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It’s a truly remarkable thing. The fact that a medium of connection via the internet has revolutionized the world in not just the way we communicate but also the way we learn, are entertained, and even the way we conduct business.
It goes hand-in-hand with the rapid digitalization of classical marketing approaches and techniques. The way marketers generated ideas, executed strategies, and measured the results were much different fifty years ago before the breakthrough of digital marketing.
Any budding marketer today, if taught well, will know that tracking results for any marketing campaign are essential for interpreting the Return on Investment (ROI) and overall success or failure of the project.
Before web software and development could properly evolve to aptly monitor the results of digital marketing, tracking was very nebulous. Much post-campaign analysis relied on anecdotal evidence that marketers would use to interpret how a given campaign performed.
Now, tools exist that allow us to track user behavior like time spent on the site, click paths, purchasing behavior, conversions, demographics, and user queries.
Tools that are now considered fundamental mainstays include Google Analytics and Customer Relationship Management systems (CRMs) like Hubspot and equivalent systems, which millions of people use to measure their website traffic and make decisions based on the output from their inputs.
It’s amusing to consider how, over time, the emphasis of consideration which marketers place on certain data has changed.
Earlier and more rudimentary modes of data collection would optimize for ad impressions as a benchmark Key Performance Indicator (KPI).
In time, click data became more prevalent and useful in determining the value of input and user behavior. In time, conversion tracking became somewhat of the new gold standard for measurement. Every marketing effort, every marketing dollar, and every new idea would be motivated by maximizing conversions and learning what patterns would stimulate users to take meaningful action on a site or within an ad.
Clickthrough rates and impression share is still vitally important, but they’ve become more recognized as means to an end. You might even rationalize that conversions also fit into that category, with sales being the end goal.
It’s where we derive the digital marketing take on a sales marketing funnel as part of the overall sales funnel. This usually consists mostly of impressions as the largest sample, followed by clickthrough traffic, eventually resulting in leads or conversions, such as a form submission or a phone call.
Overall, impressions are necessary to help marketers visualize a landscape and the density of their audience. If a given vertical has an incredibly narrow audience, impressions will naturally appear to be low. Usually, this coincides with large deals, like contracts for software, term-limited services, or highly-priced products.
Understanding the impression share of a campaign can cue marketers in early on the initial impact of their advertisements, especially if they have an idea of the size of their audience to begin with. In cases where they don’t necessarily know the size of their audience, impressions can be a great indicator of the scale of their intended audience, provided that the targeting is accurate.
Digitalization of marketing strategies and tactics has allowed for deeper levels of targeting and understanding than we’ve ever been able to achieve before. We’re now able to associate search patterns and user-specific preferences with individuals, which can equip digital marketers to deliver the best-tuned and most relevant ads to the right audience to maximize the response from the recipients.
Online paid media platforms like Google Ads and Social ads provide anonymized yet audience-specific targeting categories to hone the focus of ad delivery. It’s in this way that ads reach the right people with the right intent.
Where the old way of gathering customer data was a tangible customer logbook, CRMs allow marketers and salespersons to nurture their contacts and develop contact with prospects in a way that’s more streamlined than ever before.
In the past, gauging the preferences of a company’s brand identity or its goods or services catalog was contingent on word-of-mouth feedback. Now, comparison tools allow marketers to A/B test the color and style of their brand and generate comparative data on the fly.
With all of this digital adaptation, there comes a sense of homogenization. Data is so rich and free-flowing that it has vastly cut down the time it takes to conduct research. A new brand can access abundant third-party data to inform marketing strategy and eliminate months of precious time spent on research and testing.
However, because a lot of the guesswork is taken out of marketing decisions, the further the methodology evolves, it requires an increasingly skilled perspective to “pull the right levers,” if you will.
That’s where businesses, both new and old, can get hung up. It’s the notion of navigating the wide sea of third-party data and tools that exist and making the best decisions that will benefit the brand at that time in the most cost-efficient way. For a lot of brands, this means outsourcing professional digital marketing help.
One of the best benefits of the modernization of marketing in a digital format has been the accessibility and diversity inclusion that has been afforded to everyone.
When you combine the big data we’re able to harness with huge platforms like Google, YouTube, Facebook, or Amazon, we can begin to notice patterns of user activity that can shine a light on the biases we bring to the table as users. These biases are usually manifested by a variety of traits like gender and age preferences.
Digitalization has also opened the door to people from underrepresented communities. Thanks to online tools like digital networking and remote work, people who had previously not had the opportunity to build an advertising career now can do so. Now marketing teams experience more collaboration that ultimately creates marketing strategies that are more creative and applicable to all audiences — not just the elite few.
The digital marketing world is ever-evolving. With every new breakthrough, there also come issues and concerns regarding user privacy.
The mindset that all of us marketers must pledge to abide by is a wholesome and productive approach to delivering a message that doesn’t compromise anyone’s rights, which includes privacy. The hope is that the net outcome is a more unified, connected, and safe climate in the digital world.