Digital Marketing Is Not New: Stop Saying That It Is

Why are people still talking about digital marketing and digital channels like they are new? Or like they are their own strategy altogether? Digital is not new. The truth, that everyone seems to be ignoring, is that digital is advertising. Digital is marketing. It another piece of it – a piece that has quickly taken over.

I mean, what do we do in advertising and marketing today that doesn’t have to do with digital? Okay, so we’re still running print ads, billboards, and broadcast media – but we listen to digital radio, watch streaming services, and catch our news from social media. Those analog tactics sometimes come as an after-thought. The reality is that strategy transcends tactics.

It doesn’t matter what tactics we are using – digital or otherwise. The strategy is the most important piece. Nail the strategy, then we can talk about which tactics come into play to support it.

You can draw a line between digital and other channels if you want, but stop asking the question whether or not digital matters. 90% of the execution work our team creates is digital work. It’s getting harder and harder to get some clients to even consider doing work in channels outside of digital. Why? Because digital is cheaper, wider reaching, easier / faster to pull off, and that’s where all of our customers are – with their noses stuck in a mobile device. I’m not saying that print, broadcast, etc. aren’t important. Because they certainly are. You need all aspects to comprise a truly effective marketing program or advertising campaign. But, why are people still talking about digital like it’s new?

We are within 1 generation of everyone in the business world having had email and smart phones for the majority of their careers, and having the internet for most, if not all, of their lives. We have no idea what to except in the coming years – or even months – but you can bet it’s going to be more strides in digital. Who’s expecting a new print medium to pop up in the next 18 months? That’s right: no one. But, what about digital? It happens all the time and, sometimes, we don’t even realize it.

Dead Ends Tell No Tales

One thing I love about digital channels is the tracking. I’m a big proponent of the customer journey, and digital gives us a means to track every step of it. It’s a huge step in helping us understand the customer, what they want, etc. But, it’s huge in terms of developing a sales funnel, as well. Acquiring leads, qualifying leads, warming them up, etc. is all more easily done and trackable through digital channels. Lead magnets are one way, marketing automation is another. No matter how you do it, we marketers are much more powerful through digital channels.

That being said, there are ways to get more tracking in place on your analog channels, as well. Drive your print pieces to unique landing pages, integrate augmented reality into your direct mail pieces (and save on shipping costs, too!), add text-to-win campaigns to tip-on card promotions, etc. There are tons of ways to build digital tracking into your analog marketing.

Warning: Because digital enables us to collect tons more data, it’s easy to let the data lead your creative. Just because the data indicates that customers like a certain thing, doesn’t mean that those certain things are motivating customers to purchase. Be sure to continue to give creative intelligence the same amount of respect as you give your digital metrics.

Being Digital vs. Doing Digital

I’m not going to restate what is in this article from Advertising Age, but you can’t fake integrating digital into your marketing organization. At this point in time (yes, I’m referring to the future of 2017), digital should be an adjective used to describe your company – not a channel listed on your marketing plan.

It’s time we stop saying that we “do digital marketing” and start making our companies digital players and innovators. We aren’t “tech-enabled” anymore, tech and digital are part of our day-to-day – they are in our blood at this point. If your company isn’t innately digital, it’s time for some serious catch-up. So, are you a digital company driving towards innovation, or are you just “doing digital?”

Innovation Isn’t Just About Digital

Innovation isn’t just about digital; it’s about people. Keep people at the heart of everything that you do. Whether they are your customers or your employees, they are the reason that your business exists. Remember to do your audience personas, customer journey mapping, and focus groups to empathize with your customers. Build a company culture where your employees want to stay, thrive, and innovate. If you create an open canvas for your employees to create, you’ll always be driving towards innovation and creativity.

“When companies struggle with innovation, what they are really struggling with is a leadership team that has created a sterile and censored environment.” – Falguni Desai

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