Digital marketing is a double-edged sword.

Roger Edwards - speaker and blogger for Hashtag Events


On the plus side, it’s been a boon for companies all over the world. Digital technology has made marketing communications more accessible to more businesses for less investment than at any time in history.

It’s revolutionised how companies and brands deliver communications messages to customers. It’s made it easier and more cost-effective than ever to target an advert at a specific group of customers. Techniques once only available to big corporates with eye-watering budgets are now within reach of those with a few pounds to spend as well as those with many millions.

We can’t underestimate how incredible an opportunity this has been but there’ve been a few negative consequences. Marketing experts speaking at conferences, authors and social media influences have concentrated on digital marketing tactics like SEO, email lists and social media adverts and this has damaged the wider marketing discipline at the same time it has opened communications to all budgets.

It’s made marketing less customer focussed and more annoying.

It may even have made marketing scarier for people and companies who are not experts in marketing. Many of the companies I work with don’t have marketing departments. They may not have people who are marketing trained. They may have people who “do marketing” as a part of their job. For these people, it can be hard to get their head around all this talk about SEO, pay per click, email lists, funnels, and lead magnets.

Let’s look at these consequences in a bit more detail.

Firstly, to many people, today marketing just means communications/advertising/social media/promotion. Marketing is the SAME as advertising. We’ve forgotten about the wider discipline. We started talking less about customer research, products and price and more about SEO, clicks and likes.

Secondly, it’s become a scary mish mash of technology, jargon and hype. SEO. Keywords. Lead magnets. Email lists. Funnels.

I recently had a conversation with a client who was getting quite anxious because she didn’t have a digital marketing funnel and seemed quite relieved when I told her, that in her business, it wasn’t necessary.

And thirdly, in some respects, it’s become intrusive. Annoying. Enraging. Endless emails, pop up adverts that prevent you from reading an article or watching a video. Are enraging communications are happening because the people who send them aren’t thinking about customer needs anymore, only successful calls to action. And because digital communications are so easy for anyone to put together now.

How do we fix these problems and continue to benefit from the advantages of digital technology?

We must start talking about the whole marketing mix again, rather than just the digital tactics of communication.

That means developing a deep, almost obsessive, understanding of the customer and then putting together and articulating clear a standout offering, and marrying these up with a set of exciting goals. Do all of these things before looking at the digital tactics of communication.

Secondly, put everything through a simplicity filter. Can you explain your product and service in simple language? No jargon or gobbledegook? Ignore the technical talk about SEO and funnels (and don’t be lured into buying too good to be true, so-called solutions, which thrive upon such technical talk).

And finally, concentrate on engaging rather than enraging your customers. How can you help them with your promotions and content? Answering their questions using content? Give them all the information you can about your product/service versus your competitors, including price?

I use this mantra. If, as a customer myself, I don’t like all that intrusive, annoying advertising, why would I think it was okay to do that to my customers?

By starting to talk about the whole discipline again, whether that’s at conferences or in articles and videos, by starting to think about the customer, products and price as well as SEO, clicks and likes we can put the customer back in the spotlight.

Better customer focus. Engaged rather than enraged customers. And of course, all of that means more success for our businesses.

I look forward to looking at these ideas with you in more detail at future Hashtag Events.

Article written and provided exclusively by Roger Edwards.