Online Marketing: Don’t Mistake New for Better.

I was recently informed by a client that they needed to step up their social media presence because “email is on the way out”.  That was a shock to me as most of my clients (this one included) see a nice return on their email marketing investment.  In fact, industry wide email marketing boasts a leading ROI among online marketing efforts with $42.08 generated from every dollar spent.  In short, my client was mistaken.  He’d made the error of thinking “new” was “better”.

Social media seems to be the new “new”.  It’s one of the first things out of people’s mouths when internet marketing comes up.  And I don’t mean to pick on social media, it’s a valuable tool.  It just shouldn’t be put on a pedestal above older communication channels that still outperform it.

An older example is when CSS layouts were first appearing.  Many companies rushed to update their pages for the new “standard”.  The problem was that many of the web browsers weren’t quite up to speed in rendering these sites so web developers had to create multiple versions for individual browsers.  That made developing the site significantly more expensive.  The difference between jumping on CSS layouts when it was new and when browser support increased was potentially tens of thousands of dollars.  At the end of the day there was no difference between a tabled layout and a CSS layout to most users but the early adopters could revel in the “newness” for a short period of time.

Neglecting other marketing channels to do what’s “new” can be very problematic when resources are shifted to a new media that does not perform as well as an older one.  It’s like trading a dollar for a quarter, it might be shinier but there’s no financial upside.

Of course I’m not suggesting that you let your online marketing stagnate into a tried and true rut.  Innovation and new technology will come up and many times it should be adopted.  But focus on effectiveness not newness.  When you keep track of what’s performing best it keeps the allure of “new” out of your decision making.  Online marketing is about increasing awareness of a company, driving opportunities, and ultimately having a positive impact on the bottom line.  Newness is hard pressed to affect any of those things on its own.