Digital Marketing Myth Busters

by Jenna Sindle

This article originally appeared on Digital Marketing Remix and was written by Jill Draper, President, Marketsmith Inc.

Once considered the new kid on the block, digital marketing is now a $117 billion-plus industry worldwide, and is currently the key driver in global ad spending. But, like the technology that makes it possible, digital marketing is a moving target, and it can be a challenge to keep up with the latest best practices, even for tech-savvy marketers.

The digital space has given rise to more than its share of marketing myths – misguided notions that can cause marketers to waste valuable time pursuing ineffective strategies. Here are five marketing myths and the reasons why you shouldn’t necessarily believe them:

1. “Likes” on Facebook are the ultimate way to measure social media success. Ever since social media platforms became a preferred communication venue for a new generation, marketers have looked for ways to push their brands out there and build a fan base. That’s great as far as it goes, but what is the return on investment? These days, new techniques make social media marketing more measurable, and new technologies are giving digital marketers a fresh lens to view the landscape. Because of these developments, which allow marketers to assign tiers to value, “likes” are less meaningful, and deeper social media engagement such as product reviews and sharing can take center stage.

2. All brands need a mobile app. There’s no question about it – mobile is a hot commodity, with the number of app downloads breaking records last year. And while mobile apps can be an excellent way to engage customers, that doesn’t mean your brand has to have one. For one thing, download growth appears to be slowing a bit. But more importantly, a mobile app is only a good engagement tool if it delivers value to the customer. Too many companies take the “me too” route and develop mobile apps that don’t have a real purpose, which customers tend to find more irritating than helpful. Remember that mobile is a channel: Not every brand needs an app to engage customers via the mobile channel.

3. Websites should be Google-centric. For many digital marketers, building their sites around Google has become something of a Holy Grail, with all phases of the design geared toward optimizing the site for the search giant. It is important to manage search engine ranking, but that has to be balanced with achieving optimal website design. It’s also critical to keep in mind that Google isn’t a static quality: The search engine updates its parameters and algorithms frequently, so designing a web presence around current Google practices doesn’t make much sense. A better strategy is to ensure meta descriptions are effective and frequently update and optimize content and calls to action.

4. Off-the-shelf software is all you need to manage SEM. Search engine marketing (SEM) is critical for brand awareness – most web-savvy customers get their first impression of your company through SEM. But despite this fact, many companies rely solely on automated software to provide SEM recommendations and metrics. That’s not necessarily the best approach since identifying keyword sets and building display ads requires detailed knowledge of SEM principles. A dedicated resource who can optimize pay-per-click campaigns and tweak keywords based on real-time analysis of page rank and other measurements is a much better option, with SEM software playing a supporting role.

5. A mobile-optimized site isn’t necessary for my brand. These days, Internet users spend more time browsing via a mobile device than a desktop or laptop. Have you ever reached a non-mobile-optimized site on a smartphone? The tiny font and side-to-side scrolling requirement likely made you move on quickly, and if your site isn’t optimized for mobile, the same is true of your potential customers. Whether you choose to create a dedicated mobile site or implement responsive design, you need to make sure your site is mobile-optimized to fully compete online in the mobile age.

So there you have it: five digital marketing myths, busted. If you’re out to capture greater market share by reaching customers on digital channels, keep these principles in mind. That way, you’ll channel your time and investments where they’ll produce the greatest return – and avoid falling into the digital market myth trap.