Online marketing lessons learned tile

3 Things Digital Marketing Can Teach Us About Life

My journey in the field of digital marketing has taught me a lot. No doubt, it is a complex area to get your head around. There are seemingly endless nuances about the platforms to get familiar with. Worse still, just when you understand a feature, technique, algorithm, the powers that be can it or introduce something new.

Despite this, there is plenty to learn about the process and way of thinking that translates to pretty much any digital marketing medium, and even some that translate into everyday life. Here are my top 3.

Mo’ money, mo’ problems.

There’s something to be said about the timeless wisdom of Biggie Smalls. He did fail to mention a few things though. Things like “no money, even more problems” and “less money, still problems.”

Adding budget to marketing campaigns is far from a fix all, and in a lot of cases, it can just add more issues to deal with while experiencing diminishing returns. The key really is striking the balance. You never want so little money that you can’t capitalise on the opportunities that are apparent and as long as you’re meticulously tracking the results of your marketing efforts (and they’re positive) an unlimited budget is optimal.

This is very rarely the case though, and diminishing returns as well as a limited audience can really make life difficult if you’re expecting a similar level of returns the more you put in. Sometimes the best stories come from those with smaller budgets that must optimise ruthlessly to maximise returns on the limited pool of marketing spend.

Whatever the budget, the key is matching the budget with the size of the opportunity and investing wisely in the optimisation of that budget.

Life is no different. No money means big problems. Less money than you need, still pretty big problems. A quick survey of past lottery winners would likely paint the “mo’ money” picture pretty well. Too much, too fast and you are very prone to wastage and diminishing returns.

Pile of New Zealand currency laying flat on table

The lesson

Maybe no money and lots of money are the problem. How about enough to maximise your opportunities for fun, family and peace of mind, but not enough to get you hooked on expensive addictions and depreciating toys?

Automate the Easy Stuff

A lot of fear and loathing presents itself when the term automation is floated. Job losses aren’t fun, and it’s true that automation will probably cause a fair few of those in the coming decades. When it comes to digital marketing however, it’s a very important consideration. A lot of the work that marketers have done in the past, has been low value, repetitive tasks which rarely get those big wins, but are a necessary part of running healthy campaigns.

Reporting is another area of digital marketing where little value is added if you’re wasting time copying and pasting numbers into spreadsheets. Automate the data pull, have a dashboard that tracks key metrics and graphs them. Then spend your reporting time delivering valuable, actionable insights that will move the needle.

Automation if implemented correctly, should free up plenty of time for the high value things that can really make a difference to the bottom line. Building strategies, pulling valuables insights and turning those into winning plays. These are the things that digital marketers should be leaping out of bed for each day.

In life, it’s really no different. Time, energy and willpower are all limited resources that we too often exhaust with the small stuff that doesn’t really make our lives better. I’m not saying you should run out and buy a robotic vacuum cleaner, but taking a step back from small decisions and realising they’re of little consequence can really free up your mind to focus on the big things. Steve jobs wore the same outfit everyday. His uncluttered mind had time to focus on what really mattered to him, making great products.

Automate digital marketing reporting and tedious tasks

The lesson

Don’t sweat the small stuff. If someone or something else can do the little things better, let them. If you’re cluttered with meaningless decisions, just stop making them. You’re better off focusing your time and energy where you can make the biggest difference.

It’s not all about you

There is a strong tendency for us in the marketing space to believe that every win is coming from something that they have done. The same can be said for poor performance. While these are good natural starting points, as they get you to ask questions of your strategy, sometimes we just have to realise that there are bigger forces at play.

It may bruise the ego, but there is a chance that the the 20% uplift in conversions you saw when split out your AdWords campaigns, was simply a relic of some external market force that you hadn’t considered. You might fall into the trap of looking at data in the wrong timeframe, or have missed considerations like weather or global events.

Likewise, every campaign has a bad day, week, or even month. Sometimes people just aren’t searching for what you’re selling.

One of the keys to being really good at digital marketing is to learn to recognise the places where it wasn’t anything you did. That will allow your focus to narrow in on exactly the kind of optimisation that is making a difference.

Life follows art in this case as well. We often let our ego tell us that we are in control. Sometimes, you just need to take a step back and realise that it’s not always about you. Whether it’s interactions with other people or wins and losses in life, sometimes it wasn’t anything you did.

The lesson

Don’t over analyse and project your ego on things that are out of control. Reflect, take a breath and realise how great it feels to be a tiny dot, on a tiny pale blue dot, floating in the vastness of the universe. Some things just can’t be changed. The things that can deserve your full attention!

So there you have, my list of takeaways from my digital marketing journey so far. What lessons has online marketing taught you? Share your great advice for marketing or life in the comments, I’d love to hear them!


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