In today’s fast-paced, ‘new media’ marketing environment, there are myriad digital technologies that allow marketers and communicators to create campaigns that really stand out – video, web apps, mobile, social media apps, interactive charts, infographics and on and on. Done well, these digital content methods enhance the story being told, keep audiences engaged and even entertain them. However it’s easy for even the most experienced marketers to get caught in the headlights of ‘shiny new tool’ syndrome – using digital to create something that looks good or behaves in a cool way, but doesn’t complement the story — or worse, confuses the intended message.
At best, a poorly thought out integrated digital campaign will simply have little impact and ultimately not meet your intended objectives. At worst, you’ll alienate your audience and damage your brand.
Take QR codes as a simple example. Their increasing popularity means they are now popping up everywhere, but are they always needed? In this blog post from eConsultancy, there are some excellent examples of getting it wrong.
Rather than using digital just for the sake of it, it pays to remember the content and the story you are telling is the most important element of any campaign – digital is simply there to enhance it, not replace it. At the start of any campaign we develop, we ask three questions before we think about how to create digital content:
- What is the campaign objective?
- Who is the target audience?
- What is the message?
They’re painfully obvious, but it’s incredible how easily some people forget about these very fundamental questions when getting excited about the use of digital. Connected to these are plenty of related questions that ultimately help map out a strategy and plan, but at each stage of campaign development, taking a step back to remind yourself of the answers to these three questions can help ensure you keep things on track.
A great example of using digital in the right way is this interactive piece from The Globe and Mail. This is a fantastic example of using digital and interactive means to bring content and a story to life. It features video, infographics, polls and interactive tools, all wrapped up with social elements to allow users to comment and share. This piece easily fulfils three elements we think are critical for the success of any digitally integrated campaign:
- Use-ability: some sort of utility (eg. interactive tools)
- Talk-ability: is interesting enough that people will talk about it with others
- Share-ability: people are easily able to share it with others
What’s more, the digital elements used in no way detract from the story being told, but rather enhance its delivery. The audience walks away from this with a full understanding of the issues raised. Have a kick around the site, and while you’re doing that think of how much less engaging it would be if this was a completely text-based story. Would you read it all? Probably not.Content, as ever, is king. Every campaign should start with a creative idea that is closely aligned with business and marketing objectives and with the target audience always in mind. From there, the tactics, methods and channels — be they digital or traditional — will follow and fall into place.