For the past year I’ve been the Digital Activations Manager for the designer fragrance brands at Shiseido here in Paris. During this time I’ve introduced myself and explained exactly what I do in many different ways because the job title of Digital Activations Manager can mean many things to many different people.

Take the “activations” part. You can activate influencers, you can activate media, street marketing, or even old-school flyering. You can activate in-store by having hostesses or salespeople. You can activate any sort of marketing lever – in fact many people don’t even immediately know that what I do is marketing related!

Previously in my career while I was working at L’Oréal, I wrote a popular post about being a Brand Content Manager and what that role entailed. At the time it was relatively new position within organizations, accountable to multiple teams and charged with adapting and creating content for the increasing number of touchpoints and the frequencies of contact that each touchpoint demanded.

Digital Activations as defined in our organzation shifts down the digital customer journey. Whereas brand content is about image-building and is measured by things like reach, activations are most clearly defined as the experience that a brand creates for a consumer when the consumer is asked to do something. Instead of passively scrolling or stopping to check out content, activations take the consumer further – through contests, games, landing pages, quizzes, anything and everything to get people to the point of sale.

My current scope is much broader than just creating these experiences, I’m also responsible for global digital strategy, testing and learning, establishing best practices, optimizing touchpoints, managing websites, creating CRM programs – in short, all digital strategy that is not image-based. But for the purposes of this post I want to talk about what Digital Activation Managers do in terms of creating customer journeys that bridge offline and online worlds and end in purchase.

What are digital activations exactly?

Like I said, I think of digital activations as experiences where we ask the consumer to do something. This could be things like coming to a landing page, participating in a game or contest, giving us their contact information, or downloading a voucher for a gift or surprise to pick up in store. There is a fine line between online experiences and social contests (such as tag a friend for the chance to win…). For me, the line is that if it’s something where the customer does not end their journey at a retailer or e-retail site, it’s not under the umbrella of digital activations.

Digital activations can certainly have viral aspects, including tagging people, sharing to social networks, and creating network dynamics (you need to sign up three people to participate) but this is often a quality of the activation and not the objective in and of itself.

This is increasinly important today because the promise of digital is having a hard time showing up in the bottom line of sales, particularly in industries such as fragrances where the physical fragrance contact is so important. Companies have invested heavily in social media, building audiences across the world, but the ROI of this investment is not completely clear.

Digital Activations seek to capitalize on digital activity and quanitify the effect that it can have on sales.

So you just run contests?

I love this question. While I like to think that there is a lot more to my job than this, the reality is that the brands that I work for generally don’t have a very high level of awareness. In order to incite people to engage with the brand, we often have to add an incentive.

Incentives work. A consumer might not know your product or your brand, but they have certainly heard of New York City, so offering to win a trip to New York City is often enough to get someone to interrupt their busy day and engage with your brand. The type of incentive depends on the audience. If you are addressing yourself to your CRM database, you can often offer incentives that are products or experiences directly with the brand – those people are already fans. For recruitment activations, you have to offer something that gets people to click, like a trip or iPhone X. Even if the gift is not exactly in line with the brand (and it’s always best to be in line with the brand) you have to weigh the recruitment needs with what you can realistically offer.

Can you give an example?

Sure, that might be the best way to show what I do.

Take a recent launch of a fragrance called Girls Can Do Anything from Zadig&Voltaire. The fragrance is targeted at millenials and particularly Gen Z, so digital was a key part of the marketing mix.

We created an experience called Spin the Bottle, where we invited people to come to a dedicated landing page, Spin the Bottle to win a prize to pick up in store, and enter their information for a chance to win a skydiving adventure with one of the biggest YouTube stars in France.

To drive people to the platform, we created dedicated media assets and used the influencer’s Instagram profile to drive people via stories. Once people were on the platform, they discovered the contest and the fragrance, and spun the bottle with their finger (or mouse on desktop but the traffic was almost entirely mobile).

The platform announced what the person won; usually a Zadig&Voltaire tote bag and 1ml sample to pick up in-store. Then the person could enter their information in a form to be entered into the drawing. At the end, the influencer picked one lucky person to go skydiving together.

The platform worked because it was extremely in-line with the brand. Each one of the brand videos ended with a shot of the perfume bottle spinning, so the spin the bottle mechanic was immediate and made perfect sense. It also played on old-school game of spin the bottle, which is daring and always a little exciting.

The fact that we had a big name influencer was also helpful in driving attention and creating a once-in-a-lifetime experience for our customers to live. The results were extremely positive – the stores ran out of gifts and the fragrance became the #1 feminine fragrance at the partner retailer during the activation period (which was a full 6 weeks before the big media wave).

Who can be a Digital Activations Manager?

The best thing about this role is that it is truly a 360 approach to digital. Since each activation is a campaign in itself, the digital activation manager touches on media strategy – selecting which channels to push, optimizing budgets and media assets; content – building assets and landing pages; technical development – working with agencies and developers to build and integrate solutions; CRM – optimizing data collection and qualifying contacts; and innovation – finding new solutions and technologies to create deeper experiences.

Since our focus is so drive-to-store, it also encompasses offline aspects like what happens at the point of sale and how to attract attention out of home and on mobile devices.

I like to say that if you do digital activations, you can do anything in digital!

More questions? Ask them below and I will post the answers as updates to this article! 


One thought on “Being a Digital Activations Manager – Frequently Asked Questions

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