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Data Ignorance & The Battle on Preconceived Notions


In the grand scheme of all marketing, digital marketing is relatively new, and many would think that there wouldn’t be a general preconception, whether it be positive or negative, around what success looks like and how it can be achieved.

But, there is.

When a new client comes onboard with On Target, we do our best to educate the new client on the importance of a comprehensive digital marketing campaign, why it works and how we measure success. There are several new clients that will come on board with us with preconceived notions that come from a variety of places that we will discuss. It’s our jobs to show the reality of the inception of success of their digital marketing efforts through data. “The data will set you free.”

Common Preconceived Notions About Digital Marketing & Their Origins

The Know It All: I know how my customers find me.

The Know It All exhibits behavior of someone who draws conclusions based on a sample of previous experiences without any real data to back it up. He or she knows where their data comes from and it’s never through social media, search engines or content marketing. Unfortunately, this feigned ignorance isn’t allowing the business to reach its full potential and tap into markets that could very well be profitable.

How the Data Can Set The Know It All Free:

First, a review of their Analytics is in order to check their data sources, the associated behavior metrics and conversion data. You can easily identify what portion of the website traffic is coming from search engines, social media and content marketing. From there, you can measure the behavioral patterns of those users and find ways to optimize those behaviors. You can check the conversion data and scale the data based on the increased amount of work that will be put into each traffic source. For example, if 3 out of 50 conversions per month come from social media, and you’re only posting 1 time per week, you can calculate with a 100% increase in activity, we can most likely see a 100% increase in conversions, as long as we capitalize on the organic and paid reach in each social media outlet.

The Burned: I’ve tried it before and it didn’t work.

The Burned has a reasonable explanation for not believing in digital marketing efforts–they worked with an SEO or digital marketing company that may not have provided any results, deliverables or customer service in the past. Listen, we cannot blame him or her for having to deal with the most frustrating part of this industry. These lazy agencies or one-man-shows make promises they are unable to deliver, creating a vacuum of negative preconceived notions leaving the honest agencies to deal with the repercussions.

How Data Can Set The Burned Free:

Chances are “the burned” have never seen data supporting the digital marketing efforts in the past, so just providing an explanation of the data can be hugely rewarding. It’s important that you ask questions about expectations and the what type of information he or she would like to see moving forward so you can meet and exceed their expectations, changing their preconceived notions.

The Scanner: I read somewhere that we should do it this way.

The Scanner likely knows enough about digital marketing to be dangerous. He or she will scan articles and/or conversations with others and pull information without context to form conclusions, which will be pushed upon his or her digital marketing company. The challenging part of communicating with The Scanner is that you have to be tactical about proving them wrong. The information either came from something he or she read or from a friend or family member in passing, and you can to be able to communicate a contrasting viewpoint without it coming across as insulting.

How Data Can Set The Scanner Free:

The good news is you can use logic and reason, as well as well-documented sources to show what digital marketing efforts can actually benefit The Scanner and his or her business. Conduct some relevant research about what works well in that particular vertical, as well as an analysis of their Analytics to help point them in the right direction. Since he or she knows enough to be dangerous, communicating the heterogeneous complexities of digital marketing to them isn’t as ambitious, as communicating this to someone with little to no knowledge of digital marketing.

The Independent: This sounds like something I can do myself.

The Independent may just be looking for guidance over anything else. He or she could enlist your services for a short period of time to emulate what you’re doing just to try and do it his or herself. This person has done the research, but just may need some practical application assistance. He or she may even ask for a workshop or a class to teach them how to do it. These situations are unfortunate for agencies who are looking to establish long-term client relationships, but it’s important to serve the client for what he or she needs in the best capacity possible without pushing unnecessary services and contracts on him or her.

How Data Can Set The Independent Free:

This scenario should be more how the data can see you, the marketer, free. There are key points to listen to when finding out the main marketing challenges and history with this individual, and the earlier you identify The Independent, the better you can serve him or her. A primary component that will serve both parties will is to establish where his or her time is best spent, and what areas it would make sense for them to work with a digital marketing company. Maybe he or she will not have time to analyze the Analytics on a monthly or weekly basis and would like assistance with coming up with recommendations and areas to work on based off of this analysis. Maybe he or she just needs a monthly consultation session to help strategize where the digital marketing efforts should be optimized. The better you can serve the need of your client, the longer the relationship you can maintain.

The Shopper: I can get it cheaper elsewhere.

The Shopper doesn’t look at the true ROI and value of digital marketing efforts, and he or she is looking for ways to keep marketing costs on the Internet as low as possible. Why? Because he or she CAN. There are far more SEO, social media and digital marketing agencies who can afford to keep their costs low. Sometimes, it’s very difficult to compete with these type of agencies. They have little to no overhead because they work from home or outsource to other countries, and they provide the unassuming shopper with a list of deliverables that may or may not be beneficial to the client.

How Data Can Set The Shopper Free:

Again, with these type of smaller agencies, there is very little strategy and data analysis behind what they do. It’s easy to differentiate yourself in these scenarios as a digital marketing agency by just showing the breadth of what you can do compared to these smaller agencies. Having someone who can look at the ins and outs of The Shopper’s Analytics and show where they can increase budget and/or efforts to increase ROI can outshine the competition in an instance. Expertise and experience come at a price, and you just have to show your value to the Shopper in a way that is easy for them to comprehend: dollars and cents.

The Hypothesizer: I think we can do this without content.

The Hypothesizer bases many marketing investment decisions (and potentially other business decisions) on opinions and gut-feeling. This is no way to operate a business and it should be no way to operate your marketing campaign. The hypothesizer may want to reduce marketing spend and decide on cutting a crucial component to their digital marketing efforts without much thought into the repercussions.

How Data Can Set The Hypothesizer Free:

It’s pretty easy to calculate the potential losses of cutting an integral part of the digital marketing campaign. The way you communicate this information is also decisive. The information should be communicated in a very practical way without coming off as defensive. Simply showing the value to the client may be able to do the trick. If he or she is evaluating their investment costs, it would be in your favor to show them where you can cut back efforts while minimizing losses. This will establish trust.

The Adversary: My competitor is doing this so we need to do this.

Business owners can have tunnel vision when it comes to marketing, focusing largely on their competition with very little thought to seeing how they should differentiate themselves in the market. When it comes to The Adversary, it’s critical to communicate what his or her competition isn’t doing and where you can find a hole in the market and capitalize on it. Competitive analysis shouldn’t be overlooked, but it shouldn’t be the sole driver of strategy when it comes to digital marketing.

How Data Can Set The Adversary Free:

Performing a competitive analysis on a program like SpyFu, Raven Tools or Alexa can show The Adversary actual data of what his or her competitor is doing. This data can help drive the strategy moving forward, as well as looking as some industry data to show where there may be holes in the competitor’s strategy of which can be taken advantage.

In our industry, there are several ways in which you can show your value and make sure your client is getting the most out of their marketing investment, and almost all of those roads lead back to data. Don’t let data ignorance hurt your client retention rate. Most of all, let the data set you free.

Erica Weatherstone