Digital Marketing

The Alarming Truth About Digital Marketing’s Imperfections

A One Legged Stool

wasreunloaded 370c397276 pixels 300x187 The Alarming Truth About Digital Marketings ImperfectionsThere’s no question the Internet has been good to me. The last two jobs I had before getting involved in Internet marketing in 1994 were spokesman for the Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections (prison tours), and marketing director for Waste Management (landfill tours). I prefer this gig as it is smell and horror-free.

I’ve been doing the Internet thing long enough, however, that my hype detector is finely honed (when I hear the words “designer dog” my nose runs). And lately, the more I read about this new online boom, the more Kleenex I grab.

No question, online marketing has many enticing characteristics like trackability, ease of implementation, and targeting (all of which I’ve chronicled in these pages). But I’ve witnessed more than a handful of conversations recently where clients and even agencies have pondered “maybe we should only do online?”

The Internet Isn’t Magic

That chalk mark on the ground? That’s the line between enthusiasm and crazy, and you just crossed it. People are being lured into an illusory sense that just because it’s digital, it defies the laws of marketing. That just because a trial campaign was boffo, a 400% increase in budget should yield a commensurate increase in results.

There are a few, highly targeted businesses – especially those that operate only online – that can succeed with a purely digital marketing approach. But for most real world companies, online-only (or even online dominant) marketing will not succeed.

The Difference Between Demand Creation, and Demand Fulfillment

Why? Because at its very core, digital marketing fulfills demand much better than it creates it. The digital tactics that work best (email to current customers, search marketing, highly targeted banners, social media) work because they reach an audience that is either already aware of your company, or susceptible to your charms based on their needs and lifestyle.

At any moment in time, there are a finite number of prospective customers that are aware of your service, interested in your service, and online. Thus, there is a ceiling on the effectiveness and size of any winning digital campaign. Approximately 100 people will search today for “RV rentals.” And not much can be done online to increase that number. You can do everything possible to maximize your exposure to those 100 searchers, but that’s the size of the potential customer pool via search at present.

To grow the pool of people who are clearly interested in RV rentals (as evidenced by their search query), you have to use the much maligned and uncool world of traditional marketing. By using print, broadcast, direct mail, event sponsorship, and public relations you can grow the awareness and demand for your product or service, and PRESTO that demand will show up online.

Learn From Cupcakes

cupcakes65 1910c3971910 pixels 236x300 The Alarming Truth About Digital Marketings ImperfectionsFor example, an examination of historical search volume for “cupcakes” shows a consistent, slightly increasing number of daily searches from 2004 through 2006. Beginning in 2007, when the media began running frequent stories about the new gourmet cupcake trend (no doubt prodded by professional PR practitioners), search volume for “cupcakes” spiked, with a 300% increase.

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1+1=3

At Off Madison Ave, (where I handle strategic planning) we often engage in a tactic called “Media Isolation” to measure this effect and produce efficient media plans. Try it for yourself.

Take a two to four week period and run only PPC and SEO. No other outbound efforts. Then, keep the search campaign up, and add offline tactics. Reexamine results of the search program. Then, take down the traditional campaign, and continue running the search campaign.

What you’ll find in essentially every case is that the initial online campaign produces results that increase by 50-100% when traditional media is added. But most interestingly, the search campaign continues to perform better than it did initially, even when traditional media ceases. Why? Because the traditional program increased demand, and then the online tactics fulfill that demand.

This concept that offline marketing improves online marketing is powerful, but it can sometimes take a while to prove, when you consider that search latency (the time lag between when a consumer first searches for you and when they buy) can be as long as 90 days. Look at your reports in three and six month increments, not just monthly intervals, to help identify these relationships and trends.

From a marketing strategy standpoint, maximizing the effectiveness of your online efforts is a great first step, as the available data and feedback immediacy produce ROI faster than other tactics. But if you want to seriously grow your customer base, you have to put down the black turtleneck and Red Bull and employ a true mix of marketing approaches that work together to increase the number of people that care enough about your product to bother looking for it.

What do you think? Am I being too hard on Internet marketing? Leave a comment

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Related
  • http://QuittingYourJob.com/ David

    You hit the nail on the head when you said, “The Internet Isn’t Magic”. While online marketing can be extremely effective when done properly, traditional offline marketing still has its place. Simply leverage on the advantages of each media, and you can have the best of both worlds!

  • http://QuittingYourJob.com David

    You hit the nail on the head when you said, “The Internet Isn’t Magic”. While online marketing can be extremely effective when done properly, traditional offline marketing still has its place. Simply leverage on the advantages of each media, and you can have the best of both worlds!

  • http://www.socialmediaexplorer.com/ Jason Falls

    Bravo! Great information here, as well as some great quotes. I love the whole section on the difference between demand and fulfillment. This is a perfect piece to share with clients who have pie-in-the-sky views of digital marketing. Well done. Bookmarked. Tweeted. Shared. Forwarded, etc.

  • http://www.socialmediaexplorer.com Jason Falls

    Bravo! Great information here, as well as some great quotes. I love the whole section on the difference between demand and fulfillment. This is a perfect piece to share with clients who have pie-in-the-sky views of digital marketing. Well done. Bookmarked. Tweeted. Shared. Forwarded, etc.

  • Chris Book

    Totally agree. We’re getting to a point where it’s dangerous to refer to interactive marketing or traditional marketing separately, but rather as an all-encompassing marketing. Each has its place. If thinking of marketing as a conversation, the traditional realm still begins that conversation and sparks interest. The strength of interactive has been its ability to develop and maintain that conversation over time.

    You’ve gotta have a dynamite pickup line and get the phone number before you walk down the aisle.

  • Chris Book

    Totally agree. We’re getting to a point where it’s dangerous to refer to interactive marketing or traditional marketing separately, but rather as an all-encompassing marketing. Each has its place. If thinking of marketing as a conversation, the traditional realm still begins that conversation and sparks interest. The strength of interactive has been its ability to develop and maintain that conversation over time.

    You’ve gotta have a dynamite pickup line and get the phone number before you walk down the aisle.

  • http://www.freshnetworks.com/ Charlie

    If it’s true, this does not bode well for Facebook. They have just announced that their sales strategy is going to be based on Demand-Creation marketing (I guess because they have finally realised people are not in demand-fulfillment mode when visiting a social network).

    You can read more about that here:
    http://blog.freshnetworks.com/2008/08/your-own-branded-online-community-vs-advertising-on-facebook/

    However just because, using your methodology above, you can show that offline can compliment online, that does not mean demand-creation is not possible online and that Facebook should start to panic. I can envisage scenarios where they can increase desire for a product through the site. And Amazon are pursuing a similar strategy with Kindle. Read this: http://adage.com/digital/article?article_id=130793

  • http://www.freshnetworks.com Charlie

    If it’s true, this does not bode well for Facebook. They have just announced that their sales strategy is going to be based on Demand-Creation marketing (I guess because they have finally realised people are not in demand-fulfillment mode when visiting a social network).

    You can read more about that here:
    http://blog.freshnetworks.com/2008/08/your-own-branded-online-community-vs-advertising-on-facebook/

    However just because, using your methodology above, you can show that offline can compliment online, that does not mean demand-creation is not possible online and that Facebook should start to panic. I can envisage scenarios where they can increase desire for a product through the site. And Amazon are pursuing a similar strategy with Kindle. Read this: http://adage.com/digital/article?article_id=130793

  • http://buildamovement.com/ Mark D Goren

    Finally:
    A blog entry that really hits on the core of the issue. On most topics that mean something there is a range of thinking that encompasses the extreme. Rarely is anything an absolute. If marketing was black and white there wouldn’t be godzillions of posts discussing ‘the right waY’

    Bravo

  • http://buildamovement.com Mark D Goren

    Finally:
    A blog entry that really hits on the core of the issue. On most topics that mean something there is a range of thinking that encompasses the extreme. Rarely is anything an absolute. If marketing was black and white there wouldn’t be godzillions of posts discussing ‘the right waY’

    Bravo

  • http://twitter.com/mdgoren/status/917556871 Mark D Goren

    just read a great post on interactive vs traditional: http://tiny.cc/hxdVf let me know what you think.

  • Jason Baer

    Thank you Mark for the very kind words. I appreciate your support.

    Charlie, I agree that it is in fact POSSIBLE for Internet to create demand, it just may not be terribly efficient, or its best and highest use (in most cases). Facebook may be an exception due to their ability to hyper-target. Evite would be another opportunity in that vein.

    Cheers,
    j

  • Jason Baer

    Thank you Mark for the very kind words. I appreciate your support.

    Charlie, I agree that it is in fact POSSIBLE for Internet to create demand, it just may not be terribly efficient, or its best and highest use (in most cases). Facebook may be an exception due to their ability to hyper-target. Evite would be another opportunity in that vein.

    Cheers,
    j

  • Jason Baer

    Thank you Mark for the very kind words. I appreciate your support.

    Charlie, I agree that it is in fact POSSIBLE for Internet to create demand, it just may not be terribly efficient, or its best and highest use (in most cases). Facebook may be an exception due to their ability to hyper-target. Evite would be another opportunity in that vein.

    Cheers,
    j

  • http://www.skyhighwealthsystems.com/ Stephen-Online Marketing

    Hi!! I have got some valuable information through your site.Thanks for some wonderful info.

  • http://www.skyhighwealthsystems.com Stephen-Online Marketing

    Hi!! I have got some valuable information through your site.Thanks for some wonderful info.

  • http://Comcast.net/ greg o.

    Beautifully stated argument but I disagree with the premise that “at its core” digital marketing is (necessarily) better at demand fulfillment than demand creation. I think the issue is that marketers have become so enthralled with the fulfillment capabilities of digital media that dont exist in traditional media that they have largely ignored the medium’s ability to drive demand…to “brand”.

    Notwithstanding the capability limitations, media is what marketers make of it. The consumers are available online as are the applications for effective demand creation (rich media creative) – the marketers just aren’t as focused on that part of the equation. When they do focus on demand creation it is likely that Internet media will be as effective and more efficient than traditional media. There’s just less cost structure in aggregating an audience online than there is in print or “electronic” media and that lower overhead allows for lower advertiser CPM’s.

  • http://Comcast.net greg o.

    Beautifully stated argument but I disagree with the premise that “at its core” digital marketing is (necessarily) better at demand fulfillment than demand creation. I think the issue is that marketers have become so enthralled with the fulfillment capabilities of digital media that dont exist in traditional media that they have largely ignored the medium’s ability to drive demand…to “brand”.

    Notwithstanding the capability limitations, media is what marketers make of it. The consumers are available online as are the applications for effective demand creation (rich media creative) – the marketers just aren’t as focused on that part of the equation. When they do focus on demand creation it is likely that Internet media will be as effective and more efficient than traditional media. There’s just less cost structure in aggregating an audience online than there is in print or “electronic” media and that lower overhead allows for lower advertiser CPM’s.

  • letstalkandchat

    If you’re looking for webinar software, then check out Evergreen Business System. Its perfect for marketers and let’s you automate the scheduling of your webinars, build your list, and even follow up with your webinar registrants. If you’re going to buy Evergreen Business System, then you might as well get a free bonus! So check out http://www.mikelmurphy.com/evergreen-business-system-bonus-webinar-software/ and you’ll get a great bonus that tells you how to create a webinar, what is a webinar, and a blueprint for making a successful one. None of the other people offering bonuses are offering this. Hurry in case the guy (some dude that worked on Lord of the RIngs) offering the bonus decides to pull it down.