Human beings love the comfort of familiarity. The same goes for how we like our digital experiences.
Ever watched a movie on your favorite streaming service on your TV, then switched to viewing it on the mobile app only to have vastly different experiences? It’s jarring and certainly not a great experience. What helps is when brands have a consistent digital presence. After all, the brand and brand goals are the same, regardless of the channel, so they should be consistent.
Organizations are spreading their digital presence farther afield these days, too, especially as the number of digital media proliferate. Ensuring that brand consistency, compliance, messaging, and customer experience stay unified requires marketing strategies that can handle a brand’s reach, which is where distributed marketing comes into play.
In this article, we’ll look at what distributed marketing is, who uses it, and how automation plays a pivotal role in a successful distributed marketing strategy.
What is distributed marketing?
Distributed marketing involves collaborating across multiple fields, distribution channels, and partners to sell a brand and its products by scaling from global to national and local markets. It's how an organization makes digital experiences consistent, markets across its diverse channels, automates what would otherwise be busy work, and scales marketing efforts. Useful from retail to banking and media to food and beverage, distributed marketing works to keep brand representation tight across digital channels, locations, and partners.
Diverse brand experiences are often the product of different digital channels. Similarly, distributed marketing relies on technology to reach global markets. With multinational enterprises working to scale their marketing efforts while maintaining their brand consistency, distributed marketing software acts as a home base. The brain communicating with the rest of the body, if you will. Distributed marketing automation ensures that changes to branding or marketing assets at that home base are automatically dispersed to every channel that needs to reflect the updates.
Who uses distributed marketing?
Organizations that focus on multiple geographic locations — a global presence versus a local one — use distributed marketing. Similarly, franchise organizations and decentralized companies also lean heavily on distributed marketing — or they should. The general store down the street might have a website but doesn’t need distributed marketing. Pharmacies like CVS or Walgreens that have locations throughout the United States, however, would be foolish to operate without distributed marketing.
Because we live in a wired world, almost anyone can encounter your brand. Fiber optic cables connect digital channels, locales, applications, and messages, and they’re, well, distributed. It would be difficult to create marketing campaigns for each channel and location every time they’re needed.
Enter distributed marketing, which empowers marketing teams to reach every channel in every location from one place with consistent messaging and brand experience. This is key to scaling marketing across a distributed organization.
Let’s use the sports brand, Nike, as an example. Nike is a global brand, and its products are everywhere, but most of its sales don’t take place at a brick-and-mortar Nike store or even Nike.com. Instead, a vast network of partners, distributors, and retailers sell Nike products through their own websites, apps, etc. What remains consistent? Nike’s brand, messaging, look — all of which are distributed from Nike corporate to this network. This is distributed marketing and, at scale, it requires technology to keep things in order and running smoothly.
Companies need distributed marketing technology to enforce consistent branding and marketing across the world. Any number of things could go wrong without it. Think of it like this: An organization has its main brand styles, but those styles aren’t readily shared to local stores and distributors across the globe. So, those global partners can improvise their own design ideas and implement their own branding interpretation. The situation could easily get out of hand, with hundreds of distributors interpreting the branding however they saw fit. Just like that, and consistency goes out the window.
It’s an exaggerated example but more on the mark than you think. Without a distributed marketing automation platform to act as a single source for brand consistency, enforcing it becomes a great deal more difficult. That, in turn, can translate into consumers losing trust in the brand.
Benefits of distributed marketing
The world is wide, and organizations across it are vying for overwhelmed customers in saturated markets. Companies navigating all this use distributed marketing to keep a competitive edge. Let’s look at some tangible benefits of distributed marketing.
Governance and efficiency
When distributed marketing comes from one platform, organizations maintain control over everything on the operational level: workflows, editorial procedures, review cycles, updates, deployment schedules, you name it. While the network is distributed, there’s a centralized foundation that remains constant, ensuring everything under it follows the same rules and adheres to the same processes, which breeds efficient, repeatable actions that scale.
A large part of the central control that distinguishes distributed marketing is brand consistency. Recall the Nike example and the chaos that would ensue if each distribution channel beyond the company’s corporate reach could market its products however they saw fit. But with centralized control, a brand base is established for every distributed marketing channel so that everywhere an organization sells its products, the brand remains unified.
Legal and regulatory compliance
While brand consistency is important, when the branding slides or is somehow off, there aren’t potentially dire ramifications. Not so with legal and regulatory compliance. Many of the world’s best-known brands represent the finance, healthcare, insurance, and similar sectors that are heavily regulated. With distributed marketing channels in place across the world, keeping tabs on legal and regulatory requirements is a must. Central control over various marketing channels helps brands avoid fines or other regulatory penalties.
Analytics and automation
A central view of analytics across distributed channels is paramount to future marketing decision making. Use insights to plan, fix, rethink, and analyze your brand as a whole or at a granular level. Pinpoint common and outlier issues and use insights to create automated marketing campaigns that target certain actions. In distributed marketing, the world is your oyster when it comes to analytics, and automation makes it easy to act on insights.
Better customer experience
The benefits outlined above are all aimed at bettering customer experience. Customers never need to know what distributed marketing actually is. In fact, if they don’t notice it, that’s how you know it’s working. Brand loyalty and trust aren’t easy to maintain in the web’s vast sea of options, but you can start here with a solid distributed marketing strategy and stay consistent while marketing to a global audience.
Choosing a distributed marketing solution
Distributed marketing gives global enterprises the means to command their marketing centrally while disseminating marketing efforts through diverse channels. Naturally, a distributed marketing automation platform will need to match your organizational goals, but one thing’s certain: Scaling globally requires control and agility simultaneously.
If you’d like to discuss how this type of scaling works, we’re happy to chat with you and show you how distributed marketing works in Acquia’s Campaign Factory.