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October 9, 2019

Scary Binary: What’s Haunting the Digital Industry?

Nate Hook & David Brashears

what scare digital teams

Since it’s spooky season, we decided to gather our Digital team around the campfire to share some scary stories that can make the hairs on the back of their necks stand up. So, let the full moon rise and the fog roll in…it’s time to find out what’s haunting our digital team this October as we interview our Director of Digital, Nate Hook!

What are the scary digital stories that keep you up at night the most?

One thing that scares me the most is how sites can become less effective over time when their lifecycle is not realistically modeled or managed. Many clients see a website as something to redesign every 2-3 years, but on occasion that’s more like 4-5 years. You have to consider the time spent developing a site as part of its age as well, and this can mean a site is 6 months to a year older than when it launched.

Those sites keep us up at night, as that time in the digital world is akin to transforming from a baby to the proverbial crypt keeper, its more than a little terrifying. Our team is very proactive though, we prevent the mummies from falling apart. However, we are consulting more and more clients to move towards subscription based solutions, to keep their site always up to date with technology, and keep optimizing the user experience, adding new features progressively to work toward their business goals.

The other benefit of developing a new site with an ongoing subscription model is our ability to develop a solid content calendar to go along with the site. The modern website can act as a library of resource content that helps a brand build an authority position within their industry. You have to have regular new blog articles, case studies, and other relevant content to build that presence.

How do you exorcise the demons that impact your digital success?

We tote out the good book of digital philosophy, throw in an expert baptized by the fires of many digital projects, and try to really scope a problem well. That scoping isn’t limited to a purely technical perspective either. What separates most projects is how well the business and human problems inherent to a project are defined, validated and understood. That builds in shared knowledge on the outset, as there will always be challenges along the way, but at least many of those areas will be identified. Its better the demon you know than the devil you don’t.

This work pays for itself when we are dealing with one of the biggest demons—doubt. We can push doubt out of the projects by speaking—with authority—to the insights and verifications we uncovered with the client in the vetting stage. Building a confident team of professionals means any malicious dark forces don’t sidetrack us.

What are the monsters under the bed that can doom a digital campaign?

Most digital campaigns that fail to meet their goal—or fail to make an impact—share the characteristics of two specific monsters. The first is not fully mapping an experience in a cross-channel strategy. Not all channels are the same, we don’t use them the same, the in-channel experience or creative should map to the behaviors of the channel, and keep story and call to action experience in mind.

The second monster is not fully understanding how to have relevant communications with your target audience. Having verified insights on their behaviors, the kinds of media they engage, and how they prefer to be spoken to (and about) are all critical to influencing their allegiance with a brand. Nothing will have the villagers storming your castle with pitchforks and torches quicker than a message that alienates or feels insincere!

What kinds of witchcraft are you doing to win on the digital platforms?

Our spell books have taken on new wizardry by leveraging modern frameworks to tackle cross-device development of apps, while at the same time building reusable web components that we can leverage, creating efficiencies.

Content management systems are great, and we love working with solid partners like WordPress and HubSpot to build out client solutions. These digital ecosystems provide many advantages. However, there are times when something advanced and highly custom may be called for that needs web and app synthesis, and that’s where we are building some great custom client tools. Our coven of development experts likes to stay near the cutting edge so our clients can benefit from our arcane knowledge—without having to fully understand it.

What are the dangers that lurk in the depths of the dark web that you protect your clients from?

We don’t like it when the lights go out, its there that we often meet the shadowy denizens of the web—who are usually there to wreak havoc, or worse, to hold data hostage. For many clients, we employ simple and effective tools such as Cloudflare, ClickCease and Wordfence to block rogue players from conducting DDoS attacks, or from hacking user logins by slamming sites with penetration attempts.

Along with that we work with clients who maintain their sites, to keep platform versions up-to-date with the latest security patches. This has become a non-negotiable with new website development. We highly recommend a client work with us (or whomever they hire to develop a new site) to insure that all parties are being proactive to update patches, and provide their audience with a sense of protection from the really creepy things lurking on the web.

Are there any killer clowns out there feeding off a client’s fears that you need to battle?

Honestly the biggest killer clowns that feed off a client’s fear are the ones that prevent them from seeing the bigger picture. Many users, and clients, can become paralyzed when they consider all the things that can be executed in the digital universe. It can be truly overwhelming. Modern digital marketing and advertising has been world-changing, and that’s not hyperbole. Just consider the way mobile and web technology has impacted core industrial sectors like; banking, foodservice, entertainment, and education.

The speed, and variety of outlets, at which an audience can consume messaging has accelerated exponentially, and that can be a frightening realization for a client that needs to develop a modern Digital IMC (Integrated Marketing Campaign). We live a great percentage of our lives digitally now, and it is no longer fragmented from other media—it is all integrated.

What are the social media “final girls” that you think will survive the next battle for relevance?

The straight “A” authentic influencer will definitely live to see daylight. They know their brand—even as a micro or nano influencer—and they don’t take on paid partnerships that don’t fit their audience.

INSIGHT: More than 70% of top brands intend to expand their social influencer marketing budgets in 2020. 

Influencers have to be transparent, and the best ones have a solid business sense in working with agencies and brands to say something meaningful and honest. Good Influencers will definitely be back for the sequel, ready to take on the big bad.

Another character that’s proving to have the staying power to be the hero of a digital story is branded content. Whether it’s video, animation, or storytelling articles, this content is being consumed at a historic rate. Building an aspirational lifestyle around your brand is a power move that can crush the enemies to your business success.