The growing popularity of digital marketing including social media marketing had got many brand & marketers on board last year. And the horizon looked better & bigger with every brand trying to do something new in their own right.
But something very recently made me wonder if the picture was as rosy as I think. Recently I was at a digital roundtable where a lot of marketers seemed worried about investing monies into digital medium this year. I could garner two main reasons for their apprehensions post discussions and retrospect.
Firstly, apparently they didn't get the ROI they expected. I have heard this earlier as well and was faced with similar kind of challenges. This gap in expectations arises out of incomplete planning. Often agencies suggest activation ideas and theme to brands without a clear understanding of the brands/marketers’ expectations against the investment.
If the objective of the digital marketing strategy is growing bottom line with no defined metrics then more often than not, the strategy would fail to get expected returns.
Secondly, the marketers couldn't trace one single formula of success on digital medium and the entire persuasion looked chaotic and out of control at times.
This is possibly because there isn't any. Even replicating the most successful digital or social campaigns could not get the same results. That is because nothing can guarantee the same aura, the same mind-set, enthusiasm, or even the same likeness in consumers subject to another time frame. It’s a matter of larger permutation combination which is beyond human control.
Any analyst could identify the possible reasons of success but not attribute one single reason for it or tell what exactly clicked for the brand at that particular point in time for those precise set of TG within that specific campaign activity. There are multiple forces working in tandem and with ever changing digital landscape, response to campaigns is also becoming extremely dynamic.
So what can be done to avoid this situation in the first place? Here are few tips which can be of help:
- A detailed objective is must.
It’s ok to have a broad objective of growing bottom line provided it is well understood what it means and what is expected across all layers of professionals employed in this. A breakdown of the objective into smaller pieces could be more helpful for everyone to understand, achieve & measure.
Like, a) building a reputation/faith in brand that make consumers buy your product at a higher price than the market or b) nurture the 20% of your profitable (could be because of repeats or higher purchase value or selection of products they buy) consumers or c) reducing the expenditure / cost of promoting the product.
The higher margins, more sales and reduced expenditure would affect company’s bottom line positively, but some could be realized later than the rest.
- Get a clear understanding of the customer profile
Not just demographics but understanding the psychographics in terms of interests, behavior etc should be well identified.
- How we measure it would make all the difference
Instead of just looking at the followers, engagement & influence in isolation, it’s important to understand & agree upon the specific metrics and the combinations (of qualitative & quantitative) that could justifiably be convincing indicators.
Like to measure point (a) we would first have to agree on what the indicators of a compelling reputation could be. In such case sentiment analysis, quality of engagement, any offer redemption in totality could suggest whether customers are showing signs of readiness to buy the product at a higher price. Some sort of offline & online research could validate the facts further.
In point (b) the metrics would be way different from those in point (a) due to the sheer difference in perspective & expectations. To nurture and gain insights into that 20% most profitable customer share, we would need to gain access to them. It’d be more about customer connect with each on almost personal basis and use technology to ease their shopping cycle. In this case the size of this critical base, number of conversations and final lead generation could be good indicators of the broader objective.
In point (c) marketers can benchmark their digital spends to spends in traditional marketing to establish the cost-effectiveness and savings on total expenditure. The relatively low-spend digital marketing would deliver a good return on their choices & investment made.
Once the success parameters are defined, now it’s turn to weigh the metrics both quantitative & qualitative, quantify them and combine them to get the desired result. And above all set a time period for the turn-around depending on the objective and mediums used.
- Develop the campaign based on the above.
The predefined objective, indicators and metrics will wire our brains to think in lines that will deliver the agreed returns. It’s now time to choose the right mix of platforms that are relevant to your specific goal. Like if your 20% profitable customers do not feel comfortable in engaging with the brand on any open network platform then a closed community on the brand site could be a better option.
If those customers are not interested in the content you share then you need to work harder, which then becomes a bigger topic of discussion by itself. I’ll come back with it soon.
- And finally keep experimenting
There’s no right or wrong in this, but trial, error & optimization. With ever evolving technology, mediums, and most importantly swiftly changing consumer preferences, today’s fad can become tomorrow’s bore in no time. So we have to keep up to the pace, experiment within the scope of latest development and optimize as best we can.
Even proven techniques, campaign thoughts could go wary. So feel free to experiment with newer models, new platforms, and new concepts till you find the pulse of you customer. Once you’ve found their pulse, your job is half done.
Keep trying and remember to optimize everything for your customer. Sooner or later it will be rewarded.