As I blogged recently, the most important thing when people are thinking of doing an online campaign is to understand the distribution model.

What is it that the target audience does offline? Where do they go offline, but also where do they go and what do they do online? For example, having a Facebook account is a distribution centre to reach a consumer. The key to success is really about understanding how to get a message across through lots of different channels.

The distribution model is fundamental to the success of an online campaign. We go back to that whole notion of the reverse value chain approach to an online campaign – it starts with the customer first and ends with the product. In between all that, there are a lot of touchpoints one must go through in order to create a successful campaign, or an ROI if you like.

In an online environment, the ROI doesn’t necessarily mean the financial dollars though, which is a trap for the traditionally schooled marketer. The ROI means how many people have tapped into the network, how many people have signed up, how many people are coming back to the website. Understanding where these people come from in a distribution model is even more important because it’s measurable, that’s what’s so fantastic about online. You know where your customer has come from, it’s all measured.

There are so many measureables that can be attached to a distribution model and I think that a lot of marketers are not utilising the distribution models which are available to us right now which are also really cost effective. Distribution channels like Facebook, YouTube, Linkedin, Twitter, they are all applications which are very powerful, if they’re done right.

The thing with ROI which is what I find amazing, is that it’s not just about the dollars in as the result of a transaction, it’s the return on investment internally and externally that are gained through efficiencies when you understand the power of distribution channels. And I think this is where a lot of us don’t measure ROI internally. To give an example, has the virus reduced the customer service calls, or has it increased the customer service calls because customers are wanting more products or information? This is data a company could get for free because people are suddenly tapping into your internal people in a company, that’s ROI, that’s data you’re getting for free.

There is a lot of internal ROI that companies don’t measure, or they forget to measure.  The first point of contact we’d go to when we’re working with a company is the call centre, because that’s where we find a lot of clues about what’s going right and what’s going wrong with their online communication. When we work on projects that’s the first area of the organisation I talk to, to see if there is a change of behaviour from the consumer to the customer service department. It’s very powerful stuff and not taken advantage of nearly enough.