Digital Marketing is Like Launching Model Rockets
When I was nine years old my father bought me a model rocket, complete with solid rocket propellant engines, it was awesome! Building the rocket was pretty straightforward, you read the manual and put things together and hey presto you had a rocket. Launching it was simple as well, you would wire up a little battery operated ignition panel, push the button and away the rocket went; the manual told you how high the rocket would go (Depending on atmospheric conditions). Figuring out where the rocket was going to land, that was another task altogether. You accounted for the angle at which you launched, for the amount of thrust each rocket engine had and the wind factor, the rest was up to physics. There were a lot of factors you didn’t have any control over.
Digital marketing and model rockets are a lot alike, there are factors we have control over and those we don’t. When we launch a campaign or create a platform for a brand we know who we’re talking to and how to get to them with a fair gauge of how they’re going to react – so we can gauge everything right up to the point of launch and flight but it’s the landing that becomes a little unpredictable and tricky sometimes. In the case of the rocket, we would start running after it as soon as we saw which direction it was going to land in and the same happens with campaigns online, as we see something start moving in a certain direction we run after it.
Here’s where the difference between digital and traditional marketing comes in. We can respond in real time to digital marketing campaigns, we don’t have to wait days or weeks for research and results to start coming in because we have all of the data at our fingertips and a plethora of tools to help us analyze that data. Let’s say you launch a new campaign and you’re spreading your content out over your website, facebook and twitter. Based on how much you’re putting behind your media placement you should be able to gauge what the ongoing response is going to be in 24 to 48 hours. There are even tools out there which will predict how well your content is going to resonate with your audience based on your past content history.
That being said, there are a lot of things which we still can’t predict before the campaign launches and there are things which we will only learn after launch – this goes for both new and established brands. We don’t know exactly how many leads or sales you’re going to generate the same way we don’t know exactly how many likes, shares and retweets you’re going to get. Sure we can use the amounts set forth in your media budget and come up with a ballpark but it will always be an estimate.
Clients too often expect the agency to know exactly what a campaign is going to look like before it launches and a lot of good campaigns are shelved for a lack of visualization. The same goes with people asking for references or examples of other brands’ successes for things which truly haven’t been done before – if you’re going to be first to the party there isn’t going to be anyone else there to tell you what it was like before you got there.
If you’re new to digital marketing or to doing new and untested things online take a little bit of a leap of faith. Your agency isn’t going to know everything before it happens, unfortunately we don’t have crystal balls.