Digital Marketing is Dead. Here’s why

2017-08-15 11:08

by Tim Hughes | @Timothy_Hughes | LinkedIn

In the blog “Take a Long Hard look at your Social” I make the comments:

  • People don’t read ads anymore
  • We fast forward through ads on the TV
  • If you call me and I don’t recognise your number in my phone I won’t take the call
  • Send me an email and I don’t know you, it will end in my email junk file and it will get deleted
  • None of us care about your company or products
  • The most important person in the world is me

Writing back in October 2016, I still think this is the case, in fact more so.  It was bought home to me the other day when somebody said they were, “too busy sending out newsletters to meet me to talk about social”.

When Adam Gray and I set up Digital Leaderships Associates almost a year ago, while we knew we were onto something, we didn’t know that we were in the middle of a perfect storm. In fact, we are the only company that seems to be working on projects in this post-digital marketing era.

Let’s break down digital marketing piece by piece

  1. Advertising – While I will argue that advertising isn’t social, let’s go with this for a second. Advertising comes from a bygone age, where the only way you can get noticed is to advertise.  We are all way past this now, nobody looks at ads anymore, we all fast forward through ads on the TV.  In a recent meeting with Stephen Sumner, founder and CEO of Tagtent, he talked about how when he was CMO of MusicMagpie he got data that showed advertising impact declined year on year.  So, each year his budget went up, just so he could shout louder.  You should check out Tagtent, it’s a great way for brands to reach consumers without adverting.

In addition to that with Google automating the PPC market with artificial intelligence, even if people click on sponsored searches and banner ads (everybody tells me they don’t) then PPC skills will soon be redundant.

With advertising, you have to hope that somebody will see the advert.  Hope was never a strategy.  With social, you are in control of the next action.

This is the same for sponsorship, which is just another form of advertising.

  1. Websites – Most of us are now pretty skilled at search. Searches are now longer and longer and often we already know the destination. Alexa and Amazon are trying to cut out Google.  This means that Google will have to react.  Which is why they are developing a structure that will mean that the “shop front”, in other words the website, will be on Google.  Amazon, Google, and others are slowly making the website redundant.
  2. Email – I’m not sure about you but my inbox management goes something like this: Delete, block, delete, delete, block, etc. Email has become the place where I just get emailed about “yet another event”, “yet another product that will change my life” (don’t they all). I was writing about this recently and somebody said “email marketing is very successful, the number of emails sent goes up every year”.  Yes, of course, we all know, the only way we can be heard above the noise is to send more and more emails.  I was in a meeting recently and was told a company was about to embark on an email campaign. They needed to send 50,000 emails and they hoped to get 1/4 of a prospect.

(We recently put out one piece of content and had three inbound enquiries.)

As I write this I’ve just got an email with the introductory line “I wanted to get in touch as I think I might have a good opportunity here for you…” it then went and talked about something I have no interest in.

  1. Cold calling – This is the same as adverting and email should be added to the bin of all 1950s “interrupt marketing”.

In the following articles I argue that nobody likes to be cold called, in fact it hurts your brand.  I also explain how you can get higher and quicker in organisations by using social.  A quicker and more efficient species is here and cold calling, mainly in Europe, has already fallen by the wayside. 

“What do Cold Calling and Leeches have in Common? “

“Accelerate your Existing Pipeline with Social Selling”

“The Day When Stealing Somebody Else’s Time Is Over”

But what about “Martech”?

If you hadn’t seen this article it details the “Martech 5000” – that is the 5,000 applications that have defined themselves as providing Marketing Technology or “martech”

The problem with “Martech” is that it does not get around the fact that many of these process are dead.

Why invest in a new “email marketing” application, only for this to annoy your customers?

  1. Events – At my previous role I was perplexed about the obsession with events. Sales people were happy to call people up and ask them to an event, but they won’t call and ask for a meeting. While I explained that events extended the sales process this seemed to fall on deaf ears.


I get about three invites to events every day and with one or two exceptions where there is a good speaker, there seems to be a “race to bottom” where conferences end up being purely sales pitches.

I spoke recently at a conference and as part of my talk I explained how when I walked into the conference and was handed a brochure by a sales person.  Versus one of the other exhibitors who contacted me on social, where I built a relationship with them.  We now use their product, so I name checked them in front of the conference, and they got a free ad.  It was interesting that none of the other exhibitors contacted me.  I am pretty visible on social.

So, if digital marketing is dead, what should you do?

In this recent article I explain:

“Eddie Van Halen and the Future of Social Selling”

Here at DLA we have realised that the future for sales and marketing is social media.  The buyer process has changed.  People now self educate, but you can be there.  Helping, empowering and supporting those buyers.  Building trust.  Now we all know that people buy from people.  They also buy from people they know and trust.  This is the short cut to incremental revenue.

The news is also better than that.  Because so many people think social is hard work, and they want to take the “easy” old school route, you only have to be better than your competition by 10 or 20% to make an impact.

Shameless self promotion

Here at DLA we are disruptive, we are not your traditional management consultancy. Yawn. We are the only company in the world that has created IP (Intellectual Property) that helps organisations use social across the whole organisation. From the board downwards including, sales, marketing, manufacturing etc. And we are very proud that social is all we do.

We have hired the brightest people, who have experience of rolling out social across corporations. We understand the requirements that a company needs to change in 2017 to meet the new world challenges, we also know how to embed that change.

One final thing, we focus on how techniques are not “inward” focused as per the “traditional” management consultancies, but are outward gaining incremental (new) revenues and profits. I know this all seems too good to be true, but trust me, go on give us a call!

Digital Leadership Associates: We are a Social Media Agency. We do three things: Social Media StrategySocial Selling and Social Media Management. Drop us an email and let’s talk about how we can make an impact on your organisation.

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