I remember a time when the older generation was totally against the new iPhone; the flip phone was good enough, and life was good! Nowadays, an average grandmother is looking at her Facebook posts and texting away, as if she’s been doing it all of her life. I guess the point I’m trying to make is that the technology is getting faster, faster, and digital marketing is no different. The older generation, and by that I mean folks over 40, is having a tough time grasping all the intricacies of digital marketing. In the old (marketing) days, it was simple to sell a billboard, tell somebody how many cars are passing underneath, and give him or her a price. You may track the phone number, but that’s about it. Today, there are so many variables available; it’s very difficult for a successful business person over forty to understand the intricacies of a very complex digital marketing campaign. Marketing fundamentals have never changed – it’s all about understanding the customer and putting out the right message. Unfortunately, confusion reigns concerning the amount of information being thrown at an average marketer, and, by extension, to the actual business person he or she serves. The question is this: how does a successful business person over 40 truly understand the ROI behind the marketing dollar?
Okay, okay, I get it – everybody is talking about ROI, claiming that they can justify it; however, in reality, they provide you with some white-labeled dashboards, sprinkled with some Google Analytics, expecting you to be agog over the fact that you’re getting increased traffic from Texas. Of course, I am oversimplifying things, but you get the pictureâ€¦.
The fundamentals have not changed; you need to be able to track your marketing activities and to marry them with your internal processes, such as sales and operations. Unfortunately, many customers are not willing to open up their internal environments for us to track the actual journey of the marketing dollar. It’s hard for us to justify the ROI with one arm tied behind our back.
Maybe it’s our fault for not completely communicating what it actually means to understand the ROI. For example, Google Analytics can be such a massive disruption by providing out of the box basic web analysis and lulling the marketing novice into a false sense of marketing superiority. What we found effective are baby steps, leading to a gradual “Aha moment”, which can take a long time and a lot of frustration. That is unfortunate because it could be so much smoother if we were able to educate customers better on the fundamentals of digital marketing. The problem is that digital marketing is not like riding a bike. It’s like riding a unicycle today, a tricycle tomorrow, and a BMW motorcycle two years from now. We talk about KPIs; we talk about goals; we talk about ROI; we use all the acronyms in our vast acronym portfolio; however, in reality, every customer is different, and every customer demands the best.
To complicate things further, not every customer is prepared to commit the internal resources required to support a successful digital marketing campaign. Sometimes, the folks are just so busy and overworked that for them to learn something new or something different is very difficult. It does not mean that they are stupid or ignorant or lazy: they are just simply overworked! We marketers try to do the best to educate them, but it’s an uphill battle. This breeds confusion, miscommunication, and mistrust; I can understand why they could be so apprehensive. Type “Digital Marketing” into your browser and look at the results: companies that claim to be the best, all doing the same thing. In the end, you need to go with the agency that truly understands your business and has real business people at the helm – because the fundamentals have not changed; only the way you approach them has.