Stoking the Cauldron: The Digital Dark Arts

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conjuredDo you ever get the feeling that something is creeping up behind you, but you’re not sure what it looks like or what its intentions might be?  Yes, it’s social media.

The 2014 CMO Survey has revealed that social media spending will jump 128% over the next 5 years to account for over 20% of total marketing spend.  However, only 15% of businesses surveyed had any quantitative data to show the impact that social media has on their business.

This reveals that businesses are feeling compelled to throw as many bats as possible into the social media pot, but have no idea why they are doing it. Proof is lagging behind spending which amounts to an investment in witchcraft.

Andrew Lane is CEO – Australia, of Traffika, a global Digital Business Generation firm. We sat down with Andrew to discuss ways businesses can ensure their digital dollars don’t go up in a puff of smoke.

Eye of newt and toe of frog: Strategy is recipe for digital success

Ignoring digital channels is the modern equivalent of having no logo, but adopting one or more digital channels without a strategy is a recipe for wasting time, money and effort.

Andrew believes there is a role for digital in all businesses but warns those with smaller budgets to tread carefully. “A large part of the advice we provide to our smaller clients is where to spend their digital dollar to achieve the best return on investment. You have to be quite selective and having an overall strategy in place is critical in informing that decision.”

This doesn’t mean that the less money spent, the better.  While there are companies advertising ‘social media for $10 a day’ Andrew advises businesses to remember that you get what you pay for, “In order to bring the cost down, a lot of these companies are based overseas, often in places where English isn’t their first language and there can be numerous cultural differences. We always ask our clients is ‘would you want these people answering your phone? If not – then you probably don’t want them managing your social media presence either!”

By the pricking of my thumbs: Understanding how to use digital channels

Is digital media more effective at generating awareness, or as a call to action? Can it generate sales?

Often businesses rely on gut-instinct  to answer these questions, but Andrew says the answer depends on a variety of factors: “We match digital channels and activity to each stage of the marketing circle (awareness, interest, desire, action) and different channels often perform better at different stages.

“Social media is great at the earlier part of the cycle where the aim is to generate awareness and interest, but we often find that channels such as search are better around capturing the demand that other channels create and actually driving an action such as an enquiry or even a direct sale.”

However, he warns businesses to look beyond the channel that drove the final outcome, because if the initial awareness wasn’t in play, there’s a high chance the conversion wouldn’t have happened.  Traffika tracks this process for their clients through multi-channel attribution in analytics in order to provide a full picture.

Now about the cauldron sing: Reaching the right people

There is no such thing as “one size fits all” when it comes to digital channels.  Andrew emphasises the importance of having a strategy to enable your message to reach the right people at the right time. Every business is different and the way they engage their customers should be different.

9 Strategic Managing Director, Linda Ginger, advises businesses to ask their customers outright where they go to for information. “I recall one client spending $200,000 on trade advertising but when we asked their customers where they go to for information, 100% of them answered ‘Google’. $200,000 could go a long way in a digital strategy.”

Linda goes on to caution that a good strategic marketing plan should incorporate several channels that integrate – not just digital. Digital channels should connect to your sponsorship, events – anywhere your customers are looking.

Andrew agrees, “I think for most businesses – there is a way to use digital effectively as part of their marketing activity. But again, knowing where to invest is half the challenge. We find the answers usually lie in the data most of the time, so we spend a lot of time there. One of our main philosophies is ‘Strategy Lead, Data Driven’ – this takes the guesswork out of what to do and how to do it.”

Seek to know: Measuring the magic

As with any strategic marketing activity, the magic is in the measurement and digital media allows for an impressive degree of interrogation. The secret is in knowing what you are measuring. Andrew says this all comes down to setting clear objectives that can be measured on campaign completion. This is the only way to understand what impact digital media might be having on your business.

It is also important to persevere and keep expectations realistic. Miracles won’t happen overnight. Don’t make knee- jerk reactions. Andrew suggests waiting at least 4-6 weeks before deciding on whether a digital media channel has succeeded or failed.

Something wicked this way comes: Risking your reputation

You thought trolls were the stuff of fairy tales? In fact, they live online with a whole host of other wicked creatures just waiting to tell everyone they know how bad your product is or how poor your service was.

Andrew has the remedy, “We always tell our clients, if you can’t do it well, don’t do it at all. Community management, be that on your blog or social media channels is very time consuming. If this isn’t done well, or worst, not at all – then the risk of damage to your brand reputation is high.  So I would say this – digital can be extremely effective for most businesses but you get out what you put in – so don’t expect it to be a silver bullet that allows you to just press a button and start reaping the benefits.”


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