On the internet, things get old fast. Your favourite viral video will be old hat before Primark even manage to get the t-shirts printed. Your friends have already moved on from the hot new social network you just discovered, and your favourite search marketing strategies have just been declared “dead” by some guy in hipster glasses and a check shirt. Yes, even that new one you just heard about. Sorry.

Being up to date with the current digital marketing ‘hot-or-not’ list is not enough to build a successful digital marketing campaign. A successful campaign is almost always made up of a combination of techniques, carefully integrated to deliver the best possible results for your particular situation. That may or may not involve the current industry favourite buzzword, but it will almost certainly involve quite a lot of things which have been declared “dead” at some point.

Half-baked study in “digital marketing is not magic” shocker

There’s been a fair bit of SEO doomsaying in the mainstream press recently. First, The Guardian’s claim that a Google search displays “only 13% organic results” (if you assume that not a single bright spark out of Google’s 192 million monthly visitors will ever think to scroll down). This shocking revelation led them to declare not only that “SEO is dead” (yawn), but that it “will not be missed” as we all flock towards “social media optimisation”, whatever that is.

Next, Forbes published an article declaring Content Marketing a waste of money – 20% of the content published on a website drives 90% of its traffic (Pareto principle, anyone?), and content marketers are running a ‘hit or miss’ game. Apparently the proportionate response for businesses to this extremely dodgy conclusion is to “fire all of your writers” or “just [not] publish anything that they’ve generated for you”.

From this side of the desk, it’s painfully clear that both these articles are comically flawed. However, it’s disappointing, if unsurprising, to see how negatively digital marketing is perceived in the wider world – unfortunately, it seems to be easier to dismiss SEO, content marketing or social media entirely than it does to understand that no technique is without its pitfalls.

Indistinguishable from Magic

The problem is that most people have an understanding of the internet and search engines that’s sketchy at best, and while public awareness of digital marketing is growing, knowledge of the specifics is still extremely hazy.

This, combined with over-zealous advertising of the amazing benefits of this week’s buzzword, can lead to sky-high expectations, followed by disappointment when it becomes clear that no single marketing channel is going to magically solve all your business problems. More often than not, “This technique is dead!” means “I tried it and it didn’t work straight away and now I’m bored!”


In with the New, but not Out with the Old

New SEO tactics can be born, adopted, over-used and declared dead within a matter of months – way less time than it takes most people to properly research, implement and test them. Granted, SEO is a fast-paced industry and it’s important to be on top of new developments, but jumping indiscriminately from one buzzword to the next is a recipe for disaster.

Because in isolation, no digital marketing tactic will ever be enough – they all cover different bases, and reach your customers in different ways, requiring different levels of investment and time and sheer hard work. None have a one hundred per cent success rate, and most require a period of experimentation and optimisation before they’ll deliver any significant return. Virtually all “dead” tactics can still deliver value to somebody, somewhere.