The marketing landscape in the digital age can be a minefield for marketing managers.
At your fingertips are a wealth of communications channels, more sophisticated and intelligent than the print ads of the ‘golden age of advertising’. The gateways to communications channels have come down, meaning that anyone (in theory) has access to a global audience.
But when does many channels, become too many?
While there has been a massive increase in the routes towards your audiences, on the whole, marketing budgets haven’t really increased in real terms. Marketing managers are expected to do a lot more, with the same, or more often, less.
The paradox of choice then prevails: in that you know you need to use ‘some’ digital channels, but which ones? And how should they be used to get the most out of them? How can you present a plan to the company board (most of whom won’t be digital natives) that clearly demonstrates how you plan to get the right messages, to the right people, at the right time?
It all comes down to planning….
Know your audience
There’s a difference here between knowing the job titles of the types of people you want to buy your products and really knowing your audiences.
Building a profile of the types of buyers is a good first step towards understanding the character of the type of person who buys your products. How old are they? Are they into sport? What types of music do they listen to? What’s their business motivation? How technologically savvy are they? Do they bring technology into their work?
These types of questions are the tip of the iceberg of building a solid customer profile. But the more you add and more insight you generate, the better understanding you have of your ideal target market. You’ll know what sports to sponsor; with which radio stations to place ads; you’ll know whether to advertise on Facebook Messenger or not.
Just because everyone can realise the benefits of a product or service, doesn’t mean they’re going to. You have to narrow it down!
Set you channel objectives
These will mostly be influenced by your communications or business strategy. However, the thing with digital comms is that you get better measurement when the audiences ‘do something’.
For us, the golden rule for measuring campaign performance is to measure the cost per conversion: i.e. how much have we spent to initiate the desired behaviour.
When setting a benchmark for this, you can understand whether you are performing above or below expectations and make changes. This, again, is where knowing your audience is crucial. For example, if you’re your audience consumes lots of YouTube content then a well-targeted video campaign with some form of click-through would seem sensible to have in the mix. You’ll also know what NOT to do. If your audience values their privacy, there’s no point asking for them to sign up to a mailing list.
Plan out your measurement metrics
Although cost per conversion is the metric many campaigns will focus on, that only provides one dimension in terms of understanding behaviour.
You might be running a free sample promotion and your conversion point on the landing page is the ‘submit’ button. If your objective is more complex than ‘getting the product out of the door’ and you wish your audience to have more of a branded experience, you need to look at sample requests and time on the page by matching up how you plan to measure success, in light of the objectives, you get better insight, better performance data and a better-run campaign.
Test your creative
We started this blog by saying that the digital channels can get the right messages to the right people. But can anyone be sure enough that the messaging developed in the creative studio is actually going to work?
Simple A-B testing of campaigns can make the world of difference and should be a standard part of the execution. Also, you should repeat periodically throughout the campaign regardless of the channel selected because. It is just good practice to test, evaluate and respond in real time.
Be prepared to fail
Just because something hasn’t worked from the get-go, doesn’t mean it won’t.
If you have solid measures in your objectives, are collecting the data in the right way and have done the hard work in selecting the right channels (because you’ve done the really hard work in profiling your audiences), your job in the campaign is to tinker.
Tinker with the messaging, the creative, the channel execution or whether or not to shut the channel down, your decisions are now being guided by good quality information.
The lessons learned when things don’t go right can be invaluable and only make for stronger channel selection decisions.
There is a lot more to channel selection than simply saying: “we’ll do that on digital” and somehow expect results with very little planning, time and budget.
It is just as important to look at what channels you should NOT use as the channels you should. Appearing in the wrong channel can have an adverse effect on your brand equal to poor execution in the correct channel.
Channel selection may be a minefield, but it’s one we love to navigate.