Online Marketing: Ask the right questions first

by Rita Nguyen

There’s no question that online has to be an integral part of any marketing campaign in North America but there seems to be many challenges I’ve seen with this medium in VN specifically.  Perhaps I’m wrong and someone here can correct me but below are the two big issues I see that need to be resolved prior to going ahead with online marketing in any campaign.  One caveat on the below, when I talk about “online marketing”, I do not mean online advertising, which frankly is little more than translating your offline campaign to a banner or landing page.

1. Is there executive buy in? And I don’t mean that execs are telling you to do this simply because everyone is talking about it.  Metrics from an online campaign are vastly different than that from a traditional impression and CPM’s can be high at first (but this will rapidly balance itself out if you are doing it right) and your engagement metrics are going to be different, and arguably, more valuable than your impressions. Without proper metrics & iteration you are leaving a lot of value on the table.  Besides, “impressions” are soooo passe. So even if your boss is telling you to do an online campaign, make sure they are clear on what success looks like.

I remember my early days at EA when we were getting a tremendous amount of pressure to get people to go to our fairly lame EPK websites and Digg things but only get $1k to run a global campaign.  Because shouldn’t a website cost only $500?  Um, yeah, if you build a one-pager in someone’s basement and do a Hail Mary if you get more than 3 concurrent users.  Then, once something is Digg’ed (Dugged?), there’s no money to do any follow up so it was a thousand bucks we pretty much threw away.  Or at least the $500 we didn’t spend on building the lame website.  See?  Education is key.

2. Do you have people who actually know online marketing?  I can not count the times I’ve had conversations with “experts” who can’t go beyond banner ads, SEO or a Facebook brand page.  Yes, they all technically count but this is the tip of the iceberg.  Online channels allow for a very unique opportunity to engage your community and without leveraging that, you may be better off sticking with what you are actually good at and know you can deliver on.  Getting your ass fired for a piss poor campaign certainly isn’t going to help anyone.

So, leave your ad banners and PPC campaign with the media buyers, that’s the boring numbers stuff they are good at.  Instead, start looking for people who understand the digital space.  In the absence of a lot of trained talent, a good place to start is someone who has a real passion for it and truly lives and breaths it everyday.  One of my interview questions is, “what apps do you have on your phone” followed by “what websites do you go to every day”.  Usually easy to call bullshit if the candidate can only give you “Facebook”.  When I used to get digital agency pitches at EA, and this happened almost daily, the first thing I did was ask for their Twitter handle.  You’d be amazed at how many of these self-proclaimed social media companies didn’t even use Twitter for themselves.

Here’s another free tip: get rid of anyone who tells you that social media is only about conversation and not for marketing.  That person is an idiot.  I am assuming of course that you are running a business and not spending needless time and money on creating a brand for the sheer hell of it.  Yes, you don’t want to do a lot of hard selling on Twitter but pul-lease…you are still investing in something to impact the bottom line, right?  Sure, social media requires a softer touch but that doesn’t mean that you don’t make any contact.

If all else fails and your current online partner/employee/vendor still only pitches PPC and ad banners, send them to me and I’ll slap them around a bit for you.