Digital isn’t old enough to have theories. Or gurus.
The understanding of the medium, and how to use it to build brands, varies wildly. As a result, the planning and structure of digital campaigns is often a matter of guesswork.
The thing is, there is no single method to cracking a digital campaign. You can start with an idea, an objective, technology, data, a platform or the audience. Each method looks at the medium differently. Each method is equally correct.
Each truly great digital campaign has, however, some things in common. Let’s break those down into seven steps.
Part 1: The Brief
In a medium that’s targetable, measurable and fast-evolving, writing a good brief needs to go beyond the basics.
Step 1: What do we want to say?
Nothing different from a traditional advertising brief. Have a single, clear message. If it can be differentiated from competition, excellent.
Step 2: Who is our audience and what do we know about them?
Digital allows one to segment and target by location, gender, age, browsing behaviour, interests, networks, content preferences, frequency of visits, online shopping habits, search history and much more.
Yahoo serves up over 6 billion unique versions of its home page based on this kind of segmentation and targeting.
Basically, digital allows you to put aside the bazooka and pick up a flyswatter when you have to kill a fly.
Forget the safety of numbers. Go for the effectiveness of tightly-segmented messaging.
Step 3: What do we know about their digital media habits that might help us crack this brief?
It’s time to drill down and slice-and-dice the data available to you. And it isn’t as difficult as it sounds.
Figure out where your audience is spending most of their time online. Which devices they’re using. Which browsers. What they are talking about. When. What time of day. It doesn’t sound like much, but it one well-inferred nugget can lead to a brilliant campaign.
Knowing that mums are the biggest online shoppers in India helped us plan an entire campaign for a baby brand. Knowing that most of our aspirational audience surfs the Internet on tablets helped us build a website designed for touch. Knowing the frequency of visits helped us optimise messaging on a website.
The more you know about them, the better your solutions.
Step 4: What do we want them to say, feel or do as a result of this campaign?
Traditional advertising teaches that perception influences behaviour. In digital, behaviour can influence perception.
Case in point: Many people I know perceived Twitter as a waste of time. They thought it was confusing, and wouldn’t touch it. But when pushed by friends to use it, they got hooked. They now think Twitter’s the coolest thing since sliced bread.
Behaviour influences perception.
So think smaller. Break down a large objective into more everyday tasks. For example, replace build expertise for our skincare brand with get people to visit our website every time they have a skin-related query. You’ll find a smarter, more effective solution.
Part 2: The Creative
It isn’t as simple as writing a TVC and crafting the print, poster and outdoor. Our campaigns need to be viral, and that needs a different approach.
Step 1: The Story
Digital is a multi-screen platform. Each screen is different in terms of size, content and usage. It isn’t enough anymore to adapt the same message for each screen. Instead, it helps to think of your idea as a story. And use each screen differently, to tell different chapters of it.
There are three kinds of media we can use to tell our brand’s story; unabridged, unaltered, under our control.
Owned media — the website, the mobile app, any other platforms the brand may have created.
Paid media — banner ads, search ads, emailers, SMS.
And social media — which is, in my opinion, more leased media than owned.
Take the example of a fashion brand. One can use the website to showcase products; the blog to drive imagery; the mobile app to combine a loyalty programme, a virtual dressing room and personalised, location-aware content; targeted, contextual, paid media to tell people what the brand has to offer and drive them back to the website; and social media to help begin conversations around the product range and image.
One story, different screens.
Step 2: The Virality
There’s no point in having a great story if nobody’s hearing it.
Remember: the average user visits 89 websites a month. And has Liked 80 brand Pages on Facebook. And has 229 other friends filling his or her News Feed.
The only way your story will be heard above all this clutter is if you can find enough of the right people to help you broadcast it.
Social Influence Marketing refers to leveraging people’s influence on social media to broadcast and amplify your message.
However, they’re not going to tweet out your body copy. You have to give them something malleable that they can reshape to create their own unique content, while still staying true to your story. Their mashup of your story then goes out to their own followers, which exponentially increases your reach.
Earned media, of course, generally refers to news coverage. While a smart PR agency will naturally tap news media online and offline, there is merit in seeding your story among bloggers and smaller, perhaps category-specific, online channels. It’s a quick way to ensure more and more people know about your story.
Make sure your story has something in it that’ll help you get talked about. Then find the people who’ll amplify it for you.
Step 3: The Reward
Here’s the thing.
People are overloaded with information. It’s easy to miss something. It’s even easier to close a browser tab in irritation or absent-mindedness.
So, when someone clicks through to your campaign, be grateful. Very grateful.
I always like to give my audience a reward to show how grateful I am. The obvious way is through a contest, or gifts to loyal fans. However, I believe we can do more.
People come online to socialise, search for information, find a utility or just for entertainment. Make sure your campaign ticks one or more of those boxes, and you’ll have a reward worth coming back for.
The brand must have its reward as well. It could be crowdsourced content, new fans, time spent, leads generated, shares received, hashtags trended, what have you. Identify the rewards the brand will earn. And match them up against your objectives. If they don’t match, maybe you need to rework your campaign. For example, 100,000 new fans may not be a sensible reward if your objective is to get people to spend more with you than they already do, right?
These seven steps aren’t the alpha and omega of digital marketing. But, properly executed, they could help you develop better, brighter campaigns going forward.
This post originally appeared on afaqs! Campus.