The Greek philosopher Heraclitus is known for his idea that change is the only constant in life. Born almost 2,500 years ago, life back then would probably seem refreshingly simple for most of us. Heraclitus’ head might explode if he was alive in this modern era of 24/7 news, constant advancements in technology, countless forms of communication and non-stop smartphone notifications. Even though he lived eons ago, Heraclitus was right: everything around us constantly changes.
Heraclitus’ notion of life being in constant flux also applies to digital marketing. Around since the era of static display ads and dial-up internet, digital marketing has rapidly evolved over the years. That evolution really hasn’t slowed much or stabilized, either. The constant change can be hard to keep up with, even for those well-versed in digital marketing. And it can be downright overwhelming for the average business owner. Don’t worry, as we are here to walk you through what you need to know about digital marketing in 2023. In this article, you will learn about the following:
- How digital marketing differs from traditional methods.
- The impact of the upcoming demise of third-party data.
- Why you shouldn’t be obsessed with digital marketing ROI.
- How to adapt to a constantly shifting digital marketing landscape.
IT IS INCREASINGLY COMPLICATED
Digital marketing is defined as promoting services and products through digital channels. Back in the day, it was simple. The efforts of most brands focused solely on social media advertising and having a functional website. But digital marketing rapidly expanded as many types of traditional marketing fizzled out or moved online. And that broadening of digital marketing continues as new forms emerge as technology and methods evolve. According to this recent article, there are now a staggering 18 different types of digital marketing spread across six categories. That is a lot, and new technologies and mediums like AI and the metaverse may add even more digital marketing techniques.
IT IS DIFFERENT
One thing to wrap your head around is that digital marketing is very different from more traditional forms. Crafting a print or television advertisement is about connecting with potential consumers through stunning visuals. It is more of an art form involving some psychology and even playing hunches on what will work. While psychology is also involved in digital marketing, it is much more data-driven. The perfect motto, tagline or image isn’t as critical as carefully targeting the right audience to produce the desired results. And being able to do that consistently requires the ability to use and interpret data. Skilled digital marketers are as much data scientists as psychologists and use different skill sets than any other form of marketing.
BUT IT IS MANAGEABLE
The seemingly ever-growing list of digital marketing techniques is enough to make your head spin. But nobody expects you to master 18 different tactics. And if you tried, you would be extremely marginal at most of them and severely stressed. It is important to remember that the definition of digital marketing is relatively broad in most online articles. Technically, anything you do online or digitally falls under digital marketing, which is almost all marketing nowadays. Looking at the 18 categories in the previously mentioned article, some overlap with content marketing, SEO, social media and other areas you might already be working on. That extensive list of options becomes more manageable once you weed out the overlap.
DEFINE YOUR WINS FTW
Another essential step to keep from being overwhelmed is to set goals. Starting with defined wins brings much-needed focus to any digital marketing efforts. And it helps set important benchmarks to measure success. Having clear-cut goals can also drastically narrow down what digital marketing tactics to pursue. For example, content marketing, like videos and blogs, and social media, can effectively build brand identity. To learn how to use YouTube for content marketing, read our blog post here. But if the goal is to sell an individual product, SEO optimization, email marketing and PPC campaigns can be a better choice. Figuring out the goals and wins before starting any campaign will save you time and money.
EFFECTIVE DIGITAL MARKETING TAKES TIME
One misconception about digital marketing is that it produces instantaneous results. Like flipping a light switch, all one must do is hit a button, and it starts raining money. It would be absolutely awesome if that were true, and we would all be much wealthier. But building effective digital marketing campaigns that deliver results takes time. Logistics like setting up a Google Data Studio, creating the right content and access to social media platforms all must take place before a campaign even begins. Once up and running, constant analysis and A/B testing need to occur to determine what is working. Competent digital marketers also use data to tweak campaigns to boost their effectiveness. And digital marketing campaigns, like all other forms of marketing, build upon themselves, creating a snowball effect. All of that takes time to develop and execute, so be patient.
TARGETING IS GETTING MORE DIFFICULT
The huge benefit of digital marketing has always been its ability to be highly targeted. Social media, search engines and other platforms gathered vast amounts of data from their users. That detailed third-party data was then sold and used to serve ads with smart-bomb levels of accuracy. However, that is changing as people become more protective of their data and companies and legislators react. Apple’s 2020 iOS 14 update allowed iPhone users to opt out of apps accessing their data. The EU General Data Protection Act, California Online Privacy Protection Act and a host of other U.S. state data protection legislation are either currently active or about to be. All will make cookies, pixels and other web trackers mostly obsolete. As third-party data fades away, targeting and the jobs of digital marketers will be even more difficult in the very near future.
GET TO KNOW YOUR CUSTOMER AND THEIR DATA
It is hard to craft a marketing message that resonates with someone if you know little about them. That is why knowing your customers has always been key to successful marketing. But with the imminent third-party data demise, data about your customers is now more critical than ever. Information you gather directly from your customers (called first-party data) will fill the void left by the decline of third-party data. And it is more effective for marketing campaigns because it comes directly from your customers and not through another party. Successful digital marketing campaigns will need first-party data, and you should be gathering it now. If you are unsure how to do that, our blog post on the importance of first-party data and how to gather it is a great place to start.
DON’T JUST FOCUS ON ROI
One of the big pluses of digital marketing is that it produces lots of analytics. Unlike some forms of traditional marketing, multiple data points can be used to judge the effectiveness of a digital campaign. All of that data is great, but it has led to some hyper-focusing solely on ROI. While an important component, ROI isn’t the only measurement for success. Looking at ROI makes sense when targeting low-funnel customers with social media advertisements. But boosting your brand’s online visibility, establishing its voice and improving SEO are critical long-term efforts that don’t produce immediate results. They shouldn’t be abandoned simply because there isn’t an immediate ROI bump. If you are starting out with digital marketing, many of your efforts may have a negative ROI. And, as previously mentioned, campaigns take time to produce results. Only paying attention to ROI can lead to short-term thinking and non-cohesive campaigns. Check out this article from Business.com for a deeper dive into digital marketing ROI.
THE “OLD GUARD” STILL DOMINATES
Much has been made in the media lately about the supposed decline of Meta. Even Alphabet (the parent company of YouTube and Google) didn’t escape the media spotlight when its share of online advertising dipped below 50% for the first time since 2015. And everybody except for confused U.S. legislators loves TikTok and its meteoric rise. Believing in the negative hype and focusing your digital marketing efforts elsewhere might be tempting. That would be a serious mistake as, even with their declines, the sheer scale of Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Google makes them powerful marketing platforms. To put it in perspective, Meta’s 2022 fourth-quarter revenue of $32.17 billion is higher than TikTok’s entire yearly revenue. Bash on Zuck if you like, but Meta still raked in $116.1 billion in 2022. Alphabet’s revenue was even higher at $282.8 billion. It makes sense to keep an eye on other digital marketing platforms, but the “old guard” is still dominant. Read our blog post “The Shifting Digital Advertising Landscape and What It Means for 2023” for a deeper understanding.
IT IS STILL EXTREMELY EFFECTIVE
The digital marketing landscape in 2023 is becoming more complicated and fractured. The old days of creating content without a cohesive plan or “winging it” on social media are long gone. Effective digital marketing is complicated, multi-faceted and requires a deep understanding. However, the effort is well worth it as digital marketing is extremely effective. It costs less than most forms of traditional marketing and can have significantly more reach. Even with third-party data challenges, digital marketing is still targeted, allowing you to focus efforts on those most likely to buy your products. It is also easy to measure success and quickly adjust strategy. And you can engage customers at every stage of the sales funnel. No other form of marketing combines all these aspects into one potent marketing type.
REACH OUT FOR HELP
The takeaway from this article should be that digital marketing is complex and rapidly changing but very worthwhile. Its increased complexity requires experienced and knowledgeable specialists to produce effective campaigns. But finding those experts and building your own internal team can be a lengthy and costly endeavor. At Kahn Media, we can provide a turnkey and ready-to-go solution. Our award-winning digital marketing team is well-versed in the constantly changing landscape and adept at creating campaigns that deliver results. And they can do that at a cost that is typically lower than hiring your own experts. As a full-service agency, we can also assist with content creation, social media management, influencer relations, public relations, strategy development and event management. Contact us to see what we can do for your brand’s marketing efforts.