5 questions to ask when selecting your brand's digital investment partner

Almost 60 days left until Christmas.
That’s only 8-1/2 weeks
That’s about 40 working days
Which means after parties, time off and other festivities, you’ve got about 30 days to lock down your digital plans before 2018 starts.

Are you confident in what you’re doing?
Have you made the right decisions?
Do you have the right partner?
Will 2018 be the year where digital pays off, business goals will be met and ROI is obvious?

CMO’s are on the chopping block everywhere, digital brand engagement scores are plummeting and make no mistake, selecting the right partner could mean the difference between a great 2018 or loads of free time for you to polish up the resume.

Before unpacking the 5 must-ask questions when selecting the right digital partner, let’s have a quick peak at the market. After all, you’re taking real money and investing it into a real market and expecting a real return from your investment. 

It’s now been said that because of the digital transformation, we’re dangerously close to experiencing a brand-based bubble pop. But why was that said?

Let’s have a look:

In economics, a bubble is an trend with rapid escalation of assets and prices. It’s created by a surge in asset value that is actually unwarranted. Formed because of a change in investor behavior. And driven by exuberant market behavior.

So…is there actually a Digital’s Bubble?

Rapid escalation and Investor behavior?
Yes, since 2014 digital spend is rising almost 20% per year

Surge in asset value? 
Yes, marketing assets options have risen by almost 40,000% - yes 40,000%  – since 2004 – the year Facebook launched

Exuberant market behavior? 
Yes, Facebook usage rates have risen by 2.4 billion per month since launch, consumers also shop on-line (Amazon vs. retail), bank on-line, etc.

But where are the warning signs and markers of Digital’s bubble…what's the problem?

Since 2014: 
  • Instagram’s brand engagement rates are down 50% 
  • Twitter brand engagement rates are down 10% 
  • Google+ brand engagement rates are down 35%
  • Facebook brand engagement rates are down 20% 
  • Forbes cites only 32% of brand marketers believe they’re executing effectively
  • Accenture cites only 45% of executives digital will achieve objectives
  • P&G’s Marc Pritchard calls digital ineffective, pulls $140-million in digital spend yet realizes 15% earnings 

Why do bubble’s pop?

A bubble is only a bubble IF and only IF investors are no longer willing to invest. 

But wait…invest in what…or should we be asking invest with whom?

Can we blame falling engagements rates, low confidence scores, unachieved objectives and “ineffective” results on technology?

Don’t think so…
  • Facebook does just fine living up to their promise of: “Bringing the world closer together.”
  • Snapchat does just fine living up to their promise of “our products empower people to express themselves, live in the moment, learn about the world, and have fun together.”
  • Twitter does just fine living up to their promise of “to give everyone the power to create and ashore ideas and information instantly, without barriers”
  • Hubspot does just fine being “an inbound marketing software platform that helps companies attract visitors, convert leads, and close customers.”
  • Infusionsoft does just fine doing “we empower entrepreneurs. The success of small business matters – to families, communities and economies. It matters to the world. It’s why we help small businesses market, grow and scale.”
So if it’s not the technology, we must look to the ones managing the digital brand to find answers about engagement rates, confidence scores and ROI.
  • Econsultancy cites the very scary fact that despite the digital transformation: “the way in which marketing is taught, understood and operates has not really changed”
  • Two leading marketing agency networks in the US (to remain nameless) have cited that they don’t see an issue with digital knowledge, strategic thinking or dialogue based brand behavior. They don’t offer this kind of training or education as frankly: "there isn’t a problem". 
  • Marketing Week shows that only 8% of brands are ‘very satisfied” with their agency partners 
  • Accenture Digital cites that only 6% of brands see their agency as a solution to their digital brand needs.
  • Sapient’s global brand study shows that 50% of brands have or are going to fire their agency in search of someone who has greater digital knowledge.

You’re catching this right?

You have a marketing budget to spend.
Digital transformation is everywhere
Your consumers have gone digital. 
You know you need to go digital to reach your consumers.

Where will you be investing? Or rather, with whom will you trust your investments?

So here it is: 

5 key questions you should ask before you pass over that digital budget:

#1. Do you strategically understand digital. (and yes, I said digital NOT marketing)

I don’t care if you have 500 years combined experience or 400 awards or 20 technology-based certifications. I’m talking about digital understanding. The way people behave has radically changed because of digital. Do you get this? Can you explain the human-side of the market? If you can’t, you’re done because people – and not technology – are my customers. If you again don’t understand people, there’s no chance you’ll be able to form a trust relationship between the brand and my audience.

#2. Do you understand programs and not tactics?

Show me that you understand how it all fits together. SEO and PPC and Facebook and Twitter are all well and fine. But show me a complete program that lines up with my actual audience that will drive results, engagement and loyalty. 

#3. Tell me about my audience? (customer profiling)

Why do people do what they do online? Tell me the difference between a 50 year old female on Facebook and a 22 year old on Facebook? Yesteryear demographics of age, race, income are irrelevant. Tell me why people behave the way they do? What motivates them into action? What do they actually care about? If as a brand I’m supposed to trust you to build a relationship with people (my customers and prospects) and get them to trust the brand and engage with the brand, you prove to me you understand my audience.

#4. Show me content not about me. (digital content)

When you go on a first date and you spend all your time talking about yourself, I guarantee there’s no chance you’ll be having a second date. I want my customers and prospects to know that I care about them, I want them to know that as a brand, we know how to shape a dialogue that understands their needs and that I’m not trying to trick them into wanting something they don’t really need. So again, if you want my digital budget, show me you know how to have a conversation about my audience, with my audience so that they like me, trust me and might consider a second, third and fourth date. 

#5. Show me how you’re going to prove it. (insights and analytics) 

What will you be measuring and why? I don’t want a monthly binder of charts, graphs and numbers. I want to see how you’re approaching analytics – do you know who Tom Davenport even is? Analytics 3.0? Sure, I’ll pay you for analytic services but show me how you’re going to set it up, what you’re measuring, why you’re measuring it and what we’re going to do with the information once we have it. 

In finance, you only use accountants that are certified.
In construction, you only use contractors that are certified.
In legal, you only use lawyers that are certified.
In marketing, shouldn't you only be using marketers or agencies that are certified?

There's lots of options you can select from to make sure you're ready to handle a brand in today's digital world. But as you consider and prepare for your 2018 digital plans, consider Blazon's backed Mastering Digital Strategy program.

It overhauls traditional training and education by using an “outside-in” approach forcing marketers to think like a consultants or agency executives: looking objectively at a brand to enable real insights and actions. It's 5 on-line courses covering strategy, programs, profiling, content and analytics and, comes with course exams, application templates and the best part, it takes under 6 hours to complete. 

So, with about 30 days left until the 2018 business cycle begins, will you be handing your digital funds to just anyone or, will you do what it takes to be certified?

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