RKS is a top digital marketing agency and innovation firm that focuses on paid, earned and owned media marketing campaigns backed by a data-driven approach. As a top digital marketing agency we work with both startups and later-stage companies to create and execute high-ROI digital marketing campaigns. We use our Holistic Marketing framework and our Psycho Aesthetics™ (P/A) methodology to solve the omnichannel needs of offline and online convergence. Among digital marketing agencies, we distinguish ourselves by our human-centered approach that relies on our P/A methodology to identify and understand consumers’ emotional and rational needs. We are a full-service digital marketing agency that provides paid, earned, and owned media support. We rely on our team of cross-disciplinary specialists in website platforming, advertising, software development, brand strategy, graphic design, and product innovation.
Over the years, we have developed and implemented work at each step of the marketing funnel for eCommerce, digital and physical products. As a full-service digital marketing agency, we operate at each level of the marketing funnel: building awareness and generating interest that leads to desire and action. Because we are also a product design firm, we consider digital marketing strategy early on in the creation process. We are leading to a holistic marketing outcome, where products are created and marketed using together, leading to superior market outcomes. We also provide specialized services in custom software creation, brand design, and user research, and more.
Digital Marketing Strategy
Our digital marketing strategy is based on a holistic understanding of the product and customer needs. We call this Holistic Marketing. Behind Holistic Marketing is our advanced design-thinking methodology called Psycho Aesthetics. Psycho Aesthetics was created by RKS to qualitatively and quantitatively understand consumer needs and how they are met and unmet by existing solutions. Using our core competencies of research and synthesis, we deeply connect with the driving emotional and physiological needs of consumers so that we can create a strategy around meeting those needs. Crafting personas around these insights allows us to target the right customers with the right messaging and positioning. By using Psycho Aesthetics® to benchmark existing strategies against competitive strategies, we focus on the opportunity zone that ultimately allows us to use the Hero’s Journey to create product virality and long-term success for our clients.
Digital Marketing Research
Our digital marketing strategy relies on our core competency of customer research service. Using both our proven global research methods and our experience, our agency crafts holistic marketing strategies that are highly targeted to both the customer and the business result. Our strategy becomes our true north, where our agency is able to pick the right basket of media and services for each client and each product. Our research has taken us to distant parts of the globe with in-depth ethnographies, to highly structured remote interviews, to our own backyard through informal conversation with colleagues, friends, and family. Choosing the right research tool is as important as using it properly. Our agency leverages our decades of experience to efficiently and effectively provide foundational research.
Our unique Psycho Aesthetics methodology allows us to peer into the emotional and physiological needs of consumers. These insights enable us to create a digital marketing strategy around meeting these needs. By meeting these needs, products have a great chance of entering the Hero’s Journey, a multi-step process that results in virality. Psycho Aesthetics is RKS’ advanced design-thinking methodology, and we leverage it for everything our agency does. By constructing personas from research and archetypes, we craft “help me” statements that accurately and succinctly define the pain points and desires of the target customer. We then visually benchmark these consumers with existing products in the marketplace. By finding the opportunity zones, where consumer needs are unmet by existing products or where consumers will exist, we can methodically determine where and how a marketing strategy can reach consumers.
Competitive Benchmarking for Digital Marketing
Competitive benchmarking allows us to craft a digital marketing strategy that is unique and targeted. By understanding competitor’s products and how their marketing strategies are meeting and targeting the needs of consumers, our agency can define a unique strategic opportunity zone. Sometimes a brand demands a unique selection of channels and media in addition to the messaging and targeting. However, in most cases, the right selection of messaging using established paid, earned, and owned media can strike to the heart of consumer needs and produce exceptional results.
By understanding the competitive environment, we can use best-in-class strategies while remaining relevant and conveying a targeting message in unique ways.
Digital Marketing for Omni-Channel Strategy
An omnichannel strategy provides customers with a fully-integrated experience by uniting user experiences from brick-and-mortar to mobile-browsing and everything in between. Our agency is full of experts at defining and executing a UX to deliver a common branded experience to users across channels. Channel selection strategy is deeply rooted in the consumer, product, and its positioning. The rapid emergence of new channels over the past decade that includes retargeting and social media are only the beginning. The next decade will see an eruption in the diversity of options within those channels and the creation of new channels. In the context of this environment, we remain focused on how to use existing paid, earned, and owned channels while positioning our content to remain relevant for the future. Old-guard analog channels such as billboards, experiential marketing, and targeted mailing continue to have some of the highest ROI. Coupled with digital marketing technologies like geofencing, retargeting, and social advertising, analog methods can create a “wall of sound” high-ROI digital strategy.
KPI Definition for Digital Marketing
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) enable us to monitor a marketing campaign’s success at various levels of the marketing funnel. While the bottom line requires marketing to deliver sales results, intermediary KPIs allow us to challenge and access hypotheses improving our holistic digital marketing strategy’s effectiveness. KPIs can be assigned to each level of the AIDA (Awareness, Interest, Desire, and Action) marketing funnel. At the top level, we might use impressions or views to determine whether our selection of channels and messaging resonated with our target consumers. At the interest level, responsiveness such as clicks or engagement such as likes or shares might be used. At lower levels like desire and action, we may look at purchase decisions and sales. Defining these KPIs is a crucial step in the development of a digital marketing strategy. Decisions are made based on them that have significant downstream effects in the course of the marketing campaigns. We use our experience and proven methodologies to focus on the KPIs that matter for each company, consumer, and product.
Research for Brand Strategy
A brand needs to make a good impression on its potential buyers or users to gain their trust. Research helps to get deeper into preferences and psychology of this target audience. Done well, research at the beginning of the process usually means steps later in the process can move forward more quickly. Psycho Aesthetics (P/A) is our unique approach to design thinking. Over the decades spent developing and evolving P/A, it has continuously progressed into a highly advanced design-thinking tool and framework that allows designers to create shared objective, pragmatic, and insightful approaches to everything from research and design, to name development, mission and vision statements, and more. It provides an open design framework under which the key understandings of mapping onto a consistent framework combine with the creation of a “hero’s journey” for all stakeholders, from consumers to members of our own teams. P/A is a universal design tool and framework that is only limited by individuals’ openness to working within frameworks and their own talents. Combined with “design doing,” success is exponentially advanced when created through this framework.
Ultimately, brands informed by user research are more durable, better targeted, and more financially successful. A strong, lovable brand can be a major asset that can ensure continuous growth, encourage user consistency, increase demand, and create a competitive advantage. However, today’s consumers have more choices than ever before. When they want to buy, they have to choose from a sea of thousands and thousands of competing brands. This consumer edge means brands have to go above and beyond to demonstrate value and stand out, which is where an emotional connection squeezes into the equation. This way this emotional connection is created through a deep understanding of the needs and wants of customers. Our research is used to generate qualitative and quantitative insights into consumers, their needs, their aspirations, their challenges, how they work, how they live, how they play, and the interior and social architecture of their lives. We use this picture as the basis of our designs.
Ethnographic research is a cornerstone of our advanced design thinking methodology, Psycho-Aesthetics. Ethnographic research is a qualitative method where our researchers observe and interact with potential consumers in their real-life environment. We routinely go into the field to observe consumers in a broad range of contexts from homes to hobbies to their offices. When we can’t be there physically, we use current and emerging technology to gather and analyze data. In addition to ethnography and observation, we use interviews, benchmarking, and competitive analyses, as well as evaluative research methods such as
human factors evaluation, simulated use, and comparative testing. Our team has years of experience designing, executing, and transferring data from our ethnographies to award-winning designs.
Our research often results in persona creation, which informs the creative elements of a brand. This important step of research is a foundation of the branding process. Before designers start working on a visual part, they need to identify the character of the customer, company, and product they want to present. Designing a brand without this knowledge won’t have the emotional connection required to work. This emotional connection cuts deeply the basic motivations and psychologies of the target customers.
An important part of making a brand work for a business are market-driven insights. A brand must respond to the needs of the market. We work with our clients to understand their business, and the market forces that dominate their business. Sometimes this includes understanding the cultures, context, and core macro economic forces that drive their business. We use our P/A framework to distill qualitative and quantitative insights from this data. In some cases these insights will inform our use of different visual elements and in other cases it will instruct communication strategies. Ultimately, a brand strategy is to drive the most effective marketing strategy possible..
Digital Marketing Narrative
The narrative provides the material for the execution of our strategy. The narrative combines the brand and targeted consumer with the creative assets and channel selection. At a high level, the narrative is the story that we tell. Using our design-thinking methodology, our agency focuses on the consumer as the hero. By following the hero’s journey, we attract and engage consumers by reaching deep into their needs and desires. Upon adopting, we help consumers have a moment of truth that encourages them to become heroic evangelists attracting new consumers. The narrative starts with a mood board based on new or existing branding targeted to our consumers. Through native content creation of creative assets, we create a foundation of communication tools. We can use these tools to bring our narrative to our chosen channels.
Digital Marketing Brand Identity
Brand Identity serves as a truth north a digital marketing strategy. Brand identity is usually the by-product of the customer research and Psycho-Aesthetics Mapping done as part of the project. Te fundamental question that needs to be answered over and over again in every interaction is: What does [my brand] stand for? The answer is usually written down as a series of value propositions that identify who the product is for and why it matters to them. A successful narrative will identify this early on. For some brands, a successful narrative might be focused no the innovative product itself. For other brands, the narrative might be the lifestyle of the product – how the product completes or creates a lifestyle. For yet other brands, it might be the people who use the product. Sometimes it’s a combination of all three. In all cases, it’s important to be crystal clear early on. By taking a stance on brand identity early on, all content creation and visual asset creation can flow in the same direction, reinforcing the brand identity and building awareness and interest that becomes the basis for the Hero’s Journey and the generation of viral demand.
Digital Marketing Mood Boards
Mood boards serve as a fundamental transition between brand identity and visual organizing. Mood boards effectively set the scene, directing activities and aligning next steps by establishing a point of reference. Mood boards can include just about anything — photography, designs or illustrations, color palettes, textures, descriptive words — anything that helps you define the direction of a project. A mood board helps establish the basics of what the result could ideally look like. Sometimes it’s even beneficial to create a few mood boards that highlight various elements of the project to have a holistic, visual landscape before starting. While the brand identity may be clear, it’s easy to forget the original intent once the project reaches future stages.
Having a mood board on display helps remind the team of the initial goal. Looking at your mood board regularly can also help inform all the micro-decisions you make towards the main goal. It also helps avoid any misunderstandings that may result from trying to describe a design concept verbally. Two people may say the same thing but mean something completely different, so a visual representation can help everyone get on the same page.
Digital Marketing Creative Assets
The mood board creates the basis for content creation. Visual assets like photography, videos, memes, gifts, and so are used throughout the digital marketing campaign. Ideally, they are similar but not the same. Each platform like the website, Instagram, TikTok, Pinterest, and so on has different requirements and needs. Creative assets should combine the visual direction of the mood board with the needs of the platforms. For most digital marketing campaigns, creative assets as the most widely seen assets. Every aspect of these assets should be put under a microscope, ensuring that everything from the product placement, lighting, environment, clothing, and treatments is consistent with the platforms’ needs and the mood board. Too often, this level of detail is overlooked, leading to conflicting narratives across platforms. Similarly, the text should be derivative of the brand identity and mood board. The language used in all the platforms should fit the greater narrative. With every post and every page of every website, the language should be consistent and driven towards brand identity. Notably, text is not only read by humans. Social platforms and search engines like Google, YouTube, Facebook, Tiktok also use the text to catalog and rank content. Using a content strategy that delivers a coherent and consistent narrative is another way to target the right audience and increase audience size.
Digital Marketing Execution
Once our agency builds the strategy and narrative, we develop the materials needed for execution, develop paid budgets and own media scheduling, organize partnerships, create community guidelines, and source and manage trusted partners. These agency services enable us to execute a robust digital marketing campaign. In addition, we pay key attention to defending and measuring the right digital marketing KPIs. For newly designed and developed products and services, the execution phase of a digital marketing strategy often begins long before a product or service is launched, building brand identity and narrative from the beginning. For existing products and services, we can execute on existing strategies or regroup to adapt and modify the marketing strategy and narrative where needed.
Our agency defines success by creating and executing successful digital marketing strategies. In most cases, our clients are looking to increase sales or optimize their ROI. Our agency’s dedicated project managers will work with clients to ensure that our team and vendors are working effectively, communicating consistently, and delivering results regularly on the chosen KPIs.
Paid Social Media
Paid Media has become a critical part of most digital marketing campaigns. Driven by the time spent on digital devices using search and especially social media, the importance of paid media has only grown. Often platforms gate unpaid business marketing content. This behavior has increased over time, as platforms have gotten better at differentiating commercial marketing content from personal content. Their success has increased advertising revenues as brands now need to pay for the same visibility they may have gotten free in years past. A properly managed paid media marketing strategy is based on a well-developed ROI calculation. As long as the cost of a social media campaign is delivering business in excess of the minimum margin needed, the campaign should be considered a success. Normally, marketing campaigns are iterative. Initial marketing campaigns enable us to hone in on segments. The ROI increases as paid marketing campaigns become more targeted. Too often, brands develop budgets the other way around, leading to wasted opportunities.
PPC and PPM Paid Media Budgeting
Platforms like Google, Amazon, and LinkedIn have opportunities for pay-per-click (PPC) and pay-per-mile (PPM) advertisements. These types of PPC and PPM paid media can be important tools in a digital marketing strategy. PPC media can be tracked directly to leads and sales and can be a source of efficient lead generation. By optimizing bidding and targeting, PPC can generate leads and sales far in excess of advertising spend. PPM, on the other hand, is more widely used to generate awareness and interest. It is inherently much harder to tie PPM paid media to sales and, as a result, must be used carefully in the context of the digital marketing strategy.
Email marketing is an important inbound and outbound marketing tool. For potential customers that visit owned medial or interact with paid and earned media, email can drive an interested potential customer to take action in a high ROI event like a sale. For existing customers, email marketing is the key way to stay in contact with past customers and drive incremental customer lifetime value.
A successful paid and owned social media campaign will turn into a robust earned community. As people see and experience a product or service online, they will become hero evangelists that attract and engage new customers. A robust community engagement framework drives this change from customer to evangelists. An earned social media strategy will create rules of engagement that drive the customer to tag, like, and share posts and brand messaging.
Paid Influencer Media
A significant part of a paid digital marketing media budget now often goes to influencers and product placements. Paid influencer placements usually have the ability to create interest and awareness in a product that traditional paid, earned, or owned marketing campaigns simply don’t have. Increasingly, micro-influencers and nano influencers that have only 1000 or 500 followers are used to introduce brands, products, and services to new audiences. As compared to influencers like celebrities, these micro and nano influencers have much more engaged audiences that are more likely real consumers who are more likely to follow their recommendations. Influencers have increasingly become essential for a digital marketing strategy.
Owned media is the keystone for any digital marketing strategy. A website not only serves as an important lead generator but also a crucial disseminator of the narrative. Owned media is where a brand can truly tell its own story.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a critical way to drive traffic to a website. Unlike paid search advertising (SEM), SEO relies on technical and content changes to a website. SEO makes sure that owned web media ranks for the right keywords and avoids the wrong keywords. Like building a house, SEO brings together the technical (structure) and content (interior). A successful SEO strategy will create multiple top 10 rankings among relevant keywords, delivering high-ROI leads. Analytics also play a key role in driving web traffic and SEO. Defining and tracking the KPIs that matter to your business is the best way to have high ROI digital marketing campaigns.
Choosing the right eCommerce website platform is a critical choice of infrastructure that affects scalability in the future. Current website platforms offer a dizzying choice of options, prices, and plugins. Moreover, they often offer out-of-the-box functionality and easy setup. While many are well-equipped for starting a store, they all require expertise to optimize and integrate into an effective digital marketing strategy, narrative, and execution. A website often serves as a keystone for our multi-channel strategy, especially for ecommerce. From the beginning a website must integrate analytics that ensure cross-channel KPI tracking. The website and platform must also be able to abstract customer data for use in paid advertising and owned email marketing campaigns.
Digital marketing changes all the time, and our agency uses a variety of best-in-class vendors to help us navigate the changing landscape. While we develop the strategy and narrative in-house, we often rely on agency vendors to help us execute them across platforms. While we can work with a client’s existing agency vendors, we have years of experience working without existing agency vendors and trust them to execute our strategies efficiently and transparently. Choosing the right agency partners can often be the keystone to a successful digital marketing strategy. Not only do digital marketing vendors bring an additional set of talents, but they also bring the latest techniques to optimize the success of marketing campaigns.