4 Sad Realities of Digital Marketing

I think you’ll agree with me when I say:

“No one states all the facts anymore”

When you get started with digital marketing, you would want to know everything, right? I believe it goes for anything. Even something small, like a haircut. 

But no. You get reeled in with all sorts of promises.

Time passes and you ask yourself “what’s the return of all this money we spent?” with no clear answer. You got your likes, and followers but do they tell you what good that does?

Any smart business owner who puts in a dollar, and gets back two dollars knows something’s working.

sad reality of digital marketing

But if you don’t see the two dollars back, what do you feel? Panic? Frustration? Anger? Sadness?

The inspiration for this post comes from a true story of a skincare spa client. They came over to us from an agency that they were with for a year.

The lady (owner) was extremely frustrated because she went with all the huff and puff of “of course, you’ll see customers flooding in right away”.

She says to me verbatim “A year goes by, and I kid you not, I could only connect about 4 bookings of dermal fillers and 2 bookings of laser hair removal”.


Suffice to say, it was not easy for them to “trust” another agency. But we showed them a strategic roadmap, and 7 months later, they are very very happy 😉

Anyway, today, I’ll list some very sad facts about digital marketing that normally one figures out after spending money. You will go in knowing everything there is to know before you switch agencies or hire a full-time marketer.

Without further ado:

1. Time It Takes To Get The Engine Running At Full Speed

When you talk to your agency or shopping around for one, you hear that paid marketing (SEM, PPC, etc) is instant gratification. You’ll get instant traffic, you’ll get instant leads, and amazing sales shortly thereafter.

Wow, look at that train go!
Wow, look at that train go!

Sad Reality:

Doesn’t work that way.

Why not?

Because Digital Marketing is about strategy, analysis & iteration. You start something, see how it runs, analyze how it ran, make changes and start again.

This takes some time.

Take for example you’re an ecommerce brand that specializes in styled underwear for middle aged men. You care about increasing orders.

So you’ll go on and allocate $25,000 for the month for, say, Banner Ads using the Google Display Network.

Guess what? You may end up spending the $25,000 with not many orders for the first month.

It’s not because no one is working on your campaign or because digital marketing “sucks”, but because that is the nature of digital marketing. No one has the crystal ball that can predict what campaign strategy would work right from the get go.

So we iterate till we find the combo that works. If you have previous customer information, or you have been keeping tabs on the types of customers you have, this may speed up the process. But it still takes a little time.

Sure, PPC can work faster for your brand than Organic SEO but it will still take time. How much time? Well that depends on various factors like how popular your keywords are, how much competition there is, etc.

2. Search Engine Optimization will give you unwavering long-term traffic

Long term traffic? Sure. Unwavering? Mmmm.. not so fast. These days, the Search Gods (aka Google) change their algorithms, rules and regulations all the time. What’s right today might not be right tomorrow.

There’s also the factor of competitors. If you’re not constantly at SEO, the much-cherished “top spot” can get snatched away by someone else.

The search engines always favour websites that are never resting on their laurels.

So it’s only unwavering as long as you’re doing the right things, consistently.

Sad Reality:

SEO is conditional love, not unconditional.

3. Content is easy

A penny for every time I…

You can bang out content left and right. It is really the easiest “marketing” you could do.

But you need to really analyze what kind of people come to your site and create content that resonates with them. If not, what good is that? They won’t convert into sales or revenue bringers (not talking to bloggers)

You keep banging out articles like hot pancakes, and one day you’ll realize you’ve just been spinning your wheels and nothing ever worked.

Oh and not to mention, as a business owner, do you really have the time?

Sad Reality:

Content is NOT easy. It requires planning, consistency, dedication & pizzazz. Without that last ingredient, you won’t get people to read it. And it won’t result in revenue.

So do your content, but do your homework before you begin.

4. Digital Marketing is cheap!

Someone recently said to me “Hey, so I got a call from someone out in OC saying they will handle everything for $500“. I smirked and said “If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys

And rightfully so. Easy Digital Marketing is an extinct animal. Sometime around 2009, it was seen in dwindling numbers. But many haven’t seen it since then. The good news is, it was not a mythical beast. It was real.

But things have changed since then. And boy have they changed.

The Marketing itself is expensive. Some industries pay up to $200 per CLICK on their Google Adwords Ads. Not a lead, not a booking, not an appointment – but a click. So why would you trust your marketing campaigns with monkeys?

The el-cheapos of Digital Marketing, especially the emails or calls you get from them should come with a huge “BEWARE: USE CAUTION” sign.  Many stories of deception, lies, deceit, wire fraud, and websites getting penalized by search engines, etc are all over the Internet.

Sad Reality:

Digital Marketing that actually works takes time and skill. Most times, each of these skillsets are spread apart as specialties. And each person has that specialty. And that specialized person needs to get paid for his subject matter expertise.

So you cannot pay peanuts and get away with it because then you get cookie cutter approaches that won’t work. Worse, they might even get you banned from Google.

5. Setting & Managing Expectations (This is a bonus Sad Reality)

Every agency, heck, every business should set clear expectations with their clients. Don’t promise the moon. Certainly don’t hint that you’re giving them the moon either.

Agencies do this to win the clients.

If an agency is giving you answers to everything without even asking you any questions…. don’t walk out. Run out!

Sad Reality:

No, you will not get the moon.

We can work hard to make you feel like you are on the moon, but you’re not going to get it.

So, dear business owner, you want to turn your $1 into $2? Extract all the facts from who you’re going to hire. If you’re looking to dive in yourself, you won’t have this problem because then you have yourself to blame. Not that we recommend that route.

But please, know that Digital Marketing is NOT the Holy Grail of leads and sales.

4 Sad Realities of Digital Marketing

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