Collapsing myths in digital marketing

Paraphrasing my colleague Eric Peterson, I’ll do my part to demystify, in this case, the digital marketing. We are all talking about how wonderful and beneficial it is, for both online and offline. Everything that it is online is cool, is the future, offline it’s old fashion, the past, something that sooner or later will be done, finished, and we are gonna be all happy about that. As we say this kind of things we are reading the newspaper (the “offline” version), watching tv and listening the radio. If we lose the cable signal, we don’t receive the newspaper or the radio signal has some noise we have an instant nervous breakdown!

when we, the people that work in “digital marketing”, receive the information about the share of online ad investment from the past year, and the forecasting of the next year, we get angry, outraged! How can be possible that something that wonderful, the new big thing, the coolest ad stuff, is getting less money from advertising (at least in most of the countries) than the old stuff and unattractive tv?! are we all nuts?? Are the CEOs and CMOs stupid?? And we probably shoot some brillant phrases like “These bureaucrats are still managing the companies like they did 50 years ago!!!”…”however those problems will be solved when younger managers achieve those positions, they will definitely will understand the POWER of the internet!

Let’s see what it is beyond all this problem…the myths

1. Internet is the only media where everything can me measure: First of all, not everything in “the internet” can be measure. You have a lot, tons of information that can be measure as well as a lot that can’t be measure and some other tons of data that even when can be measure the cost of doing it is higher than the benefits of the information itself (decision-making and follow up).

I was talking with people from retailing from Latin America and they told me that they know when a TV advertising is not displayed because the get an slowdown in sales at their retails. That sounds very clever, isn’t it? What’s more important for a company that, like any company, is looking to increase their benefits or results, get the information about the number of pageviews, bounce rate and time on page, or having the information that when the invest X in TV they get Y in extraordinary sales in their retails? They don’t pay salaries with pageviews, likes or followers, they pay their salaries with money. Having information is not a problem today, managers today are drowning in data. They are drowning in data and our best brillant idea is giving the MORE information!!! What a stupid thing! They are on the edge of the abyss and we kick them forward…very clever :-)

How many companies has the culture that their people before start looking for information they first write their questions in a piece of paper? How many, instead, have the culture of staying hours in front of the closer information platform or source looking what information can be useful? Wasting their time and leaving the information tool some hours later trying to remember why they did that with a bittersweet taste in their mouths. That is exactly drowning in data…

2. Just online is the future: In the same way that the radio hasn’t disappeared because of the television, the television and the other “offline” media will not disappear because of the internet. Is totally normal that the media. All the media are constantly changing, that’s normal, but saying that a media that is selected by millons of people around the world will disappear…that’s totally different. Whey would a powerful media as television will disappear? Remember the example of the retainers mentioned in the first Myth? I’m an entrepreneur and I don’t care how cool is Facebook, if I increase today or tomorrow’s company results with a flyer, then I’ll invest in flyers. Come on, who cares how cool can be a media? The important thing is the result that it can generate for the company. I’m not talking just about money (the present result), but user experience, service, etc (the future result). Me, as an entrepreneur, prefer the future just when I the future is secured. I don’t care about the future if my company will not there when it cames along :-) . If the ROI of a flyer is attractive and it has no negative impact to my company image, then I’ll definitely go for the flyer and I’ll remember about Facebook and Twitter when it worthwhile.

Companies shouldn’t invest in something just because it’s cool of the future or “because you have to be there”, instead, because that investment allow them to increase the company’s result, today or in the future. Companies don’t pay their salaries with Likes or followers, no matter how cool or sophisticated they are.

3. Marketing online vs marketing offline: Strategically talking this classification is totally absurd. Marketing are the actions focused on generating demand, present of future, for a product or service of a particular company or brand. Ergo, every company has just one marketing objetive and one strategy. Then you have the operative marketing, what it is, how you execute the strategy through every particular marketing channel. So the decision of which channel is best is related on which one allow the company achieving its objetive more effectively, if the answer is the flyer, then welcome the flyer! if the answer is paid search, welcome paid search!

4. Managers have no idea about internet: The main objetive of a Top Manager, the C level, is to ensure the maximum present and future benefits. Present = Sales(Benefits), Futuro = Client support + Product Quality + User/Client Experience + Brand Positioning +…etc. (at least that’s the way I’d like it be in a company that I would work). So what a CEO need to report is information that allow the Stockholders and the board of directors to know if he is making the company improve its current or future situation.

So instead of thinking that the CEO is a dinosaur, why we don’t think that we are reporting them totally useless information like likes, followers, bounce rate, etc. Why useless? Because he has no idea about the operations (the company can have 1 or 1000 websites, that’s operations and is responsibility of the mid management),  because he can make any decision with that information and because nobody measures him based on that. So our challenge as digital analysts is providing each person in the organization with information that allow them making decisions or controlling how things are going, so before starting a report write a piece of paper with the questions it has to answer and before delivering it read the question and try to answer it with your report, without inferences, just with the provided information.

A 30 slides report with metrics like pageviews, bounces and registrations is completely inert. More pageviews is not equal to more income per advertising. Sales are not equal to received money. Today money is not equal to money in 8 months.

5. You have to be in social media: No, you don’t have to be anywhere, unless it complies with the premise “Earning more money today” or “Earning more money tomorrow”. I’m not saying this with avarice but totally the other way around. If the company earns money can generate employment, a nice work environment, etc. You don’t HAVE to be in social media, you CAN be in social media is this operative channel is a useful one to implement your company’s strategy.

6. Big data is the salvation: Big data, are the techniques focused on capture, curation, storing, search, population, analysis and visualization of data, in cases where due to the high level of data is totally impossible the manual handle of them. However those techniques don’t improve human capacity of finding insights, ergo, it doesn’t matter how good are you handling big data platforms but how good are you analyzing it. Bid data platforms and techniques are very helpful, makes your job easier and improve the dynamism but if you don’t focus on answering questions, big data instead of helping you it will sink you.

Big data is not the salvation, humans are the salvation. We have the unique and creative capacity of finding insights in tons of data. Computers are clumsy and bureaucratic (but are great repeating things, something that humans are terrible doing), so don’t try to find the answer where there are no answers.

I could definitely add another myth, but you know “7 myths” makes me feel like a cliche Character… :-)

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