No Sacred Cows – Digital Marketing Should Be Holistic

Not some, all digital marketing should be holistic. If you have a member of your team implementing social media tactics not taking into account search, they’re doing it wrong (and vice versa). If your SEO team scoffs at social or email they’re thinking small.

While some digital marketers like to make absurd proclamations like “SEO is dead” or “email is dead” (let’s just declare everything dead) all they do is show their lack of understanding of how the web works. Either that or they know better and they’re just trying to acquire pageviews. It’s merely a play for attention, but perhaps at the cost of their digital reputation.

If you’re not functioning holistically and are in situations where the right arm doesn’t know what the left is doing, you’re going to either make your company look bad, create false expectations for a certain audience or simply waste resources. Further, if you have a group who thinks what they are doing is a sacred cow, they’re likely just thinking of themselves but not the company’s interests.

A sacred cow is basically something that’s considered to be exempt from criticism or questioning. Naturally, you should question all of them. Not just the business or marketing variety, literally anything in life most people see as untouchable you should question and probe at relentlessly.

But talking about digital marketing – following are some sample sacred cows that need to be questioned if they lack a holistic approach:

Company website

Your website is not that epic. Especially your homepage. But nearly every company puts it up on some sort of pedestal as if it’s some untouchable, monolithic entity that should only be tweaked after months of planning and thinking by a committee. If you do this, you really don’t get it. You should get agile with your website, hire a marketing team that knows how to tweak templates, A-B test content, modify copy and CTAs, be data-driven with their approach, etc. If you have a previous generation marketing team they may not have the right mindset.

From a holistic perspective, a homepage is usually one of the largest and most wasted marketing funnels a company has. Are you leveraging it to grow a community for your brand in a creative way?  In addition to simply icons, think about how can you really integrate social here. Test to see what CTAs and creative works. Ensure you’re sending link authority to the right pages from an SEO standpoint. If it’s not working to grow key metrics, never be afraid to change something.

Email lists

A frequent occurrence at larger companies is a small group will be the one managing a company email list, but the list is grown by the efforts of many at the company. And it gets to the point a company needs to leverage existing lists and assets to grow new communities (such as launching a new blog, creating new content relevant to their audience, or has some big news worth sharing). And yet the email list is so tightly guarded by this group the company isn’t using it holistically across efforts. It’s become a sacred cow because the people managing it are too afraid to do anything interesting with the list outside “what they’ve always done.”

Yet your email list is not owned by any one person at a company even if the responsibility for it is owned by that person. The list itself is an asset to the company as a whole. And we’re at a point where to think of digital marketing in silos is basically like walking around with a blindfold on. Everything is media and all assets need to be used cohesively.

Logo, brand message, etc.

Your brand and message are important, but they are not so important they can’t be tweaked, modified, remixed and ultimately used as creative assets. Look at Google and how frequently they change their logo as just one example. They realize the logo is not so static it can’t be changed. They think of it as a creative asset to tell their story, not an untouchable monolith. Same thing with your message – what if instead of it being dictated from the top down you let your team propagate their own vision of it across channels as they see it? Brands are in the eyes of people, after all.

If you see anything as a sacred cow you’ll never allow for true creativity or flexibility. That’s because no one can touch, question or change it. Many legacy companies and professionals have this mindset – yet the world has changed and the old models they have honed their thinking for over the years are done. So you can cling to the past and hold on to your sacred cows while agile upstarts dominate you, or you can remove the sacred cows and embrace a holistic mindset. I wonder what will be more successful?

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