Marketers are constantly tweaking and optimizing tactical plans, purchase orders, and cash flow models in the quest for the ultimate media mix. This necessitates constant monitoring of channels to enable nimble choices focused on audience dynamics or response, channel innovations, media synergies, and targeting strategy. Creating the right mix is a puzzle unique to each brand.
Approaching the task, several truths need to be considered:
- Each channel has strengths, weaknesses, and optimal uses
- Business objectives must drive the process
- Clarity is critical. You have to know what you want to happen at the outset
- Matching target customers and prospects with media use yields efficiency
- Social and mobile media are ascendant and interrelated
- Assume significant mobile use
- Search and email are undervalued but proven performers
- Recognize the difference between engagement and conversion
A new way of conceptualizing the marketing mix is emerging that looks at three lines of attack orchestrated to operate independently and interdependently. Online and offline marketing are planned together and synchronized to insure that the brand speaks with a single voice to achieve maximum reach, frequency, and impact.
Owned Media are brand assets and tightly controlled real estate represented by brand websites, Facebook or Twitter pages, unique games or functionality deployed across the web, and a consumer database and its attendant opt-in permissions. These assets become the canvas for presenting the brand story in all its nuanced detail and for creating or using content to systematically and continuously engage customers and prospects.
Paid Media are a variety of display, social, and mobile ad units in a mix of contextual landscapes purchased from third parties that give brands the opportunity to integrate themselves into customer lifestyles and/or work flow patterns. Paid media can be integrated or interruptive and can use a wide array of tactics, including content creation, to drive traffic to owned assets or engage and enroll customers directly.
Earned Media is the result of consumer engagement and resonance; those added impressions and viral pass-alongs that happen when a brand genuinely connects with its customer base. This can be partially planned but is often serendipitous. Earned media is the report card for how well a brand orchestrates its owned and paid media.
Some of the growing channels are not instantly available or fully mature. Mobile access is growing exponentially as is the desire for deals, yet not all audiences are eager to check-in or download coupons. Demographics dictate mobile readiness. The older your audience, the less likely they are ready for mobile campaigns.
In the race to grasp new advertising opportunities, the likely reach, frequency, and effectiveness must be evaluated in terms of the overlap between channel users and a brand’s most likely customers and prospects. Then the trade-off from what worked in the past to what might work in the future must be forecast. In this context, Facebook, with its enormous reach and selective targeting capabilities, looks like a safe bet in spite of their aspirations for ultimate control of advertising and their unwillingness to share data.
As you structure your marketing, consider four vectors for evaluating the effectiveness of your choices.
Business Effectiveness. Nothing counts if you don’t sell what you need to sell. Marketing expenditures need to be measured against business goals by plotting the return on investment, calculating the margins, and assessing the cost of sale in comparison to the anticipated profit.
Communications Impact. Is your message getting through? These are the classic brand measures of message relevancy and persuasion, A&U, brand awareness, preference, and intention to buy.
Media Efficiency. Are you getting the most bang for each buck? Measure the effective reach by counting the cost-per-thousand, the click-thru rates. Then calculate the impact by looking at the cost-per-acquisition/retention/sale and by comparing this data with cost-per-click.
Brand Equity. Are you winning hearts and minds? The Net Promoter Score is becoming the benchmark, although many marketers also assess customer satisfaction and calculate brand loyalty based on repeat purchases, referrals, or redeemed offers.
Nobody has nailed the most effective media mix…yet. But understanding the landscape and rigorously measuring the value of investments will give you pretty good insight into the effectiveness and efficiency of your campaigns.