The truth about digital marketing

Articles on digital marketing are all over the internet. However, the reality is that hundreds of millions of dollars still are wanted on fraud and ignorance of how and when people use the internet. Online marketing can be beneficial for SOME product categories but not for most.

There is a direct correlation between product category prices and how prospects use the internet. For example, people buying hard goods are more likely to research products and read reviews than people who shop for cornflakes. So why in the hell do the makers of $4.00 pasta sauces devote so much money to developing a website?

As part of our consulting services, we will audit a brand’s online marketing spend. The results are usually the same; lot’s of BOTS (fraud) and wasted money on paid search that doesn’t provide any ROI. Even the IAB doesn’t know how deep online ad fraud runs, but marketers keep throwing money away.

Does this mean you shouldn’t do ANY digital marketing? No, of course not; it just means you need to think like a potential customer. Is a customer more likely to be persuaded to purchase your peanut butter because of a digital ad or shelf position?

The other issue I constantly come across is the obsession with paid search. First, research has consistently shown that internet users prefer organic search. Second, my ad blocker won’t even allow me to click on paid search ads. Finally, again and again, metrics indicate eincrediblyhigh bounce rates for paid searches for most products found in the grocery aisles. There are exceptions, though.

Recently we were retained by a company that makes widescreen TVs to analyze their search spend. The brand is well known, so paid search ROI for the brand name was terrible. However, long tail search for 65″ 4K search was more widely used, but there was a lot of competition for the search term, thus more money.

There were several negative reviews of their products on their website, especially regarding customer service. That is VERY likely to influence purchase decisions. If you don’t know the power of customer reviews, you don’t understand your audience. Even on Twitter, when they advertised, people were throwing mud at the brand, leading to losing potential customers.

Then there are online ads, sigh. Fraud, BOTS, bad ROI everywhere. Some less known brands have had luck selling products on Instagram or Facebook, but advertising a Jeep that costs $100,000 is laughable. Marketers that do spend money to develop ads specifically designed for online do work, but usually, they are repurposed TV ads.

So what are marketers to do?

1ne: Know your audience better than they know themselves.

2wo: Understand where the purchase decision is made. Is it in the aisle or online?

3hree: How important is the Internet to your audience?

4our: If the metrics on your online spend sucks, then for goodness sake, retrench.

5ive: Read the reviews of your product. Reach out when you can to resolve customer issues.

6ix: Don’t assume you need a branded website. There is no correlation between brand website metrics and market share for most products.

Finally, get the hell out of the house or office and observe how people shop. Talk to retail help and ask them what they have noticed.

Too many digital people who claim to be experts selling snake oil have convinced people that they need to spend more. Insanity has no bounds.

About richmeyer

Rich is a passionate marketer who is able to quickly understand what turns a prospect into a customer. He challenges the status quo and always asks "what can we do better"? He knows how to take analytics and turn them into opportunities and he is a great communicator.

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