Whilst many companies work with linear marketing funnels we are here to discuss marketing ecosystems. What are ecosystems? Why do we believe that this is the new way of advertising, positioning, and communicating your brand? And what three-step strategy can you implement to help set this up? You can read more about it in this article.
The power of ecosystems in marketing
Sales processes are often based on a linear marketing plan and funnel. However, people often don’t buy in a ‘linear’ way but rather dynamically, which might take them more time. An ecosystem will help create a multi-platform approach in which (potential) customers are exposed to your brand differently than from a linear funnel. This will help capture the entire market, including the audience who is not ready to buy yet. Let’s look into it.
An example of linear sales funnels
Linear sales funnels have been used for a long time by many businesses. They have proven to be effective. However, with many markets changing, linear sales funnels are becoming less effective and are not capturing the entirety of your market anymore. This is because more competitors are entering the space which creates market saturation. Because of this, it is harder to get noticed and advertising costs are increasing.
A linear sales funnel is often built as follows: you have an opt-in page where people leave their name and email address. From here they will receive a gift, webinar, challenge, or class. At the end of this there will be a pitch or an offer in which the customer or client can decide to take this offer within a certain timeframe (often 7-14 days). People enter the sales funnel in the beginning and are taken through a linear sequence with a goal to buy your product or service..
The problem here is that people don’t really tend to buy in a linear way. There is so much content out there that not many people who sign up for your webinar or challenge will actually show up. In reality, people often need more time to be exposed to the message your brand is portraying. This builds trust and interest. The process is dynamic. How do we solve this problem? Let’s look at marketing ecosystems.
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What is an ecosystem in digital marketing?
Instead of creating a linear marketing funnel we want to look into creating a scalable, sustainable, and more profitable alternative. An interconnected ecosystem with different processes, platforms, and different offers in which your client or customer is exposed to your brand from different directions. You can take more time to optimize this ecosystem to ensure that more people know you, like you, and trust you. Which is very important in the process of buying your product and/or service.
What do you need to make an ecosystem work? You need a strong brand that is properly positioned in your market. It is important to come back to your brand message and proposition from time to time, simply because many markets are often changing rapidly. You have to keep up and see if your brand value and positioning is still up to date. You also want to make sure that your (many) competitors are not bombarding the market place with similar products and your own brand going unnoticed. How do you do this? By adding value and coming back to your brand positioning often.
Creating ecosystems to address human needs
When marketers create marketing strategies they might forget the human needs behind their plan. Ecosystems are much more versatile than linear processes and therefore they are able to address more needs than the linear variant. Simply because they come at the customer/clients from different perspectives and are able to capture their attention in different stages of the buying process. Let’s discuss three easy steps to set up your ecosystem strategy.
A marketing ecosystem is a combination of organic marketing and paid marketing (paid advertising). It is important to not rely on either one of them, but it is best to make them work together as a unit. In step 1 you want to look at (re)positioning your brand. Step 2 looks at scaling your business horizontally by creating a foundation with organic marketing. Then in step 3 you can accelerate with paid advertisement. In the end you want to build an ecosystem for long-term growth, since all your customers will buy your product or service in their own good time. So why not build a system based on their needs?
Step 1: Proper messaging and positioning
Ecosystems in marketing are all about proper messaging, positioning, and building a real brand. The market your brand is operating in is constantly evolving and becoming more mature. Therefore, your message, marketing, and positioning also needs to evolve. To make an ecosystem work is to get the foundation right, and you do this by making sure your brand message, brand story, and brand positioning are up to date. When this is realised, you can look at step two and three that will help build your ecosystem strategy.
Step 2: Horizontal Organic Scaling
Before you can combine organic marketing and paid advertisement, we advise you to first start scaling organically. Do you have an offer that is proven and validated by your community? If yes, then within this phase you want to increase the amount of platforms you are portraying your message on, which is multi-platform horizontal scaling. Here you can duplicate the message that is already working for you on different platforms, to help increase your profit and revenue. When this fundatment stands, you need paid advertisement to increase your reach and build on the message you’re sending out organically.
Step 3: Accelerating with paid advertisement
In this step you can take what is already working and accelerate its effects. You can increase the organic input by using paid advertisements. Start scaling vertically by adding more advertising budget and marketing power to your ecosystem and this will eventually create more profit for you, in a non-linear way. You can target the right people and re-target the customers that haven’t bought anything yet.
It is important to not only rely on paid advertisements. This is because the world of advertisement is fragile. The algorithm can change, your ad account can be shut down, or the performance of your ads might drop. Then you’ll be in trouble. You can do really well in your market and then your market changes and gets more mature and you fail to grow with it. Then the ad costs increase and you haven’t had the time to adjust properly yet. In these times it is good to also be able to fall back on organic marketing. This is why a combination of the two works best within a marketing ecosystem.
Long-term growth with marketing ecosystems
To set up a marketing ecosystem for success, you have got to understand that you are building it for the long run as well as for customers and clients that are in different stages of their buying process. It might take them a day or 12 months to complete the first transaction. When someone enters your ecosystem it doesn’t necessarily mean they are ready to buy right now, and that is OK! This is because you are building towards long-term growth and you understand the needs of your customers.
An example of a customer walking in your ecosystem
Let’s look at Laura, she is a potential customer and she has been exposed to your organic marketing on different platforms for a couple of months now. Through this exposure she has got to know your brand, your values, and your offer. This has made her build interest and trust into your brand and the service and/or product you sell. However, she is not ready to make a purchase yet. In a linear funnel she would have maybe attended the webinar but since she is not ready to buy she probably would have left the funnel at some point.
In the ecosystem Laura is approached with organic marketing and she scheduled to do a webinar. She doesn’t show up but she does join a Facebook group. Here she looks at the Facebook posts for a couple of months and then books a call to get to know more about the service you are providing. She cancels the call because she couldn’t find the time. She is still in the ecosystem and half a year later she sees a YouTube video that sparks her interest again and through a retargeting advertisement she eventually purchases the products. In her own time, at the moment she was ready. This is how ecosystems work.
Are you ready to dive into marketing ecosystems?
Whilst everyone is chasing customers right now and pitching their ideas with different linear funnels that are time consuming to make and not as effective as they seem, we suggest creating a marketing ecosystem instead. A well-oiled, multi-platform strategy that is thought-through and aims at a much bigger group of (potential) purchasers. Eventually people will buy. And if they won’t, then they weren’t the ideal customer in the first place.
Do you want to learn how to better position yourself in your market as well as utilizing both organic marketing and paid advertising? We work with the best digital marketing strategists and content creators that can help you set up a marketing ecosystem. If you would like to know more about how we can assist you, please get in touch here!