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  • Joseph Panetta

Digital Immigrant vs Digital Native (aka There’s an App for that)

In 2016, I thought I was washed up. A seasoned, battle-tested marketing executive with decades of experience and command of marketing and audience strategy (not to mention skilled with most of the “tools in the tool box.”) But one: Digital Marketing. Social media, Facebook Marketing, social algorithms eluded me. Every job posting wanted someone who knew how to “post on social” or “build and engage a following” - though none of those explained why that was wanted or needed or what the end result for the brand was expected to be. (e.g., in the words of Tara McDonagh, they were missing the #Objective!)

I complained to my other half that my career was over – no one wants a digital dunce.

Then the self-tanning sensation Skinny Tan hired me to usher the brand into the US market and I met founder Louise Ferguson. She’d “stumbled” her way into using Facebook as a sales generator in the cleverest way possible. So successful was she that even FB could not figure out her magic. I was learning from the literal best.

Louise strictly used FB -no other social platforms - and I had to learn from the ground up how to cultivate an audience; how to engage; when to post; what artwork worked best; how to test ads and copy – all under her tutelage. In seven months, I managed to sell $1.7 million of an unknown self-tanner using mostly UGC, clever copy, and outbound email marketing.

We cultivated a following of more than 25,000 devoted fans and regularly engaged with them.

This new knowledge became foundational. Next, I was charged by another client with fielding emails to our list. Naively, I thought “how hard can this be…?” I fashioned a few emails with artwork, some pitchy subject lines with an embedded CTA and backlinks.

A couple of months later, I was negotiating a deal with another big brand. Talking with its head of marketing, he inquired about our Open Rate (OR) and click through rate (CTR), etc.

Mind you, I had only JUST learned what those acronyms meant! I replied, “Oh I heard the emails got a fairly low open rate. I think it was 37%.”

There was silence.

He repeated with incredulity, “Thirty-seven percent?”

“Yes. The click through was less – it was 21%” He proceeded to inform me that these figures were staggeringly successful and could I come work for him.

I literally had no idea THAT was success.

Fast forward to 2021 – in my capacity as CMO for #Immediation I am often charged with crafting our outbound emails, LinkedIn posts and other digital outreach. To be clear, I write the content and my counterpart builds them into our systems.

Recently, I asked for the stats since I took over:

The lowest open rate my emails received is 19% Average is 25 to 30%. Despite accolades from gurus of the trade, I still feel like that’s low! But OR (open rate) is only one part of the equation. Since taking over Immediation’s outbound email, we’ve had 289% increase in the CTR to the site and first-time visitors jumped nearly 15%. Speaking of the site – it needed a rather massive overhaul (still underway). But in our short time, new organic users increased 148% while bounce rate decreased more than 10% - and average session rate jumped more than 15%.

Digital is more than just email and website visits – for instance, we’ve increase LinkedIn post engagement 690% in the last year; added 25% more followers, increased company page views by a whopping 725.8% and our posts gained 73% more comments & feedback.

Remember how I started this tale – I thought I was washed up because I did not know the TOOL of digital marketing. I was schooled in the strategy – and once you know that every tool is just a tool. Used correctly and strategically, it should deliver.

Moral of this story: You are never too old to learn.

Strategy is the hardest thing to get right. It took me the better part of 30 years to master strategy and just a few months to deliver millions in sales using digital outreach tools.

Social posts, email writing, and digital engagement are ways to implement the strategy and utterly learnable. I am the old dog, and I learned a new trick. And if you need help along the way, reach out to LOCC: Innovative is kinda our thing.


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