Why digital marketing is so hard for brands

Digital marketing is not easy.  That could be the understatement of the year but the fact is that digital marketing encompasses so many pieces who are always changing and in motion that most brands can’t keep up with the pace of innovation and separate the reality (tactics that will drive share) from the hype (eye candy that doesn’t do a hell of a lot).

Just look what was announced this week in social media marketing: Twitter is going to allow brand pages that go beyond the 140 character Tweet, Facebook is going to allow people to develop “interest lists”, and the hype machine is in full swing around Pinterest and how “brands need to be there”.

On top of all this brands still have to monitor and optimize their websites, search engine marketing, mobile sites, online ads and social media.   In other words interactive marketing means interacting not pushing information.

According to Harvard Business Review;

The old model for customer relationships — that is, the one still used by many companies today — is built around a buying funnel that progresses from awareness to consideration to purchase to loyalty. Fundamentally, this is an information model where companies provide the information and customers consume it.

The funnel is a favorite of marketers because it is linear, uni-directional, and transaction-centric. What this means is that there is a single path built around discrete actions by the company and responses from the buyer. It is not hard to determine where any particular consumer is in the process, so tracking and metrics are straightforward and easy to calculate. Where many marketing activities are hard to measure, this one is easy.

Social marketing experts will tell you that marketing has to become more conversational, more relationship oriented. While most companies have now learned how to say hello and how to apologize, I would argue that few have accepted that the fact that power has shifted. The passive, obedient consumer and paternal, in-control organization have given way to a vocal, informed consumer and an organization struggling to comprehend what this all means to their bottom line. (Of course, the notion of a passive consumer, and a mass market was overly simplistic; consumers were never as passive as companies like to think.)

Social media marketing is all about building relationships and most relationships aren’t rational, but emotional. They certainly aren’t predictable which is why you need a social media community manager who has some expertise in working with people, the value of the brand, and where you want to take people as you establish relationships with brands.

Brands have to align their marketing around consumer touch points to be successful.  This means that they need enhanced digital marketing departments with people who are responsible for each part of the digital marketing puzzle.  One person for search, one for content, one or two for social media, etc..    And don’t expect to get it right.  As digital marketing evolves you’re going to probably realign your digital marketing people several times to ensure this key brand touch point remains relevant and vibrant.

If you have just one person doing your digital marketing it’s time to think about just how important your digital branding is to your customer and prospects.

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