)

Trending: Many new business, categories and experience models introduced in the recent years. Below is just a sample of few companies who have built their businesses around platform models.


Trending: Native advertising is the fastest growing niche in digital marketing considering all the challenges of the display. The growth is expected to slow down due to the regulatory and consumer trust challenges but it still represents a great opportunity for brands to tell their stories in a non-intrusive way.  

The social sense is the primary driver of this growth and the convergence of social, content marketing and SEO has already started.

Dan Riess, head of content partnerships at Turner, told Ad Age, “The idea is to turn Turner into a giant native ad platform.” Ad blocking, shift to mobile, viewability challenges have added pressure on publishers; hence, they responded with building native ad platforms.

“While other companies separate their data and content teams, we believe it’s vital to bring them together, allowing advertisers to reimagine the possibilities of advertising in one conversation,” Donna Speciale, president-ad sales for Turner, told Ad Age.


Trending: Every day, a new Marketing Technology company is showing up. In 2014, the number of MarTech companies had doubled and exceeded one thousand mark! The design of the MarTech stack can make a big difference in competitive advantage, however, following the shiny-new-object may not be the best idea either. Remember, strategy comes first, then processes/frameworks and technology last.

Another important trend is that many publishers and social media companies are building their own ad technology platforms to enable programmatic media buying. The latest one is the Snapchat’s ad technology platform.

MarTech is not free of complexity and challenges but represents a significant opportunity if done right. Technology is the enabler of all the Customer Experience.

Below diagram shows a sample of marketing data technology: making sense of the puzzle

In my later posts, I will deep dive to each sense and review the new trends along with the best practices. Please feel free to add your comments and let me know how you experience this global shift in your organization.

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