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Consumers don't hunt down brands on the web, but stick with what they know, warns CIM

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The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) is warning marketers that consumers don’t go looking for brands on the web, rather that they stick with fewer than ten websites they know and trust. And future success for digital marketing only lies in recognizing which ‘digital villages’ their target consumers have self-selected.

CIM head of research Mark Stuart says: “It’s a myth that people explore the world the internet has to offer – the reality is that most people stick to eight or nine websites that they regularly visit. This means that businesses need to inhabit the spaces their customers inhabit, in order to build the brand, create awareness and generate a relationship with the customer.

The Institute has published a white paper on the future of digital marketing and offers insight into what works and what doesn’t.

“There are some good examples in the paper including Waitrose successfully doing this, but American Apparel getting it wrong on Second Life,” says Stuart.

The paper also says that, once brands and agencies have identified their consumers and narrowed down where they ‘live’ digitally, they need to create a dialogue with them – which is easier said than done.

“The need to create a dialogue with customers is easy to say in theory, but how do you do it in practice? Practising marketers need to live online the way their customers’ do – that’s the best way to create offerings that customers will like and respond to, versus being intrusive of personal spaces and becoming an unwanted third party. It means you find insights that lead to products and services. It also means you spot problems on the horizon and have the time to deal with them,” says Stuart.
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