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Are We Making Money At Digital Marketing – Or Losing It?
Digital marketing has long been heralded as the promised land for brands everywhere. In fact, Magna Global recently issued a report indicating that digital media spend is expected to increase by $20 billion to $140 billion, or 27 percent of the global market, this year. This isn’t a surprise, given the expectations of incandescent brand impact.
Done right, digital assets can ignite the kind of engagement that turns into sales. Beyond simply consuming content, leads and customers can provide reviews and comments, share content through social media pages, find product information and participate in interactive digital communities.
It’s measurable, too, with convenient analytics that track traffic, click-throughs, conversions and other real-time results. If you want to change a campaign, you can go ahead and do it without being stuck with boxes of printed materials. Then there’s the power of data segmentation, which lets you turn a sea of customers into specific and actionable categories.
With all of those benefits, you might assume that digital is a no brainer, regardless of what you’re selling. Yet marketers with digital dollar signs in their eyes are rarely prepared for the development costs, time on analysis, and myriad inefficiencies involved. In fact, digital presents an odd conundrum. If you aren’t riding the crest of the digital wave, your brand isn’t staying competitive. Yet if you do plunge into a full-scale digital program, it’s incredibly expensive – so much so that you may not make the money you expected. You might even lose it.
The Myths Of Digital Marketing
Part of the problem is that several pernicious myths surround the topic of digital promotion. Unprepared for the challenges, many marketers try to use old approaches in this new paradigm. Often they get entangled in unexpected costs because they were told the following fallacies:
• Digital Is Easy. The digital age has brought us many conveniences, so it’s natural to think that creating digital campaigns would be simple. But unless you have the most advanced tools, each campaign is time-consuming, labor-intensive work, often accompanied by development snags. To collect data, build assets and synchronize campaigns across channels, many teams are forced to keep hiring more developers, engineers and digital designers.
• Digital Levels The Playing Field. It’s true that clever strategy can take a small company far in the digital landscape – but budget differences between enterprises and small businesses still have an effect on marketing. Often smaller companies can’t afford the staff required, while agencies spend more resources than they planned on ironing out technical struggles. Unleashing a continuous flow of polished multi-channel content is still an enterprise game more often than not, without the right platforms.
• Digital Offers Creative Control. While digital campaigns can be done creatively, most businesses find their work is trapped in templates that make them look identical to every other brand. All too often the marketing team doesn’t understand the technology and the developers don’t grasp the nuances of copy, design and strategy in powerful campaigns. The disconnection between creative strategy and technical capabilities leads to bland digital assets that nullify brand identity.
• Digital Is Inexpensive. At first glance, digital looks cost-effective. You get to replace pricey channels like print and television ads and glossy company literature. Then development costs tend to go higher than expected, while results from paid media on Facebook and Instagram tend to fall below expectations. To stay competitive, you need to produce an ongoing flow of new digital campaigns across channels, collecting more data to break those campaigns into even more targeted campaigns – which means hiring even more people.
Making Money With Digital Campaigns
It’s time that we talked openly of these challenges – and shared solutions for turning costly campaigns into profitable marketing. The reality is that brands can launch innovative digital campaigns in a cost-effective ways. But breaking free from expensive development cycles and bland templates requires the right tools and the right approach.
To start, marketers need to stop relying on manual processes. That’s an outdated paradigm that just doesn’t work in the digital age. Instead of hiring more and more teams to manually create and manage campaigns, you need digital tools that can automate tedious development tasks like engineering, data collection, and platform synchronization.
That is the only way to make digital as simple as everyone expects. No, it still won’t qualify as “easy” – but it will be faster and most cost-effective than relying on manual help. It’s also the best way to finally help businesses compete with their larger competitors. Even small marketing teams will be able to capture deep insights, modify campaigns on the fly, and create a new round of targeted messages with just a click.
As for creative control, only now are recent technologies moving beyond the rigid templates of the past. So yes, it’s possible to develop customized creative assets that reflect your business objectives, but you’ll need to turn to Next Generation tools to enjoy that power. Only then will you be able to create truly unique content that stands out from the competition’s marketing, and launch it across social, mobile, and digital channels, synchronized for maximum impact.
There are two truths every marketer should take away from this. As it’s currently practiced, digital marketing isn’t nearly as easy or inexpensive as most teams are told. In fact, many brands are losing money on their campaigns. Yet there is a path to real digital power and it involves fusing strategic creativity with technical ingenuity. By adopting new tools and a new approach, marketers can eradicate the difficulties of traditional digital development and achieve the kind of ROI that transforms both brand reputations and bottom lines.
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.