In our recent blog we looked at how to calculate the ROI of digital – we now go one further and ask: is digital marketing important? In fact, do we need digital marketing at all?
Spring is here at last. The feeling of warm sun again. A time of re-birth and new hope. It’s also the time for deciding what we still need when spring-cleaning the garage and what constitutes junk. Like that old bike or the inflatable hot tub for example…
The bike is straightforward enough. Dad’s old drop handle bar racer. 10 speed, drilled brakes and a leather saddle. It’s a classic – if you can call a bike bought from Halfords, in 1987, a classic? But no arguments – it stays – even though it is covered in cobwebs and will probably never be ridden, ever again.
Do we really need that old hot tub?
The hot tub on the other hand, really divides opinion between younger and older generations. A bit like Brexit. To some they are the epitome of self-assurance, to others the epitome of awful choices. Their nightmare scenario would be sitting in one. Or even worse, being forced to talk about Brexit whilst sitting in one – with Sue and Nigel.
Remember Sue and Nigel? We met them in our last blog: renovating their suburban semi into a veritable palace. They still haven’t finished of course, but nevertheless have prioritised building a beautiful purpose-built deck on which sits their pride and joy – the inflatable hot tub. They had to put it on a credit card, but worth every penny.
For them (and like-minded devotees), sitting under the stars, feeling a sea of warm bubbles tickling armpits while sipping your classiest choice of beverage, is pure heaven.
For others, not so much. To them, having a bubble bath outside is strange; especially in a country that’s grey, cold and raining for most of the year. And even more so when taken in the company of relative acquaintances. I mean, you may have known Roger and Sue for a while, but do you really want to see them squeezed into bathing costumes? And it’s not like down the beach where you can choose your space. Hot tubs are small. Really small. So you have to be comfortable being in close proximity to semi-clad strangers.
That might appeal to some. But stewing in the same warm, bubbling, juices as Roger in his skimpy Speedos, while watching him sip his lukewarm Asti Spumante, just might not be your thing.
Do we really need digital marketing?
This brings us to other things we may need or not need in life – like digital marketing.
It seems to be everywhere now – as the internet and social media rule our lives. All encompassing, all invasive, the fear of missing out. To some, the need to communicate like this represents overcomplicated, new fandangle nonsense. To others, the very air that they breathe.
So maybe we’ll just cut to the chase and get an expert opinion? Take Professor Mark Ritson for example, writing recently in Marketing Week. He says: “It’s time to shut down Digital Marketing teams for good”. Well, that looks definitive. Case closed – thanks Prof.
But that’s really not what he saying is it? And nor are we. He uses the example of Co-op, who have recently disbanded their digital marketing team. But they haven’t closed it down because it doesn’t work, they’ve closed it down to integrate it back into their wider marketing team.
The point is that digital should no longer have a space of its own, sitting in a happy social media bubble, firing off random messaging to no-one in particular.
All marketing is digital marketing
Mark Ritson goes on to quote Alastair Pegg, senior marketer at Co-op who says: “There’s no such thing as a digital marketing team now, all marketing is digital marketing”.
Thanks Alastair, that reminds us of our previous blog on refreshing your digital output, when we said:
“Remember that digital marketing is just, well – marketing”.
It’s highly probable that Alastair read the blog as he wrestled with reshaping his strategic marketing plan for Co-op. He probably pondered over the text for hours as he battled to come up with a redefinition of strategy.
“Engagement is not the end game, selling more stuff is.” He probably read, drawing inspiration from these words as he re-crafted his team.
OK, so he possibly may not have spent so much time reading it. Or may have possibly missed the blog altogether. Fine, he almost certainly didn’t base his new strategy on it. But the message is the same.
To achieve best results with digital, we need to understand that acting in isolation to the rest of your sales and marketing efforts makes no sense.
Furthermore, we need to understand that number of followers on a feed might not be the same as selling more products and services.
So that leads us to: what next?
We’ll keep it simple: 1 thing to avoid and 1 thing to aim for.
1. Focus on your customers, not meaningless numbers.
You don’t base your strategy on how many phone calls you think your competitor makes, or how many brochures they produce, so why worry about how many times they tweet or how many followers they have? Why get dragged into a vanity metrics competition?
We have 2 billion likes. Great. So what? Have you sold 2 billion products? No. You are not a YouTube vlogger. Followers count for them – they get paid per view. You don’t.
Remember the team meeting from last time? Their discussion on ROI focused on familiar metrics such as: likes, shares and followers.
The ‘Vanity Metrics’ of social media marketing: impressions and followers, likes, traffic spikes, shares and comments.
Their meeting focused on numbers and when reporting an increase in likes in the month, the importance of these is confirmed by the digital ‘experts’ among them: ‘Cue knowing nods and smug smiles all around – even a begrudging pat on the back from Andy in sales’.
They all sound and look great, but are they of any use to you?
Not according to the Digital Marketing Institute, who advise us to completely ignore them: “vanity metrics don’t have any value for your business”.
So yes, do digital, but do marketing, not statistics. Avoid competing with others, or yourselves, just for the sake of it.
2. Define and Shape Your Digital Marketing Mindset
We’re reminding you that digital marketing is just marketing:
“Remember that marketing is the same as it has always been; it’s just the medium that has changed,” says marketing strategist Minal Sampat.
Yes, that’s the point we’ve been making. The medium has changed, but it’s still just marketing. Digital can become an obsession with numbers and tech talk – an end game in itself. Don’t be blinded by the science and tech talk – remember that your mindset needs to be focused on the customer, not an engagement graph.
So whether you bin your digital team altogether like Mark Ritson suggests, and follow Co-op with a complete re-think, or just draw digital back into your wider marketing efforts, the focus needs to be on who you are reaching and what you are saying, rather than the tools you are using.
So, do we need digital?
Well, do you need marketing? Yes you do, so darned right you need digital. Digital can be a cost-effective way of delivering your overall marketing strategy, but not as a separate entity, acting in isolation, at odds with your other efforts and messaging. Re-focus on the end user, the consumer, rather than the channels used to reach them.
And remember, next time your neighbour Nigel asks you round for dinner, you might want to take a sick-note.
If you want to re-evaluate your digital marketing efforts, but feel that you need some help – get in touch – we’d love to hear from you!