By Pete Case
Time and again, we hear that one of the major benefits of digital marketing lies in its trackability and measurability. That’s all good and well, but our industry and our clients do themselves a major disservice when they focus on measuring the wrong metrics or obsess about a narrow set of data at the cost of the bigger picture.
More brands than you might think are still counting ‘click-throughs’ and ‘likes’ as their main measure of digital’s worth. These benchmarks alone are way too limited to help us really understand how consumers interact with our brands, in an environment as rich and as fragmented as digital.
There are many more areas of value that digital can bring to a brand’s strategy. Not just for encouraging consumers to take some kind of action and then celebrating when they convert, digital is also about creating a long-term relationship of shared value and benefit with them.
Looking beyond the basic metric of views and click-throughs, we can access a wealth of information from data gathered by modern tools. For example, we can track users right through the conversion funnel, from initial exposure to a message by banner ad or email, through to a purchase, and then on to where they decide to interact next.
This wider view gives far more contextual information – from the content consumers will enjoy and the places they visit, to the times of day they prefer, the devices they use, and the way they share experiences with others – which helps shape our view of the consumer and inform how we should retarget them next time around.
Consumers no longer want to be talked at. Instead, they’re demanding an interactive relationship and a seamless multichannel experience with a brand, where they leap from touchpoint to touchpoint, all the while expecting the brand to speak their language at each step. This is where measurements can help us to be relevant in the conversations we create with consumers.
At the same time, it’s also worth remembering that digital isn’t just about the Web – it’s also the world of digital billboards, interactive kiosks, point-of-sale systems, cash registers and more.
The clever marketer is gathering data and insights from all of these touchpoints, then layering them with other 3rd party data such as housing records or geographical store sales. Together, this larger stack of data can provide even richer insights into the type of message a marketer should be using to connect with their audience and be relevant, as well as the correct place and time to deliver this message.
Obviously, there is always an exception to the rule, and in some instances one might want to simply create ‘reach’ of a brand message, but within any wider strategy, there should be ample room to mix this approach with data collection and insights that drive decisions about the marketing messaging. For example, recent work done for our client FNB, together with Lighthouse Digital, proves how performance can be directly related to data. Using new programmatic buying techniques, and essentially optimising the media placement and creative messaging during a campaign, we saw a 411% decrease in cost of sale by direct result.
So, as the digital media landscape becomes increasingly complex, one wonders how marketers approach their ever-growing challenges. Who are the right people to help them navigate the landscape and how do they get them in the room?
Let’s face it, marketing requires a connection of many different specialist skills in a collaborative environment and certainly not from an agency who promises a ‘one-stop solution shop’.
We must also keep remembering that digital is continuously changing the ways that consumers fundamentally think and behave, enabling them to interact with brands beyond the shop-front and the product. We must prepare to see changes continue as they use digital technology to increasingly add value to their lives and take control of the brand conversation.
Lastly, we should reflect that conversation is qualitative, whereas so many of our digital benchmarks are measured in quantitative terms. The question isn’t just about the number of views, users, clicks and sales, but how good the conversation is, and how these conversations affect other business metrics such as customer retention and satisfaction, new customer relationships, and ultimately, the growth and sustainability of the business. No business thrives in the long term just because its latest banner ad had a great click-through rate, or because it has a few more Facebook likes.
Peter Case is the founder and CEO of digital agency Gloo.