Looking Beyond the Direct Conversion
What do Metallica, Miles Davis and Maroon 5 have in common? More importantly, what do they have in common with your digital marketing?
I had a great lunch recently with a long-time customer and friend who is the head of marketing for a luxury dealer group. We were discussing dealership operators’ insatiable appetite for leads, when my friend tells me that he just had one of the GMs ask him about the $8,000 bill for Google AdWords. It went like this:
The GM says, “Hey, what’s this bill for AdWords? Did we get any return from this?”
My friend, the marketer, says “Absolutely, it’s working well.”
“How many leads did it get us?” the GM replies.
Now, I should mention that this question was asked in passing while they were standing in an open location with lots of cross-functional co-workers as spectators. What my friend said next is the right answer as a marketer, but it typically falls on deaf ears with most leaders in dealerships.
He replied. “Well, it’s a little more complicated than that. We don’t really focus the value purely on leads anymore. We look at the whole picture of what we get from the traffic that comes from AdWords and the rest of our digital marketing mix in order to fully understand the value.”
He refrained from the use of defensive buzzwords, though he could have said “Bla bla bla AdWords Bla bla bla multi-touch attribution bla bla bla…” and he would have had about the same impact. The average dealer does not want to hear about anything but leads — frankly there are very few people out there who want to hear about anything but leads, and that includes my own CEO.
Truth be told, I still go there sometimes as well. In fact, I challenge any business leader to look at an investment and not look at the direct returns. It just doesn’t happen. But, as leaders, we also need to look beyond the direct conversion.
Everyone seems to want a clear picture of what’s going on, and why shouldn’t we? We deserve a clear view on the success and failure of the dollars that we are committing to digital advertising — all advertising for that matter. Sadly, we still can’t (in most cases) get a clear view of the ROI on every dollar spent. There is still an art to advertising. There is still nuance to the work that marketers do every day. Unfortunately, close to 20 years ago (at the beginning of the digital revolution) digital advertising experts wrote a check that they couldn’t cash. They said we would be able to track everything.
They went something like this:
“Digital advertising isn’t like traditional advertising, we’ve got all the metrics.”
“You can track how many people click on your ad, which tells you how many people want your product.”
“Now that we have analytics, you can see everything that users are doing on your website.”
Ever since we heard these statements and ones like them, we have been working to deliver metrics closer and closer to the point of sale. More and more aligned with sales completion but, alas, most are still challenged by a lack of understanding for who does what and why? What media is specifically responsible for what metrics? Even with so many companies shouting that they can answer the unanswered questions, the reality is that there are still more questions than answers.
Let’s get back to the music. I played Maroon 5 for my wife on Mother’s Day. She loves the 2002 Songs About Jane album, she also happens to be a huge Metallica fan, and we will be at the Hardwired to Self Destruct show on our wedding anniversary this summer. Anecdotally, she walked down the aisle to a string trio playing “Nothing Else Matters” (yup, super fan!). Right now, I’m sitting on the plane coming back from a day of meetings, and I’m listening to the best of Miles Davis. His “Social Music” is amazing to listen to while writing.
So what do these three musical acts have in common? Each player is part of a perfect mix; harmonizing together to give you the best possible result and the best possible return. Exactly like your media mix or your digital media mix, Miles Davis, James Hetfield and Adam Levine are all significantly better with the harmony provided by the complete mix working together as one.
Next time you (The Marketer) are faced with the question, “How many leads did we get from AdWords, Speed Shift Media (or any other advertising tool in your mix)?” try this answer on your Dealer Principal: “Think of it this way, what is James Hetfield without Metallica?”