Avoid the digital marketing trend trap

Freddy Duva
Freddy D'Uva Marketing Strategist | Strategy Team

Digital marketing is still a relatively young industry, having only been around for 30 years. The industry is booming and many agencies are trying to capitalise on it. Many digital agencies act as if they know a deep secret about how to harness digital. Well, guess what? There is no secret. Technology and consumer expectations are shifting so quickly that we’re all learning at the same pace.

These shifts in technology have changed how people search for and interact with content and this has had an impact on how different mediums function, and consequently how we as marketers develop our strategies.

This isn’t another ‘digital marketing trends for 2018’ article, we all know there are too many of those online and therein lies a problem.

The problem with this content:

The internet has made everyone with a smartphone or computer a published author. In itself, this isn’t a bad thing. However, there is a reason not everyone has a book deal.

We now have access to so much information that it can be difficult to filter out the good from the mediocre. A search for ‘digital marketing strategy template’ returns 1.8 million results.

Many of these results are generic, keyword-stuffed blogs designed to increase traffic for the author and not at all trying to help your business develop a strategy. Part of the problem with this content is that they are often well written and use compelling headlines to draw readers in. They get a lot of traffic and shares because the authors know what you want to read, they’ve studied keyword trends and search volumes to optimise the content to their advantage. It’s this type of content that can mislead clients and digital marketing professionals if followed blindly or interpreted in the wrong way.

Avoid the hype, find your purpose:

We’ve had clients enter our boardroom to share their strategies with us and you can see the influence of this content is present. They come with thoughts about how they want to weave new trends, such as VR, AI or chatbots, into their strategy. Keeping up to date and wanting to experiment with new tech and trends isn’t the issue. The issue comes when you force a trend into a strategy for the sake of it.

Staying on top of the trends is important to remain relevant in digital. However, the danger comes when you assume that just because new technology is on trend that you should add it to your strategy.

Forcing the latest trends into the mix without sense checking how implementing a new idea or technology can benefit your business objectives is a bad idea.

Know your endgame:

What a lot of these people fail to realise, is that they’ve written their ‘strategy’ before defining a clear end goal.

Even when it comes down to something basic like content marketing, is the goal awareness, education, validation, action, opinion? The majority of the time it's hard to know WHY a piece of content exists, what's the endgame? Are you trying to establish a name within a market? Highlight competitive advantages? Communicate a new offering? Tell a story? Appear human? You can’t do all, well at least not properly, so set that Northern Star of what you’re looking to achieve at first from a more tactical position, rather than an abstract drive for ‘more sales’, and then the rest falls into place far more easily.

A strategy without an endgame is just a sequence of tactical activities. Even if each activity serves a micro-purpose for a particular campaign, it's not a strategy unless each piece is part of the larger struggle to achieve your endgame.

We run workshops to help brands align their strategy to their value propositions. Find out more here.