What Is Your Client Really Asking?

We all answer to clients – whether they are actual paying clients that we service, partners, internal marketing departments, our boss, or our investors. Very few of those not in the biz have the time and head space to think and overthink the minutiae of our digital marketing worlds. So when clients ask you a question or express a concern, they may do so without the experience and context to address the heart of the real issue.

Further, clients are exposed to lots of unqualified or incomplete info, as well as media dramatics that may contain partial truths or hyperbole. Your client may not have the language or experience to parse the info they are receiving and evaluate its validity. And they do all this while navigating the obtuse and constantly-changing industry jargon and acronyms.

Below are a few hot topic concerns and questions that we often get from clients, along with some insight into the real concern that is often not as well articulated.

Question: Will Ad-Blocking Software Impact My Display Campaign Effectiveness?

Actual Question: In today’s environment, how can I ensure an effective and cost effective media spend while reaching my most productive audiences?

Clients are offered ad-blocking software themselves, are reading reports with alarming statistics, and are understandably nervous about how they will continue to reach consumers, as ad blocking becomes easier and more popular. The truth that clients need to hear is that the ad environment is undergoing change, but that it is not as dramatic or apocalyptic as often depicted.

The numbers of consumers opting out is growing quickly: 48 percent more ad blockers in the U.S. this year than last for a total estimated at 16 percent of the U.S. online population. As this growth is occurring, new ad environments and delivery vehicles, like native ads, have and will continue to arise to take the place of the underperforming banners. Additionally, smart plans will focus on verification and attribution to distinguish between what is working and what is not.

Through their digital partners, if clients are respectful of consumer preferences and consumer access while also providing relevant, original, compelling, welcome content to those who are open to it, programs should net out stronger. Urge them to focus on the things they can control, like the quality of their messaging and content. You don’t want to talk to people who don’t want your ads.

Question: How Much of My Budget Is Reaching My Intended Audience?

Actual Question: Am I wasting my money?

The ANA recently published an alarming study that estimated that 11 percent of display ads and nearly 25 percent of video ad views come from bots. As ad tech becomes increasingly more intelligent, automated, and fast, we expected that to translate to improved performance. But with the introduction of so many middlemen – some good and trustworthy, and some not – the industry is just not seeing that positive result. Enter the triple boogeyman – bot fraud, viewability, and the aforementioned ad blocking – and clients can be forgiven for a little lapse in confidence.

The only true way to determine if your money is well-spent is to rely on the business metrics that you can control. Are you getting more qualified traffic that results in productive activity and conversions? Trust your own granular analytics; they are worth the time and will tell your story with the detail that allows you to test and optimize over time.

Question: How Do I Get My Audience More Engaged With My Brand?

Actual Question: How can I get more love from my customers?

This one is both extremely simple and very difficult: put your customers first and stop shilling. Learn about their lives, listen to their concerns, and do your research. Deliver value focused on content composed of issues that resonate with your audience or have some relevance to your brand. Dove is the champion brand here, in my opinion.

An endless promotional cycle or narcissistic “me, me, me” talk will not endear you to your customers, motivate sharing, or earn your audience’s time, attention, and dollars over the long-term. Neither will an uncharacteristically big gesture inconsistent with your brand voice and approach. Loyalty comes when consumers feel understood and can make a positive association to the work you do.

Our best mentors have always told us that all questions are good questions. They open a productive dialogue, create educational opportunities, and allow us to return to and confirm the core values and strategies on which all our decisions should be based. Ask away.

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