Client on-boarding 101: clarifying misconceptions about digital marketing

Jul 20, 2015Marketing Strategy


When you use the term “digital marketing”, you could really mean a number of very different (yet related) things. Digital marketing could be web, it could mean social media, you could be talking about paid marketing or organic. Digital marketing means a lot of things to a lot of people, and with such breadth comes confusion and misconceptions.

I give you my list of the Twelve Common Misconceptions About Digital Marketing:

Digital marketing should completely replace traditional marketing channels.

Most organizations will still need a mix of marketing tactics and channels, but that mix may vary. Your “blend” may be 50 / 50 traditional and digital marketing or it may be 80 / 20 depending on your organizational culture, your customer preference, your sales cycle and more. There is no one-size-fits all mix when it comes to how much you spend on digital vs traditional marketing.

There can be such a thing as “too much” for just about everything, and that includes digital marketing as well.

Your digital marketing project can be done with expertise, on-time and inexpensively.

A very wise man once told me that in digital, you’ve got three forces at work: cost, time and quality. You can only pick two. If you want it done quickly, then either quality or cost must be sacrificed. Want it done cheaply? Then quality or time will take a hit. If anyone tries to tell you this is not the case, I strongly suspect you’ll end up learning the hard way.

Changing my mind about something digital shouldn’t cost me extra money.

Just as much or even perhaps more so in digital, change costs money. If you define a project and begin the design and build phase and something needs to change, in digital marketing those changes can have far-reaching impacts. Technologies in play in some digital marketing channels are highly complex and intricate systems. One wrong character in the wrong piece of code can quite literally be the difference between functional and not.

If you decide you need to change direction with a digital project, expect that there will be costs.

Everyone involved in digital marketing knows SEO.

I follow a lot of bloggers and agencies in the digital space. Some have specializations here and there – UX and design, .NET build, PPC optimization, but it seems like everyone out there is an expert in SEO. I can say with a great deal of confidence that knowledge in SEO is something that’s extremely difficult to quantify. The details of SEO best practices are constantly shifting, and while the core of what constitutes “good SEO” remains and will likely not change, the outskirts of SEO are rapidly shifting.

Unless you’re working with a global digital agency that clearly has staff specializing in multiple disciplines, I’d approach those that claim expertise in any more than a few different areas of digital marketing.

SEO OCD Name Tag

I don’t sell anything on my website, therefore calls to action (CTA) aren’t important.

I wrote an entire blog post on this one. But no. You don’t have to accept payments on your website for me to consider your site eCommerce. You’re “selling” something on your site even if you don’t sell things, aren’t you? Even if your website isn’t transactional in the traditional sense, it still should be as transactional as you can make it. Calls to action are still relevant, just not to purchase something.

You can read my thoughts on the topic in more detail here.

Digital strategy and digital project management are the same skill set.

While both are advanced digital skill sets, I’d say they’re actually directly opposed to each other in a number of ways. You can’t adequately think about the project if you’re too busy worrying about the nuts & bolts. While on the other hand, you can’t focus on timelines if your “head is in the clouds”, thinking about the long-term strategy. Both skill sets can most definitely be held by the same person, but they really should be separated on anything but small to medium digital engagements.

If you’re running a digital team, I encourage you to staff appropriately when it comes to strategy and project management.

You can measure everything in digital marketing

You can, if you have the tools in place, the data captured and the skill sets to interpret that data. But measuring and interpreting are far different challenges and you can’t assume that all technology platforms are equipped “out of the box” to provide you the data you’ll need to make informed, timely decisions. Know the technologies you’re deploying including both their strengths and short-comings.

The same thing that worked for a competitor will work for my organization.

I see this a lot, especially in healthcare. It’s not uncommon for organizations in many industries to examine the tactics they feel the competition is succeeding at and replicate those tactics. Sometimes, what’s good for one business may not be good for the other, though. When you consider lead times to roll out digital marketing efforts and how quickly times change, that alone may be a factor that determines success or failure. First to market can be a huge differentiating factor when it comes to digital.

Timelines aside, organizations can also have different perceptions in the community, different organizational cultures, variations in customer target markets and still other factors that influence the ability to market to a particular segment, in a certain channel or with specific messaging. One size does not fit all in digital marketing.

3 Reasons to Include Digital in Healthcare Marketing

If you’re skilled at digital marketing you can fix my computer.

Dad? Is that you?

Digital marketing should be 100% outsourced by most companies.

I hear this a lot, especially with small businesses. There are companies out there that can help small businesses with all aspects of digital – from email marketing to social media, web development to marketing automation. You can be working with experts in each of these fields, but you still have to know the organization, the customer and the value proposition of the organization in order to be successful. That doesn’t mean you have to have a digital marketing strategist on payroll at your small business, but if you leave the details up to the experts, with no expertise about your business added to the equation I can’t help but feel you’ll end up missing something.

Digital marketing strategy is the responsibility of marketing.

So much of digital marketing now ties into core IT infrastructure and projects, the “line” once drawn between Marketing and IT has become very blurry. Digital strategies are no longer the exclusive domains of CMO’s, just like technology platform decisions are no longer the exclusive domains of CTO’s or CIO’s.

In reality, it’s never been more critical for c-level executives of both divisions to work together to define the overall digital direction of an organization. If your CMO and CTO aren’t meeting at least monthly, then expect there to be silos, waste and confusion in your digital future.

Digital marketing campaigns can be executed without the support of the IT department.

While the skills required to execute on the digital tactics in a marketing campaign may exist within a marketing department, often times the skills required to setup the infrastructure that delivers the campaigns, acquires and stores the data and provides the reporting and analytics still must come in partnership with IT teams. After all, getting the campaign “out there” is barely even half the work in a digital campaign.

What do you think?

What other common misconceptions about digital marketing have you encountered? Share them in the comments below.

Here are a few like-minded blog posts:

Four Days In Chicago – A Photo Memoir

Four Days In Chicago – A Photo Memoir

I visited Chicago, Illinois in May of 2019. I stayed at the Sheraton Grand, went to a Cub’s game, explored the Riverwalk and ate at some fantastic restaurants. Here’s my trip in photos.

Family Trip Ideas for Teens

Family Trip Ideas for Teens

Now Available: Luminar AI Powerful. Simple. Affordable. Skylum Luminar is my go-to photo editing software. Be sure to use discount code DADTOGRAPHY for $10 off!Teenagers can be a tough crowd to please, especially when it comes to family travel. I don't know about your...

Review: “Better Than Sex” Restaurant

Review: “Better Than Sex” Restaurant

Now Available: Luminar AI Simple. Powerful. Affordable. Luminar is my go-to photo editing software for all those "back yard" photo shoots. Be sure to use discount code DADTOGRAPHY for $10 off!The following is a 100% authentic, 100% real review. I was not provided...

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This