What is meant by the term “digital marketing”?  It is the question that few now dare ask yet very few, in my experience, actually understand. So, in the privacy of your own computer screen, below I hope to correct any misunderstandings you have.

1. Digital marketing is just another way of describing “Social Media’’

Social media is a hugely important aspect of digital marketing but it is far broader than that. Digital marketing includes anything that makes use of smartphones, tablets, computers, game consoles, electronic billboards as well as radio and television. Within these tools digital marketing takes many different forms, from websites for mobile platforms, to personalised emails and interactive adverts.

2. Digital marketing is technical and should be the responsibility of the techies

The technology is merely a (usually very simple to use) tool to reach and engage people in a product or service. It is a marketing skill not a technical one.

3. Digital marketing is not relevant to small businesses

Digital marketing gives you the chance to communicate with customers (without a call centre), to sell directly (without the expense of a shop) and to engage and research customers’ preferences (without employing a market research company). Digital marketing gives small businesses the tools which, in the past, were only available to businesses with big budgets.

As a small company you can react on social media in minutes and tailor messages for local customers that will engage them. This is something that large businesses often struggle with, when even a tweet has to go through numerous approval processes and are often written centrally.

4.Digital marketing should be a separate part of the company’s strategy

Like all marketing, digital marketing has to be fully integrated with the business strategy. Most companies now recognise that their website is their ‘shop window’ and few companies would put out a press release without giving careful consideration to the messages that it contained and the impression it gives of the company.

However, social media is part of that shop window and it too is a public communication. With most people now using social media, it is more likely that a company’s personality will be judged on their presence and interaction (or lack of interaction), there than anywhere else.

5. Digital marketing is difficult to track or measure

With today’s apps and digital capability there is more up-to-date, real-time data than ever before and it’s easily accessible and available. For example, if you post on Twitter or Facebook you can check your website analytics to see if there has been a spike in the number of unique visitors to your site. Things like Google analytics are now readily available and most social networking sites offer their own form of analysis.

6. Digital marketing can be left to an enthusiastic junior employee to look after

Digital marketing has to be embraced by people at all levels in a company. Young, inexperienced people will often understand the mechanics really well so will have a very valuable contribution to make, but do they know as much as you do about marketing and the sensitivities of your business?

7. Mobile optimisation of websites is unnecessary and expensive as people can easily zoom in on touch phones

People are now just as likely to access your website (often when on the move) on a smartphone or tablet as they are on a MAC or PC and will expect a professional site to be optimised for those devices. If it’s not they won’t bother struggling; they’ll click away to one of your competitors.If they find they have to use your site, they will probably be irritated by you and your attitude to your customers. Some companies insist their customers download an app instead.

Sometimes these can be useful but they should be an additional offer, they’re not an alternative to optimisation. It is now very easy and often free to optimise a website. The online web building tools normally now include it as standard.

8. It is too difficult to stand out from the crowd in digital marketing

Finding a way to stand out from the crowd applies to all marketing. You need a strategy and you need to research what competitors and others are doing. Learn from their mistakes and successes.

Respect your customers’ time and try to engage with them in a way that they will value. Appealing to the customer with exclusive offers, competitions or any chance to feel important and valued are all good ways of getting attention.

9. Digital marketing is not relevant when the target audience is older

That might have been true a few years ago but not any longer. The majority of over 65s are now online and the proportion is fast closing with the younger generation. More than a quarter of people aged over 55 now use social media to communicate with brands online (Brand Republic, 2012).

10. Digital marketing takes up too much time

All marketing takes time but digital marketing is one of the least time intensive tools. Social media will alert you to interactions and tools can be set up to monitor who, when and why consumers are accessing your media. You don’t have to spend your time online to make it a success.

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Nick James

Nick James


Nick James is Founder of Freshbusinessthinking.com.