Marketers love metrics. They love being able to see who visited their website when, who opened which email, and who was led to a conversion as a result. Marketers use this information to guide their actions and to gauge the success of their campaigns. Without metrics, marketers can’t see how their efforts are panning out. It’s like driving through a dark tunnel without headlights.
That’s why when RadiumOne announced that the majority of social sharing occurs in a place called the Dark Web, a lot of marketers took notice. What it really means is that most sharing activity is, by and large, hidden from marketers. Most of the methods that marketers have devised to gain insight into customer behavior won’t work here. This leaves marketers struggling in that dark tunnel once more. So what exactly is the Dark Web? Whenever you share a link by copying and pasting it into an email, instant message, or forum, you’re sharing on the Dark Web. It’s like sharing by word of mouth. Marketers have no control over it—they can’t see how or when it happens. The thing is, 69 percent of all sharing takes place in this unseen area, compared to just 31 percent via Facebook and other public channels combined. Moreover, 32 percent of consumers only share on dark channels. Your best prospects could very well be completely hidden from view.
This impact is monumental for many organizations. RadiumOne’s report included a case study from Team Sky, Great Britain’s professional bike racing team, which found that a full 95 percent of its content had been shared solely on private channels.
Shedding Light on Customer Behavior
Maybe it’s true that what you don’t know can’t hurt you. But if you’re a marketer, it certainly helps to have more data. If your customers are hanging out in the dark, you’ll need to follow them there. The biggest benefit of those who are sharing on Dark Social is that they are privately recommending your content. When someone sends you a link in Gchat, you open it, especially if it’s from a friend or colleague. Gaining access to the people who share and discover your content this way could be the greatest way to unearth new prospects. These are the people who are most likely to be interested in your products and services.
Developing Night Vision
The easy fix proposed by RadiumOne is that marketers can start creating trackable short links, such as the ones bit.ly provides. This way, you can still determine where your content is being shared. ClickZ predicts that Dark Social will not remain dark for long, as companies develop better night vision, so to speak. Clickbacks, which means a user has clicked on the shared link, increase when companies use a branded shortlink rather than a standard short URL. In some cases, branded short URLs received 1000 percent more click-throughs than standard shortened URLs.
You can go one step further and use UTM variables in your original links so that you can see exactly where the link originated. For example, if you post the same link to your Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, create a different UTM variable for each one. As links get reposted elsewhere on the Dark Web, when you get a clickback – you can know where that particular journey started.
How Video Improves Visibility
There’s another method marketers can use to see in the dark: with video. Video is easier to measure than most text-based content, especially when combined with link shorteners. As with other content, you can’t track video views for specific people unless they’ve been cookied. But if you have identified individual users, you can gain insight into specific viewer activity. In addition, video sheds light into a customers’ interest level, an area that can be difficult to gauge. But more than that, video analytics provide hard numbers marketers can use use to measure their campaigns and hone in on their best prospects.
According to a report from The Aberdeen Group, video has a number of unique benefits, including a superior ability to track performance. You probably already know that you can get in-depth insight into video performance, such as information about how long each viewer spends watching a video. But you may not know that it’s easier to keep track of video plays across platforms than it is with other types of content, especially when compared to PDFs or infographics. Once these are syndicated, marketers can no longer capture metrics from them.
Even though you can’t see specifics of who watched videos in the dark web, by tracking viewer engagement you can see which of your videos are performing, and which ones aren’t. This data can still give you usable insight. With videos that aren’t performing, are people trailing off at the same point in the video? Can you learn something from the videos that resonate and those that don’t? What is it about the low performing videos that is losing viewers? This information gives you insight into how campaigns are performing, which can help you improve them – even if the views are taking place in the dark Web.
According to Aberdeen, 43 percent of companies using video marketing are able to capture content metrics across all channels, such as their corporate site, blog, and social media, compared to just 16 percent of those that haven’t incorporated video into their marketing strategies. When companies host their videos on a dedicated video hosting platform like Vidyard, they are able to measure attention span, drop-off rates and engagement of individual viewers, as well as information like which viewers watched certain videos repeatedly. Video does shed some light into customer behavior and can help you give you insight into how your content is performing.
When marketers can see where people are sharing videos and how long people are engaged with them, they can gain insight that will help them improve their campaigns and lead generation. Combining insight from videos inside and out of the Dark Web, marketers have information they can use to better target prospects that are more likely to buy, which will make marketing teams more effective. That should be great news for anyone who’s afraid of the dark.