How to check if your brand is digitally healthy

Mihai-Alexandru Cristea 09/12/2021 | 17:40

Digital is now part of everything we do, and digital marketing is no longer separated from traditional approaches. Digital is much more than a communication tool; it requires a lot of resources and talent including designers, developers, content writers, project managers, data scientists, marketers, etc. –  and they must all work together to meet a common goal.

By Romanita Oprea

 

Publicis and Digitas Romania, with the support of the Data Intelligence Team from Publicis Groupe Romania, have developed the Digital Health Index, a proprietary tool that measures brands’ health in the digital world. The DHI was designed to provide clients with real-time relevant information about the status of their brands – from brand X-rays and competition analyses to various predictions that streamline business decisions. Based on the DHI, monthly rankings have been generated for several key industries. In this first phase, Q1 2021 was compared to Q4 2020, with the aim of capturing the development of various industries based on their digital decisions as clearly as possible.

After a 2020 that radically affected their way of life, Romanians are feeling isolated and, more than ever, they’re saying that they don’t feel like themselves. 83 percent state they no longer feel like they have a connection with brands (sources: GWI 2020 and SNA focus). The inevitable switch to online everything, including online classes, shopping or family meals, has highlighted the need for a new type of measurement that adequately assesses a brand’s digital presence on an up-to-date basis.

Using multiple data sources, the DHI is a modern, complex tool for the qualitative and quantitative measurement of all brand indicators, for selected brands and their competitors, helping to restore the connection between consumers and brands.

“If you’re making decisions without knowing what’s happening to your brand and you’re relying on marketing models developed 2-3 years ago, you aren’t doing anything. Brands need fresh, current data that reflect what’s happening today or at least this week. Otherwise, Always-On Marketing becomes Always-Late Marketing. Digital Health Index comes from the new measurement age, integrating millions of real-time data points with great insights for our clients’ future business decisions: from prioritising media channels to developing better content or more efficient communication strategies,” said Teddy Dumitrescu, the CEO of Publicis Groupe Romania.

The Digital Health Index consists of three key indicators, each representing a third of the total score: the Digital Power Score measures how interesting the brand is for consumers, the Content Power Score measures the brand’s online presence starting with the sources of mentions in the digital.ro space and weighs the impact of these mentions (viewership). In other words, it is not enough to have many online mentions; they also need to have strong visibility to get a higher score. The Conviviality Score measures a brand’s empathy level through the number of positive interactions on social media.

“The Digital Health Index quantitatively and qualitatively measures the brand’s health in the digital environment. Since its creation, we have been able to identify those data sources that simultaneously report the same indicators for both the chosen brand & its competitors in order to guide clients towards relevant communication for a continuously changing audience. The fact that we look at social media engagements for competitors in real time makes a considerable difference on the Romanian market,” said Alexandra Caciur, Head of Data & Business Intelligence at Digitas Romania.

The advertising industry often relies on instinct. There are two options when you’re looking at data: either it validates your instinct and it feels like a super-power or it gives you a new angle. Imagine a transparent watch – if it stops, you can see which of the little wheels stopped and react in real time.

“For us it was a dream come true to see on our screens whatever the entire market was doing live, how consumers perceived actions, and what went well or wrong, both quantitatively and qualitatively. Our intention is very altruistic; we are giving the market a ranking system based on tonnes of data, which leaves no space for subjectivity. Our hope is that by releasing new rankings each month, they will become a reference and guiding element for each brand’s marketeer. We already have 100+ brands in our rankings, and the list will grow,” said Calin Buzea, Managing Director at Digitas Romania.

He adds that the reactions on the market were really good. “Maybe some of the other data tools we’re building will go even more in depth and make better correlations with the business areas, but implicitly they will be harder to understand. The Digital Health Index is definitely the most popular tool. We’ve been receiving very good feedback and requests from the market,” Buzea noted.

Another action to identify healthy digital brands on the market was taken by the Grapefruit agency, which launched the Digital Evaluator tool. Agency representatives say that over the years, they had noticed that many professionals talked about digitalization, but not all of them were practicing it. At the beginning of this year, they created an eBook together with 8 chartered marketers and spoke about the best way to build a resilient marketing strategy. Going through their answers, the Grapefruit team noticed how important it was for a marketing professional to know where their company stands in terms of its digital presence. And that was the moment they started to outline the idea for this tool. Before they started working towards bringing it to life, they held feedback sessions with several heads of digital from various companies and industries. The feedback helped validate their idea, as many of them agreed that a tool like this would be necessary on the Romanian market.

“We saw the Digital Evaluator as an impulse for all professionals in marketing and digital departments to start prioritising the areas that need the most attention. We had tried several tools on the market, but you either had to pay to see the results or they didn’t cover all the aspects of digital maturity,” explained Nicu Enache, Senior Digital Marketing Consultant at Grapefruit. Moreover, he believes that the Romanian market needed a tool like this, especially after 2020, when digitalization was accelerated and maybe even a bit rushed. Therefore, Grapefruit wanted to have a positive impact on as many organisations as possible.

“We’re offering them a free tool to assess their organisation’s digital capabilities, share it with their colleagues, compare it to its industry or a secondary one, and have a clear overview of its digital maturity. We believe it will at least start a conversation between a company’s departments, break some silos and, why not, lead them to prioritise and focus on the right things when it comes to digitalization. In the end, we would like to leverage conversations around the Digital Evaluator. We are confident that perspectives are different within any organisation, but there is value in uncomfortable conversations,” said Nicu Enache.

Moreover, by offering the option to instantly access and compare results with the industry benchmark, Grapefruit’s Digital Evaluator will provide organisations with insights into their positioning and it will also help boost their confidence regarding their digital maturity capabilities.

This tool came as a response to last year’s wave of digital initiatives, in the hope that it will provide a clearer picture of a company’s positioning. Companies can evaluate their strengths, weaknesses, and where they stand compared to the competition, and based on these results they can start planning for their next digital initiative.

“We believe that the market will have a positive response and that they will hopefully use the Digital Evaluator tool at least as a conversation starter internally. The main goal of this tool is to bring more awareness and give companies an impulse to enhance their digital capabilities,” Enache added.

But what does it actually mean for a brand to be healthy, especially in the online space? According to Calin Buzea, the answer revolves around interest, impact, and empathy. The three sub-scores of the Digital Health Index measure people’s interest in a certain brand or subject, the impact (visibility) of brands, and the scale of positive engagements on social media – all in one single view, where the brand evaluates its position among specific competitors.

“A healthy brand has a human approach towards all stakeholders, and that also includes optimising its digital capabilities. From customers to employees, everyone needs a platform that matches their needs. Customers need a place that provides information, facilitates the buying process, helps them communicate efficiently with brand representatives, and makes them feel heard by the brand. Plenty of businesses tend to opt for short-term campaigns with great results on the spot, but don’t take a long-term strategy into consideration. These campaigns can have a certain impact, but they’re not contributing to a long-lasting positioning in the consumer’s mind and don’t make them feel that their voice is heard and their needs understood,” Nicu Enache explained.

Employees, on the other hand, need platforms and digital processes to facilitate their everyday tasks. There are many organisations that still don’t use a CRM; they keep their databases on multiple Excel spreadsheets and they lack tools that could streamline processes, which directly impacts their employees’ productivity and satisfaction. Business process optimisation is of great importance for a brand and the company behind it.

“By focusing on the right aspects of digital maturity, a brand can ensure a healthy interaction with all its stakeholders, boosting its positioning and overall image. After all, digital transformation can bring long-lasting benefits and can cut a great deal of costs,” Enache added.

But how does one build a healthy digital brand? According to Grapefuit’s senior digital marketing consultant, the first thing to do is to evaluate the company’s current situation in terms of its digital maturity – and this is what the Digital Evaluator tool is designed to do. A marketing or digital professional in a company can carry out the assessment, compare results with the industry, and share a unique URL with work peers. The URL will link to the company data at the beginning of the form and work peers will just have to enter their own details, such as their name and surname. After five or more assessments are made by employees of the same company, they will have access to the aggregated results, which will help them see where the company is positioned and identify the gaps that need to be addressed. The second step is to always listen to the customer’s voice, keep your finger on the pulse, and have an objective approach. Loyalty platforms, social media groups, community management, constant communication, QAs, live videos, and UGC are just some of the ways a brand can get feedback from customers. Constantly engaging with customers and answering all their questions can provide brands with a better understanding of their needs and wants,” Nicu Enache said.

For Digitas, after they determined the need to build a data tool and armed themselves with ambition and patience, it took a few months to define, organise, find data sources, build real-time connectors, and develop the best data visualisation methods. Then they spent about 6 months calibrating it using several brands. “But it was worth it. Now you can check your brand’s health from the seaside while drinking a Martini just like you check your Apple Watch to see your own heart rate. My advice if you wanted to build something similar would be to be persuasive, patient, and to not take ‘no’ for an answer,” Buzea concluded.

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