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Does Digital Marketing Depend on Technology?

Does digital marketing require technology?Does digital marketing depend on technology? Well, in a word, yes. In fact, I think all marketing these days depends on technology, at least in part.

But before you say, “Great,” and move on to other things, let me tell you a quick story.

The other day, an interviewer asked me to explain why someone should hire me (or any of my many fine competitors), when so much great technology exists to help people manage their marketing on the social, local, mobile web.

It’s a fair question.

I have a pretty good answer for this, but Dion Hinchcliffe, writing for ZDNet, offers up a compelling case, too:

“…the historical vagaries of how companies have applied technology to the customer relationship has meant that solutions have long been channel-centric, instead of customer-centric. While the majority of companies certainly do have modern call centers, social media marketing plans, e-mail campaigns, a mobile app strategy, an SEO policy, and so on, they are frequently unsynchronized and siloed. It’s also highly likely these channels are also not monitored well and fall far short of the participation levels required to achieve ROI. They are also usually not mapped well to the customer experience or the company’s overall digital strategy, despite the importance of doing so.” [All emphasis mine]

Now, don’t get me wrong. Technology absolutely has its place in this discussion. It usually helps businesses conduct their activities faster, cheaper, better than they otherwise might. I both rely on and recommend a number of technology solutions to my clients to improve their results.

But, it’s important to note that an army of the best equipped soldiers pointed in the wrong direction and aiming at the wrong targets usually won’t win the fight.

It’s the companies and organizations that provide their teams the right tools, resources, and direction who win, at least most of the time.

So, before you sign a check for the next great technical solution to your organization’s problem, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do we truly understand who our customers are?
  • Do we know what our customers need?
  • Do we know how to reach our customers?
  • Do we know what it ought to cost us to do that?
  • Is this technology solution going to help us do the right thing for our customer faster, cheaper, or better?

The same is true for new marketing channels. It’s not a question of “Should we use Facebook? (Or Twitter, Goolge+, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, Snapchat, or whatever’s next)?” It’s whether your customers do and whether you can help your customers achieve their goals by being there.

And, if you can honestly answer “yes” to all the questions above, then by all means, write a check. Start engaging.

But if not, give me a call.

Interested in learning more about e-commerce and digital marketing? Register to receive a free copy of my new special report, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World,” produced in conjunction with Vizergy, here. While it’s targeted to the hospitality industry specifically, most of the lessons apply across verticals. And, if that’s not enough, you might also enjoy some of our past coverage of strategy, digital marketing, and e-commerce, including:

Tim Peter is the founder and president of Tim Peter & Associates. You can learn more about our company's strategy and digital marketing consulting services here or about Tim here.

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