Even the most enthusiastic digital marketing advocates understand that online advertising can only ever be one piece of the puzzle.
In the space of a decade, digital marketing has achieved something close to mass penetration.
Nowadays, it’s a rare business that doesn’t have an online presence. Many time-poor business owners have seen the value in using free and paid marketing resources to educate themselves, and now feel confident discussing, for example, lead generation strategies with an online marketing expert.
But despite digital marketing becoming omnipresent and a search engine marketing agency having popped up on every street corner, there’s still much confusion about exactly what results business owners can expect to achieve.
Before going any further, it should be noted that the nomenclature around digital-marketing providers can be confusing. For instance, an agency that provides one or more types of digital marketing services may be variously labelled a digital marketing agency, digital agency, digital marketing company, paid search agency, search marketing agency, online marketing agency, social media marketing agency, internet marketing agency and sometimes even just a plain old marketing agency.
Whatever it calls itself, any agency that helps businesses with their digital marketing can facilitate impressive but not miraculous results. To put it bluntly, a good or even merely average business can generate double, triple and even quadruple increases in website leads – and commensurate increases in sales – with a well-planned, well-resourced and well-executed digital marketing strategy.
But marketing, be it digital or traditional, can rarely convince consumers to purchase an inferior product or patronise a poorly run business.
For instance, marketing can result in more people seeing an impressive film than might otherwise be the case. But even huge marketing budgets can’t do much more than pump up the opening-weekend figures for a turkey. (Interestingly, there’s mounting evidence digital marketing provides a better ROI than the traditional variety when it comes to promoting films. It’s also the case that some low-budget indie films, such as 1999’s The Blair Witch Project, that otherwise would likely have disappeared without a trace, became hits through innovative digital marketing strategies.)
The Lone Ranger (2013) had a marketing budget of around US$150 million but was a notorious flop. Let’s use it as a case study to explore what needs to be in place before any types of digital marketing can be expected to bear fruit.
1) Market demand – As the film’s many critics noted, moviegoers don’t have much of an appetite for overly long films with jumbled plots, boring dialogue and few laughs.
2) Messaging – Much of the media coverage revolved around the film’s US$250M production budget. (This figure was considered obscene back when it was released in 2013.) There was also controversy around Johnny Depp portraying a Native American. Perhaps most importantly, the Lone Ranger hadn’t been a significant part of popular culture since the TV series wrapped in 1957. To summarise, there was no clear and compelling message that stood a chance of convincing Johnny Depp fans and action-flick enthusiasts to head to their local multiplex.
3) Receptiveness to customer feedback – Film studios do test screenings of films and often change them significantly if the audience feedback is negative. The key decision-makers involved The Lone Ranger could have responded to test-screening data by, say, editing the film down to a more watchable length. They chose not to.
In 2021, it’s virtually impossible to have a competitive business without ‘going digital’ in areas ranging from marketing to automating workplace processes. After the turbocharging of digital transformation that occurred in 2020, there’s now a lot of talk of businesses embracing a ‘digital-first’ approach.
But while digital-first may be appropriate in other parts of your business, you need to take a ‘digital-second’ approach to marketing. Business owners should always ensure they have a desirable good or service, can explain why it's desirable to potential customers, and have processes in place to leverage customer feedback to make it even more desirable before they invest in any types of digital marketing. As we argued many times before, digital marketing is just marketing.
Want to learn more about how your business can set itself up to be a digital-marketing success story? Call 1300 059 620 or leave a message here to set up a no-strings-attached chat with one of Rocket Agency’s online marketing experts.
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