Dark social refers to the sharing of content through private channels, such as email, instant messaging, or messaging apps, that cannot be accurately tracked by traditional web analytics tools. This means that a significant portion of website traffic and referrals may be coming from these private channels, but the source cannot be identified.
For example, if a consumer receives a link to a product page in a private message from a friend and clicks on the link to visit the website, the referral will be attributed to “direct traffic” in web analytics tools, rather than the specific private channel or individual who shared the link. This makes it difficult to track the true source of the referral and the impact of the referral on the consumer’s decision to purchase.
The dark funnel, on the other hand, refers to the unseen path that a consumer takes from initial awareness to conversion. This can include a variety of activities and touchpoints, such as researching products, comparing prices, and reading reviews, that may not be captured by traditional marketing metrics.
For example, a consumer may discover a product on a social media platform, but then continue their research and decision-making process through private channels, such as email or messaging apps. This means that the consumer’s journey from awareness to conversion may not be visible to the marketer, who only sees the final purchase on the website.
The challenges of dark social and the dark funnel for marketers and businesses are significant.
First, the lack of visibility into these channels and activities can make it difficult to accurately measure the effectiveness of online campaigns and optimize performance. This can lead to missed opportunities and wasted spend, as marketers may be investing in channels or tactics that are not driving conversions.
Second, the rise of dark social and the dark funnel can make it more difficult to target and reach consumers. Traditional marketing channels, such as display ads and social media, may be less effective in reaching consumers who are using private channels to research and make decisions. This can lead to a disconnect between the marketing message and the consumer’s experience, resulting in lower engagement and conversions.
To address these challenges, marketers and businesses must adopt a holistic and customer-centric approach to online marketing. This can include using a combination of traditional and emerging analytics tools, such as cross-device tracking and referral path analysis, to gain visibility into dark social and the dark funnel.
Additionally, using personalization and customer journey mapping can help marketers target and engage with consumers at the right time and in the right place, regardless of whether they are using private channels or traditional marketing channels. By aligning the marketing message and the consumer’s experience, marketers can improve the effectiveness and reach of their online campaigns.
In conclusion, dark social and the dark funnel are important phenomena to understand and address in the world of online marketing. By gaining visibility into these hidden channels and activities, and adopting a customer-centric approach, marketers and businesses can improve the effectiveness and reach of their online campaigns.