Securing growth in a digital world

Securing digital growth

Twenty years ago UK households were only just getting to grips with the concept of ‘The Internet’  – the whirring, clunking cacophony of dial-up followed by the agony of watching the egg timer gradually fill up as Yahoo returned our search results. Back then it actually seemed lightning quick; nowadays it would be considered an outrage.

Fast forward to October 2017 and the digital landscape is a different picture entirely. A prettier and richer picture, but a complex one too, made up of countless brushstrokes changing colour and direction more quickly than we can comprehend.

Brands are now part of this rich tapestry of opportunity. They don’t simply use it as a sales platform; they live and breathe in this digital world but the sheer scale and pace of change makes it particularly difficult for them to manage and optimise their content.

This is the challenge that modern marketers face – how to get the most out of digital.

There is no denying that the rise of digital is of huge benefit to brands, allowing them to connect with consumers at myriad touchpoints at all hours of the day. However, the response to this transformation has often been a narrow focus on short-term metrics, to the detriment of the panoramic view of brand growth.  Granted, short-termism can help drive sales, guide the daily grind, and even provide relief in the boardroom, but to maximise the potential of your digital content it’s crucial to look at both short-term and long-term metrics, because the latter is where the future success of your brand really lies.

A viral YouTube sensation may feel like you’ve hit the jackpot and put your brand on the road to success, but don’t be fooled - these short-term spikes of magic dust often settle and evaporate into the ether. Let’s take Geico’s “Unskippable” advert…it clocked up 1 million organic views in the first 24 hours and over 41 million social impressions. However, despite initial social media frenzy this 60 second spot generated a considerable amount of negativity, hampering its long-term brand building potential.

In the short-term, the dynamic mix of emotions generated by the ad made it more shareable. But what works in the short-term doesn’t always move the needle once that frenzy dies down. The key to long-term brand growth is to ensure that your content delivers maximum positive emotion. It’s the affect heuristic at play - a subconscious mental shortcut which aids our decision-making, with emotion at the helm. The simple truth is that when we feel more positive about a brand, we are more likely to buy it. And to understand advertising’s long-term potential, you can’t just launch and learn. You have to test.

Let’s also not forget that it isn’t just about the metrics themselves, but about understanding the ‘why’ behind the ‘what’. Why is my new digital masterpiece being talked about at every water cooler across the country?  Why has it landed on the desk at the ASA?  While the digital world may be expanding, marketing budgets are often doing the polar opposite.  Pulling the right insights from these metrics allows you to learn for the future and ensure that every brushstroke you add to the picture is worth its weight in gold.

By Steve Wood, Senior Research Consultant, System1 Research. Follow them @system1research