Data on program is still inconclusive, needs time
Oct 26, 2017 | 1959 views | 0 0 comments | 214 214 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Last week we had a front page story about a digital marketing dashboard program that, to this point, hasn’t been successful. We were disappointed to see that the backers of the plan were willing to pull the plug on it so quickly. The program was just rolled out earlier this year. It would seem more time was needed for this new initiative to take root in the local business community.

One thing that defines modern digital marketing is data. Companies across the world use data to drive their marketing planning and purchases. They also use it to measure the effectiveness of their marketing by tracking the results.

There are certainly a number of ways to market a business. Some fall into the more traditional ways like print, radio, and television. They are all still very valid ways to market a business. But there are also new methods in the digital world, and they have become very sophisticated during the past decade.

Given the relative newness of digital marketing, it’s not surprising that few businesses participated in the digital dashboard program. What is surprising is that the chamber of commerce and others associated with the program decided to end it so soon.

With limited information, we’re left wondering if the reason was because the software was too daunting for most small businesses to manage, or if the outreach effort to train businesses on the importance and use of the dashboard fell short. In either of those scenarios, it seems like efforts to tweak the software or improve the training would have been a logical next step.

The realities of today’s business world are that marketing dollars are scarce and that having good data leads to better decisions on where to apply those dollars.

Many businesses in the valley need good information to make informed decisions. This is one way to provide that information. Plus, the first goal of the dashboard program, measuring the success of the joint digital marketing program, seems to have been abandoned. How will decisions be made moving forward?

We also wonder if all of the stakeholders in the program were involved in the decision to drop the effort. There were a number of groups involved in the marketing program that led to the development of the dashboard: the town of Wilmington, the town of Dover, the bi-town economic development committee, and others all had a role in the program. Were businesses surveyed to understand why they weren’t using the dashboard? There are a number of questions that still need to be answered about how this was handled.

Rather than shut the program down, we’d like to see a second effort made to get more businesses involved. That will likely require a greater effort to coach businesses in how to use the dashboard, and why it is important to do so. Given the amount invested in the overall marketing effort, and the newness of the software, it seems shortsighted to give up on the dashboard so soon.

There’s a brave new digital marketing world out there, especially in the ultra-competitive travel and tourism industry. Marketing of any kind isn’t easy or quick. It takes sustained effort and good information. The dashboard program holds the promise of providing some of that information.

Some initiatives take more time than others. Sometimes the only way to tell if they are truly successful is to have a long enough timeline to be able to look back over years, not weeks. That would seem to be the case here.

Sometimes second chances turn out to be worthwhile. This seems like one of those opportunities to have a do-over, and have better results. Hopefully, the data will bear that out.
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