Digital Marketing – Are we throwing darts in the dark?

I remember in one of many client meetings, a client telling ‘No one has figured out Digital Marketing. We are just throwing darts in the dark hoping it would hit the dartboard’.

I wouldn’t agree with what he said but he wasn’t entirely wrong either. Digital Marketing is a fairly nascent province – a territory most brands are eagerly exploring and some skeptical of entering (not pointed at you, Apple!)

As Digital Marketers, we are bombarded with new Social Media platforms, Tools and Strategies to explore every day. Social Media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are getting upgraded by the day. Tens of thousands of new software are rolled out every month to simplify our ad data and much more. Essentially, there has never been a better time to be a brand or an advertiser.

Coming back to what my client said – are we really throwing in the dark?

I don’t think so. I will tell you why.

Digital’s biggest ally is Data. Meaningful data.

When we ran the first few trial campaigns for our client Sounds Good Hearing Care, we were really skeptical about the activeness of our Target Audience. Being a multi-brand Hearing Aid centre based out of Madurai, they were primarily catering to the Tier 2 and 3 cities of Tamil Nadu, that too to men and women aged between 40-65+ on Social Media. The default assumption is that the active audience on Social Media are the youth from the city side. We had the darts (strategy and communication) in hand, we had figured out where the dartboard (target audience) was but weren’t sure if we would be able to hit the board. 

Once the trials campaigns were done, we realized we had indeed hit the dartboard. 
The board has never been the problem. It is the throwing has to be mastered. I will go back to my statement – Data is Digital’s biggest ally – after the trial campaigns, we had solid data to prove that our target was indeed active.

It was now on us to take it further with the data coming in. We took efforts to understand the brand and their audience in detail. We tried multiple communication routes and ensured they didn’t clash with competition or sound too generic. Among the experiments we ran, we also tried running the ad campaigns in Vernacular/Regional languages. Unsurprisingly, the results were 2-3x better when the mode of communication was Tamil (in this case). We had results coming in from all of our targeted locations: Genuine leads who were interested in what we had to offer. 

While wearing eye-glasses for vision impairment has become fashionable, hearing issues are still perceived as defects. So much so, a lot of people don’t come out and accept it to their own family till later stages. We had to wade through these issues and still make sense to our audience. To date, we continue to work and re-work on the campaigns to get even better results.

I have stressed another word – Meaningful Data. We call it ‘Key Metrics’ in Digital Media. I have seen people/brands get excited by the data flowing in from the first few Digital Ad Campaigns. So much so that, they often tend to ignore the Key Metrics. A quite popular example would be ‘Likes’ on Facebook Pages/Posts. While Likes establish some credibility, they translate to nothing because the organic reach on Facebook is less than 1%. A data we repeatedly tell our clients to ignore.

Digital results alone don’t add up to a campaign’s success. Thankfully, our client is a huge believer in organized data and it helps us a lot to keep a track on what is working and what is not, even offline. We were able to track our campaign effectiveness right from the interaction levels on our digital creatives, ad campaigns to call centre conversion at the store level.

TL;DR – We are not throwing in the dark. Most of us have hit the dartboard, but none of us have hit the bullseye. Digital Marketing is evolving. Digital Marketers are evolving. The brands, very evidently, are evolving to adapt to the dynamic market that the digital world has created.