When an online writer publishes an article about Digital Marketing in true Chicken Little “The Sky Is Falling!” style, you better pay attention. No, not really because they have anything close to the truth. Usually behind the hysteria, there is either:

a) A lack of comprehension of the subject they voluntarily — I can only assume — agreed to write about.

b) A gross exaggeration based on a narrow view of the subject.

c) A smoothie of truths blended along with the previous two.

digital marketing destruction

After reading this article published on Forbes’ website, in which the author affirms that Digital Marketing — as a concept — can be a destroyer of business, I can confidently classify it in the last group. There’s a good foundation of business knowledge, along with ignorance about what Digital Marketing is really about.

Now, I don’t completely blame the author. Much of what we see today that passes as Digital Marketing is in fact a bunch of hoopla. My heart aches when I see companies, large and small, spending big budgets in an effort that is bound to bomb, for the simple reason that it does not conform to a proper framework, one that has been proven time and time again by successful digital efforts. (Note: I’ve laid out this framework quite clearly in my book.)

It’s evident to me that the author is referring to efforts devoid of proper research, a strategic framework, a creative approach that differentiates, an intelligent distribution framework, and a solid basis in analysis. Why? The examples he brings up are purely naked tactics. He criticizes how some of these tactics perform worse than the others, but makes no reference to whether there was an over-arching strategy in place.

And there probably wasn’t.

However, that doesn’t mean that the same tactics applied properly within a strategy cannot work. Quite reasonably, in order to know what works, one needs to measure correctly. For example, you just can’t measure the value of money by its weight.

In the article, he spends time criticizing the allegedly poor click-through rates of PPC ads… But how does that relate to ROI, when you’re not really paying per impressions (Hence the name: PPC, Pay-Per-Click)? I’ve set up campaigns with CTR’s between 5-10%, much higher than what he uses as a benchmark… but again, what does this have to do with ROI when it comes to PPC advertising? At the end of the day, ROI must be calculated from what is actually costing us money, and in a PPC campaign, our main concern should be Cost Per Click as related to Conversion Rate, not number of impressions nor CTR — provided the CTR is above zero, of course. This is a clear case of not measuring with the correct method. Measuring the volume of water with a ruler.

It seems like the author is shoving a square piece in a round hole; namely, trying to cram a traditional advertising mindset (paying per impression) into analyzing a PPC campaign — in which you pay per performance, or clicks. Part of the beauty of some Digital Marketing tactics is that you have the ability to guard your ROI through a performance-based approach.

The author spends some time implying a few dichotomies, such as volume-based marketing Vs content marketing, awareness Vs direct, among others. While I agree with him that focusing on just one of these can be dangerous, why didn’t he even consider a strategy where all of these are in play? Why in his mind is one the opposite of the other? Oh, right. Because he’s not critiquing a strategic approach, where several tactics exist to support each other. Awareness by itself can be narrow-sighted, but it can be an excellent goal at the top of a digital funnel.

Now, the contributor to Forbes warned us all against something he calls “Marketing Funnel Fallacy,” which in his own words, “they increase site hits, views or some other top-of-the-funnel metric and call that success. But what they fail to do is drive bottom-line results, which is what they need.” Well… If a funnel only places efforts on its top, and calls any metrics on that end a success, guess what? It isn’t a funnel! By definition, a funnel should pay attention to how visitors and prospects go through each stage all the way up to conversion, which is what in most cases affects our bottom line. Therefore, he’s not critiquing a true and proper funnel, as defined by every marketer, even if he claims that’s what he is talking about.

I could continue pointing out errors in reasoning in this article, but I won’t waste more of my time. Besides, I need to go back to destroying my client’s businesses through smart, strategic digital marketing — which for some strange reason, they thank me for.