Digital Advertising: Knowing Your Audience and Your Content

Digital Advertising: Knowing Your Audience and Your ContentWhat factors should you have in mind when considering digital advertising? How can you stay up-to-date on digital trends? How do you decide which advertising strategies to invest in?

These questions were part of a panel discussion among four marketing and advertising representatives at the Baton Rouge Area Chambers June luncheon. Panelists were Tambry Slavich, senior public relations manager at Zehnder Communications; Stan Levy, president and CEO of Fusesense; Stuart Feigley, president and co-founder of Wright Feigley Communications; and Taylor Bennett, president of MESH. Kelly Bienn, BRAC’s director of marketing operations, served as moderator.

Here’s a roundup of the panelists’ advice for navigating the world of digital advertising.

What Should You Know About Advertising in the Digital Age?

These days, the panelists agreed, it’s all about the content and the audience.  

Digital has changed media relations and social media, Slavich said. “You should have a strong online presence, both with your website and social channels.” All mediums converge and reach more people, and “content is more important than ever,” she said.

Levy said it’s no longer about how much content you have but how good your content is. With a deluge of material available, both good and bad, your content has to stand out and engage your target audience, he said. He noted that 84% of millennials say they read a company’s content before they make any purchase.

Feigley suggested a focus on thinking small, narrowing down messages to target specific customers based on location and age group. “You can really subsegment your audience down to put out relevant messages,” he said.

Bennett said the best way to create quality content and connect with your audience is to develop your brand. “You should know your brand and brand personality to make your advertising relatable to that brand,” he said. “It is really important to have a strategy related to your brand.”  

How Do You Balance Between Traditional and Digital Advertising?

While having an online presence is important, Bennett said, you should consider your audience first. Slavich said that most likely a website is the first place a customer will go before anything else. But as Bennett said, you have to know where your audience likes to go for content.

“You have to know who you are talking to and where they are getting content and enjoyment,” Bennett said.

It’s sometimes hard to know whether to rely more on traditional advertising or risk going digital, and Slavich said you sometimes have to use trial and error. Using data analysis tools like Google Analytics and Facebook Insights can help, she said. “Does the site traffic go up? Do you see traffic in your website when that message was put out?” Slavich said, suggesting questions to help figure out what works best.  

These tools can help track customers’ interest on a weekly basis, but it can take weeks to figure out which strategies were effective. Slavich said she tells her clients to wait eight weeks after an ad has run to see results. Feigley said that four to six months is his benchmark. “We look at what we are doing for a long time to find the sweet spots and keywords that get the results we want,” he said.  

You also have to decide whether you have the resources to manage digital advertising well. Digital, Bennett said, is much more difficult to manage compared with traditional advertising such as a billboard. Digital advertising requires regular monitoring, so you have to decide if you have the resources to do that, he said.

Should Small and Medium-Sized Businesses Use Social Media Sites Besides Facebook and Twitter?

The panelists agreed that if a social media outlet offers a unique experience for your audience, you may want to try it.

Bennett said different sites offer different benefits, noting that he worked with a company that sells outdoor lifestyle goods and that often uses Instagram, while a bank he collaborates with only uses Facebook and Twitter. “Even Snapchat can make a huge impression, depending on what category you’re in,” he said.

Knowing what is right for your business and your content will help you choose the site that’s right for you, Bennett said. Feigley agreed, saying Facebook is good for being witty and taking time to craft what you want to say, while other sites update in real time from an unfiltered standpoint, such as live video on the  app Periscope.

Feigley says that when Twitter debuted, it was important for businesses to first listen and watch rather than participate, to understand how the site was being used and determine its popularity. “After a couple of months of watching a social media site, see if you should participate in that particular category or not,” he said.

Levy said you should also consider your ability to manage social media for your company and your audience. If you are going to do social media, you have to stay current. “Some businesses warrant being in a lot of places, and others only a few,” he said.

What Are the Best Resources to Stay Up-to-Date on Advertising and Marketing Trends?

Bennett said he regularly looks at Advertising Age, which has easy-to-read articles with numbered tips on advertising and marketing. “If you follow them on Facebook, you can also see how they market themselves and [make use of] storytelling through videos,” he said.

Slavich said she likes Communications Pro, a digital content and PR firm that deals with topics such as crisis communications and cool, creative campaigns.

Feigley said Adweek and Communication Arts are his go-to sites. “As a creative director, I am copyrighted by trade, and it’s good to view work in general and see great examples,” he said of Communication Arts.

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