A deep dive into what Platform-based marketing is, how it started, and how it can benefit businesses.

Description/understanding

Platform-based marketing is a term, first coined by the company Craspa in 2020, to attribute to a marketing technique that utilizes the platform, usually on mobile, which a venture traditional uses to serve its customers, ie. mobile e-com shop, as an additional tool for marketing and communicating with their customers.

The term was coined to highlight the difference in digital marketing outlets and how its use-cases can outperform traditional digital marketing outlets such as social media marketing, digital media marketing, email marketing, and more, by providing a direct-to-consumer(DTC) conversion funnel. Platform-based marketing has seen a rise in usage and popularity over the years since 2016 and was amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic which forced retailers to shift existing outlets of commerce that primarily involved peer-to-peer interaction to digital contact-less and hands-free commerce.

Platform-based marketing prides itself on not making all interactions with the customer transactional but instead attempting to treat a venture’s mobile platform as a social media platform, in which customer’s attention and engagement would be consumed at a similar rate as social platforms as fundamentally making the retailer their own “social media platform”.

“Those apps urge people to participate in a range of activities with a gamification strategy designed to maintain loyalty, reinforce brand messaging and drive sales.”(marketingdive)

Platform-based marketing is a subcategory of digital marketing that aims to be a more effective and affordable market strategy towards increasing the value of existing customers versus directly generating new leads, however, new lead generation is a symptom with increased customer satisfaction leading to increased referral.

The awe of platform-based marketing is that it effectively combines all digital marketing techniques into one, allowing a retailer full control and granularity when communicating with customers. A few examples of platform-based marketing is an e-commerce website transiting to a mobile app, that will encourage customers to create loyalty profiles and regularly target engagement with push notifications to garner customer’s attention.

Another is a restaurant that wants to increase customer spending, so they implement a loyalty feature in their app and in turn gamifies a customer’s experience, to encourage more spending behaviors. Along with incorporating social media features to interact with customers and provide a sense of “brand awareness” rather than a call-to-action, such as a story feed or image feed as seen on social platforms like Instagram and Snapchat.


Another benefit often overlooked of platform-based marketing is isolating customer’s attention, whereas compared to social media platforms where content from millions of creators is curated using highly specialized and advanced algorithms to keep a user’s attention on their platform.

Leaving you as a brand to compete with thousands of other brands on the same feed. Also compared to social media marketing, platform-based marketing provides a sense of fixed costs as opposed to social media platforms with your costs correlative to competition demand.

Background

For a rundown of the common different types of digital marketing, view this article here, https://revive.digital/blog/the-11-types-of-digital-marketing.

Platform-based marketing first started to come into mainstreaming by big brands, such as Nike, Starbucks, and Chick-fil-a. These brands were the first adopters to the idea of developing your own platform to boost brand image and increase customer engagement, spending, and retention. Due to these brands investing early into the idea of platform-based marketing, they were in a prime position to navigate the global pandemic of COVID-19.


The downfall of social media and email marketing, the science of friction

If you dedicate time, money, and energy to create presentable content for social media platforms why not post that content on your own platform. What benefit do these social media platforms actually give your brand that would warrant strictly or primarily only utilizing their platform for outreach?

In this day and age of social media dominance, each platform is competing for the dominance of people’s attention which is why we have seen the meteoric rise of TikTok, a social media platform that gave people what they always craved, “virality”.

However, with good comes bad, Tiktok is horrible for business conversion because if these platforms solely make money from people being on their platform what would incentivize them to encourage brands to take them off the platform. This sentiment has also been echoed recently by Instagram who incorporated shopping directly into their app, as a brand you are giving away too much control to these social media platforms.

This leads to “pay to play” when it comes to social media marketing, generic growth on established social media platforms is none existent, the best platforms for bullish return on the generic effort are the newest and fresh out the box platforms.

These are the phases of a social media platform, new content -> attracts viewers -> attracts more content -> repeat -> saturation, thus making the biggest condition of success on a social media platform, time. However, aiming for perfect timing is not a feasible or realistic approach for every business that aims to succeed.

The majority of undoubtedly successful creators and accounts on social media platforms were the first adopters, meaning if you were not first on the platform for your niche you are going to have to “pay to play”. You are going to have to pay to take people off the platform.

It’s ironic in a way, social media platforms are like kidnappers and advertisers have to pay a ransom to get people. For many brands, social media has been the prime destination for the certainty of ad results, but if your intention is for call-to-action, social media marketing is rapidly losing its effectiveness.

Along with email marketing, the hedge against social media “pay to play” and algorithm suppression. However, just like social media, there is a lot of friction that comes with email marketing. First, you have email providers such as Gmail, which serve over 80% of US emails, who divide emails by categories and put “promotional” emails to the least optimal view of a user.

Adding more to the friction of your marketing. The downfall of these digital marketing outlets is the friction they create, people have short attention spans, the difference between 1 more click can be the difference of 10,000s to 100,000s of in sales. The goal for these platforms is to make themselves a one-stop-shop for your business and gradually monopolize control over your brand.


A look in the mirror

Though platform-based marketing has its own caveats, such as how would one gain traction to their platform in the first place. Furthermore as to why platform-based marketing is not the end all be all for digital marketing but rather the closing for your digital marketing. Instead of constantly competing to take a user/customer off a social media platform, you do your best to do it once, lock them into your platform, and communicate from then on there with them on your platform.

There are 4 pillars of platform-based marketing

Intention: You want your customers to want to interact with you, for example: when you google, “what are the best cafes near me”, the intention is to find coffee, so placing a coffee ad in that search would be within your intention.

Attention: Utilizing features, action, and rewards in your mobile platform to attract customers’ attention. For example: sending a push notification 5 minutes before lunchtime.

Extension: The ability to expand on ideas that you think will help generate existing customer leads. Retention: A great user experience on your mobile platform will keep customers coming back, along with gamified features to encourage recurring customer engagement.

All to bottle down to less friction, platform-based marketing eliminated the friction seen from traditional digital marketing outlets with direct-to-consumer techniques.

Sources:

https://www.marketingdive.com/news/nikes-apps-played-crucial-role-in-driving-engagement-2020-digital-sales-g/593335