Digital experimentation

Clients seem reluctant to commit to full-scale digital campaigns. They are worried that they will waste their already limited budget in trying something they have no idea will work for their marketing efforts. And they are right. There needs to be a smarter, more gradual entry into the world of social media, mobile advertising and other digital tools du jour.

I recall an article discussing the “tech-morphing landscape” in an issue of Adweek a couple months ago. The author postulated that in a world of many different Internet-enabled devices with fragmented formats, any attempt at building a single portal to your content/story/offer will fail; that “the only way to succeed . . . is to treat device proliferation as a new form of media inventory and to increase placements in each category.”

While this advice appears more of a shotgun-approach philosophy, there is a logic to this that might guide us all as we try to convince our clients or corporate management to start finding new and different/better ways to get our messages out and build our brands and create new client advocates.

Let’s call it what it is — digital experimentation. It’s about conducting various marketing experiments using all or a few of these new media tools, separately or in combination. It’s testing them to see what makes sense for the target audience or a particular portion of the audience. Some tools might be better used as pre-sales contact points, other to help facilitate purchase decision-making, while others are better for keeping in touch with existing customers or building customer loyalty.

The beauty of this is no one has all the answers. And what works will likely be different for virtually every marketer. But in order to not be left behind, budgets need to be allocated to aid in these digital experiments. The article talked about allocating 3-5% of your marketing budget to explore media formats that don’t involve traditional broadcast, paper-based media or web sites. Whatever amount you can afford, don’t be afraid to experiment. Some experiments will be successful, others will likely fail. It’s trial and error at its best. While you learn and get smarter what each tool can do, you’ll also learn which tools are best to reach the different portions of your target audience.

Hey, I gotta go. I’m late for my meeting in the digital lab. We’re conducting an experiment on using LinkedIn and FourSquare to reach HR executives in Memphis who are interested in rating the best barbecue sauce while having lunch.

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