WE ALL LEARN about the importance of a first impression, but in marketing it’s all about making the most impressions. If you understand this truism, you will constantly work to generate as many impressions as you can for your branding and marketing messages.
So, what is an impression? Before we answer that, let’s first check our assumptions about advertising. Often, many businesses expect a direct correlation between advertising and sales, but the process is not that simple. If we had to define advertising with one word, that word would be awareness. Advertising is a form of marketing communications designed to build brand or product awareness. Consider advertising a broad net, rather than a rod and reel.
Working under that definition, we can start to talk about impressions, why they are important, and how the social media marketing age is responding to it.
An impression, in marketing terms, represents each instance that a person sees one of your marketing communications. That marketing communication could be a print newsletter, an advertisement, an email, a post to social media, a blog article, or any similar piece. One view of that message means one impression. Moreover, that person might see the same message more than once, and each time that person sees that message, it represents an impression.
That sounds overly simple, doesn’t it? But that simplicity belies the power of the humble impression. The impression allows you to start quantifying your marketing efforts. For instance, if you send out a postcard promotion to 2,000 of your marketing constituents — say all the off-road enthusiasts in your local area for whom you’ve collected mailing addresses — then you can take a very rough guess that you’ve generated 2,000 marketing impressions.
Of course, that’s a rough guess. You need to factor in the returned cards for invalid addresses, how many customers responded to the promotion, the potential for recipients to pass along the postcard to fellow riders, and a number of other factors that either diminish or expand the number of impressions. But the key is that you started to quantify your marketing reach, which is much better than feeling like you’re shouting in the darkness. You can start to use that approach for all sorts of analog forms of advertising that are seemingly unquantifiable, such as billboards, print ads, local radio spots and the like.
It’s one thing to generate impressions a large number of people, but it’s another thing to generate a large number of impressions with existing and prospective powersports customers.
Concern yourself with the quality of those impressions. It is true that you want to generate as many impressions as possible, but you want to target those impressions. It’s one thing to generate impressions a large number of people, but it’s another thing to generate a large number of impressions with existing and prospective powersports customers.
Why do you want to generate more impressions? Because that helps you broaden your sales funnel. The more prospects your impressions generate, the more leads your sales team can qualify and start selling. In simple terms, awareness = impressions = leads = sales. The better you are at targeting your impressions, the more those leads will be pre-qualified for your sales team.
Now, when we start to examine impressions in the context of digital marketing, you can start to see how impressions really gain their value as a marketing metric, because social media and online advertising both provide reliable statistics on them.
In advertising, your online ads are tracked by impressions based on the number of times the ad is called up to display to a browser. So, the online advertising service can tell you exactly how many times that ad was seen. Better yet, online ad services will also strip out impressions generated from invalid sources, like web crawlers. In fact, many online advertising services also provide metrics on an ad’s “viewability” to account for ad blockers, scrolling and other factors that could diminish an online ad’s impressions.
For social media, impression metrics get even stronger. Twitter tracks impressions outright. Facebook also tracks the number of times a post or Facebook ad as been viewed and, in terms of paid ads and boosted posts, will even show the viral impressions generated — that is, the number of times the post was shared, as well as the times a user saw someone else commenting on or liking the post. That can be particularly useful, because if a post or ad generates considerable viral traffic, then you know its message or content has resonated with the intended audience.
Ultimately, your goal as a powersports dealership marketer is simple: generate as many impressions with a quality audience as you can. Best of all, you now work in a marketing environment that makes assessing your progress in that regard not only quantifiable, but reliable. Now you can start tracking impressions both overall, by campaign and in terms of each marketing piece. Pair that with the end result of sales related to those marketing efforts, and you have some powerful marketing metrics indeed.