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Digital marketing tips

Why read this? : Learn how to stand out from the online crowd with these digital marketing tips. We explore how core marketing principles apply to digital marketing. Then, we look at the pros and cons of generalist versus specialist approaches. And lastly, why change management matters so much in digital. Read these digital marketing tips to level up your digital marketing game. 

Digital marketing tips

How this guide raises your game :-

1. Explore the link between digital marketing and core marketing principles. 

2. Learn the difference between digital marketing generalists and specialists.

3. Understand change management’s vital role in digital marketing.

Digital marketing is where traditional marketing skills like market research, brand strategy and communications intersect with new systems, processes and tools from the emerging world of marketing technology. This technology enables marketing. It makes it easier and faster.

But, you still have to do the marketing itself. The key principles of traditional marketing still apply in digital. Understanding customers. Building brilliant brands. And of course, creating great experiences.  

So, we’ll start our digital marketing tips by looking at how to connect digital marketing and traditional marketing.

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The next of our digital marketing tips then looks at the wide range of different capabilities covered by digital marketing. We look at the differences between a generalist and specialist approach in digital marketing, and why that matters.

And finally, as digital marketing changes how we do things, we finish with change management. How you positively and proactively lead change has a big impact on the success of your digital marketing.

Digital marketing and marketing principles

In “digital marketing”, “marketing” is the verb and “digital” is the adverb. So marketing is what you do, and digital is how you do it.

It’s an important distinction. It’s what you do that adds the most value to your business. And for us, that’s marketing. 

Don’t get us wrong. We value the opportunity “digital” brings to marketing.

But you find many digital marketers who don’t understand the “marketing” part of the term.

Scrabble tiles spelling out Digital Marketing laid out on a wooden table

They learn some digital skills. Run Facebook ads. Create website content. Push out dashboards. But these are only outputs. By themselves, they aren’t marketing. If you don’t understand the core marketing principles inputs that drive those outputs, then you’re not really doing marketing.

So don’t get distracted by the jargon and technical side of digital marketing. They’re just a different way of doing marketing. The underlying job to be done is still marketing. And there’s 3 specific marketing behaviours ALL marketers should have, whether they’re digital or not :-

Understand customers

First, is to understand customers and their needs.

As per our digital data guide, digital has opened up lots of opportunities to capture and learn new insights about customers. But, it’s one thing to find this. It’s quite another to be able to use it well. 

Customers aren’t lines of data on a spreadsheet. If you run digital media campaigns, send an email, or create website content, remember that real people will be on the end of those activities.

Real, actual people.

Blond woman partially hidden behind a leafy bush

Whatever type of digital marketing activity you do, you should always put yourself in the customer’s shoes before it goes live. What benefits will the activity have for them? Is it even relevant? When, where and how will they experience the activation? Why should they even care about it? Make sure what you do is based on customer feedback, and not your own likes and preferences. 

Think about your own experience of “digital” as a customer. How many irrelevant ads appear on your social media feeds? What about links you click on when you search for things which go nowhere? Or pop-ups on websites which ask for your email address before you can download something? Or multiple check-boxes on the shopping cart before you can buy something online?

All annoying, right? 

Because here’s the thing with digital marketing. The customer always has ultimate control over where they go and what they do online. And if they see irrelevant content, they ignore it. Without a second thought. 

So your hard-earned digital media dollars could be a complete waste of money. This brings us to the next key marketing behaviour digital marketers should have.

Create valuable branded experiences

It’s important to remember digital marketing opens up the opportunity for a very different customer experience than traditional advertising and media. 

Digital offers customers 3 key benefits. 

First, they have control over what they see and experience. They can manage this through the preferences, settings and choices they make on their devices. If they see an advert that isn’t relevant, they can skip past it or block or report it. 

Next, what they see on their screens and devices can often satisfy their needs immediately.

Close up of a man's hands holding a light bulb that's illuminated

By clicking on a button, their need for products, services or information can be solved.

And finally, their content can be personalised. So it’s more relevant to their needs, not those of everyone.

These benefits mean digital marketing can add more ‘value’ to a customer’s life than a traditional advert. But digital marketing is often full of activities which don’t meet customer needs. That add no value. All those annoying examples we just covered, like pop-ups and checkboxes.

If you try to “trick” someone into visiting your website or buying something from your store, it just doesn’t work. Customers aren’t stupid. You’ll get blocked. You’ll eventually get penalised by Google. And worst of all, you’ll generate bad word of mouth among your target audience.

So, don’t be annoying. Be helpful. Be relevant. Because when you are, the opportunity is huge.

Brands who make their digital marketing experience something customers enjoy or find helpful, find customers keep coming back. Customers see value in those experiences. And that leads to more value for the brand. 

Commercial focus

And finally, marketing is nothing if not a way to deliver the business commercials.

Understanding how the profit and loss for your business works is vital, especially if you run your own direct to consumer store. You have to work out the Return on Investment on all your digital marketing activity to make better marketing decisions

So, to summarise, the first of our digital marketing tips is to focus on making yourself a better marketer first. Digital is the channel you do the marketing in. But you still have to bring the key elements of customer, experience and commercials together.

Glass jar knocked over on floor with coins spilled out onto the floor

Of course, while digital marketers should have these traditional skills in their toolbox, it also works the other way. Traditional marketers need to understand the value of digital marketing, even though some of them find that a struggle.

Understanding how digital expertise connects

Our digital business model guide outlines the many different skills you need to succeed in digital via our RESTART model. 

For example, your customer-facing Reach-Engagement-Selling external goals. Your Technology, Analysis and Resource internal capabilities. Plus, your skills in driving Transformation. You have to plan how to change your business if it’s not set up for digital.

This means digital marketing isn’t one specific skill. It’s a combination of many different skills. This brings us to the next of our digital marketing tips. To grow your brand with digital, you should choose a more generalist approach over a purely specialist one.

The Seven Steps of the RESTART digital business model - Reach, Engage, Sell, Technology, Analysis, Resource, Transform

Specialist vs generalist

When you specialise in a topic within digital marketing, you develop a DEEP understanding of that topic. You make an active choice to practise, learn and update your skills in that area. You’ll find many specialists in digital marketing from SEO experts to writers, developers and designers. And don’t get us wrong, many people make a good living in digital marketing by becoming specialists.

But pretty soon, you find with specialisms, you reach a limit. Whether that’s a career limit in a company or marketing agency, digital specialisms only get you so far.

Getting beyond that means understanding the BROAD range and how to connect them to grow your business. This is the generalist approach to digital marketing.

A generalist connects digital skills

Successful digital business models are built on connected skills. You have to know what these are and how to connect them. So, this is the second of our digital marketing tips. You don’t have to be an expert in every area of digital marketing. But you should know what they all are and how to get the best from them.

It’s like in athletics. You may focus on an individual event. But the most complete and all-round athletes can do multiple events like the heptathlon or decathlon. So, yes, start by building up some specialist skills. But move around the skills. Don’t spend too long doing the same thing. 

Aim to be good enough at a broad level of skills across the whole of digital marketing. And if there are parts of digital marketing that don’t fire you up, then find someone else to learn from. 

For example, if your focus is data and analysis, work with someone good at creating engaging content. If you’re good at setting up e-commerce stores, find someone good at digital media or social. Develop your digital marketing skills so you have a more generalist view of digital marketing and you’ll grow to be a better digital marketer overall. 

Be a change leader

As per our digital business model and customer experience guides, managing change and transformation plays a large role in digital marketing.

Digital marketing can feel like a closed environment.

Those who’ve learned some digital marketing technical skills can tend to live in a bubble. Where they only talk to other digital marketers. And forget not everyone knows how to do digital marketing. 

This is a missed opportunity. 

Man on stage with a microphone talking to a large seated audience of what appear to be university students

Digital marketing and technology is an amazing opportunity to change customers’ lives. But only if the skills required to do it well become more widespread. Which requires a lot of change in most businesses.

Change management

Change management is a subject and skill in its own right. It’s beyond the scope here, to cover it in depth. You can read a full guide to the different approaches and models here. 

Though each change model like Kotter, Mckinsey and Lewin has its own pros and cons, we find the Probi ADKAR model the easiest to use. It’s a good place to start. It sets out 5 stages individuals or businesses should go through to effectively manage change. These are Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability and Reinforcement. 

Awareness

To transform your business, the first step is to drive awareness of the need for change. If people are comfortable doing things the way they’ve always done it and if it’s worked in the past, they’ll see no reason to change. They’ll actively resist it.

From a digital marketing point of view, the “need for change” is often captured during the SWOT Opportunities and Threats part of the marketing plan. External factors like a change in market dynamics, customer needs or competitor action can often create an opportunity or threat which triggers awareness of the need for change.

So, if customer online expectations change or competitors change their website or presence in your e-Commerce channels, the need for change becomes clearer. More compelling. And it has to be communicated to the people in your business or agency who need to do something different.

Desire

However, it’s one thing to be aware of the need for change. It’s quite another to actively desire change. Most businesses work on well-established and predictable routines and systems. Change, by definition, is a disruptive process.

Resistance to change and defensiveness can often come out, particularly from anyone who has set up current systems. People will have a mental and emotional connection to the way things were done in the past. It’s an important part of the change management role to show why the ‘new’ way is better. You can look to use people most supportive of the change as “change champions” to help convince those who see it as a threat.

The messages you use should try to remove the fear of change. Change is inevitable. Nothing lasts forever. When you can lead or coach people to embrace change, it actually creates more power for them as they can shape it. Rather than have it happen to them.

Knowledge

The third stage of the ADKAR model is knowledge. To know what the change is. The focus is on practical skills and techniques to make people competent and confident in the new way of working.

It’s usually training or coaching focussed. There’s a need to identify new skills or processes required because of the change. Plus, put the right resources in place to increase knowledge so people feel equipped to work in the “new” way.

Ability

This fourth ability stage is all about getting started with the new way of working. It can involve rehearsals, dummy runs or limited launches of the new way of working. But it should also look to set objectives and metrics so performance can be measured and tracked.

There will likely be unseen or unplanned teething problems from the change. As a change leader, you have to watch out for these and be flexible enough to adapt the system to fix them. 

Reinforcement

At this final stage, the aim is for the change to become the “new normal” way of doing things. This involves recognising the value of those who have embraced the change, and rewarding good habits. 

Use positive feedback to show what’s working, and why it relates to the change need identified at the start of the process. 

Conclusion - digital marketing tips driven by change

Change is important in any business. But it’s hard.

A Hammer and Champy study shows that 70% of organisational change projects fail. 

But as per our digital business model guide, customers now spend more and more time online. Businesses must change to be where their customers are and give them what they want

They have to learn to use digital media channels like Google and Facebook to reach customers. 

They have to build skills in website development and marketing technology to engage customers with valuable online experiences. 

And finally, they need to use change management to make sure all those multiple elements combine in a way which grows their business. 

So, that’s why the last of our digital marketing tips relates to change management. Build these skills and you can drive that understanding of the customer through digital marketing. You can create valuable experiences which your customers will love. 

And you can do it in a way that’ll make your team want to be part of a transformational experience. One where they can be at the cutting edge of new ways of marketing.  

Three-Brains and digital marketing

We’ve worked on many digital marketing projects and have good experience across all aspects of digital marketing. We know how to connect these to driving your brand and growing your sales. Get in touch to learn how our coaching and consulting services can support your digital marketing to grow your business.

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