Online marketing designs help marketers to build up better understanding of the businesses they support by facilitating more proactive and effective message market matching.

The use of ‘marketing patterns’ to provide flexible descriptions borrows from approaches to learning designs, which offer a representation of units of learning and of learner and teacher experiences. For business and marketing purposes, this supports a common terminology for marketers to interpret the brief accurately in terms of desired business objectives.

With an ability to share and repurpose, online marketing designs work best when they can be mapped to different contexts, needs and situations. Such dialogue can engage and challenge us in ways that improves the experience for prospective buyers moving through our sales and marketing process.

A marketing design is a specification that allows individual units of marketing to be represented and systematised. There is a large body of work around specifications for learning, but this seems less prevalent in these terms for representing marketing and for online marketing designs.

Online marketing designs enable an important feedback loop that can engage and challenge us to improve the experience for prospective buyers from their response to an advert to our follow up with them.

The concept of marketing designs is distinct from marketing strategies or marketing methods. It goes way beyond the concept of the ‘sales funnel’. Designing online marketing is less concerned with the implementation via pages, opt-ins, tools and systems and much more to do with the prospective buyer experience and the potential emotional end benefits of matching your product with their requirements, needs or desires.

The creation of marketing patterns is an approach that looks to provide templates and tools – an ‘architecture’ if you like – as a way of capturing knowledge from marketers and sharing it with a business community as a source for advice and discussion of target audience and their relative interest in products and services.

Both marketing patterns and marketing design encourage the representation of content alongside activities for engaging prospective buyers. This is important in the context of both print and online, technology-mediated practices.

There is the notion of design in terms of what the marketer does, which is concerned with designing, planning, orchestrating and supporting marketing activities ‘unit of marketing’, which cannot be deconstructed into smaller units, but can be aggregated as part of a strategy.

These holistic online marketing designs can also be used to describe the physical design of content – copywriting, websites, blogs, social network posts, as well as the activities our prospective buyers are doing across our marketing environment – reading, watching, clicking, sharing and so on.

This contrasts with what system designers do, which is to design marketing systems and the software engineering aspects and know-how. Here, we are concerned with understanding and improving the interaction between the prospective buyer and the online platform.

Few of these ideas are new to education, or indeed to marketing, but appear to be new to online marketing.

Specifying how these different components fit together and are mutually reinforcing is one way to create online marketing designs. This is a fruitful area to explore in terms of maximising both the flow and congruence of our marketing and the return on investment in terms of average visitor value and business revenue.