Digital has not been good for marketing and let me explain why…

Marketing, or at least good marketing is built on top of a solid understanding of your customer. The customer is, and always should be, at the heart of any marketing activity you do as a business as ultimately your ability to understand customer needs and meeting them are what makes a business successful or not. Digital has revolutionised how businesses approach their marketing and not always for the better.

I have been in digital marketing for a while now and have seen the industry emerge and totally change how businesses approach things. Some businesses have really gained from this revolution and some have yet to understand it. Companies have made a number of mistakes during this digital age, here are some I have observed.

Some companies wanted to be first to the table. It is generally a good thing to be the innovator, but sadly there was too much haste not enough thought. The line of thinking was more “how can I use this technology” , rather than “would my customer benefit from us using it?” The core marketing principles were forgotten as companies scrambled to get on social media, send emails, run PPC. It has been an era of “use the technology” rather than “help your customer with technology”.

Some businesses saw digital as a broadcast channel. Digital has allowed mass communication at the click of a button for a lot less than direct mail. Companies excited about the prospect of reaching more customers for less cost got carried away. Click… and off they went. Millions of emails sent, weekly, often daily to the full database. Just because digital allows it doesn’t mean you should do it!

Google is amazing. I love it. However the early versions of its algorithm were also hugely detrimental to the core values of marketing. Google rewarded the most techy person in the room, not the smartest, most customer-focused person. Search marketing went through a phase of being run by techies not marketeers. You don’t put your IT department in charge of your customer communications… it is just dangerous, for all concerned!

Fortunately, these times are a changin’. The last 12 months have seen some really interesting changes in the sector. Changes that have set digital marketing back on track, I am pleased to say. Google no longer just rewards technical loopholes, its latest algorithms have been created to try and reward the people who actually try and understand their customers needs and deliver useful relevant information on the site and via social media channels. There are still technical requirements of course, but Google has gone to great lengths to discourage and even penalise those who try and manipulate the system and not focus on the customer.

Great news for marketers and an exciting prospect for people who embrace the customers needs. The industry has gone full circle, its now back to good old fashioned digital marketing.