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More B2C and B2B marketers are shifting their focus towards increased digital in their tactical mix.

Understanding the digital locations of their target audiences is becoming a standard step in the creation of a digital plan, but many are overlooking the intentions of their online audiences, and adapting their tactics accordingly.

This blog introduces the concept of the digital ocean and the need to locate and market to both fishers (those actively researching products/services) and swimmers (those not looking and just ‘hanging out’ online).

So, fellow marketers, we are all likely beyond the trial and error phase of digital and realize that an intelligent, synchronized and aligned plan is needed to maximize our digital investment.  

Start with your prime objective: for example in the B2C world it may be the collection of marketable contacts (via coupon/offer) or for B2B it may be lead generation with a primary call-to-action of a signup for an online trial.

Next, how are you going to connect with the targeted audience? This is where the digital ocean analogy is helpful. The ocean represents all the possible online channels and locations (e.g. search, websites, blogs, social communities, ads, articles, email, text ...) where your audience could be reached.  

Now consider whether you are only trying to reach targets who are actively looking for a product/service/offer like yours (fishers), or those who are not actively looking but may respond to a discussion, or an ad, or blog related to their interest (swimmers), or both.

Take a look at the graphic below:

If your audience is fishing, what are some of the digital mechanisms and places they would go to identify, research and evaluate. What is the likely journey they would take to select your product/service/offer?

You need to create the appropriate fishing bait comprising content, search results and outbound campaigns to attain consideration. Your content and tactics will be oriented towards that fishing model as you can see from the (B2B) example.

The tactics used to attract swimmers can be very different, and are more educational rather than promotional in nature. Social media plays a bigger role here, as that is where your target audience 'hangs out' and engages with people/content related to their interest.  

Creating or engaging in conversations is an obvious tactic, adding value and opinion without overly promoting. Advertising on social and industry sites is effective, as pinpoint profiling and targeting is usually possible.

Search keywords that you should orient towards can also differ whether your targets are fishing or swimming.  

Fishers tend to use more action/competitive oriented search terms aimed at a product or service type (e.g. cheapest airline ticket to London, best performing mutual fund), whereas swimmers are usually more interested in education and discovery related to their topic of interest (e.g. mortgage industry best practices, diabetes discussion groups).

As a next step to work on this concept yourself, try printing and filling in the graphic above which is a worksheet (this one for B2B models) to help you identify locations and search terms based on audience intent.

Once you have these locations and likely search terms identified for SEO planning, determine the 'customer journey' from discovery through education through engagement through selection of your product/service/offer.  

In some cases that journey might be short, even immediate (e.g. B2C coupon signup), but for B2Bs that journey may have several steps requiring a combination of fishing and swimming tactics and content made available along that path towards selection.

Bottom line, don't create content or invest in inbound or outbound tactics that are not aligned with both the intention and location of your target audience. 

Andy McCartney

Published 6 February, 2012 by Andy McCartney

Andy McCartney is Founder of TechMarketer.biz and iMCCmarketing LLC, and a contributor to Econsultancy. 

7 more posts from this author

Comments (1)

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Tony Barrow

Like the terminology used - helps to developing / playing a good contribution to essential practices segmentation and the important steps from gaining leads, to nurturing and closing

almost 5 years ago

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