Will the ‘digital dogs’ buy into your marketing plan?


Before everything was fully digitized, the world was a simpler place. Not everything had to be done “yesterday,” and there were aspects of that which were positive.

It took time to develop a marketing plan, decide on the creative idea, present it to the world and wait to see if it was successful.

My old boss, a marketing veteran back then, used to always say, “let’s see if the dogs will eat it,” meaning let’s see if this idea or campaign will resonate with the target audience.

Dog Human Eating GIF

After a campaign launched, it took time for people to react to magazine ads, billboards, postcards, brochures, sell sheets and trade show messaging. Having a website and tracking site performance was in its infancy. It simply took a lot longer to determine if you had built an effective creative campaign or had a slogan that raised eyebrows and drove sales.

Snapping back to reality, you don’t need to wait very long anymore. Today, the digital dogs will either devour your awesome ads with a flurry of likes, clicks, comments, shares, page views, form fills and e-commerce purchases, or they’ll spit out your campaign ideas all over the new carpet.

But as much as things are different today, they are still very much the same.

The art of a successful campaign hasn’t changed. It’s still about having good ideas. Good ideas still win the day and sell products. But today, nobody needs to pound their fist on the boardroom table like Don Draper to say this is the winning idea because you’ll know fairly quickly whether your marketing plan is working out or not.

mad men thumbs up GIF

To ensure the digital dogs will buy what you’re selling, here are three key steps necessary to improve the success rate of your digital campaigns.

STEP 1: Expand your creative horizons

A winning digital campaign is about more than one good idea. It’s about survival of the fittest amongst many good ideas and seeing which one outperforms the rest.

Most clients like to play it safe with their campaign messaging, but it’s usually the edgy ideas that break through the noise. With digital campaigns, the solution is to run a series of ads (between three and six at a time), and see what works. The volume of ad concepts allows for some traditional, straightforward ideas to run alongside a few concepts that push the envelope. By running a diverse mix of ad concepts you’ll be able to reach a larger audience as different ads will appeal to different customers.

It’s also good to plan waves of new ads. Depending on the timing and scope of your campaign, rotating ads quarterly or monthly will build momentum and keep messaging fresh.

STEP 2: Listen carefully to your target audience

With digital campaigns, you can tell almost in real-time which ads are performing best. To capitalize on this, you need to carefully monitor and optimize results and apply these learnings.

This is where having many great ad ideas starts to pay off. The digital dogs will tell you which ads are driving the best click-through rates (CTRs) or generating the most conversions (whether that’s capturing a lead via a form completion or completing an e-commerce sale). And if you’ve set up the right tags for your ads, you’ll also be able to track which channels are delivering the most engaged traffic to your website.


Armed with this intel, you’ll be able to develop new ads similar to those that have performed best and also shift campaign spending to the channels where your customers are most engaged.

Once you’ve honed in on what’s working, simply rinse and repeat this formula by adding in new digital ads on the right channels to keep your campaign trending upward.

STEP 3: Set the right goals to measure success

Even the best marketing plans can fall flat without establishing the right goals and objectives at the outset.

The primary goal is almost always to boost sales. For an e-commerce campaign that is relatively easy to measure by tracking sales to digital campaign performance, and that is exactly what we did in helping our client, BuildClean, achieve a 30 percent increase in e-commerce sales year-over-year.

In other cases where the sales cycle is longer, the payoff is not immediate. In B2B sales, a lead generated by a form fill on a website can be tracked against the campaign, but that lead can take time for the sales team to convert it into a new customer. The further away from the digital tracking the sales path goes, the harder it is to measure. So it’s critical to make sure the right goals are being measured to determine the ROI on the original campaign effort.

Contact SWBR to see how we can help your business thrive.



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Ernie Thomas



Advertising is in Ernie’s DNA as he’s a third-generation family member to join the business his late grandfather founded. With that pedigree comes an almost six sense of identifying the “it factor” needed to create campaigns that spark customers to action. Ernie (or ET) uses his outgoing personality to connect with clients to build strong collaborative relationships. He digs deep to uncover new opportunities that will make a measurable difference for each client’s business. A graduate of Eastern University and Saint Joseph’s University (MBA), he has the book smarts and experience to elevate brand communications with strategies that challenge the status quo. He’s always guiding Team SWBR toward the correct target audiences, smartest campaign messages, right digital channels and best traditional tactics suited to boost sales.

When he’s not working, Ernie enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter. He’s also an avid golfer still searching for his first hole-in-one.