Monkeys doing digital marketing
Image by Bing Image Creator

The digital marketing ecosystem has experienced dramatic changes, particularly in the last few years. For example, Web 3’s metaverse provided brand marketers to think in new dimensions during the pandemic. More recently, ChatGPT made artificial intelligence approachable and exponentially more impactful on virtually every aspect of marketing. In this article, we explore digital marketing strategies and tactics that haven’t worn well in the past decade, to ensure your 2024 marketing plan is both timeless and forward-looking.

Building a digital marketing department
Marketing should be agnostic to media type, and so should the strategist be developing and implementing marketing campaigns. As such, companies need to conduct a skills assessment of existing marketing teams to determine who may need training or who may need to be replaced with talent that natively understands both digital and analog worlds. This obsolete strategy is still an issue for most marketing teams that have not focused on integration and will continue to haunt slow adopters.

Designing a website via internal stakeholder committee
The primary reason for the lack of user-centered design is that most websites are built by a host of departmental managers who have far too much say on colors, fonts, images, and copy. The problem with committee-based design is that these representatives make decisions based on their personal tastes and preferences versus those of the site’s intended user. While this approach is increasingly uncommon, it is still a very real issue due to the group thinking inherent in corporations.

Creating content for content’s sake
With rampant adoption of ChatGPT and similar generative AI platforms, content is easier to create than ever before. This trend has exacerbated the desire to focus on quantity of content over quality, which is only hurting brands in the long term. Successful brands will spend the time to research, develop, optimize, and syndicate content that matters to their constituents and works well across device types and screen sizes. At the very least, invest in high quality editors if you plan to cut copywriting staff due to increased ChatGPT reliance.

Doing black-hat SEO
Google has developed a detailed set of guidelines for search-friendly website design. If you follow their rules, you will be much more likely to rank for desired search terms. Even Bing operates on very similar terms: no IP-spoofing, redirects, hidden or duplicate text, etc. To boil it down, do good marketing and Google will reward you with higher rankings. Google’s E-E-A-T updates identified and penalized a significant number of websites for violating best practices, yet companies still feel the pull of the quick wins that black- and grey-hat SEO can supposedly provide. Big mistake. Play for the long game with compelling content, clean code, and the kind of site credibility and authority that can only be earned, not bought.

Avoiding landing page testing
Unfortunately, not much has changed over the past decade, in terms of landing page testing and optimization adoption across the marketing landscape. The companies that “get it” continue to invest and evolve their efforts, resulting in ever-increasing conversion rates. Far too many marketers, however, are too busy, skeptical, or unlearned regarding the benefits of landing page optimization (LPO). I believe a significant percentage of these remaining marketers will finally commit to testing, if not diving full-bore into LPO in 2024, especially with help from ChatGPT and similar AI-powered tools.

Focusing on engagement in social media
In the first wave of social media marketing (1995-2009), marketers focused on gaining followers and fans. The second wave of social media (2010-2014) focused on conversations and engagement efforts. The third wave (2015 and beyond) focused on three primary areas: collaboration, conversions and brand narrative. Smaller companies, business-to-business organizations, and profit-driven corporations should now focus more on conversion-based strategies and tactics that drive revenue. Bigger consumer brands will shift focus towards developing a brand narrative that helps consumers identify with the company and fit it into the picture a person has of themselves (i.e., shared values like environmental or social issues). Brands will focus from being “Liked” to being “Attached” to the consumer.

Paying third-party vendors to represent your brand in social media
The most common excuses for outsourcing social media management include a lack of internal resources and a lack of proficiency with social platforms. The bottom line is that nobody knows your brand better than your employees, partners, and other advocates. Let them oversee spreading the good word, not a low-paid college graduate working from home. I wish this were less common than it is, but many brands still feel the need to outsource their voice in social media, rather than building the resources in-house (with guidance from experts like us, of course).

Underestimating the power of video (and audio) marketing
I speak regularly about social media and search marketing and am a huge champion of multimedia content, especially video for marketing. I’m still amazed that the marketers to whom I present so often lack cohesive video (and audio) organic and paid content strategies. YouTube is still the world’s second largest search engine, so what are you doing to get into that conversation with consistently compelling content? Brands of all sizes and shapes also need a coherent TikTok and vertical video marketing strategy to be relevant in 2024.

Renting email lists
With the understanding that building an email database in-house is still a highly effective sales and marketing strategy, companies continue to test new strategies to grow their list. Some of the more effective methods of building a house email list include SEO, PPC, direct (mail) marketing, co-registration (email) with partners, contests (via social media platforms like X/Twitter and Facebook) and most importantly, search marketing. This has not changed, and thankfully, fewer organizations are renting low-quality email lists that typically generate a high percentage of spam complaints.

Sending unsegmented or untargeted emails
Despite the evolution of email marketing platforms, a significant percentage of businesses (particularly smaller ones with limited budget and bandwidth) continue to send out unsegmented or targeted emails. Spending the time to understand your email list by digging deep into the analytics and contact profiles, even with help from AI, can reap huge rewards. From there, create and target content based on indicated preferences, as well as demographic and psychographic information. Leveraging the power of AI now available in many email/CRM/marketing automation platforms, watch the value of each subscriber increase exponentially, with incremental effort.

Gaming online reviews
Most brands understand the power of social proof in the form of customer reviews. Unfortunately, too many brands are quick to “buy” or influence positive reviews. The result is the risk of being penalized by search engines, directories, and other review sites. The greater danger is consumers seeing through the charade and taking their business elsewhere. The short answer: create compelling and memorable customer experiences that will make them want to create and share positive reviews. Many companies are focusing on customer delight in 2015 and will bubble to the top as a result.

For a business to succeed in this increasingly complicated and noisy digital world, marketers must let go of obsolete ideas and embrace the concept of continually testing evolving techniques and technologies. The outdated digital marketing techniques outlined above are best retired in 2023, to free up bandwidth and budget for greater success in the years to come.

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