Does Digital Marketing Still Work?

This year I watched a website hit $12 million in turnover yet I had emails, calls and conversations from website owners and businesses that are struggling to get a sale online.

How do you fix your digital marketing and is traffic your real issue?

The problem is this for digital marketing …

If you read my last post on marketing trends it shows how the mind of your buyers is no longer on the same wavelength as most marketing minds. Re-read the article here.

It’s a couple of things that are going on.

New habits have created new habits and humans aren’t doing things the way they always did things especially online.

Speed is key, the reaction is now key and the way you present your Ads online is now key.

For example: place an Ad that is just words and you increase the chances of failure. Place an ad online with just a picture and the reaction could be poor.

But use the right words or even better – WORD – with the right photo and your reaction can go through the roof (literally).

When I began this $12 million website for my client I was asked to advise on the message to the market. The first thing I did was spend time researching exactly the words and thoughts the buyers were having in their own minds.

Testing Digital Response

Once that list was put together a period of testing was done to measure the reaction. Once the testing was over we created a campaign that eventually led to a turnover of $12 million.

There is more to it than that of course.

So in other words, if a website isn’t doing and saying what it should do and say … the sales will stall, fail or simply not arrive.

Selling Flowers With Digital Marketing

Another case of this was another client I worked with. In 2.5 years they hadn’t sold a single product from their website – NOT ONE!

During the first week of working with me, they had sales every day. The product was flowers. So what took place in a week that hadn’t taken place in a year?

The problems are always the same.

A website isn’t really just a website. It is a tool that will carry the business and sales but only if it speaks the same language the visitor speaks.

Now recently I also fixed some strategy for another client online. The result was new leads but we then face the second problem. No one in his office followed up the leads. Yet research available in my previous blog post reveals that if you don’t reply in 10-minutes you are classified online as a company that customers don’t want to deal with. He called the leads 4-days later and of course, they had already bought from another company.

So just on the back of the above, you can see how the world online has changed dramatically. SEO is as good as impossible and even when it works from what I am seeing right on the front-lines the leads coming via SEO are way off the mark generally.

It’s tough in the digital marketing world for more but not for all.

Look at this.

It is no accident that the big online shops have moved offline for business. Yes in the start they got traffic from word of mouth, from SEO and from all of the usual traffic source yet … They still saw the need to go offline. The fad and novelty of being just online have passed yet there are some very strong and cool tricks you can do online to increase your business.

Let me share one of my own businesses. I took a very careful look at this and made some decisions to do things we hadn’t don’t before with this business.

Direct mail, PR, live shows, masterclasses, lead events, joint ventures, alliances and a few other things. Doing one of the above gave us a response rate of just over 30% from a single mailout. This was orders for a manual that cost £245. A live event that I did shift every single manual we took to the room and in fact we were short for the buyers so we had to take orders and mail out once back in the office. We have just confirmed an alliance with a huge Paris cosmetic company who has agreed to put a couple of hundred salon owners in a room for a training day. This will be a record sales day for us I am sure of that.

And did you notice … This is all offline but in support of the website.

But we are still doing a ton online. Online we run a vast branding campaign. The power of the brand is more powerful than ever in days where images are now king. But your online brand should be sticky, adhesive and memorable. This goes for any image and colours.

We use our four brand colours in everything – even fonts and small touches. For example, if you think of COSTA COFFEE UK what colour do you think of? Deep burgundy. This is the huge power of branding and getting your colours consistent and right.

And branding online can be done in a way that you can appear in every high-profile magazine or newspaper within 24 hours of kick-starting your brand campaign.

So you can see what is really happening online on the front lines of business. The days of SEO have gone so if you fail to have a budget in place to buy traffic I doubt you’ll get traffic into your website or not the numbers you need to create a profitable business.

I recently spoke to a guy that had spent over £400,000 on his new website. In six months he spent the same again on traffic. His sales were just a couple of hundred pounds for almost one million investment.


He was advised to endlessly load social media with content. He couldn’t do it so hired a company to do his social media and do his SEO. The effect from this was zero at a huge cost. This is something I see all the time.

No one said to this guy…” did you know 83% of people no longer trust Social Media for business”. If they had do you think he would have spent that money?

No one said to him that SEO is irrelevant these days, you should focus on snippets and run test campaigns against video snippets to words snippets” If they had would he have spent and lost his investment?

What doe this mean for your online business and Does Digital Marketing Still Work?

It means that a new strategy has to be thought out, planned, researched, designed, tested and then refined. The conversation with your audience needs to change so you are speaking the same language as your visitors. For example, if you are selling cybersecurity does your customer type in “cybersecurity” or do they type on, “how do I stop my site being hacked?”

Obvious right but that is part of the conversation that needs to change.

The online world has changed. The online world has changed hugely over the past two years but that’s ok because all you need to do is make the changes also.

But is going offline more expensive?

I recently created a radio Ad for a client (you heard right I said a RADIO AD in 2019). That Ad brought a flood of enquires into their business. I still create direct mailers for clients. One I recently did bring in a response of 11% and that was a ton of sales.

It isn’t more expensive when it brings in business. The cost of the offline investment is high but the returns are mostly higher when done properly.

Heres my advice for you if you are seeking real change.

Stop doing what you are doing if it isn’t working and start looking for what will work and work it until it stops working for you. There has never been a better, stronger time to create incredible marketing and promotion for your business. Don’t be fooled into thinking loading up the usual online outlets for social media or AdWords and so on are going to deliver for you.

These are exciting times for the creative and the non-conformists. These are times when you can take a lead in the pack and push further ahead than your competition.

Are you ready to do that?

Should we be talking?

Yours In Success

Alan Forrest Smith