In a disrupted market, nothing stands still. The ground is always shifting underneath you. With no clear and stable path to rely on, you have to develop the ability to quickly map a rapidly changing landscape. The brands that thrive are the first to see yesterday’s destination sliding away, and to move toward tomorrow’s emerging opportunity. Continuously assessing and analyzing on the move, you can take advantage of each shift and realignment, and get where you want to go.
Tracking open rates, click rates, site visits, and other response mechanisms, you can get a clear picture of how your audience wants to interact with you and what they want to hear. With the relatively low cost of tactics like digital ads and email, you can test messages quickly. The ability to reallocate media spending quickly allows you to move your messages into the most responsive channels.
Building metrics into our campaigns and collecting data immediately, we create tight feedback loops that make planning a part of execution. Responding to shifts in audience preferences in real time, we optimize messages and channels to maximize effectiveness.
Beyond instant feedback, microtargeting is one of today’s most powerful marketing tools. When The University of North Carolina Greensboro (UNCG) wanted to attract new students from specific high schools in Greensboro, Raleigh and Charlotte, North Carolina, they were looking at a total universe of 12,500 teens in six counties. Traditional media could blanket the areas with messages, but the cost was prohibitive. One media buying agency told them their budget simply could not cover the ground.
We could, however, tightly geotarget our digital and social ads to 15-17 year olds in the six zip codes. We could enhance our message with video spots in movie theaters, pump top displays at local convenience stores, and email and direct mail campaigns. We could make one standalone website our center of energy, where we invited students to enter a contest by sharing their dreams to, in the words of the University’s tag line, “do something bigger altogether.”
With all activity directed to one, central site, we could count every click, track every source, and see, in real time, which channels were most effective. Daily and weekly campaign reports were our marketing surveys. We didn’t have to ask the audience what they wanted. We could watch them respond.
The first time we analyzed the results, we were surprised to see Pandora generating far more clicks than any other site. Going in, we didn’t think high school students would stop listening to music to visit a university website. So much for assumptions. We immediately shifted our budget away from lower-performing channels and into Pandora, and saw immediate improvements in click rates, entries, likes, and shares.
Acting now, measuring as we acted, analyzing results, and optimizing in real time, we were able to get maximum impact from UNCG’s investment. When the campaign was over, we had met every one of the University’s goals. Plus, we returned about 25% of that media budget the traditional media folks had said was too small. Sometimes, when the ground shifts, you can cover more with less.