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Jean-Yves Gilg

Editor, Solicitors Journal

The digital age of marketing

The digital age of marketing


Adrienne Halladay urges firms to embrace the future of cloud computing and big data analytics, without neglecting tried and trusted marketing practices

In modern marketing, embracing technology is absolutely critical in order to give your firm a competitive edge. Cloud computing and associated technologies such as big data and analytics have revolutionised the way many firms now do business.

Even though the use of this technology is seen as being relatively recent, the idea of sharing computer resources has in fact been around since the 1950s.

The ability to collect data about your clients from a wide range of devices (smartphones, laptops, PCs, tablets) relies on the same technological principle that was first invented in the 1970s: the packet-switched network.

This method of digital network communications laid the foundations for the internet and later cloud computing, enabling the number of network access points to multiply rapidly.

As more firms are turning to the cloud to handle their big data analytics needs, more cloud services are popping up offering the feature. Some have been around since the beginning while others are only just starting to offer data analytics in the cloud. There are a lot of suppliers to choose from: Google Analytics, IBM Watson Analytics, Google BigQuery, Microsoft Power BI, and many more.

Big data analytics

Big data analytics is the process of examining large data sets containing a variety of data types. Big data can help uncover hidden patterns, unknown correlations, market trends, client preferences, demographic and geographical information, and other useful business information. The analytical findings can help lead to more effective marketing, new revenue opportunities, better client service, improved operational efficiency, and even a competitive advantage over rival law firms.

Customer relationship management software is one of the main driving forces behind cloud data analytics. Data analytics performed in the cloud are easier when taking into account all of the data that is now originating in the cloud. Digital marketing, social networking, and mobile applications can produce and use a lot of data, and since all that data comes from the cloud in the first place, performing analytics in the cloud actually makes the most sense.

Many traditional firms have a fear of using cloud-housed data analytics. For these, the fear of a security breach or allowing their client's data into the hands of a third party will simply be too much of a deterrent for them to embrace the technology.

However, security in the cloud has improved considerably over the past few years, and once these fears are faced and defeated, firms will feel much more confident about using cloud analytics.

Marketing goals

Although digital marketers should look forward to new and innovative approaches to marketing, they should not neglect the tried and trusted marketing practices that have served them well for many years.

For example, if you are using big data analytics to generate a greater insight about your clients, you first need to be clear on exactly what you hope to achieve. If you want to know how to better target a specific age group or evaluate the results you are getting from your current strategy, these are the kind of questions that big data can help with - but they are also the kind of questions that have proven useful to marketers since before the arrival of the internet.

Ultimately, it's important to remember that you need to have a clear marketing plan in place in order to get the most out of digital technologies, as the tools may have changed but the goals remain largely the same.

Similarly, engaging with your clients remains crucial as the number of ways to interact with them increases. It is not enough for firms to simply have a presence on social media; they must provide clients with informative and entertaining marketing materials and think carefully about their message before posting. Of course, these were equally important factors before the rise of social media, but it's vital they aren't neglected just because marketers are using a new medium of communication.

The digital marketing landscape continues to evolve and, to put it simply, if you are not embracing the digital age when communicating with your clients, then you may well find that you get left behind.

Adrienne Halladay is a director and marketing consultant at Symphony Legal @symphony_legal