Digital marketing is full of misconceptions. Here we look at 20 of the most persistent myths about marketing in the digital age.
Let’s get one bonus myth out of the way. Forget everyone who says digital marketing is the future. They’re the ones responsible for these myths. Digital marketing is the present.
Falling for any of the pernicious falsehoods being spread about digital marketing can be an expensive trip down a very deep hole. Have you heard any of these yet?
20.) SEO is dead.
It should be, but so long as there are search engines you want to be found in, SEO principles will continue to be relevant. SEO is very much alive, but you can’t game things as easily compared with just a few years ago. While a digital marketing strategy heavily reliant on SEO is probably a no-go today, it’s still a crucial part of any well-rounded marketing effort.
19.) You can automate everything.
While you will eventually need automation and scripts to be able to scale efficiently, there will always be instances where you will need to use your judgement. Customer retention practices for example, are difficult to purely automate effectively, as are some kinds of data analysis. Automation has its place, but plenty of situations still require human intervention.
18.) Not everyone needs social.
False. Every business these days needs to include social media strategy as part of their marketing — just not in the same way. You can set up accounts specific to just one part of your enterprise. You can even set them up specifically for one product or service.
Pfizer for instance, does not have a Facebook page for what is likely it’s most famous product –Viagra. If you were a Viagra user, would you want to be seen sharing your experiences so publicly? John Mack, editor and publisher of the Pharma Marketing News/Pharma Marketing Blog, says FDA regulations are a major hurdle for pharmaceutical brands on social media “Another factor has to do with reporting adverse events — as may be mentioned in social media conversations”.
Another exceptional case is Apple, which has no official Facebook or Twitter account, but it does run Twitter pages specific to many of its products. Note that these so-called “famous” examples of social media shirkers still use social media in some way. It’s also highly probable they look at unofficial pages of their own brands or their competitions to gauge the market.
17.) A website is all you need.
Not counting social pages, just having a website isn’t enough. It has to be designed in a way that leads to conversions or other desired outcomes for your brand. A website that has no unity of purpose or does not accurately portray your brand can arguably be worse than having no website at all.
16.) There’s a perfect way to do things.
Only in absolutely exceptional circumstances. Nearly everything we do in traditional or digital marketing is infinitely arguable. Nearly every action comes with its own set of trade-offs. But that shouldn’t stop you. A lot of the time, getting to within the ballpark of what you were shooting for is good enough. A campaign that does several things well enough over a sustained period is almost always better than one that does just one thing perfectly.
15.) Mobile users are useless for conversion.
At one point you might hear someone tell you that mobile users don’t convert as well compared to desktop users. This myth most likely comes from marketers who are unable to understand how people use different devices. Screens for most mobile devices are tiny, and therefore not conducive for the kind of convoluted form-filling so many enterprises seem to love throwing at our faces. Having a mobile-optimized version of your site and streamlined processes can go a long way toward helping you get conversions from mobile users.
14.) Big data is everything.
It’s all moot if you’re unable to interpret that data or use it in any meaningful way. We all have access to many of the same things, especially information. We have the same number of hours in a day. How is it businesses with access to the same things fare so differently from each other? The answer of course, lies not just in what they have, but also in how they use it.
13.) Only big websites need a web marketing strategy.
Absolutely false. You need at least some kind of strategy if you want to be able to achieve consistent results over the long term, no matter your size.
12.) You should be on all social media sites.
This really depends on what you need as well as the time you are able to commit to maintaining your accounts effectively. In most cases, your time is better spent focusing on just a few key sites than it is posting just anywhere you can.
The type of industry you belong to also dictates which sites are more or less useful. Should an insurance company have a Pinterest account? How about a cargo forwarder?
11.) Word count is important.
It is — but only up to a point. As it stands, search engines like Google seem to favor pages with at least a few hundred words, but not everything is a blog article and not everything is meant to be found on a search engine.
Photo sets, videos, graphs, sound clips can all be considered content, and social media is giving search a run for its money for sharing this kind of information. In any case, word count should never get in the way of quality. In many cases, quality suffers because some SEO nerd is trying to hit a specific word count, not deliver something useful.
10.) You can outsource all your coding.
This isn’t a myth exactly. You can but not without several caveats. Unless you are able to work closely with your contractor, you are unlikely to develop a site that closely matches what you actually need.
Having a team member who can code gives you several advantages. First, you get an idea of what is feasible and actually deliverable. Second, you’re better able to gauge how long certain projects will take. Third, even if that team member is not able to do all the needed coding themselves, they may still be able to implement necessary fixes on short time frame rarely possible with contracted coders.
9.) What you can’t measure is useless.
From a scale of 1-10, how would you rate this article? Using the same scale, how would you rate your mother’s love? Like anything else in life, digital marketing has aspects that are difficult or impractical to measure that are still critical to the overall well-being of the business. A brand’s value is one thing, as is the culture tied to it. The creativity and work ethic of your workforce is another, as is the delight you are able to deliver to your customers.
Sure, you can use a scorecard or some other method for gauging the value of such things, but in the end these will only give a general idea, almost certainly lacking in nuance. That doesn’t mean you should disregard them, whether online or not.
8.) You have to be a techie to try digital marketing.
Like with anything else, getting started with digital marketing requires an adjustment period to learn and get accustomed to everything, but the time you need to get the basics down is incredibly short. If you understand how your customers use marketing, you’re already most of the way there!
7.) You can expect results right away.
If you plan on starting an online marketing campaign, in most cases it’s best to give things a few weeks or a few months before you expect any results. It’s true that you can get clicks or conversions very soon after launching a digital marketing campaign, but these incidences tend to be either flukes, or are outright unsustainable. More often, lasting success comes not from sporadic big wins but several small ones over a long period of time. But who knows? You might get lucky!
6.) You can ditch real world marketing.
As we mentioned in a previous post, digital media works hand-in-hand with traditional methods. To rely on just one or the other instead of using both in concert, just doesn’t make sense in the majority of cases. Regardless of what naysayers say, someone who has a good quality business card will always have an edge over someone who doesn’t.
5.) Get clicks at any cost!
Clicks are utterly pointless if they don’t eventually lead to real conversions. Digital marketing has to work in all parts of the sales funnel. This means your digital campaign needs to attract potential customers at the top, guide them through the processes and retain them in the middle, and seal the deal at the bottom of the funnel.
4.) It’s a good idea to focus on top PPC keywords.
This is only true if you have the money to throw at a sustained PPC campaign, and know what you’re doing. You can easily burn thousands of dollars in a few hours with no conversions to show for it. People also tend to ignore sponsored ads, which isn’t surprising because plenty of marketers don’t understand what their audiences actually want before they launch a PPC campaign.
3.) SEO = Google
The next time someone tells you that they know SEO, give them a simple test. Ask them how to rank for Amazon, or Pinterest. Heck, ask them how to rank for Bing. If they squirm, it probably means they don’t actually understand the underlying principles of SEO. Google may be the biggest search engine, but it’s not the only one in town. Facebook and Twitter have internal search engines, as do most other social media sites that hold a virtual captive audience. Every single major e-commerce site or portal also has search engines.
Granted, there’s little information to understand how these systems work compared to that for Google, but any SEO expert actually worth employing should be able to give you some idea on how you might be a little more visible on those other platforms, given time.
2.) Keyword repetition works. Keyword repetition works.
Not for the past five or so years, it hasn’t. At least not in the way you might think. As a matter of fact, the wrong kind of repetition could actually cause a downgrade of your rankings on Google and other search engines.
Some repetition of important keywords and their variations is necessary for helping most search engines get an idea of what a page is about. How much? With automatically updated algorithms, it’s probable no one really knows for sure, but it’s safe to say you shouldn’t be spamming the whole page with the same keywords over and over. In any case you should always create content for people, not for an algorithm.
1.) Digital marketing is useless for B2B
If that were true, we would have gone out of business a decade ago! Digital marketing definitely works in a business-to-business context. It’s strange that we often forget businesses are made up of people too. The next pair of eyes that see your pages may very well belong to a business owner or a CEO. How you manage digital marketing efforts can affect how potential clients of any size perceive your credibility, your capabilities, and how good of a match you both are.
What other digital marketing myths do you keep hearing about? Comment below!
Arthur Piccio is a feature writer and subject matter expert for theUPrinting Blog.