How To Fail At Digital Marketing


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This first post in the series “How To Fail at Digital Marketing” introduces the core problem

organizations have in succeeding in their digital marketing efforts.

Every success is unique. Failures, however, are all the same – the inabilty to meet one’s goals.” – unknown

The vast majority of online marketing efforts are unable to accomplish results that return on the time, money and resources invested. Negative ROI is failure, and most digital marketing efforts are failing – predictably. What separates the organizations that fail from those that have developed effective, efficient and elegant digital marketing systems that increase reach, relevance and revenue? The difference comes down to a handful of qualities that will make or break your online marketing efforts.

Over the last decade, no industry has grown as fast or evolved as rapidly as that of online marketing. The proliferation of person computers and mobile devices, adoption rates of internet users, and bottom-line revenues have made for an interesting career in the wild wild web. During this time, I was fortunate enough to be exposed to a variety of environments, philosophies, and tactics. In the beginning, network advertising plays that benefited from scalable technology and attention to algorithmic exploits were the rage. Later, the development world, learning enough language to pass as a native and start a business slinging web sites and community platforms. Next came the technical approach, working to optimize architecture, source and signals to please the machines that determine the fate of businesses online.

Then things got complicated.

Over the last few years, the demands on digital marketing agencies and service providers has grown exponentially. No longer can a firm that specializes in one particular tactic (SEO, PPC, Email, etc) can be particularly effective independently of the bigger picture of online marketing. Search can be influenced by social, social demands content, PR is magnified through social, and all things have to measured independently and collectively. An effective digital marketing strategy manges multiple factors, demands a holistic strategy, and only really succeeds as a gestalt.

Succeeding in your digital marketing efforts requires that the whole be significantly greater than the sum of its parts. An approach that focuses on optimization of your marketing as a whole creates the opportunity to develop an effective, efficient and elegant solution. The (more common) alternative is a kludge- A poorly designed solution that is clumsy, inelegant, difficult to extend, scale or maintain. Tactical kludges are why organizations so regularly fail at digital marketing. The even greater shame is that many of them don’t even know they are failing. They have been beguiled by rankings, followers, hits and likes, not knowing the difference between symptoms and causes of success. They have not been informed, educated or encouraged to demand accountability and stewardship. This is partly the fault of the vendors who have fabricated value around packages that are easy to sell, and metrics that are easy to manipulate, but ultimately the responsibility lies with the purchasing party. Caveat Emptor.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Aaron Douglas
With seven years of website development experience and more than ten years of social psychology training, Aaron's life's work has been to help people and brands become better versions of themselves.


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