Going Back to the Basics: How to Evaluate New & Untested Online Marketing Channels

Is the trend really your friend? If you’re an active trader in the financial markets, it probably is. For B2B marketers, however, the answer may be a lot harder to arrive at. Nowadays, we face a bewildering array of new online marketing vehicles, promising a whole dimension of customer/prospect engagement and marketing experience – from building business contact databases all the way to developing an extension of the sales pipeline. But do these channels/sub-channels really work for your particular situation?

While the benefits that fresh and unsaturated marketing channels have to offer can be very tempting, the downside risks are equally as compelling. More often than not, untested platforms tend to carry a lot more uncertainty than their conventional counterparts. Aside from the risk of producing negative returns, uncharted online marketing territory can impact your existing programs as well.

So, how should you go about with the decision to pursue new marketing channels as part of your mix? Here are some key steps to guide you along the way:

1. Reexamine your marketing goals. Everything that we do in a specific marketing channel has to align with our overall strategic goals. Even the decision to expand our targeted business contact database corresponds to a specific goal. Carefully study your goals and plans to see if there’s really room for adopting new measures down the line. Identify those particular marketing targets that the current marketing mix may not adequately address.

2. Take a look at what you have. Now, it’s time to take a look at the marketing assets at your disposal and examine them in the light of performance and objectives. How do your paid, owned, earned, and shared media rate with your goals? Aside from your existing channels, you also need to consider your customer base and your level of engagement with them. Are you delivering the whole experience to the prospects/customers in your targeted B2B contact list? Are you interacting with your social media connections and influencers?

3. See what’s out there. The sheer volume of online marketing options and the rate at which new ones are made available are daunting enough by themselves. In finding potential candidates for evaluation, you need to let your insights from steps 1 and 2 guide your selection. Will the new channel or sub-channel contribute to your B2B contact database building efforts? Is it an excellent extension of your content distribution platforms?

4. Understand the trend. Oftentimes, trends can be misinterpreted or altogether misleading. You might be jumping on a trend that’s fizzling out or making false starts. That’s why you need to go deeper than what the percentages say. Look at how your industry is responding to such trends and find out the probable reasons behind the move. Are the underlying reasons strong enough to keep the movement intact?

5. Measure the potential. While it’s quite difficult for some marketers to determine the impact that a new marketing platform has on the whole effort, it’s absolutely necessary to at least get a feel for the likely effects that the channel in question has on your program. To do this, you often need to make some assumptions. As such, you have to make sure that you approach the guesswork as conservatively and as reasonably as possible.