Digital marketing is littered with statements and beliefs that, with a bit of research, prove to be ill-thought and some way wide of the mark.
You might think it’s simple to become a more digitally driven organisation; ‘Let’s get a website and create a Twitter profile. That’s all we need to maximise our digital use and reap the benefits of digital transformation.’
The fact is that digital marketing is becoming more of a necessity than an option. Trailblazers in this regard have completely transformed their business model by committing the investment to digitise their organizations and getting their leaders on board. Most importantly, they truly understand it, and that’s where some people fall foul.
Fortunately for you, it’s not too late to become part of this group. Your work starts now with a quick blast through some of the misconceptions that will be thrown at you during your digital journey.
Myth #1 Having a website means we have a digital strategy
This remark often emerges as people still think using isolated technologies or piecemeal initiatives are enough to form a digital strategy.
First, it’s worth acknowledging that there are different schools of thought. For some executives, it’s about the technology. For others, ‘digital’ is a new way of reaching out to customers – to empower them and embrace their new methods of communication.
Gartner ran a survey of senior business executives to find out what their digital strategy meant to them. Three definitions came to light:
- Digital strategies are a response to the failure some companies were subjected to after relying on outdated methods of selling.
- Digital strategies are a response to the current situation in which elements like mobile, cloud computing and social media are imperative.
- Digital strategies are made to future-proof a business as the world becomes all the more reliant on technology.
According to Accenture, digital strategy is defined as ‘Setting a direction, sequencing resources and making commitments’, obviously with technology in mind.
Whatever digital means to you, we can safely say that digital sits at the heart of the company’s overall strategy for growth. It is integrated into the plan to enhance the customer’s experience. (And no, it is not just a website.)
Myth #2 Digital marketing is quick
Myth number two concerns the speed at which companies can become ‘digitised’. Content can be ripped off third parties with ease; social media accounts take seconds to open; it all seems very easy.
Unfortunately that’s not the case, as digital marketing is not a fad nor something you do because it’s easy to start. It’s simple to get going, but true digital marketing requires investment, commitment and time to make things happen.
The successful equation is the right content put through the right platform for the right audience.
Online customers behave differently to their face-to-face counterparts; they need to receive the right message or it might lead to frustration. This is particularly the case for millennials, only 32% of whom currently find brand communications to be helpful to them, according to NewsCred.
Thus, resource and investment must be dedicated to finding the right message and platform on which to base it. Such a goal is not easily achieved and, without sugar-coating the facts, will always take time.
Myth #3 It’s all about tech
Digital marketing is driven in part by technology but the assumption that it’s all-important is not entirely accurate. Sure, the organization needs to have the digital capabilities to properly operate in the digital environment and reap the benefits that come with that. However, the personnel is arguably just as important.
This is both a fact and a key challenge for the industry at present, as so many companies are finding issues with sourcing staff that have the right skillset. Answering to a study by recruitment group Hays from last year, Britvic CMO Matthew Barwell said that a pragmatic approach was key to building bridges across any skills gaps that companies faced.
“The pace of digital disruption and change mean that no marketer can possibly understand all of the nuances of every digital channel.
“What is important is that they stay curious and knowledgeable about how digital is changing the world our consumers and our customers live in, and that they are knowledgeable enough to ask the right questions of their agencies and media partners.”
There may be respite, though, in the signs that traditional marketing and digital marketing are becoming one discipline. Hays’ study also concluded that while digitally minded juniors could step up to the plate, they lacked attributes in areas like budget management and strategic thinking.
That means traditional marketers are in the good position to expand their knowledge and acquire the skills missing to complete the picture.
Myth # 4 Digital marketing is free of cost
Things like social media accounts and blogs can be set up free of charge. However – as we’ve discussed – digital marketing is not just a website: it’s beyond that.
It comes with an associated cost, the level of this depending on whether the company wants to become a digital master or just gain a few of the advantages that digital transformation offers.
Take the example of the finance industry, which eMarketer believes will commit $10.9 billion to digital advertising by 2019.
That said, digital marketing can be less expensive than using traditional media platforms as you can quickly scale your efforts without adding cost to your resources.
Myth #5 Digital marketing is the answer to all business problems
Digital marketing is crucial for doing business – it opens opportunities for both small and large businesses to compete on the same ground and expand their international reach.
However, it will not solve problems in areas like customer experience or fundamental issues with a product. Soon enough these shortcomings will catch up with the company in question, and then what?
Myth #6 Digital marketing only works for large organisations
The key to digital marketing is quality, not quantity. Even a small investment in cost-effective practices like pay-per-click advertising can reap huge ROI, so there’s plenty of room for the smaller guys to compete.
If only they knew this to be true, and that’s where myths like the above can hurt an enterprise. According to Blue Corona, 66% of small business owners list finding new customers as a top concern, yet only 17% of them were investing in SEO – a key channel for bringing in leads.
The bare minimum is to ensure you have quality content for your target audience and they can easily find you through different touchpoints. Invariably this will not cost the world to do.
Myth #7 There is no need for crossing channels
The notion that cross-channel marketing does not work should be resigned to the history books. You need to maximise the use of several channels to get your message across to the target audience by creating a plan that drives customer engagement through various customer touchpoints.
According to Econsultancy, 73% of marketers believe cross-channel interactions can have a positive impact on their conversions, so it pays to join the dots.
In short, your customers are using different devices, so you need to take the same approach and share your message consistently across the board.
Myth #8 SEO is dead
Many people are claiming that search engine optimisation (SEO) is no longer valid as Google has changed the way it ranks a website. If you are serious about breaking into digital, don’t overlook the importance of good SEO for driving leads and brand awareness.
SEO is still very much in use and skewed towards helping customers find quality and relevant information at the click of a button. There will always be ‘blackhat’ practices and ways of playing the system, but fewer people are getting away with it.
Myth #9 Digital marketing is all about traffic
The more people that go to your website the better it is for your business, right? While traffic will always be a key metric, this does ignore a few important points.
Traffic is important, but not as important as getting the right people to your site. Again, quality over quantity should be the key here. You need to attract the right type of customers for your digital efforts to bear fruit.
You should also have a plan for them when they get there. A common issue with any business’s website is a lack of conversions off the back of their traffic. Getting the right people on it is a start, but there must be a seamless view of what happens to people after they connect with a brand.
Myth #10 Email marketing is dead
First SEO and now email – some of the older digital channels never get an easy press.
Despite the rumours, it’s actually well-known that email is still one of the best channels for interacting with customers on a one-to-one basis. Research from Mailgen shows that email is a marketer’s primary tool for gaining leads, while a similar study from Forbes lists the channel as the top source for gathering data.
And if you think it’s coming down in popularity from a strong position, take a look at the result of Selligent’s poll on where marketers said they would be increasing budget in 2016.
As we can see, digital channels like SEO outperform traditional spending points like radio and television with ease, while email is subject to the biggest rise in budgets.
If there’s anything to be taken from the above it’s that myths are all over digital marketing, just like in any line of work. To see things with perfect clarity, it pays to do your research and find out for yourself just how easy, affordable or “dead “something really is.