DIGITAL IS A CHANNEL – NOT A STRATEGY
Since the onslaught of digital, you can barely look in the direction of a marketing professional or publication without being hit with a lot of hype about how awesome digital marketing is and how it is really the only “strategy” you need. Marketers continue to invest heavily in digital, at the expense of ignoring basic marketing fundamentals, and that is a huge mistake.
Digital marketing is a channel, like direct mail, print advertising, billboards, door hangers, events, social media, door to door, and other channels marketing professionals use to meet their target audiences where they are most receptive. Digital marketing is NOT a strategy, and if you rely on digital to be the only way you reach your customers, you are ignoring the tried and true marketing principal of media neutrality. That is, no channels should be prioritized before the appropriate market research, brand platform development and a marketing strategy have been formulated. To be digitally led is to put the tactical cart before the strategic horse.
What’s more concerning, is the value of digital channels has been questionable at best. In the past few years, click through rates have fallen (0.06 percent), fraud is rampant, and ad blocking is on the rise. Facebook was recently found to be overstating some of its metrics by 80%. In addition, a 2016 study by the AMA showed that more than 88% of its marketing executives couldn’t prove any ROI of their social media marketing.
It’s inevitable that digital channels will continue to be used in brand building and direct response marketing campaigns, given their continual presence in our daily lives. But, we should remember that they are just channels like any other, and will not be successful in isolation.
As the legendary advertising man, Bill Bernbach, once said: “It took millions of years for man’s instincts to develop. It will take millions more for them to even vary. A communicator must be concerned with unchanging man.”