Thursday, January 24, 2013

Digital Marketing is ... Marketing

I am a digital marketer. By that I mean that I use digital marketing tools and channels to promote products and services. These tools and channels include: SEO, PPC, display or banners, advanced targeting techniques, social media communications, social media advertising, remarketing, affiliates, analytics, conversion optimization, A/B testing, email, and marketing automation. But the most important word in the phrase 'digital marketer' is marketer, not digital.

What's important to me about these tools is not that they utilize cool, advanced technologies, and they're steeped in data, and they help automate or optimize complex campaigns or processes. Don't get me wrong, I'm an engineer by training and I LOVE all that stuff. No, what's really important about those digital marketing tools is that they help me market to today's consumer.

It's common for practitioners of digital marketing to get caught up in the tools, the data, and the technology, and forget the marketing fundamentals. But digital marketing is just a subset of marketing, and based on the same fundamentals.

What fundamentals? Well, the real basics, like the three Cs and four Ps:

marketing fundamentals, 3 cs,4 ps

For instance, the four Ps* define the product marketing mix, of which digital channels are a component. Digital technologies have different characteristics than traditional technologies, like greater speed and immediacy, bidirectional communication between the consumer and the company, rich data, and tremendous reach. But for the digital marketing mix to succeed, a solid understanding of the 3 Cs is required, and the market segmentation and targeting and the product differentiation and positioning derived from the 3 Cs analysis must all be properly implemented for the digital marketing to be successful.

This is why, when I'm approaching a new digital marketing problem, I always start with very basic questions, like who is the audience, what's the message and positioning, or what do we want them to do? For example, I once wrote a blog piece about a taco stand vendor who ignored these fundamentals when implementing a QR code on his stand, presumably because he thought that, in tech-crazy Boulder, Colorado, a QR code would be cool.

So when I call myself a digital marketer, what I really mean is that I'm a marketer that has a particular affinity for, and skill set in, the digital portion of the marketing toolkit.

*This presentation format for the four Ps is based on that presented in the excellent marketing text by Perreault, Cannon (@learnthe4ps@teachthe4ps), and McCarthy, Essentials of Marketing

(Image courtesy of jscreationzs at

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well said, Tracy. It's not about the tools (techniques) but about the purpose. Digital is just another expansion of how we do Marketing. That said, because of its social dimensions it does have implications and the potential to change the competitive playing field.