Prior to the holidays, the trades were publishing articles and digital pundits were posting blogs on what they felt would happen at the digital cash register over the largest consumer purchasing time of year. Many exploited Target’s and Home Depot's infamous 2014 data breaches in predicting that these chains would experience the worst holiday retail season ever, citing lack of consumer confidence in identity protection as the reason why.
The holidays have come and gone, and Mobile Marketing Watch recently posted an article about how the shopping season really went. “Digital Marketing, Mobile Commerce on ‘Target’ in This New Year” notes Target in particular as breaking records in retail sales, "Ahead of the weekend, Target announced that its holiday digital offerings – like store pickup and Cartwheel deals – ‘hit the bull’s-eye with millions of Target guests as the retailer racked up a record-breaking holiday season’.”
Digital Experts are Often Wrong
The trades and the pundits blew it. We view them as experts, and they are, but no one can predict the future, especially not in the fast-changing world of digital marketing. No one really knows what will happen tomorrow.
Let it be a lesson for all of us. We often assume what we read, if associated with an industry trade or seasoned representative of a digital company, to be fact. But if we look back, not just with the example of Target, but with predictions in mobile, social, and search, so many prognostications just didn’t quite hit the mark. For how many years did we hear it was going to be the year of mobile? What ever happened to social search? Not everything you read will turn out wrong, but remember to keep an open mind. No one knows the digital tomorrow. There are simply too many variables as well as rapid iteration and evolution.
So how can you make sure that you continue to deliver results with digital? How can you be that valued marketing partner you mean to be? How can you deliver value in digital tomorrow?
Forget the Digital Experts and Focus on What You Know
When buying or selling digital campaigns, create your own library or record of what digital success looks like for your company, your brand, your specific products or services. Look back at the successes you’ve had and document how and why each was successful. Keep track of the good and the bad, and take the time to evaluate why a campaign performed the way it did. A manager recently told me she created an actual database of past proposals for her sales team. She created line items for every aspect of the No Surprise Proposal, detailing which parts of the proposal were effective and led to a deal that closed. Her sales team now can look at the database for examples of how best to present their ideas and solutions for their clients.
This kind of resource, along with a library of success stories, for example, is a great way to document digital sales and campaign successes. With resources like this, you’ll also be more familiar with what doesn’t work and how to avoid making the same mistake twice.
By tracking what’s working and what’s not—in both your proposals and the solutions in those proposals—you’ll also be far more aware of how the digital landscape is changing right under your feet. I can’t promise you’ll be able to make perfect predictions, but you’ll be a lot savvier about the digital tomorrow.