I'm here at the Pivot Conference listening to discussions about digital media, social media and "branding's next revolution." One speaker effectively emphasized the importance of reflection by stating, “we are at the most important moment in advertising since the advent of TV… because the internet opens unprecedented ways to connect with people on their own terms.” These conferences are really helpful for fostering important reflections about what we as digital marketers are doing right and wrong. One of the major themes I've observed has been that digital marketers are not setting effective expectations with clients. Expectations and business goals are where every program begins and how every program is judged in the end - so we better get the expectations right. Unfortunately, many of us would agree that we're not getting the expectations and business goals right.
Some high level Pivot observations about digital expectations:
- Embrace what’s different about digital and stop trying to make it fit into traditional conventions of marketing. Awareness is not the specialty of digital (although it can play a role); facilitating opinion formation and purchase decision are far more relevant to the medium.
- Stop focusing on the click! The goal of brands for hundreds of years has been to build relationships with customers – and now it’s just about clicks (which means less and less than it did before). We as marketers set expectations with our clients. If we’re frustrated that CTR is overly emphasized, we need to set different expectations up front. It’s different for everybody, but time spent, repeat visitation, engagement and influence are better insights to begin considering.
- Don’t let the metrics muddle the long-standing goal: emotional connections. Increasingly marketers will aim to establish emotional connections that are with the consumer all the time. Digital is an “always on” and increasingly “always with me” channel.
- Quality is better than quantity. That doesn’t mean forget scale, but it means that we need to add deeper insights to the connections established with consumers. Insights are what differentiate the digital medium! Let’s bring more focus to digital insights and apply them to the overall process, which will show value through application.
- Make marketing discoveries by testing, learning and asking/engaging your most loyal consumers. Digital is the place to do this because it’s quick for implementation and you get direct feedback. Feedback is what keeps all of us honest. If you make mistakes that’s okay – just admit when you’re wrong. Keep trying and focus on an iterative process. If you stay committed, you’ll eventually get it right. And if you’re trying to get into digital and social, the simple truth is that you will only learn by doing.
- There is no such thing as a campaign – only a continuum. Building a foundation for the long term will pay dividends when you really need it. You may not need immediately need owned digital media channels and communities, but you almost certainly will find use in the future.
- Measure what matters - sales and the bottom line are the first priority. Response to promotions/discounts, loyalty, and continued engagement are great ways to prove value as well.