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3i Principles

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Digital Marketing - Study Notes:


The Digital Marketing Institute has developed a methodology that helps to guide digital marketers towards achieving their goals. This methodology, which is central to the key components of digital marketing, comprises three principles: initiate, integrate, and iterate.

Collectively, this is referred to as the 3i Principles. The principles are designed to get you to think about a digital marketing strategy or campaign from start to finish. This helps marketers ensure they are hitting key targets, reflecting on what worked, and understanding what requires refinement.


The initiate principle of digital marketing states that the customer is the starting and finishing point for all digital activities. The core of this principle can be summed up as: ‘Let the customer decide’.


Iterate emphasizes the importance of tweaking a digital marketing campaign in response to user interaction. In short, the more iterations undertaken, the more effective the campaign becomes as you seek to adjust and scale based on feedback, customer engagement, and data.


The integrate principle is about taking your efforts across digital channels to drive an outcome that is greater than the individual channels on their own. This also involves integrating both digital and any traditional marketing efforts in a unified way into your overall marketing campaign strategy.

Deep dive

Let’s take a look at each of the principles in more detail and discover the key questions we should be asking ourselves when deploying the 3i methodology.


You want to start with what the customer actually wants and work backwards through your strategy towards your objective. Consider who are they, what are they interested in, what resonates with them, and what products have they already tested? What actions can you take using digital platforms that will add value to your organization and customer experience? This insight can be uncovered through customer research; in this way, you should try to understand how your customer would like to be talked to. You can use consumer research, past data collected from your campaigns, as well as any internal or commissioned company research to draw insights to guide your strategy. It’s a good idea to research any roadblocks that your strategy needs to overcome in order to efficiently reach the audience. By starting with the customer and translating the customer view and insights into a tangible digital strategy, you increase your chance of achieving your goals.


The Iterate stage is about testing and improving your activity now that you understand more about the audience, the channels they use, and how they view your brand online. In terms of digital messaging, targeting, and channels, you know what you're going to do, but you want to make sure it's going to work. So during the Iterate stage, you apply your learnings from live or historical customer engagements with your campaign to improve performance. The iterate part is about A/B testing, putting your brand out there, and modifying targeting and messaging to adapt and optimize your digital campaign to deliver on your objectives.

In the Iterate stage, ask: Do they engage with it? If they are not engaged, what can you change to make them more engaged? Did you go through the right path? Did you position your product in a way that resonates on the market? Are you filling the market gaps? Is your content engaging, is it interesting enough? Is your audience targeting correct? Are your keyword choices driving the desired action from the audience? Once you've done all this testing, you can begin to improve by doing more of what worked and pulling back on what didn’t work, with a view to producing a refined campaign. This applies across time, as you can use your learning during and after each campaign to continually get insights from online engagement with your customers and then acting on the results.


At this point, it is time to start thinking about integration. The Integration stage is focused on two parts: selling your strategy to get approval from the organization to move forward, and then integrating your findings and strategy across the different channels. In order to achieve the first part, you can rely on the data uncovered during the Initiate phase and apply the findings to the broader business goals and challenges by showcasing how your strategy works for the business. Additionally, if you plan on using new channels or testing new digital marketing software, you might want to think about how these integrate into the existing processes and organization of your team. Here you are helping the digital transformation mindset of your organization by integrating digital into all relevant aspects of business processes. From this point you can then look at integrating your campaign across multiple digital channels and any traditional channels if appropriate.

In essence, the Digital Marketing Institute’s 3i Principle methodology is a key system for devising, executing, and reflecting on your digital marketing activity to drive optimal performance.

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Please note that the module slides are designed to work in collaboration with the module transcript document. It is recommended that you use both resources simultaneously.

Digital Marketing Resources:

Philippe Polman

Philippe is a digital engagement specialist with extensive experience helping clients to create and manage deeper, more personal relationships with their target audiences. In previous roles, Philippe has designed and executed international communications programs focused on internal communications, UX, brand management, media engagement (traditional and digital), investor relations, and corporate positioning. More recently, he has founded his own aviation consultancy business, which combines both his passion and experience for the aerospace industry.

The following pieces of content from the Digital Marketing Institute's Membership Library have been chosen to offer additional material that you might find interesting or insightful. While relevant to this module, you will not be assessed on this content.

You can find more information and content like this on the Digital Marketing Institute's Membership Library


    Introduction to Digital Marketing
    Philippe Polman
    Skills Expert

    This module introduces the core principles and purpose of digital marketing. It will enable you to develop clear and actionable business objectives for a digital marketing plan, to gain audience and industry insight by conducting digital research, and to prepare the foundations for a fully integrated 360 digital marketing campaign by connecting effectively with your customers and target audience.