A Few Tips on Digital Advertising

The digital space has offered marketers a huge opportunity.  But to fully capitalize on this opportunity, marketers needs to keep in mind a few important principals.

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend a workshop on digital marketing hosted by JWT, featuring marketing executives from MetLife and HSBC.  It was an introductory workshop, but there were still quite a few nuggets of wisdoms from these marketing executives drawing from their real life experience.  Topics ranged from social media to mobile to analytics and more.

Everything you do on the digital space can be measure.  With so much data, the key is to know which one matters.  To know that, you first need to clearly define what’s the goals of that particular digital campaign.  Because that’s the only way you know which metrics can tell you if you delivered on these goals.  But once you found success, you can’t rest on your laurels.  Because shelf life in this space is very very short.  If you’re successful with an idea, someone else will jump on this idea due to the low barriers of entry.  For example, you found page takeovers on a certain site to be very effective.  Chances are others have found that too and will buy out all the inventory.  On top of that, that visitors to that particular site may get desensitized to site takeovers altogether.  So, you need to always be optimizing and you always need to have the next five awesome ideas.  

Armed with all the available data, marketers have unprecedented ability to target their message.  Therefore, marketers are now hold to a higher standard of relevance.  This means you need to have the guts to say that mass message on national TV is not relevant to this particular online execution.  Unless you have a lot of media money to spend, no one is really going to remember the exact articulation or visual expression of your message.  Yet so often, marketers want a “consistent message” by literally taking the TV commercial, flattening to a 2-D ad or text-only tagline, and slapping it on every channel.  That strategy doesn’t make sense anymore in this tailored world of targeting.  If you can deliver a targeted message, why wouldn’t you?  Why would you deliver the same message to a 62 years old early retiree as a 34 years old entrepreneur?  They may both be looking for financial guidance for retirement, but they are looking for very different services.  You now have the ability to tell them exactly what they need to hear!  In this age of information overload, you best bet to break the clutter is to be targeted and relevant.  Flipping it around however, just because you can target, doesn’t mean you should forget the masses. From time to time, you need to engage the masses, because you never know when someone may enter the market.  Also, you may just want to start the conversation to incite someone to get in the market.  Granted, this is not too efficient $-for-$, considering the highly targeted and efficient nature of the digital world.  But growth comes from brand new consumers whom never considered you or your category before.  And, we know new consumers are not easy or cheap to attract.  That’s why TV spots are so expensive.  Fundamentally, digital world is no different in this aspect.

Of course, you can’t talk about digital marketing without talking at least a little bit about social media.  Everyone can agree that social media is this really awesome thing.  But so what?  While no one will disagree that you need to experiment in this space, don’t jump into the space just because everyone else is jumping.  You need to have a clear strategy with a content calendar in place.  Last thing you want is to have your very own branded social media ghost town!  Also, in this strategy, you also need to clearly identify the role of social media in your plan.  People who “Likes” you on Facebook probably are already your loyal consumers.  So, this space first and foremost is about maintaining a relationship and engaging in a dialogue with your own advocates.  Once that’s accomplished, you can perhaps think about the halo effect of acquisition of new consumers.  Acquisition of new consumers lies in this hard-to-attain sweet spot of you delivering a message that’s relevant to your loyal users, with a reason-to-buy embedded, that they would share to their friends.  For example, if we take MetLife as an example, Snoopy is cool.  It may be very sharable.  It may even attract a lot of new Facebook friends.  But does a cute cartoon really deliver a brand message of why you should buy insurance from MetLife?

Finally, the fastest growing channel in the digital space is mobile.  But mobile presents its own set of challenges.  First of all, the mobile screen can be very small.  So you really need to think through the user experience.  It’s not about shrinking your brand website into a tiny screen.  It’s about thinking through why people are looking you up on their mobile phone.  HSBC is really cool in leveraging a phone for what it is by adding a click-to-call feature.  Is your shopper trying to figure out which variant is right for them while they’re at the shelf and confused?  If so, what information needs to be readily available on the phone, and what information probably is not necessary at all.   This is a channel that shows great promises.  It is a channel that can really engage your consumers 24/7, wherever they are.  You may ask, how are they really engaged with you on a tiny phone screen maybe on a bus?  Well, if you think about it, if they are actually engaging with you on a little screen on a bus, they’re probably pretty engaged peeps!  This brings to mind the recent Geico ad.  If little piggy is going to try to access you while he’s sitting on a plane waiting for take off, he really wants to reach you!


Photo credit:  Trey Radcliff

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