Digital Marketing Myths: Fact or Fiction?

Assuming you haven’t just woken up from a 20-year nap, you’re probably well aware of the prevalence and power of digital marketing. If you’re a consumer, you’ve noticed “banners” on websites, boosted and paid social media posts, and ads that follow you across different sites and apps. If you’re a marketing professional, you’ve hopefully been educated and trained on best practices, efficacy, and the return on investment various digital mediums can provide. That said, digital marketing is an extremely broad and ever-evolving concept. It is easy to get confused about what it encompasses, and when it’s effective. There are also plenty of myths that bounce around trade blogs, conferences, and social accounts. To try to help you separate the facts and the fiction, let’s look at some common digital marketing myths.

I Should Have a Presence on as Many Platforms as Possible

FICTION! Look, whether you sell thimbles, neckties, or CBD oil, it is indeed crucial to have a social media presence. However, a social media presence is only effective if you can get good reach and provide meaningful content to existing and potential customers. The target audiences for thimbles, neckties, and CBD oil are all quite different. Chances are, the thimble customer is more likely to be looking at craft pages on Pinterest or Etsy than on LinkedIn. The necktie customer is probably on LinkedIn, but not Pinterest. The CBD oil customer may prefer Instagram and Twitter, in fact there are several examples of businesses in this category having great success doing just that. The point is, your social presence is only effective if it reaches the right people.

It’s also only as good as your ability to maintain it. Let’s say you have one social lead juggling accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and the newest platform that just came into existence yesterday. Chances are, they are not able to monitor and engage with all those accounts. It’s far better to focus on the three, two, or one, that line up with your core and target customers than to spread yourself too thin and not offer anything of value to your followers.

The More Money I Spend on Digital, The More Sales I’ll See

FICTION! Like any other media buy, you must be smart and methodical with your strategy, and therefore, your dollars. If you have a limitless advertising budget, it might be possible to accomplish your goals simply by throwing as much money as you can at every platform. However, that’s a pretty extreme circumstance, and you don’t need an MBA to know that a limited budget backed by poor strategy is not a good way to generate revenue.

A bigger digital budget will certainly increase your reach, there’s no denying that. But reach without targeting is an uphill battle to convert eyeballs to sales. The greatest asset digital marketing provides is its ability to let you pinpoint your target audience. This can be done geographically, socio-economically, by age, or gender, among several other sub-categories. The money needs to be supported by a strategy of hitting the people who are likely to engage with your ads and buy your product.

This is also a good time to look at another tenet of successful advertising: your creative. If your messaging and design are ineffective, money, reach, and frequency won’t save you. Your producers need to understand how people engage with the different digital platforms to churn out optimized videos, banners, and graphics. For example, the bulk of Facebook users scroll through their feed on smartphones. They’ve also likely changed their settings to not have audio play automatically on the videos that come through on their timelines. This means that a video producer who is accustomed to shooting widescreen commercials needs to re-frame their approach to make square videos that will be as prominent on a smartphone screen as possible. They should also include captions. The visuals must be immediately striking to be “thumbstoppers;” no time for slow builds. The basic rules of design, copy writing and production all still apply, but research must be done on effective strategies for each platform.

Digital Marketing is The Only Media I Need to Buy

FICTION AGAIN! I know we just talked about the power and precision targeting that digital marketing provides. It would have been the ad buyer’s ultimate fantasy a generation ago. While it’s arguable that digital has ascended to become the dominant advertising channel, that doesn’t mean traditional media can be ignored. You didn’t throw out your TV and radio the second you saw your first YouTube pre-roll ad, did you? You haven’t stopped driving by billboards, have you? Traditional media still delivers. It’s up to you to evaluate which mediums will hit your goals (just like you evaluate which social platforms will do so as well.) Work with your account executives in broadcast, print, and radio. Leverage the fact that you’re considering diverting some of the budget you would normally spend with them towards digital. They may give you better rates, bonus spots, or even be able to offer digital products and social management to you. Many larger media corporations have gotten into this business to stay competitive.

Content, and Content Marketing, are Important

FACT! Earlier, we talked about “meaningful content.” It’s crucial to understand what people who follow businesses on social media or subscribe to their email lists are looking for. Your first instinct might be to think that they want information about new products, promotional deals and sales. That is certainly true, but that only applies to certain retail business models. What your audience truly craves and responds to is useful information. You could tell them all the specs of the hammer you’re selling, from the type of wood in the handle to the weight of the metal head. Or, you could tell them how to use the hammer to repair a broken window frame with a DIY video that sprinkles this information in. This is the essence of content marketing, and great brands know it needs to be a cornerstone of their digital media strategy.

Digital marketing is a wide-open landscape, but at the end of the day, it is simply another medium for ad buyers to evaluate and consider. Choose to use it if it’s right for your business, but always keep these principles in mind.