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Digital marketing tips

Why read this? : We share key digital marketing tips to help you stand out from the online crowd. Learn why it’s important to link digital marketing back to the overall principles of marketing. Then, learn the differences between the generalist and specialist approach in digital marketing. And finally learn how change management helps improve the impact of your digital marketing. Read this for tips to level up your digital marketing game. 

Digital marketing tips

How this guide raises your game :-

1. The key overall marketing skills to make you a better digital marketer.

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

3. Learn about the importance of change management in digital marketing.

Digital marketing is where traditional marketing skills like market research, brand strategy and communications intersect with new systems, processes and software from the emerging world of marketing technology. 

The technology is an enabler of marketing. It makes it easier and faster. But, you still have to do the marketing itself. 

Digital marketing is full of distractions. It’s easy to forget the key principles of traditional marketing still apply. Understanding customers. Creating valuable experiences. And of course, a focus on growing the business.  

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We start our digital marketing tips by looking at how to connect digital marketing and traditional marketing.

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, because digital marketing changes the way we do things, we finish with how to manage change. The way you deal with ambiguity and proactively lead change impacts the success of your digital marketing efforts. Manage change well, and you’ve a much better chance of succeeding. 

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 do you that adds the most value to your business. And for us, that’s marketing. 

Now don’t get us wrong, we don’t undervalue the opportunity “digital” brings to marketing.

But when you understand the distinction, you drastically raise the chances of your digital marketing activity being more successful.

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

It’s quite common to find people calling themselves digital marketers who don’t understand the “marketing” part of the term. They may have built some digital marketing technical skills. So, they can run Facebook ads. They can create website content. And they can conjure up Google Analytics dashboards.

But these are only outputs. By themselves, they aren’t marketing.

And if you don’t understand the core elements of the marketing or the inputs you need to make those outputs work, then it’s not true marketing.

We advise all the clients we work with not to get too distracted by the jargon and technical side of digital marketing. They’re just a different way of doing marketing. But the job remains to still do marketing first. 

For us, that comes down to 3 specific marketing functional behaviours ALL marketers should have. Whether they have digital in their title or not. 

Understand customers

First, is the ability to understand the needs of customers.  

As per our digital data guide, digital has opened up a treasure chest of opportunity to capture and learn new things about customers. But, it’s one thing to have access to this information. 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, or send an email, or create website content, remember that actual 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 shoes of the customer 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. Which brings us on to the next key marketing behaviour digital marketers should have.

Create valuable 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 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, and not those of the mass market.

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 to visit your website or to buy something from your store, that strategy 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 goals. These usually focus on 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 need 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 should also work the other way.

Many traditional marketers struggle to adapt to the realities of digital marketing. You can read more on how traditional and digital marketing timelines have split in this article.

Understanding how digital expertise connects

In our digital business model guide, we cover what we call the digital RESTART model. 

This covers the Reach-Engagement-Selling goals your business needs to succeed through digital marketing, and the Technology, Analysis and Resource capabilities you need to enable digital marketing.

It covers the need for Transformation. You have to plan how to change your business if it’s not set up for digital.

So, this means digital marketing isn’t one specific skill, but a combination of many different skills, which brings us to the next of our digital marketing tips.

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

If you want your business to be ahead of the game in digital marketing, you should develop a generalist approach to digital marketing rather than a purely specialist one.

Specialist vs generalist

When you specialise in a topic within digital marketing, it means you develop a DEEP understanding of that topic. You make an active choice to dedicate time to practising, learning and updating 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 functional 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.

Where the real value comes is when you understand what the BROAD range of specialisms are. AND you also also know how to connect them all to make your online business work. And this is the generalist approach to digital marketing.

A generalist connects digital skills together

Because really successful digital led business models are a system of different skills which connect together. And if you are the business leader, you need to know what these are and how they connect. So, this is the second of our digital marketing tips. You don’t need to be an expert in every element of digital marketing, but you should have decent knowledge of what they all are and how to get the best from them.

We compare it a little bit to the world of athletics. You may compete in an individual event and focus on that event. But the most complete and all-round athletes are the ones who can do multiple events like the heptathlon or decathlon.

Our experience is it’s good to build up some specialist skills in digital marketing. But move around the skills, rather than spending too long doing the one thing. 

Aim to be good enough at a broad level of skills across the whole of digital marketing. And pick the ones you’re both interested in and good at. If there’s parts of digital marketing that don’t fire you up, then find someone else to do them. 

For example, if your core skill is in data and analysis, look to work with someone who’s good at creating engaging content so you can learn from them.

If your core skill is in setting up e-commerce stores, find someone who’s good at digital media or social so you can build your acquisition skills further up the funnel. 

Develop your digital marketing skills so you have a broader 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, change and transformation is a large part of what drives success in digital marketing. 

In our experience, the world of digital marketing can be a closed environment.

Those who’ve learned some of the technical skills of digital marketing can tend to live in a bit of 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

We believe digital marketing and technology has amazing opportunities to change the lives of customers. But only if the skills required to do it well become much more widespread. Which requires a lot of change in most business.

Change management

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

Though each model like Kotter, Mckinsey and Lewin has its own pros and cons, we generally find the Probi ADKAR model the easiest and most straightforward 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. 


In order to transform your business, the first step is to drive awareness of the need for change. If people are comfortable doing business the way they’ve always done it and especially, 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 there’s a major change in your competitors website or 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.


However, it’s one thing to be aware of the need for change. It’s quite another to actively desire the 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.


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.


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 objective and metrics for the change so performance can be measured and tracked.

It’s likely there’ll be unseen or unplanned teething problems from the change. As change leader, you have to watch out for these, and be flexible enough to adapt the system to fix them. 


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 back to the need for change which was set out at the start of the process. 

Conclusion - digital marketing tips driven by change

Change is important in any business because there’s a widely reported statistic from Hammer and Champy that 70% of organisational change projects fail. 

And as per our digital business model guide, customers now spend more and more time online. And business need to adapt to this new environment. 

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

They need to build up 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. 

If you can build your skills around the area of change management, you can help drive that understanding of the customer through digital marketing. You can create valuable experiences which grow your business. 

And you can do it in a way that’ll make your team want to be part of a transformational experience, where they have the opportunity to be at the cutting edge of new ways of doing 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 expertise areas back into driving your brand marketing and growing your sales. 

Email us, if you want to know more about how we can support your digital marketing to grow your business through our coaching and consulting services.

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