“Owned” As The New Differentiator

“Owned” As The New Differentiator
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With aggregator platforms like Amazon having enjoyed so much success in recent years, companies must now think about owning their own platforms, argues WP Engine CMO Mary Ellen Dugan in this opinion piece.

Marketers have been talking about the power of customer data for some time now. 

Last year it was coined that data was ‘more valuable than oil,’ making it an organisation’s strongest asset. Many anticipated that as technology continued to gradually become the centre of our lives, data would also increase in importance. 

Today as 15 per cent of the world sits in some form of lockdown, this reliance on technology has been accelerated tremendously. Brands who had previously neglected their customer data strategy and prioritising their owned channels are now left in the dark.

Last year Nike announced it was ending the direct sale of its sneakers and apparel on Amazon. By doing so Nike was ensuring that all data concerning its customer’s online shopping habits were owned and controlled by Nike, not by Amazon or any other external shopping platform. 

Nike was also recognising that today, a controlled owned brand experience far exceeds the transactional convenience of using a third party site. Brands who are winning at the moment are doing so as they’re delivering the best possible end-to-end experience to their customers. That experience has become too important for Nike—or any other business—to outsource. 

As consumers evolve in the relationships they have with brands, brands have to keep up by elevating consumer experiences through direct, personal relationships across a variety of owned channels (where brand control is the highest). Nike, for example, accomplishes this by delivering digital experiences through Nike.com and its other brand sites, like Jordan, Hurley and Converse, which are all part of the Nike family. 

With social media use up by 20 per cent during lockdown, this means strategic spend is invested across paid marketing channels to generate both traffic and interest in those owned properties. 

That list of owned properties is also growing. With the ascent of mobile apps, progressive web apps and other omnichannel digital experiences across an ever-widening array of devices, the days of a single point of entry for your brand are over. 

Following in Nike’s footsteps, brands should start treating their owned media—namely, the content they create, and the owned digital channels it lives on—as a non-negotiable extension of their brand, and control it at all costs. 

I recognise that this is a departure from conventional wisdom, which for years has stressed the importance of an equal balance between paid, earned and owned media. Each piece of this puzzle is a critical component of a successful marketing organization, but today, owned, direct-to-consumer efforts are the most important of the three. 

Positioning owned as the nucleus of your efforts and then illustrating the different ways paid and earned media fit into the puzzle make it easier to see the total ROI of your marketing spend. You recast the conversation from a place of control. 

Lastly, applying Nike’s zeal for owning the entire customer journey should be your zeal as well—don’t compromise. It’s your brand, it’s your data, and they are your customers…feed them! Deliver on the promise of a better brand experience while they’re at home, online and engaged. As more brands continue to realise the importance of owning their entire digital experience, you’ll be glad you did, too.  

 

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