Digital marketing: silver bullets & cold showers

Digital marketing: silver bullets & cold showers

Digital Marketing Map – Gartner

Let’s make digital marketing rock

“Let’s share digital marketing secrets.” This was pretty much the introductory line that setup a marketing event I attended last week.

Digital marketing best practice

The breakfast meeting brought together a broad church of marketing specialists, entrepreneurs, technical experts and developers, to share ideas and best practice. You might think we’d quickly agree on the best platforms and killer digital marketing strategies that would assure every business stratospheric results…

So what’s the secret of digital marketing?

In my experience, there’s never been an easy route to marketing success and business growth. So when you hear or read ‘expert’ comment that suggests that today’s flavour of the month digital platform is some kind of silver bullet, you need to keep your feet on the ground.

Take a cold shower

The landscape has never changed more quickly than in the digital marketing era, and businesses certainly need to be quick on their feet in adopting the best social and digital marketing platforms for them. Equally, a cold shower and a sense check before jumping on any bandwagons is a sound approach. As stated on digital marketing guru Dave Chaffey’s Smart Insights website, “we wonder whether our interest in tools can distract from getting the marketing fundamentals (right)”.

Get your ‘facts’ straight

Everyone in the room at our event was passionate about the value of digital marketing; but there was a surprising degree of consensus that:

  • Our content-rich world means there’s never been more information and advice available on digital marketing. And some of this is directly contradictory. Which bits do we believe?
  • Too much of the digital marketing information presented as ‘fact’ is in reality no more than opinion. Often based on spurious, selective or misquoted data.
  • We can’t casually generalise market commentary to be relevant to our challenges. Check the context: the specific market sectors, audiences and business context on which it is based.
  • Much online digital marketing advice is based on B2C experience and the activities of major consumer brands and retailers – but that’s not always stated. B2B marketers need to be sure of the precise relevance of information and stats they use to steer strategies.
  • There is an expectation on marketers to demonstrate that they are using digital techniques. It’s common for companies to approach agencies for help with their digital marketing – but often they lack clear objectives (this is even true for some blue chip FMCG players).
  • The number and diversity of digital tools and platforms is already overwhelming – and continues to grow (see Gartner’s Digital Marketing Transit Map below). Focus on the ones that align best with your audience and business goals.

Digital Marketing Map – Gartner

Digital marketing planning

It’s not rocket science. We just need to plan properly and apply some common marketing sense to make our digital marketing rock.

The building blocks for digital marketing success are no different to offline marketing, because both have their place and need to complement each other:

  • Understand your brand – and how it is different from competitors;
    • Set clear objectives for what you aim to achieve;
    • Identify your audience: their needs, purchase motivations, behaviours & media preferences;
    • Divide your audience into manageable groups /segments;
    • Target the segments with the most potential;
    • Use dedicated content and campaigns for each target segment – designed around their needs and preferences;
    • Measure and learn from results;
  • Use personas – they’re a great way to establish a vivid picture of target buyers. This sets-up more effective communication, and steers user centred design.
  • Track your users’ digital journeys – and design campaigns around them.
  • What’s been revelatory about digital marketing is its measurability – but that brings its own challenges:
    • Beware of information overload – it’s easy to be swamped by data.
    • Don’t accept ‘accepted wisdom’. On Facebook sites for instance, are ‘Likes’ really the best measure of marketing ROI? Have a look at the Facebook Insights tool …
  • Often social media activity can be implemented cost effectively by junior level staff – it’s a time issue. The critical bit is ensuring that the strategic course is right.

4 key takeouts:

1.    Anchor your digital marketing strategy in your audience and their needs.
2.    Set clear objectives at the outset – and refer back to them regularly.
3.    Remember that ‘flavour of the month’ digital tools are no guarantee of results.
4.    Make sure that any digital marketing advice, stats and research you use are really relevant to your challenges. Especially if you’re a B2B marketer


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