Is your target group online? — Frank derFrankie Neulichedl

Is your target group online?

This is a short story about a nearly failed campaign - and we all know, we learn from our failures, not from successes. Find out why you should not always believe statistics.

Offline campaigns do not always convert well to online

Being online is state of the art, actually is a mass medium these days. If you are looking at statistics you may think that everyone uses the internet in one way or another. This is a short story about a nearly failed campaign - and we all know, we learn from our failures, not from successes.  Find out why you should not always believe statistics.

The campaign

My client launched a new product and wanted to promote it to its clients and to architects and other opinion leaders and multipliers. As my client works in a quite specialized B2B sector the main medium is print and direct mailings. There are no internet sites related specifically to the market and even the magazines are pretty bad. Anyway, the new product had so many new features, a sort of revolution, that just lining out the main features would have overloaded the ads.

We decided to put on the ads just as much information as needed and made a special landing page on the website where the visitors could find out every detail about the product and contact a local salesman for a personal presentation.

The client suggested to not put just the landing page on the ad as he stated, that the market (Italy) is now ready for the internet. In fact over 60% of the business with his clients is made through the internet.

Beyond the advertising in magazines we made also a mailing through a postcard-stack (you know, where you get a stack of postcards with advertising ready to be sent back to the firms).

The results

To understand how weak the response was you must think that the circulation of the ads where about 16.000 (+200.000 off main target), and the postcards where send to 5.000 persons. We've got 12 visitors to the landing page in one month and about 150 postcards send via mail or fax. Pretty bad.

Why it failed: no awareness

Some of the target group didn't realize the potential given by the new product simply because it solves problems ignored until now. Especially the off main target (end consumer) was not aware that the products on the market had problems so they didn't care. The target group ignoring the problem is another thing. The ad couldn't spark the awareness but this was not the goal of the ads and so they failed.

Why we failed: digital divide

We read the statistics about the internet use wrongly. We looked closer and found out that the 60% of the business mentioned earlier made through internet was made by only 10% of the clients customers. The rest made the orders via fax or phone. It's a numbers game, the big part of the market where my client operates is formed by very small firms and craftsman - you know father & son businesses who sometimes grow a little bit bigger. This small workshops have a internet connection, but the owner often doesn't use it - the younger ones do. It's the digital divide at its best. Especially in Italy we have 50% of the population who has never accessed the internet and many of the customers of my client fall into this 50%.

On this subject I discussed with a leading manager of a training organization in Italy. He told me that 95% of the bookings are still made through fax. The online booking platform they installed is rarely used.

In the end it wasn't a failure

By reading this you may think that the whole campaign was a big failure. If you where looking only at the numbers you may be right. If you think about the conversions you may also be right. If we had put a toll free number on the ads we may have had better results, but on the good side I can mention, that the costs of this whole campaign where fairly low and that we could measure this campaign well and analyze it.

By failing we could focus the whole marketing strategy on other mediums. We now know (for now) that the target group is not online. The money saved in a costly internet presence (induced by web user statistics) and advertising campaigns gave more ROI (return on investment) than the campaign did cost. By switching the strategy we actually converted quite well and the client was obviously happy.

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