I have to say – digital is a brilliant place to be right now. It’s a thriving, exciting place to be. I’m working with some of the sharpest minds every single day – I love the communication and conversion we’re able to build up for our clients. But while I’ve been in digital marketing, there’s one thing that bugs me.
There’s a lot of talk like digital was a sudden realisation that dropped out of nowhere and made everybody go nuts. “The latest tech will be the end of us all!” sources cry, and it’s reported as a surprise every time.
Don’t take a fear-first approach
Just take this article around digital adoption in the UK insurance sector. This source calls the entire UK marketplace ‘lagging behind’ US-based firms. I mean, the stats add up, but… it’s all a little doom and gloom. Surely, there must be a better way to get people on board with an idea other than just plain scaring them?
That’s one thing you notice when you hang around in marketing circles; scaremongering around technological adoption can frequently be used as a business case. When there’s cause to shift the focus in a marketing approach, there’s far too much “act now or you’ll die” chatter. That’s followed immediately by a list of the losers who did not act and have since died. RIP.
Making irrational decisions
Problem is, all that scaremongering does is reinforce that your business is on the back foot from the get-go. That leaves your organisation forever playing catch-up – and starting without a proper warm-up (i.e. tactical considerations) could lead to more rash decisions and before you know it, you’ve mis-invested and you’re playing catch-up again.
George wrote an article earlier this week talking about not letting emotions get in the way of the decision-making process and he’s not wrong. You could inject cash immediately into a solution but without the research, planning and evidence beforehand – before you know it, you’re playing catch-up again. What use is that as a motivational tool for your teams?
The solution to the problem: regular website audits
I like to think of digital marketing technology and the web holistically. Rather than only reacting to sudden shifts in technology, businesses need to grow with their audience to reach them properly. In order to do that, one has to regularly revisit the methods they use to connect with customers and re-evaluate what their products and services mean to the world it serves.
I think you can quite easily cut out that “act now or you’ll die” ultimatum by taking an iterative stance with your marketing. That way, you can regularly readjust your goals, assess the audience, your aims, your technologies and jig your channels in-line with those which your customers respond to.
Stay ahead of the curve
When you re-evaluate your own marketing at regular intervals, you can be aware of the changing landscape in front of you. As technologies, rules and audiences advance so quickly, it makes sense that you shift alongside the needs of your customer. This comes with performing little web audits of your digital presence to check how growth is going in relation to your business targets.
Confectionery giant Mars recently introduced a fourth revision of its internal marketing code. They call this tome a ‘living document’ that must evolve alongside its audiences. They have an internal team that regularly checks to make sure they’re operating inside of their own marketing principles (as well as the legalities around advertising restrictions on children under 13). Their principle meant that they’re able to test and adapt their marketing practices gradually in order to find the best way to serve their products to the public.
In fact, it’s because of their testing that were able to form a new audience type. Now, they’ve shifted their focus to a “universal” marketing approach. The stance is clear: Mars is targeting their marketing to help parents make informed dietary decisions for themselves and their children. Now, they grow with the audience and internally audit their marketing at regular intervals to see how close they are to those objectives.
A website audit means they have to evaluate the places they were marketing, the technology the audience was using, and the propositional messaging they used.
You may not have the same budget allocation as Mars has (and I’m not saying your marketing budget needs to expand to theirs either). The point is, when something changes in the way you’re able to speak to your customers – be it regulatory or a little snippet of code – it could change everything. But it shouldn’t ever come as a surprise; auditing your web presence, speaking to your customers and adapting to what they need will prepare your teams to keep working smart.
Tech often feels like it should be the reason you should change your marketing approach, but it really is a secondary aim. Businesses need to focus first on the ever-changing needs of their customers. Take this opportunity to grow with your audience and tackle issues that they care about.