Digital marketing is a catchall term that can mean different things to different people. Some use it too narrowly to describe search engine optimization or social media marketing, while others define it more broadly to include not only digital outreach but digital properties like websites. There’s really no right or wrong definition but rather different perspectives. One thing that is clear is digital marketing is fraught with misconceptions that many marketers fall victim to. Some are myths that have never been true, while others were once true but no longer are. The pace of change in the industry creates new truths and misconceptions at breakneck speed, so it can be challenging to keep up.
Below are some of the more common myths surrounding digital marketing with the corresponding reality:
Digital marketing is best suited for brands that market to consumers.
It’s simply not true. Digital marketing is a great way to reach consumers, but it’s equally effective for business-to-business audiences. One reason that this myth continues may be because business-to-business purchases often have longer sales cycles that don’t culminate in online purchases. That continues to be true, but the majority of business-to-business customers do most of their research and evaluation online before engaging with a company. It’s critical for marketers to be present during that search for products/services and their evaluation.
Finding the right decision-makers on the web is becoming more precise with ever-increasing options for targeting them. Many of our clients target niche buyers that you might think would be hard to reach, but “big data” has made it more possible than ever. We can layer job titles, geography, content relevance and even company IP addresses to zero in on the right people at the right companies. One of the reasons for the recent exponential growth in digital marketing initiatives can be tied to the ability to deliver targeted, personalized messages to audience segments sliced and diced in ever-more granular ways. This programmatic targeting allows advertisers to identify the user and market to them wherever they are on the web versus relying on industry sites to aggregate them for us. It’s often more effective at a lower cost.
I can easily develop and manage a digital marketing program myself.
Marketers can’t check their email or voice messages without a solicitation for another marketing automation tool that’s the greatest thing since sliced bread. Some have merit. A lot of them don’t. We don’t have anything against marketing tools – we use many of them on behalf of clients. We do, however, recognize that they are tools. A good tool in the hands of an experienced mechanic yields good results – a good tool in the hands of someone who doesn’t know how engines work won’t turn out so well.
Marketers in the digital space need a partner that knows the opportunities and pitfalls, one that can strategically think about how to best accomplish objectives, launch new products or respond to competition and market dynamics. Those things are still the most important factors in marketing success (online or offline).
If it’s done right, digital marketing should be less expensive than other forms of marketing. Certainly there are some high-impact opportunities that can get pricey, but the ongoing outreach and content delivery to your online audience can be cost-effective, especially compared to traditional marketing like print and broadcast advertising. Not only is it more economical and more effective, but it can be measured and evaluated on a “cost-per” basis. Evaluating the impact of traditional marketing is much harder, if it can be done at all. Programs like retargeting, search engine optimization and social media campaigns have tremendous returns for the investments required.
Digital marketing requires technical expertise.
Digital marketing, like other forms of marketing, requires marketing expertise, not technical expertise. There are definitely new things to learn specific to digital marketing, but they tend to be about new acronyms, metrics, regulations and new offerings. Marketing fundamentals like audience insights, market knowledge, understanding how to reach customers and how to measure effectiveness still differentiates good digital marketing programs from those that are less effective.
Quantity over quality.
The thought that pushing more content out in the digital space will increase exposure and achieve better results is flawed. As is the case in most instances, quality trumps quantity. It’s important to be consistent in generating content, and we’re proponents of a steady flow of good content. Good content should be some combination of useful, informative, entertaining and insightful. Well-executed digitally-based content has the potential to enrich and enliven the level of engagement a consumer may have with a particular brand.
In a previous MCC blog article, the author pointed out that “you should create content not for what Google loves, but for what searchers want, because Google doesn’t love anything. Google tries to show unique and informative content based on the searcher’s ‘intent.’ For example, are you trying to buy something, find something, learn something, etc.?” Good content should always focus on the value for the customer, not the search engine.