Digital marketing tips

In this guide we focus on key digital marketing tips to help you stand out from the crowd. First, we cover the importance of linking digital marketing back to the key elements of marketing itself. Then we cover, the differences between the generalist and specialist approach in digital marketing. And finally we talk about how to apply change management techniques to drive the impact of your digital marketing. 

Digital marketing tips

How this guide raises your game.

1. The key overall marketing skills to make you a better digital marketer.

2. Learn the difference between specialists and generalists in digital marketing.

3. Learn about the importance of change management in digital marketing.

Digital marketing is where traditional marketing skills like market research, brand strategy and communications intersect with new systems, processes and software that have arisen from the boom in marketing technology. 

However, the technology is only an enabler of the marketing itself.

When you work in digital marketing, it can be easy to lose sight of the key principles of traditional marketing. Such as understanding consumers, creating valuable experiences and a commercial focus. 

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So, the first of our digital marketing tips looks at how to connect “digital marketing” and “marketing”.

The second of our digital marketing tips then looks at the wide range of different skills that connect into digital marketing. It talks through the differences between a generalist and specialist approach in digital marketing.

And finally, because digital marketing changes the way we do things, it’s important to know how to manage change. The way that you deal with ambiguity and proactively lead change can impact whether you succeed or not with your digital marketing efforts. So our final digital marketing tip relates to how you can use key change management principles.

Digital marketing and marketing principles

In the phrase “digital marketing”, “marketing” is the verb and “digital” is the adverb.

So marketing is what you do, and digital is how you do it.

It’s an important distinction to bear in mind. Because it’s what do you that adds value to your business. And that’s marketing. 

Now don’t get us wrong, that’s not to underestimate the opportunity that “digital” brings to marketing.

Digital marketing in scrabble tiles

But when you understand the distinction, you drastically raise the chances of your digital marketing activity being more successful.

It’s quite common to come across people who call themselves digital marketers but who don’t actually understand the “marketing” part of the term. They may have built some of the technical skills that sit within digital marketing. So, they can run Facebook ads. They can product website content. And they can conjure up dashboards out of Google Analytics.

But these are only outputs.

By themselves, they are not marketing.

And if you don’t understand the core elements of the marketing or the inputs you need to make those outputs work, then it’s not true marketing.

We advise all the clients we work with not to get too distracted by the jargon and technical side of digital marketing. They are just a different way of doing marketing. But the job remains to still do marketing first. 

For us, that comes down to three specific marketing functional behaviours that ALL marketers should have. Whether they have digital in their title or not. 

Understand consumers

Firstly, is the ability to understand the needs of consumers.  

As we cover in our guide to digital data and insight, digital has opened up a treasure chest of opportunity to capture and learn new things about consumers. But, it’s one thing to have access to this information. It’s quite another to be able to use it well. 

Consumers are not lines of data on a spreadsheet. If you run digital media campaigns or send an email or create website content, remember that actual people will be on the end of those activities. Real, actual people.

Woman peeking out behind a bush

Whatever type of digital marketing activity you carry out, you should always put yourself in the shoes of the consumer before it goes live. What benefits will the activity have for them? Is it even relevant? When, where and how will they experience the activation? Why should they even care about it?

Think about your own experience of “digital” as a consumer. How many irrelevant ads appear on your social media feeds? What about links you click on when you search for things that don’t lead you to the right place? 

Or what about pop-ups on websites to ask for your email address before you can download something? What about multiple check-boxes on the shopping cart before you can buy something online?

All annoying, right? 

Because here’s the thing with digital marketing. The consumer always has ultimate control over where they go and what they do online. And if they see content that doesn’t matter to them or it’s not relevant, they’ll ignore it. Without a second thought. 

So your hard earned digital media dollars could be a complete waste of money. 

And that brings us on to the next key marketing behaviour that digital marketers need to have.

Create valuable experiences

It’s important to remember that digital marketing opens up the opportunity for a very different experience than traditional advertising and media. 

From a consumer point of view, digital offers three key benefits. 

Firstly, they have control over what they see and experience. They can manage this through the preferences, settings and choices they make on their devices. If they see an advert that is not relevant, they can skip past it or block or report it. 

Secondly, what they see on their screens and devices can often satisfy needs immediately. By clicking on a button, their need for products, services or information can be solved. 

 

Man holding a lit lighbulb to symbolise the enlightenment that three-brains brings to marketing

And finally, the content they see can be personalised. So that it is much more relevant to their own needs and not those of the mass market.

These three benefits mean that digital marketing can add more ‘value’ in the life of a consumer than a traditional advert.

But digital marketing is often full of activities that often don’t meet the needs of consumers. They add no value. All those annoying examples we just covered, like pop-ups and checkboxes.

If you try to “trick” someone to visit your website or to buy something from your store, that strategy just doesn’t work. Consumers aren’t stupid. You’ll get blocked. You’ll eventually get penalised by Google. And worst of all, you’ll generate bad word of mouth among your target audience.

So, don’t be annoying. Be helpful. Be relevant. 

Because when you are the opportunity is huge.

For brands that make their digital marketing experience something that the consumer enjoys or finds helpful, then those brands will find consumers keep coming back. Consumers will see value in those experiences. And that will translate to value for your brand. 

Commercial focus

And finally, marketing is nothing if not a way to deliver the goals for the business.

These are usually commercially focussed.

Understanding how the Profit and Loss for your business works, especially if you have your own direct to consumer store and working out the Return on Investment on all your digital marketing activity is vital to drive successful activity for your business.

Coins spilling out of a jar to symbolise marketing and e-commerce costs

So, to summarise, the first of our digital marketing tips is to focus on making yourself a better marketer first. Digital is the channel that you do the marketing in, but you still need to bring the three elements of consumer, experience and commercials together.

Of course, while these are traditional marketing skills that digital marketers need to have in their toolbox, that exchange should go the other way.

Many traditional marketers struggle to adapt to the realities of digital marketing and you can read more on how traditional and digital marketing timelines have split in this article.

Understanding how digital expertise connects

In our guide to the digital business model we covered the RESTART model.

This covered the Reach-Engagement-Selling goals that your business needs to succeed through digital marketing, and the Technology, Analysis and Resource considerations you need to set up in order to have digital marketing work well in your business.

It covers the need for Transformation (or Change Management) since most business aren’t set up to operate in a digital way. 

Digital business model shown RESTART - reach, engage, sell, technology, analysis, resource and transformation

So, this means digital marketing is not one specific skill, but a combination of many different skills, which brings us to our second of our digital marketing tips. That if you want your business to be ahead of the game in digital marketing, you should develop a generalist approach to digital marketing rather than a purely specialist one.

Specialist vs generalist

When you specialise in a topic within digital marketing, it means you develop a DEEP understanding of that topic. You make an active choice to dedicate time to practising, learning and updating your skills in that area. You’ll find many specialists in digital marketing from SEO experts to writers, developers and designers. And don’t get us wrong, many people make a good living in digital marketing by becoming functional specialists.

But pretty soon, you find with specialisms, you reach a limit. Whether that’s a career limit in a company or marketing agency, digital specialisms only get you so far. 

Where the real value comes is when you understand what the BROAD range of specialisms are. AND you also also know how to connect them all to make your online business work. And this is the generalist approach to digital marketing. 

A generalist can connect digital skills together

Because really successful digital led business models are a system of different skills that connect together. And if you are the business leader, you need to know what these are and how they connect. So, this is the second of our digital marketing tips. You don’t need to be an expert in every element of digital marketing, but you should have decent knowledge of what they all are and how to get the best from them.

We compare it a little bit to the world of athletics. You may compete in an individual event and focus on that event. But the most complete and all-round athletes are the ones who can do multiple events like the heptathlon or decathlon.

Our experience is that it’s good to build up some specialist skills in digital marketing. But move around the skills, rather than spending too long doing the one thing. 

Your aim should be to be good enough at a broad level of skills across the whole of digital marketing. And pick the ones that you are both interested in and good at. If there’s parts of digital marketing you just can’t work up any enthusiasm for, then find someone else to do those things. 

So for example, if your core skill is in data and analysis, look to work with someone who is good at creating engaging content so you can learn from them.

If your core skill is in e-commerce store set up, find someone who is good at digital media or social so you can build your acquisition skills further up the funnel. 

Develop your digital marketing skills so you have a broader more generalist view of digital marketing and you will grow to be a better digital marketer overall. 

Be a change leader

As we cover in both our digital business model, and our customer experience guide, change and transformation is a large part of what drives success in digital marketing. 

In our experience, the world of digital marketing can be a closed environment.

Those who have learned some of the technical skills of digital marketing can tend to live in a little bit of a bubble. Where they only talk to other digital marketers. And forget that not everyone knows how to do digital marketing. 

Man presenting to audience

This is a missed opportunity. We believe digital marketing and technology has amazing opportunities to change the lives of consumers. But only if the skills required to do it well become much more widespread. Which requires a lot of change in most business.

Change management

Change management is a subject and skill in it’s own right, and it’s beyond the scope of this guide, to cover the totality of that subject. You can read a full guide to the different approaches and models here. 

Though each model like Kotter, Mckinsey and Lewin has its own pros and cons, we generally find the Probi ADKAR model the easiest and most straightforward to begin with.

It sets out 5 stages that individuals or businesses need to go through to effectively manage change. These are Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability and Reinforcement. 

Awareness

In order to drive change or transformation in your business, the first step is to drive awareness of the need for change. If people are comfortable doing business the way they have always done business and especially, if it has worked in the past, they will see no reason to change and will actively resist it. 

From a digital marketing point of view, the “need for change” is often captured during the SWOT Opportunities and Threats part of the marketing plan. External factors like a change in market dynamics, consumer needs or competitor action can often create an opportunity or threat that triggers awareness of the need for change.

So, if consumer expectations of what they expect from you online change, or there’s a major change in your competitors website or in your e-Commerce channels, these can often create a sense of the need for change. This change needs to be communicated to the people in your business or agency who need to do something different. 

Desire

However, it’s one thing to be aware of the need for change, but quite another to actively desire or want the change. Most businesses work on well-established and predictable routines and systems. And ‘change’ is by definition a disruptive process.

Resistance to change and defensiveness can often come out, particularly from anyone who has set up current systems. People will have a mental and emotional connection to the way things were done in the past, and it’s an important part of the change management role to show why the ‘new’ way will be better. You can look to use those who are most supportive of the change as “change champions” to help convince those who see it as a threat. 

The messages you use should try to remove the fear of change. Change is inevitable, nothing lasts forever. When you can lead or coach people to embrace change, it actually creates more power for them as they can shape it rather than have it happen to them.

Knowledge

The third stage of the ADKAR model then is a more specific knowledge based approach. This is where the focus is on practical skills and techniques to make people comfortable and confident in the new way of working. 

It’s usually heavily training or coaching focussed, with a need to identify any new skills or processes required because of the change, and the right resources put in place to increase the knowledge so people feel equipped to work in the “new” way.

Ability

At this fourth, ability stage this is all about getting started with the new way of working. It can involve rehearsals, dummy runs or limited launches of the new way of working. But it should also look to set objective and metrics for the change so that performance can be measured and tracked.

It’s likely that there will be unseen or unplanned teething problems from the change, and as  change leader, you need to be able to watch out for these, and be flexible enough to adapt the system to cope. 

Reinforcement

At this final stage, the aim is for the change to become the “new normal” way of doing things. This involves recognising the value of those who have embraced the change, and rewarding good habits. 

Use positive feedback to show what is working and why it relates back to the need for change set out at the start of the process. 

Why change management matters in digital marketing

Change is important in any business because there’s a widely reported statistic from Hammer and Champy that 70% of organisational change projects fail. 

And as we stated in our digital business model guide, consumer spend more and more time online. And business need to adapt to this new environment. 

They need to learn to use new digital media channels like Google and Facebook to reach consumers. 

Marketing technology dashboard example on a laptop

They need to build up skills in website development and marketing technology to create those valuable experiences for consumers online.

And finally, they need to use change management to make sure all those multiple elements combine in a way that helps them to grow their business. 

So, that’s why the last of our digital marketing tips relates to change management. 

If you can build your skills around the area of change management, you can help drive that understanding of the consumer through digital marketing. You can create valuable experiences that help to grow your business. 

And you can do it in a way that will make your team want to be part of a transformational experience, where they have the opportunity to be at the cutting edge of new ways of doing marketing.  

Three-brains and digital marketing

We have worked on many digital marketing projects and have good experience across all aspects of digital marketing. We know how to connect these expertise areas back into driving your brand marketing and growing your sales. 

If you want to know more about how we can support your digital marketing to grow your business  through our coaching and consulting services, click the button below to send us a message.

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