While online marketing is often much more measurable and trackable than traditional marketing and advertising, the wealth of data can sometimes become a detriment. The level of tracking and performance data available can often lead to unrealistic expectations for immediate break-even and ROI generation. At the end of the day, we’re still talking about marketing and advertising and while we can be smarter and more sophisticated with our online efforts due to the performance information available, we need to keep the whole picture in view.
I’m not trying to adjust your expectations too low or too high here – that’s not what this post is about. I want to make sure we set goals, expectations, buckle up, and be patient. While we can have a PPC campaign up and running in a day, that doesn’t mean that we’ll be making ten dollars per dollar spent the next day. When we launch our first ever email campaign, we’re not necessarily going to see direct sales that exceed the cost of creative, strategy, and time for getting the campaign set up. When we start and SEO campaign, we (hopefully) know that it will take months to see measurable successes (see my post about the challenges of short-term SEO thinking).
At the same time, we should not be disconnected from or oblivious to how well the campaign is performing, the actions and strategy in place to improve it, and at what point we should consider pulling the plug if it isn’t producing for us at the level of our goals and expectations.
As with most successful marketing efforts, proper strategy planning includes goal and expectation setting. We must define what a success is, what budget and resources we are committing to the effort, and what checkpoints along the way will help us to evaluate our performance. It is also advisable to not set concrete deadlines for milestones. I have been a part of campaigns that were turned off too early due to the progress not quite meeting perceived instant ROI expectations, yet showing a lot of promise. I have also watched clients and companies waste budget and resources on trying to make a success out of a campaign that realistically won’t happen.
Being patient, yet not complacent is key. It might seem challenging to balance the two, but becomes much more manageable and reasonable if proper goal and expectation setting is done up front. The front-end discovery and strategy phase is where to weigh the expectations for online marketing channels against all other marketing and advertising (traditional or otherwise) that we’re engaged in. Again, at the end of the day, despite all the data we have, we’re still talking about marketing and advertising. While we all want measurable ROI–and that is often the primary goal–we don’t want to get shortsighted in our view of the big picture and impact that online marketing can have on our businesses.