Why read this? : We explore the functional and emotional benefits of digital marketing. Learn what going digital does to help you hook in customers and boost your brand. Read this to add digital marketing benefits to your marketing playlist.
We’ve yet to see an official update on how much time people spend online at the moment. But anecdotally, it’s clearly a lot.
Even in the Hootsuite and We Are Social report published back at the start of 2020, the average Australian spent over 5 and a half hours on the Internet every day. Back in the days when we could have a social life and you know, talk to people.
Without having to use a screen. Or wear a mask.
At the moment, it feels like at least double that number, with Zoom calls, online learning courses and of course trawling Netflix and other streaming services to make up for the lack of live entertainment.
So, businesses should expect to be seeing some huge digital marketing benefits coming through, right?
The marketing jobs to be done
Park the “digital” part for a second, and think about what “marketing” needs to do for your business.
It’s usually about driving profitable sales by doing 3 clear jobs :-
- Understand the needs of your target audience.
- Build a branded experience to meet those needs.
- Create and run activities to keep the connection between audience and brand going.
So here’s the thing with digital marketing. If it didn’t exist, you could still do marketing. You can do all these marketing jobs without going digital.
Digital marketing hasn’t replaced the traditional marketing options you had before. You can still do market research with customers without going online. You can still build your brand identity without digital. Create advertising to go on TV, print ads and billboards. Put direct mail in the post. Whatever it was you did before digital was a thing. All those processes and channels still exist.
Some classically trained marketers like to hark back to the good old days when marketing seemed simpler. You went to focus groups and sat through long, boring agency quantitative reports which drove you crazy. You did all your marketing planning, then briefed the agencies to run your next campaign. And if you were lucky (or unlucky), you got media sales teams in to pitch for your business.
All good marketing stuff. Predictable. Comfortable. Fun.
But while all these classic marketing activities still sound fine, they’re no longer the only songs which could be on your marketing playlist. What digital has done has changed how they work. It’s remixed some of them. And given you new options to choose from.
Your marketing / music playlist
So imagine it wasn’t marketing we were talking about, but music.
Those who hark back to these classic marketing techniques are like the older music fans who tell you today’s music isn’t as good as the classics.
The Beatles or the Stones. Thank you, Boomers.
Or U2, the Stone Roses or Nirvana for the Gen X-ers out there.
Or even our own favourite stay-at-home playlist of the moment from the 1980s.
But if you only listen to classic bands, then your music playlist never evolves and adapts. It becomes stale. Safe. Predictable.
You miss out on that funky new tune which could be your new favourite. That new singer, guitar riff, drum solo, or dance beat. The one you’ll be humming in your head for weeks to come.
Now, go back to marketing.
Aren’t all those classic marketing techniques, the equivalent of the Beatles, the Stones et al? And isn’t digital marketing the equivalent of all the new bands from more recent times?
And if you don’t look at these new digital marketing benefits, aren’t you missing the opportunity to mix up your marketing ‘playlist’? It doesn’t lessen the value of the classics. But doesn’t adding new tunes make the overall mix more interesting? It doesn’t have to be traditional versus digital marketing. It can and should be traditional AND digital marketing.
Marketing can be better WITH digital marketing
The trouble with classics, whether it’s music or marketing is everyone knows them. And if everyone knows them, then how do you make your brand’s “tune” stand out? Make it sound unique and distinctive?
Digital marketing benefits - functional
Go back to those 3 core marketing jobs. Digital marketing gives you new, better ways to do them.
Digital - audience understanding
Digital - brand building
Digital - creativity
In terms of using creativity to grow your business, digital marketing expands the boundaries of what’s possible in unprecedented ways.
Think how impactful something as simple as personalised emails via your CRM program can be. You can guide customers through a journey which takes them from awareness to loyalty with just your creative skills and your laptop.
Think about your new ability to write sales copy, edit images with Photoshop and create video content from the comfortable environment of your home office. Digital marketing opens up these amazing opportunities for marketers.
So, with all these many digital marketing benefits out there, why is it that so many businesses still find themselves way behind the digital curve?
Digital marketing benefits - emotional
If you’re one of those classical marketers, you’ll know benefits work at a functional and emotional level. And this is where many of those ‘experts’ in digital marketing show themselves up to be more ‘digital’ than ‘marketing’.
Because many of those functional digital marketing benefits have unexpected emotional impact.
If you’re a classically trained marketer, it can often feel like digital marketing has come along and taken a great big dump over all your training.
Because, suddenly everything changes
Because suddenly, everything is MORE.
And everything is FASTER.
People keep talking about being agile. About sprints. Didn’t your old boss tell you marketing is more of a marathon than a sprint?
And just when you learn these new skills, you find out they’ve changed. And what you’ve learned is already out of date. Which leads us to how digital marketing benefits work, from an emotional point of view.
Theoretically, you should have more confidence you’ll make better decisions. You have access to MORE customer information. That information is available FASTER, so it’s more topical and relevant.
Want to tell your target audience something new? Open up the right piece of technology and you can do that right now. You should feel empowered. You should feel happy that marketing challenges are now easier to solve. These are clear emotional benefits which digital marketing brings to marketers.
Digital marketing can have the opposite effect
And yet, in many cases, the emotional benefits of digital marketing aren’t empowerment or happiness. In fact, it’s often the complete opposite.
Very topically, we got an email invite from a Sydney-based educational provider today selling a course in Digital Marketing. We usually ignore these. But our eye was caught by the cover note from the marketing partner who sponsored the email :-
As a marketer, you’ll know just how quickly the digital marketing landscape is changing. The skills you have today may well be rendered useless in the next few years. Get on top of the skills of tomorrow with the (Course owner) Online Master of Digital Marketing, delivered part-time and 100% online.
Read that second line again. “The skills you have today may well be rendered useless in the next few years”. Pretty scary, huh?
The digital marketing challenge
And actually, it’s the ability to overcome that fear where we think digital marketing still has a long way to go.
Because rather than confidence, many marketers now feel frozen by how much damn choice there is in digital marketing. And afraid they’ll make the wrong choice. It’s choice paralysis.
When there were only a few well-defined marketing options to choose from, marketing life was pretty simple.
And now, as per our marketing technology guide, marketers have a choice of 8,000+ different technology platforms which could help them do their job better. Many opportunities, but many challenges as well.
And then there’s the relentless torrent of noise about digital marketing. What martech trend should a marketer look at today? Tomorrow? What about that one from last week?
It’s no wonder many marketers stick to the classic ways of marketing. Because they feel overwhelmed and drowning in this new ocean of marketing bullshit from all the digital marketing so-called gurus.
Conclusion - Add digital to your marketing playlist
So, amazing functional benefits, but which leaves you feeling afraid and overwhelmed?
Now, there’s a marketing challenge for digital marketing. But if you’re good at marketing, the solution’s not hard to work out.
And it’s as simple as this. Keep using your classic marketing techniques. They’re “classic” for a reason in the same way those old tunes are classics.
But try adding a few new marketing tunes into the mix too. New tunes which came out this century, not last century.
Give them a go AS WELL AS those other things. Like when you mix up your playlist on Spotify, some of them you won’t like, and they just won’t work. But you won’t know till you try.
And among some of those new digital marketing techniques, might just be your next new favourite marketing tune.