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Digital marketing channels–whole lotta mediocre going on

We’ve seen data recently–reach out and I’ll share it–that showed a lot of “meh” from marketers who were asked what digital channels worked well for them.

On one level, we could take this data to mean that all digital marketing is mediocre. That seems unlikely. Instead, I think it’s a result of how easy it is to pop into and out of various digital channels. That differs from direct mail, for example, where the investment you make in developing and, especially, printing your marketing materials, means folks may be more likely to be more thoughtful in their approach.

With digital, it’s easy to lose confidence, change direction, or abandon a channel entirely rather than giving it a good solid chance to work. And that leads to a lot of marketers getting mediocre results.

There’s something else at play, as well: the ease with which you can change gears also means that many marketers try a number of digital channels before finding the one that works for them. Which means that for every marketer with a big thumbs up for one channel, there are perhaps two or three channels that haven’t worked out for that marketer.

So how you do you ensure that you don’t end up in the middle of the bell curve, earning a “gentleman’s C” on your digital marketing? Here are a few tips:

  1. Do well whatever you do: You can’t make half an effort and expect to see results. Whatever the channel, whether it’s viewed as the next hot thing (as my kids tell me InstaViewSnapGram is really growing) or something considered by some to be passé (email, anyone?), there’s someone in your industry who is passionate about that channel and dedicated to doing it well. To compete, you need to learn how that channel works and give your self time to fail a bit, and remain committed to exploring whether it’s a good fit for your audience.
  2. Do well with what you have: Different channels require different skills, different resources, and different investments. Instagram is going to be easier to do well at if you have great visual content to share. LinkedIn requires strong writing. And so on. If you don’t have the resources, find a different channel to work on until you can garner the resources you need. Your marketing goals may not change, but your methods have to match the tools you can use.
  3. Data builds confidence: If you aren’t measuring it, it doesn’t matter. We’ve all heard that. And it’s never been more true. Not only won’t you get any sense of whether a channel is truly productive, you won’t know whether you’re learning anything–whether you’re getting better.

And if you aren’t basing your decisions on data, you’re going to be tempted to waver if results to come immediately.

Don’t forget that it’s not just about the results you get. You also need to track what you’re putting into any particular channel to see if what you’re getting out is worth the resources you’re devoting to it. In other words, the I in ROI matters. Spending $1.00 to get $0.50 of revenue is not a recipe for long-term success.

Be sure to compare your ROI across channels, too. If one channel is head and shoulders above the rest, devote more resources there–and work on reverse engineering your success there to replicate it in other channels.

Your goal is to maximize the return on your overall marketing investment and to always be improving. Yes, you’ll see ups and downs no matter your approach or the channels you use, but if you work your channels consistently, you’ll weather those blips and see success no matter what the conventional wisdom says.

Andrew Schulkind

Since 1996, Andrew Schulkind has asked clients one simple question: what does digital marketing success look like, and how can marketing progress be measured? A veteran content marketer, web developer, and digital strategist, Andrew founded Andigo New Media to help firms find a more strategic and productive mix of tools that genuinely support online brand goals over time. With a passion for true collaboration and meaningful consensus, his work touches social media, search-engine optimization, and email marketing, among other components. He views is primary goal as encouraging engagement. Getting an audience involved in your story requires solid information architecture, a great user experience, and compelling content. A dash of common sense doesn’t hurt, either. Andrew has presented at Social Media Week NY and WordCampNYC, among other events, on content marketing and web-development topics. His technology writing appears on the Andigo blog, in a monthly column on, and for print and online publications like The New York Enterprise Report, Social Media Today, and GSG Worldwide’s publications LinkedIn & Business, Facebook & Business, and Tweeting & Business. Andrew graduated with a B.A. in Philosophy from Bucknell University. He engages in a range of community volunteer work and is an avid fly fisherman and cyclist. He also loves collecting meaningless trivia. (Did you know the Lone Ranger made his mask from the cloth of his brother's vest after his brother was killed by "the bad guys?")

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