Digital Behaviors: How and Why They Should Affect our Marketing Activities
Before the internet boom, one of the most popular phrases on how to achieve business success was (and for non-internet businesses often still is) “Location, location, location”.
The big business allure of the internet then was that you were no longer confined to the locations your business could access – you could reach anyone, anywhere.
“Location, location, location”, in this context transitions from physical placement to digital targeting.
In this context (at least in theory), the better you could be at targeting the right audience, the more successful your marketing campaigns could be.
But there’s a significant trade-off to moving things online which makes all of that a little more complicated.
You just don’t have the instant, clear feedback you would be able to get from your customers live, on-location.
And we try very hard as marketers to solve that by implementing all sorts of increasingly complex analytics and tracking to be able to understand how visitors interact with your website and campaigns so that we can tweak and adjust our marketing activities into a successful, profitable formula.
That’s the value of understanding your audience’s digital behaviour, which is to say tremendous value indeed. But the more advanced you want your analytics to be, the more it will cost, and the more it will require you to have a lot of traffic in order to be able to extract reliable, actionable data on which to base your decisions regarding what to change and optimize in your marketing, sales and overall business processes to make them more effective and more profitable.
Much like how pristine physical locations aren’t always available or affordable to just any business, higher levels of complex behavioural analytics and data-driven marketing/ sales aren’t available or affordable to all businesses either.
But the good news is that you don’t need all of that if you’re not at the level yet where it makes sense to invest in it. In my personal opinion, businesses should weigh their options and invest in the kinds of marketing approaches that make the most sense at their level of growth – the ones that can be successful and still affordable enough to propel you to the next level.
And until you get to the stage where you can make data-driven marketing decisions based on in-depth digital behaviours that occur on your own website, you can already leverage what you can learn about people’s digital behaviors on other massive mediums online, such as facebook, twitter, linkedin, google, youtube, press publications and other, more niche-relevant industry leader websites.
People access LinkedIn for a different reason why they access Facebook – even if, in many cases, the same person will have an account on both platforms, their thinking and reason for being on one will often be different from the other.
For instance, if you’re looking to hire someone, you may have more luck promoting that on LinkedIn than on Facebook.
If you’re looking to sell a fun product that’s likely to catch the attention of people in a relaxed, friendly environment, you may do better on Instagram (or maybe tiktok) and other mediums that enable the same kind of atmosphere.
When I was running Facebook ad campaigns for a living, I quickly learned that in order to be successful, it wasn’t enough for me to know how to create campaigns and optimize them.
In order for those campaigns to work, they needed to promote the kind of product, offer or content that people actually like to engage with on Facebook.
For me, this meant selecting clients who I thought could sell well on Facebook. For a business, it’s important that it selects its marketing mediums like they would in some ways a physical store-front:
- Choose mediums that reach the right audience.
- Make sure that you’re reaching people in the right context.
Let me elaborate: maybe you’re selling products to medium-income people, but if those products are surf boards, you won’t set up shop in the mountainside – even if you’re going to find your target audience there, you won’t find them in the right context.
It’s the same as trying to sell ice cream to ice cream lovers during winter. The product isn’t the problem, the audience isn’t the problem and neither is the price. The context too is a deciding factor and it’s easy to forget to factor this one in online.
- Finally, balance the cost of being on that medium with the potential return on investment that you can generate.
For instance, I’ve sometimes avoided running LinkedIn ad campaigns in spite of it being a good medium to target the client’s audience because LinkedIn CPC’s can get quite high and the potential ROI just wasn’t there.
Research what kinds of things people buy or what kinds of actions they take in relation to businesses on different online mediums. Once you have that information, you can make a more calculated decision about what types of marketing campaigns to run on what mediums.
Perhaps I will not even target my audience with ads or social media content at all. Perhaps I decide PR or other kinds of marketing are the right way to go.
Or perhaps I see that my Facebook ad campaigns stop delivering profitable ROI past a certain spending cap. If I want to scale and spend more, one way to do that is to expand my mediums, not just my Facebook audience (run some ads on youtube, pinterest, tiktok etc and see how those do, if those can also yield profitable ROI).
As business owners or project leads, I believe that we should pay more attention to the bigger picture, our marketing ecosystems as a whole, rather than focusing on a single layer (ads, content, etc).
Decide your strategy with your audience, context and business model as the starting point, and then design your actual marketing activities (ad campaigns, content strategy, PR etc) based on your big-picture goals and longer-term vision.
Digital marketing is a constantly changing environment, but people and behaviours are not. If we create our marketing strategies around people, behaviors, context and business objectives, it will be easier to then pick our best marketing mediums and even to change them or add to them if performance starts to decline (or reaches its peak).