A Digital Marketing Equation

How Awareness, Discovery, and Validation can ensure you learn something valuable from each campaign you run

In most cases, when I sit down with a client to talk about how we can help them with a campaign, there are a few aspects of the conversation that feel pretty consistant.

Most times we are having a discussion because there is the perception that we need to get something specific up and running for them. Sometimes its a website, sometimes its a PPC or Social Media campaign. Rarely does the conversation actually start with the objective.

It’s not that talking about the tactics is wrong, its just that the tactic alone is not what makes a campaign work. For me, I get most excited when our clients have an objective in mind. Maybe its selling more of their product, or generating leads or even growing their following on twitter. What I like about starting at the objective is that it allows the strategy of how we get them there to take center stage.

There’s a pretty simple formula that I have found makes the discussion a lot more productive. Awareness + Discovery + Validation. I like starting with validation…


Validation is about defining success. What is the best possible outcome? What I love about this question is that it helps me understand not just what our clients value, but what their organization values as well. In the last year I’ve seen a shift from abstract numbers such as visits, or likes, to things that people can usually assign a monetary value to like Leads or phone calls. The goal changes based on the organization, but this question is not stumping people as often as it did 12 - 18 months ago.

Here is the follow up question… how are you going to measure it? More specifically, what are you going to count and how are you going make it happen?


Discovery describes the actual assets you want your target audience to interact with. Depending on the campaign’s objective this could be as broad as an entire website or as specific as a single page. Increasingly, it might not be a website at all. When the objective is engagement and awareness, your social media assets (A Facebook or LinkedIn company page for example) might be the destination that is best suited.

Here is the follow up question… Can your asset support your validation criteria? Is it ready to collect the information you want to measure?


Once you’ve defined your outcomes (Validation) and your asset (Discovery) is ready to measure the interactions you value, Awareness steps in.

Awareness includes any channel or mechanism that you can use to drive people to your asset. They fall mainly into the following categories:

Organic Search
Paid Search
Social Media

I’ve found that once the outcome is defined and we know our asset is ready to collect the right info, Awareness becomes a much simpler discussion to have. Picking the right tactic hevily depends on what you already have in your digital asset inventory.

As an example, awareness tactics selected to promote a product or service may be drastically more cost effective if a client has already invested into building a Permission Marketing asset such as an email list, Facebook ,Twitter, or LinkedIn following. It may be that we need to create a brand new Paid Search campaign for this strategy or we can leverage an existing campaign that was created for this purpose in the past.

Here is the follow up question… How many Awareness assets does your organization have that can be leveraged for your objectives?

Applying the Equation

So here is the trick, the next time you and your team sit down to discuss your next campaign, ensure that you can answer the following questions.

What are we trying to achieve?
How are we going to measure success?

Are we ready to measure success?

What are we going to use to promote our message?

With these 3 components though through, your organization will be better positioned to know how any specific initiative performed and learn what aspects of the formula will require tweaking for the next campaign.