NEW YORK: General Electric, the technology, finance and services giant, is adapting its digital marketing strategy to reflect core principles like "radical transparency" and "micro-relevancy".

In the Harvard Business Review, Beth Comstock, GE's chief marketing officer, and Linda Boff, its executive director, global digital marketing, argued everything from search to social media is now vital.

"Those tools are fast becoming the single most important way to attract new business customers and sustain old ones," they said.

While consumer brands seem to have the most to gain from creating content and experiences in this space, B2B firms can make "how-to" videos, directly engage with customers, offer personalised services and conduct predictive data analytics.

Boff and Comstock said: "Digital marketing takes investment, experimentation - even a degree of faith - before specific goals can be met. But results are stacking up. Your customers are digital."

They also named "radical transparency" as a key concept, shown by the fact 100,000 staff from IBM are highly active on social media, and Dell enjoyed an "unexpected positive customer response" after developing user-review systems for its official site.

"Your customers already know, or can quickly find out, everything about you and what you sell. They expect you to be honest about how your products and services stack up," said Boff and Comstock.

A second trend identified was "micro-relevancy", or exploiting the power of digital platforms to target small segments, rather than simply relying on page views and exposures to achieve scale.

"Digital marketing tools bring us within reach of the ultimate dream of marketing: reaching the right audience with the right offer at exactly the right time," Boff and Comstock said.

The third shift outlined by their article was open collaboration, seeing brand owners work with other companies and expert individuals to create and enhance products.

"Open collaboration is where the digital promise transcends what was possible even a short time ago," Boff and Comstock said.

GE's ecomagination Challenge received 5,000 entries from 150 nations proposing ways to improve the smart grid, and it has since formed alliances with numerous start-ups, venture capitalists and retailers.

Data sourced from Harvard Business Review; additional content by Warc staff