What makes a successful digital marketing campaign? Hint: It starts with consumers.

It’d be naïve of us to say we can control success, but in truth, results can’t always be guaranteed. The fact is, after gathering research and insights and on the other side of painstaking planning, as soon as you launch a digital marketing campaign and roll out a media relations strategy to support it, the results are largely out of your hands. You may have an idea where it’s going to go, but you never really know.

In the last couple of weeks, we’ve seen campaigns soar, and we’ve seen campaigns both big and small get banged up and bruised for a myriad of reasons, but it all boils down to this: Our success lies in the hands of consumers. Here are three big takeaways from it all.

Consumers are Batman

By that, I mean consumers are vigilantes on the lookout for deceptive practices, misuse of AI tools and more. An example of this was the focus of a Rolling Stone piece that highlighted X’s Community Notes feature. In an effort to counteract misinformation, Community Notes was launched as a self-policing mechanism on X. Well, the community has done just that, but it also has leeched on to shady advertisers. The Rolling Stone article showed how users are using Community Notes to call out mobile apps for misleading graphics and to debunk weight loss products for being discredited. We’ve historically seen this to an extent on the comments of ads, but Community Notes amplifies messages in a way that gives them greater weight.

Big budgets don’t mean the right results

I personally loved Snoop Dogg’s Solo Stove stunt. I got the organic social media post that he was giving up smoke, and I’m so gullible I thought, “Awww, good for him.” Fast forward millions of earned and social media impressions and countless conversations later, lots of folks were buzzing about the campaign. But within a couple of months of that campaign, the CEO was ousted and replaced – failing to drive the anticipated sales in Q4. Consumers loved the content of the campaign, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to spend the $225 to buy a smokeless fire pit. If the campaign’s KPIs were awareness, great. But we’re guessing since the CEO was fired, it was all about those sales conversions. A highly targeted digital marketing campaign, while not super sexy, could have potentially driven more qualified traffic – and results.

Collaboration and knowing your audience are key

An example that went (crazily) right, could be seen with Stanley and Target. Stanley knew its audience well, understanding that a perfect intersection for a limited-edition pink, Valentine’s Day Stanley release would be through a collaboration with Target. Inc. pointed out that the “scarcity model” worked, and the product was sold out within a day (with resellers taking the goods to eBay at a premium markup). Stanley pushed its product in the right place at the right time, and it got earned media pick-up from the response and organic social media impressions from the POV content its consumers created (which no doubt generated FOMO, which may further help the brand well beyond the campaign).

Casey Prentice

A self-proclaimed organizational junkie and data geek who confesses to a secret desire to be a professional organizer, Casey enjoys account management, writing, editing and digital content strategy. Her agency work has helped clients like Virginia’s Community Colleges, VCUarts and Swedish Match.

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