How to Make a Digital Marketer Commit Suicide, Murder or Both.

There are 99 problems wrong with your campaign, but your one fixation is ironically not one of them.

I am only writing this because it is something that has come up in different discussions with different digital marketers that I felt someone had to document it.

So I decided to be that guy.

This will be quick and painless. The subject matter, less so. In any digital marketing-related set-up, there are usually (roughly) four kinds of people:

  1. The person expecting (magical) results.
  2. The people who aren’t exactly in the digital marketing team (but who nonetheless have to do what it takes to make the DM’s objectives work).
  3. Quality Control people (glorified phrase for people who have been ‘mandated’ to frown very disapprovingly at the way what you are doing is being done,
  4. Then there’s you — the actual digital marketer (and your band of misfits.)

Hint: the person expecting magical results is usually the person funding your campaign. Hosanna in the highest.

The way digital marketing works sounds like ‘common-sense’, until you actually start setting up a campaign. Then you land on one crossroad, where you have to decide between two things that look absolutely the same so you do the classic eenie meenie miney mo and suddenly $2,000 of client money has gone fwspshhhh down the drain and you’re cradling your Google Spreadsheet, asking sincere questions like:

Campen. Stahp. Esplen d las thing dat jus hapnd.

And you are actually someone who is paid to know what is happening at all times!

Half the time you find yourself bullshitting the entire thing (“we widened the funnel in the just-concluded quarter and our retention improved by ~2.5%, a small percentage, but it is all a function of the directly-impacted cohort, and since we have tightened an RLSA campaign against our smart list I therefore say that 25% growth wey una dey see so, na me do am!”)

But on lonely nights you’re looking at the thrice-filtered analytics data, wondering, asking, and pleading.

Time flies when you don’t know shit.

On a good day, your marketing dashboard is like the Starfleet Enterprise’s: a flickering disco ball with each metric pretending to be just as important as the other. (So your bounce rate is low yet conversion remains as-is? And the user segment by city engages with the ‘/page/subfolder/.*’ category of your webpage? Madting, Augustus, but what do these things really mean?)

And to top it all, there are those three people I talked about above either asking for impossible deliverables, trying to tell you how to do your job or essentially becoming the spanners in your works.

As if things were not tough enough.

This post is for the three people above. For every time these things happen, you are undermining your digital marketer, suppressing their potential for awesomeness and basically shooting yourself in the foot. Yes — you are reading this right: your attempts to ‘spur’ the DM might be what is actually ruining stuff.*

(*DISCLAIMER: This does not take into account the possibility of your DM being a lazy, uninspired and unskilled fella. The assumption here is that your DM is actually, well, above average.)

Here are the things you do that are counterproductive:

  1. Ask for a last-interaction attribution model: Some people do not realize they have done this (‘last-interaction model’ is not something the average person says naturally), but when you ask that a marketer shows you, linearly, how his campaign led to specific booking, you are only seeing half the picture. Your consumers do not respect your idea of a conversion funnel (fewer people than you think click your ad, read your product description, then buy. A lot of people click your ad, study your product, do some idle research, then forget about you completely. Then someone tweets about you or they see one of your employees wearing your company’s tee-shirt while being mauled by a bear and they think ‘aha! I was going to buy their semo juicer! And, they read your URL off your now-dead employee’s shirt and that purchase will be attributed to the direct channel! When,in fact, it was the ad that set them on the path to purchase!).

At worst, ask for a Time-decay model. As Avinash puts it, it is not perfect, but it is better than that bloody last-click model, by God!

I totally understand a stakeholder’s need to understand that their cash is money well spent, and the most literal way to justify it is to see all the ‘conversions’ directly attributable to a specific spend. You want to see your CAC, yes. You should however monitor all your channels and observe changes across board that might be attributable to a paid marketing campaign.

2. Vanity Metrics: Trust me, few people can pull vanity metrics out of their arses faster than digital marketers so I understand the need to clamp down on those rascals by giving tougher KPIs for them to abide by.

Woe is you, however, if you have unwittingly given a digital marketer a vanity metric to report on. You might as well slather your lips with some greasy paint because, oh boy, you are about to be smacked wetly repeatedly. Over and over again.

(Yes, cost-per-acquisition can be a vanity metric in some circumstances. If you are unsure what a vanity metric is, it is usually the number you continue to fling in people’s faces at cocktail parties.)

3. Asking for Lightning Speed on Pregnancy Cases: One does not simply fertilize nine women because one wants a baby in a month. Consider SEO for example. I have said earlier, and I will mention again, that we mostly do not fully understand how Google works — we just have a framework for ‘optimizing along best practices,’ (the definition that demarcates white hats from blackhats) so when you give someone a short deadline to ‘optimize you to eligwe’, man. Why? Same with your paid campaigns. Ideally your objectives must first be understood, fleshed out, mapped out into goals and micro-goals, conversions and micro-conversions and assets created and deployed in a very delicate scheme that reeks of careful thinking.

I shall summarize now. You give a digital marketer a task, you should give them autonomy as well. Just come to terms with objectives (do not be unnecessarily stiff-necked by expecting golden eggs from a proverbial goose of similar chromatic attributes), ensure that the technical wherewithal to pull of projects are available, that there are no breaks in campaigns due to mid-campaign ‘reconnoiter’, give ample time for planning and results evaluation, and we shall get along famously.

I am TheVunderkind on Twitter.

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