The digital revolution has transformed the world in many ways. In Canada today, for example, there are more than 35 million internet users and 84% of these users like to purchase products and services online (https://www.todayville.com/top-digital-marketing-trends-in-canada-for-2022/). In 2022, it’s expected more than 50% of Canadian Internet users will spend more than 10 hours a week consuming online content.
These are huge numbers that make a strong case for digital marketing!
Yet, as a guy who runs a Calgary digital marketing agency and spends all his time selling digital marketing services, I’ve observed that the majority of businesses in Canada are not engaged in meaningful digital marketing activities.
I’ve also observed that there is a growing gap between companies that are executing digital marketing strategies and tactics and those that are not. I’ve been calling this the “digital divide,” which is a topic I’ll write about in my next blog.
With the case for digital marketing being so compelling, why isn’t every company in Canada doing it?
Here are the top five objections I hear:
- People don’t understand digital marketing and find it intimidating
While digital marketing is compelling, it’s also complicated and difficult to understand. A successful digital marketing strategy is multi-dimensional and includes tactics that may not initially make a lot of sense to some people. Why do you need to write a blog or produce content to be found on Google? What is SEO exactly and how does it work? Why do I need to keep making seemingly small and insignificant changes to the structure of my website? Why do I care about links and website authority? What are links and what is website authority?To someone who hasn’t spent any time thinking about these things, this may all sound like a foreign language, and it can be very intimidating. It’s easier for people to just do what they’ve always done: not engage in digital marketing.
- We tried digital marketing in the past, but it didn’t work
I hear this a lot and it’s a tough objection to get past. Unfortunately, the digital marketing industry is full of fake experts and shady operators. I completely understand and empathize with people when they share their experiences. If a person has been burned by a digital marketer in the past, it can be extremely difficult to trust again. I totally get it.What’s more is that digital marketing itself has changed a lot and it continues to change at a fast pace. What did or did not work in the past may or may not work today – and this makes it that much more difficult.
What’s also interesting is that in many cases digital marketing efforts may not have produced because budgets were too small, companies quit too soon, or expectations were not properly managed.
For example, with paid search advertising on Google, prices for ads are determined in a competitive auction environment. If your budget is not adequate, you are almost guaranteed to fail so you really shouldn’t even bother.
This too is the fault of the agency or digital marketer; a capable agency knows what the budget needs to be based on the data available and will not take on a client unless they are wiling to spend appropriately given the cost of advertising for that client.
There are typically many reasons why digital marketing may not have worked in the past and most of the time it’s not because digital marketing doesn’t work. Regardless, those who tried and failed are reluctant to try again.
- Our business has been successful without digital marketing in the past, so why should we do anything differently?
This is a very common objection my digital marketing agency gets as well. While it’s relevant for some companies, the reality is that what worked well in the past will not work too much longer into the future.When people give me this objection, they often also tell me they need to find new customers. So, while a lot of people will say something like this to a digital marketing agency, they are also talking to a digital marketing agency for a reason. To me, this objection always feels like a challenge that the prospect throws out there to seek confirmation about what their gut is telling them: they need to do something differently.
There are so many statistics available that prove this objection wrong. Without going deep into those details, the reality is that the digital revolution has completely shifted the power away from the seller towards the buyer. Today, the buyer of pretty much every product and service available can go online, do their own research, and go through between 75% and 100% of the buyers’ journey without speaking to a salesperson. It has become the job of companies then to shift from selling products and services to helping buyers buy their products and services online.
While a growing number of companies understand this new dynamic, still more are choosing to ignore this reality and it’s costing them market share. Not to be pessimistic or negative, but the companies that keep this type of thinking are not likely to survive long term. Regardless, there are a significant number of businesses that hold onto this reasoning and don’t engage in digital marketing as a result.
- We have never done any marketing as a company, so why should we start digital marketing now?
This objection is one of the most interesting ones because it’s so patently untrue. It’s an objection I get most from people who have been running a successful company for a period of time – and I think have forgotten how much effort they put into marketing in their early days. The reality is that there is a huge difference between marketing and advertising and while it’s true that many companies have not engaged in advertising, every company that’s ever existed has definitely engaged in marketing, whether they know it or not.Perhaps it comes down to how people define marketing. To me, marketing is everything a company does, how they treat customers, how they come up with prices, how they invoice, how they advertise to make sure people can find them, and SO much more.
In the today’s digital environment, this takes on a much more important role. Digital marketing is now not only about being found online, but every touch point with a client is an opportunity to make an impression, win more loyalty, and turn a great client into a raving fan. That prospect or client relationship usually starts online, often on a company website, blog, or social media channel, and it continues from there. While companies sometimes use this as their reason not to engage in digital marketing, this objection is likely more of a smoke screen than a real objection. (And the real reason is more likely one of the ones listed above.)
- What if we make the investment and it’s not successful?
The fear of making a bad decision is perhaps one of the strongest and most relevant objections I hear when it comes to jumping into the world of digital marketing. I think this objection is also most closely tied to objection #1: people don’t understand it and find it intimidating.This one can be tough for a digital marketing agency because some of the most effective digital marketing strategies – mainly content marketing and SEO – can take considerable time to produce meaningful results, but when they start producing, those results can be game changing. The solution to this challenge is developing a digital marketing strategy that includes both short-term tactics and long-terms tactics. The problem with this, however, is that working on both short-and long-term tactics requires even more investment, creating an even bigger hurdle to getting started!
This can be a real conundrum and the easy default is just not to bother.
As a digital marketing agency, to get past this objection, it’s critical that we track everything and put a lot of effort into reporting. It’s also critical that we manage expectations and be as transparent as possible with our clients about what we expect success to look like, what the steps along the way will be, to meet often to discuss how strategies and tactics are working, and to be prepared to adjust as we go.
However, this is all stuff we can do after a company makes the decision to proceed with digital marketing. It can be a real barrier to getting started and the only way we can get past this objection is by helping our prospects think through the alternative question: what happens if you don’t make an investment and your company’s growth stagnates or declines?
These are the five main objections I hear from companies about digital marketing, and they are only some of the reasons that companies don’t bother with digital marketing in the first place. In fairness, digital marketing can be challenging, and finding success isn’t always an easy path; sometimes a digital marketing agency needs to spend months testing and iterating until we get things working well.
With these realities, I definitely understand why some companies decide not to bother with digital marketing. But as an owner of a digital marketing agency that does several competitive research reports every month across almost all industry sectors, I can also see a growing gap between companies that engage in digital marketing and those that do not. The competitive data shows this growing gap is just as compelling as the data about how Canadians use the Internet to research and buy online.
If you think it might be time to consider digital marketing for your business, don’t hesitate to reach out. Our digital marketing agency is more than happy to educate you and your team, provide free audits and competitive reports, and ease you into a program that makes sense for your company.