Snapshot : How digital marketing impacts on your overall approach to marketing. And how digital marketing benefits, both functional and emotional should be part of how you consider which digital marketing activities to include in your marketing plan.
We’ve yet to see an official update of 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 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 to wear a mask.
At the moment, it feels like at least double that number, with Zoom calls, online learning courses and of course a regular trawl of the depths of Netflix and the other streaming services to make up for the lack of live or new entertainment.
So, if you are a business leader, you’d expect to see a huge digital marketing benefit coming through, right?
The marketing jobs to be done
If you park the word “digital” for a second, think about what “marketing” needs to do you for your business. There’s really three clear jobs to be done. And one overall goal.
- You need to understand the needs of your target audience.
- Then you need to build up a brand and an experience that meets those needs.
- And finally, you need to create activities to keep that connection between audience and brand going.
And if you can do those three jobs well, then you hit your overall goal. Which is to drive profitable sales for your business.
Marketing can exist without digital marketing
So here’s the thing with digital marketing.
If it didn’t exist, you could still do marketing. And do it pretty easily, in fact.
Digital marketing hasn’t completely replaced any of the traditional marketing options you had before digital marketing. It has just added more options to choose from.
You can still talk to consumers with market research that doesn’t need you to go online. You can still build your brand identity with whatever tools and designs you have in your head. Create advertising through TV, print ads and billboards. Send out direct mail.
Whatever it was you did before online even became a thing. All those processes and channels still exist.
And we know many classically trained marketers. who hark back to the good old days when marketing life seemed much simpler.
When you went to focus groups and sat through long and boring market research agency quantitative reports. You wrote your annual marketing plan, then briefed the advertising and media agencies to run your next campaign. And off you go. All very predictable. All very comfortable.
And you know what?
All these classic marketing techniques and processes still have value. Of course they do. But, there’s always a but.
Your marketing / music playlist
So imagine it wasn’t marketing we were talking about but music.
The types of people who hark back to these classic marketing techniques are the equivalent of music fans will tell you that today’s music just isn’t up to the level of the past classics. The Beatles or the Stones. Thanks you Boomers. Or U2, the Stone Roses or Nirvana for the Gen X-ers out there. Or even out own favourite stay at home playlist of the moment from the 1980s.
But if you only listen to those classic bands, then pretty soon your music playlist never evolves and adapts. It becomes stale.
You miss out on that funky new tune that could be your new favourite. That new singer, that new guitar riff, that new drum solo or dance beat.
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 that have come along in the last 20 to 30 years?
And if you don’t look at new digital marketing benefits, aren’t you missing out on the opportunity to mix up your marketing ‘playlist’? It doesn’t mean the classics are worth less now, but with new additions, doesn’t the overall mix become much more interesting?
Marketing can be better WITH digital marketing
Because the trouble with classics, whether it’s music or marketing techniques, is everyone knows them. And if everyone knows them, then how do you make your brand’s “tune” stand out and sound unique and distinctive?
Digital marketing benefits – functional
If you go back to those three marketing jobs to be done. all of those can be done in new and different ways because of digital marketing. That’s where it starts to get really interesting.
Digital – audience understanding
Something as simple as online surveys can cut your marketing research timings and costs down greatly. Social posts and monitoring comments and feedback on your website gives you a real time view of how your consumers think and feel. The tremendous mine of observed behaviour generated by digital data sources. Brilliant to build your knowledge of the consumer.
Digital – brand building
Look at all the new channels where you brand identity can be delivered 24/7, 365 through digital marketing. Websites, emails, social media, apps, games all automated, tracked, measured and updatable in again near real-time to test, tweak, evolve and land great customer experiences.
Digital – creativity
And then with creativity, digital marketing expands the boundaries of what’s possible like nothing ever has before.
From something as simple and mundane as personalised emails that take customers through a pre-planned journey to the ability to create copy, images, video without even leaving the comfortable environment of your home office, digital marketing opens up amazing opportunities for marketers.
So, with all those multiple digital marketing benefits to hand, why is it so many business still find themselves way behind the curve?
Digital marketing benefits – emotional
If you are one of those classical marketers, you’ll know that benefits work at both 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 are a classically trained marketer, it can often feel like digital marketing has come along and taken a great big dump over all your training.
When you are classically trained, you know the techniques and processes to pull on. You know what a market research brief or a marketing plan, or how to give feedback on an advertising idea. It’s predicate and comfortable. And digital marketing dumps all over that predictability and comfortableness.
Because, suddenly everything changes
Because suddenly, everything is MORE.
And everything is FASTER.
And just when you start to learn these new skills, you find out they’ve changed and what you just learned has been changed in a new update.
Which leads us to what the digital marketing benefit is from an emotional point of view.
In theory, this should be a new found confidence that you will make better decisions. You have access to MORE information about your consumers, after all. That information is available FASTER so it’s more topical and relevant.
With open access to digital marketing technology like websites, CRM systems and digital and social media, you are no longer tied to the expertise levels of your marketing agency to deliver all your communications.
Feel like telling your target audience something new? Open up the right piece of technology and you can do that right now. This emotional benefit of empowerment and simplicity of actions should be making marketers jump for joy.
Digital marketing can have the opposite effect
And yet, in many, many cases, the emotional benefit of digital marketing is neither confidence or empowerment. In fact, in many cases, it’s the complete opposite.
Very topically, we got an email invite from a Sydney-based educational provider today selling a course in Digital Marketing. We see tons of these types of emails. But what caught our eye was 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 out there in the world of digital marketing. And afraid that they’ll make the wrong choice.
When there were only a few well defined marketing options to choose from, marketing life was pretty straightforward.
And now, as we talk about in our guide to marketing technology, marketers have a choice of over 7,000 different technology platforms that could help them to do the job better.
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 that you didn’t get to reading about last week?
It’s no wonder many marketers stick to the classic ways to do marketing. Because they feel overwhelmed and drowning in this new ocean of marketing bullshit that digital marketing has brought with it.
Add to your marketing playlist
So, amazing functional benefits, but which leaves you feeling frozen and overwhelmed? Now, there’s a marketing challenge for digital marketing. But if you are good at marketing, you can start to see where the solution might lie.
And it’s as simple as this.
Keep using the classic marketing techniques as the cornerstone of what you do. Market research, asking people what they want or need, that’s still a good thing to do. Do your segmentation, targeting and positioning work. Build your brand identity and your communication skills.
But try some of the new things too.
Give them a go AS WELL AS and not instead of 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.