4 Golden Principles of Marketing to Live By In The Digital Age

by James Lawrence on 
September 09, 2020 | 
Digital Marketing Strategy
James Lawrence

We get a lot of questions from our clients, typically in-house marketers and business owners, with regards to coping with the speed of change in the digital marketing environment.

This change not only relates to everything going on with the 2020 pandemic but also to the tech stack, the tools, the rapid shifts in buyer behaviour and external factors like JobKeeper and our political landscape in Australia.

Marketers want to know how to bring about more structure, planning and strategy to digital marketing campaigns and work best with a digital marketing strategy agency like us, so they can benefit from our learnings and the wide range of campaigns that we run.

smarter marketer

In 2019, Rocket co-founder David Lawrence and I crystallised our process, approach, and advice in Smarter Marketer, that went on to be an #1 Amazon Best Seller within 3 hours of launching the book. I think the reason why the book went on to be so successful is that it answered the pressing questions marketers were asking every day.

No matter what the market scenario, no matter what the industry they played in - some gaps kept appearing again and again:

  • We can’t identify what isn’t working in our digital marketing campaigns
  • We’ve spent thousands on marketing over the last 12 months… we need to improve our marketing ROI
  • We need to build better relationships with our clients
  • We’re worried our marketing campaigns aren’t performing as well as they could
  • Our sales and marketing teams aren’t on the same page
  • We’ve plateaued in our business… we need marketing to help us level up

In Smarter Marketer, we dive into 11 Golden Rules to help in-house marketers thrive in an ever-changing digital world. Here, I’d like to share the top 4 of these Golden Rules, which I’m hoping will give you another perspective to your marketing approach.

Golden Rule #1: Digital Marketing is Just Marketing

When we started our marketing agency in Sydney in 2017, digital was considered a highly technical channel, where SEO was mostly about link-building and making technical changes on our client’s site. Google Ads, too, was reliant on a specialist to have skills in Ads Manager to be able to make calculated optimisation changes to campaigns.

The penny dropped for us about 5 years ago, when we were introduced to a book called Scientific Advertising. This book, published in 1923 and now public domain, spoke about the importance of A/B testing ad copy to reduce the cost of acquisition, the importance of headlines, taking into account people’s dwindling attention-span and using principles of psychology for effective advertising.

The massive takeaway from this almost-century-old book was that foundational marketing principles have naturally crept into digital advertising. What we’ve found from running hundreds of campaigns is that the ones that are based on these strong marketing foundations of messaging, timing, persuasion and the like, which had the chances of being successful in conversion in a non-digital context, were the campaigns that ultimately delivered the highest ROI.

scientific advertising book cover

To be successful in digital marketing, you have to apply a lot of rules and strategies that have been applied for the past 100 years in marketing.

Golden Rule #2: Never Forget the Complexity of a Prospect's Real Life

Five years ago, most non-marketers would not agree with this concept and now we’re coming to a point where senior business leaders and salespeople are coming round to accepting this perspective. Before, marketing, especially paid ads, was relatively mathematical. For example, we’d run a campaign with a media budget of $5000 for our marketing agency clients, optimise for conversions and then based on performance, add on more or less media spend next month.

Now, if we had to make a software purchase for our business, we’d do a lot of research, involve multiple stakeholders, review use-cases etc on multiple devices as a B2B purchase.

In the case of B2C purchase, you’ll typically find a “husband-wife” team researching independently for months and making a phone enquiry before making a chunky purchase. In essence, it’s quite clear that buyer behaviour has changed. Digital is playing a massive role where we’re going beyond a couple of easily-trackable touchpoints to identify the “lead source”.

As marketers, we need to meet people where they’re at in the buyer journey and give them ample, relevant content to be taken into consideration when they are ready to buy.

Golden Rule #3: Never Forget the Limitations of Data

As digital marketers, we have access to incredible amounts of data at our fingertips and, used well, it can deliver powerful insights that can change the course of your campaigns.

However, as the path to purchase gets more complex and nuanced, the limitations of this data is getting more pronounced. As a marketing agency, we work with clients to match dollar spend on media to an outcome but over time, we have come to realise that not all marketing efforts can be traced to results.

Businesses need to invest in brand - SEO, content and even paid media backing branding campaigns where they may not be able to measure a dollar-for-dollar outcome. It has become increasingly challenging to measure commercial outcomes on a last-click basis, where the conversion may have been impacted by several campaigns along the way.

However, data still has a role to play, despite the complexities of attribution models. We still find big gaps in basic tracking and analytics set-ups by in-house marketers, where there is a lack of a measurement framework and poor data collection.

Overall, what we have found is that businesses that focus solely on bottom-of-funnel lead generation campaigns eventually end up paying a higher cost per lead than those who take a balanced approach and invest in their brand.

Golden Rule #4: Nothing is More Important than the Message

Just as it is with traditional marketing, you can’t sustain success in digital without getting the right message to the right audience and the right people at the right time. Every month, media platforms like LinkedIn and Google Ads are adding features and ad automation to their ad platforms, that to some extent is levelling off the playing field. So, over time, when you take the technicalities of a campaign away from the campaign, what will finally make an impact is the messaging.

Smart marketers will spend more time on crafting strategy and messaging than they will on making minor tweaks to paid ad campaigns. It’s unlikely that we’ll have bots spitting out messaging by itself at the level of a human creating high-quality creative and copy.

Messaging emotionally impacts humans and drives them to action. At Rocket, our team works with our agency clients to understand who we are trying to move, their outcomes, their objections and be conscious of the various benefits of our client’s products and services.

So, there they are - the 4 Golden Rules of Marketing to live by every single day. If you’d like to get your hands on a copy of Smarter Marketer, visit smartermarketer.com.au.

If you’re considering outsourcing your marketing efforts to a trusted partner, let’s talk!

working on laptop b2b guide

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James Lawrence
Co-Founder & Director | Rocket Agency

James is co-founder of multi-award-winning Australian digital marketing agency Rocket, keynote speaker, host of Apple’s #1 Marketing Podcast, Smarter Marketer, and co-author of the 2019 Amazon Australia’s #1 best-selling marketing book of the same name. He was also a finalist in 2019 and 2020 B&T Marketer of the Year.

James’ 15-year marketing career working with more than 500 in-house marketing teams inspired the 2019 release of Smarter Marketer. It has been endorsed by marketers at some of Australia’s leading brands, including Hubspot and KPMG.

In 2022, James launched the Smarter Marketer podcast, the definitive podcast for Australian marketers. Released fortnightly, James sits down with local experts and global authorities to discuss how Australian marketers can become more successful in their careers.

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