Data Points 2.0 — Digital Marketing

Five articles you need to read that are key to digital marketing

Bill Su
Bill Su
Feb 26, 2018 · 10 min read

Hey all, welcome to the first episode of Data Points 2.0 with Zach and Bill.

Since Zach is hosting the audio show, I’m now responsible for publishing the article accompanying the show :D.

This week, we will start with a very general topic to set the foundation for all other topics to come — Digital Marketing.

We’ve selected articles that fit into three general categories:

  • Overview
  • Management frameworks
  • Upcoming trends

All of these articles are produced by major players in the digital marketing and business thinking space, so we strongly encourage you to explore these sources for more valuable material.

Without further ado, here is the list:

You can listen to our discussion of these articles using the SoundCloud link below, or read the transcription.


Zach: Hello everyone and welcome to this week’s edition of Data Points 2.0. If you’re familiar with our medium series, then welcome to our new version.

If you’re just dropping in for the first time, this is a good place to start as well.

My name is Zach, I’m the curator and editor for Data Points at Humanlytics and we also have Bill, the CEO and founder. Say hi, Bill.

Bill: Hello, everyone.

Zach: The way that this series is going to work is every week, we’re going to choose a new theme, take five or so articles on it, and discuss the most important points.

This week, we’re going to talk about digital marketing, as it’s a really good place to build a base off of.

Zach: We’re going to start with our first article here, which is ‘How Digital Marketing Will Change in 2018: 15 Top Trends.’

This article is written by Forbes and as the title suggests, it discusses some of the trends to look forward to in digital marketing this coming year.

There are a few points that I want to focus on here.

The first is, DEAR GOD WE KNOW IF WE DON’T ADAPT WE WILL ALL DIE. We’ll skip that though. Nearly every article says that in the introductory paragraph.

The first actual thing I want to talk about is point number four and the importance of targeted ads.

More specifically, it says that more targeted ads will have a specific purpose. This is gonna play a really important role, especially with the sheer number of ads computer users see every day.

What do you think Bill? What kind of effect will this have in the coming year?

Bill: One thing that it talks about a lot, which is very interesting, is it’s saying that people’s attention spans are getting shorter. That’s why the ads need to be more targeted and actually have meaningful content.

I want to counter that point a little bit because I think we have all had the experience of waking up in the morning and spending like an hour and a half just watching random videos online, on YouTube or something.

As such, I think what we are short of is not attention span. What we’re short of is meaningful content.

Therefore, don’t be too afraid of making your content long as long as it’s meaningful, as long as it’s very targeted towards your audience, you’re perfectly fine, so don’t worry too much about attention spans.

Zach: I think that’s an interesting point.

They actually touch on this in point five when they say, “Live video is a good way to content because it kind of grabs you.”

And I don’t know if I agree with that so much as I kind of see video as being really a slow moving medium, whereas you’re able to absorb a lot more quickly through reading content, but at the same time I definitely agree with you where to the point that if content is meaningful, people will spend time watching it, so that’s definitely something to focus on.

Before we move on from this article, there’s one more point I want to touch on. This is number nine, where they mention the fact that contextual targeting strategies will become more important as data protection regulations become stricter.

Meaning, we won’t be able to target ads quite so well. What’s your take on that? Do you think that data security will really affect the way that the advertising industry is able to target their ads?

Bill: I believe so.

Especially look at what Google has suffered in Europe and now every single cookie tracking software and advertising software must have user permission to be able to track anything.

But honestly those are for hard optimization. By that I mean, you literally just throw a 1000 content randomly in the bucket and see which one works.

What you really should do as a marketer is really connect and empathize with your audience to really understand what they need and create content, sometimes together with them, that is truly meaningful.

If both of you like the content, I don’t think anyone will have a problem with being advertised meaningful content. I do that all the time.

I’ll sometimes binge watch GEICO commercials that are extremely funny for half an hour and I’m perfectly fine with those kinds of advertisements.

Zach: Right. Yeah, that’s a good point. I think this is a really interesting concept, but I just don’t really see the needle moving that direction with an industry with as big a revenue as this one does.

We’ll see. Honestly, for all those data protectionists out there, this might be your best case scenario, but I don’t see it going that way.

Zach: Alright. We are moving on now to article number two. ‘What is Digital Marketing?’ From HubSpot.

This article gives a really good general overview of the digital marketing sphere. It talks about the assets, tactics, kind of the difference between digital marketing and inbound marketing, and an overview of its uses and in these cases where it can really help you out.

What I want to touch on is the paragraph on attribution modeling.

I think this is a really important part of this piece because, through the use of attribution modeling, marketers are able to kind of see where their ads are having effect, what channels consumers are coming from, and how they should adjust and change their tactics.

What do you think about attribution modeling within marketing strategists? How can that be used to a really good effect?

Bill: I think this point is going to be touched on later. I’m just going to compliment whatever HubSpot’s saying here.

One thing that’s really important about attribution modeling is that you will never get the most accurate attribution ever.

You just need to deal with the data you have and its always going to be imperfect, so do not pursue the perfect attribution.

If you have 70 to 80% of your data being tracked and you know where it’s coming from, that’s perfectly fine.

You don’t need to spend a thousand dollars a month or something like that. With a more advanced attribution modeling software, it probably will only give you ten to twenty percent improvement in your overall insight with your customers, but as long as you go from zero to one in attribution modeling, that’s fine. You can start with that.

Zach: Cool, so what I’m hearing from you is it’s a great tool, but don’t look to far into it and don’t obsess too over the small numbers right?

Bill: Precisely, yeah.

Zach: Alright. Moving on now to our third article. This article is ‘Invest in Digital Marketing to Control Your Destiny’ from Harvard Business Review.

This is a really cool article, and it’s a little different from the other one’s we have. It outlines the data analysis team that was at the center of Obama’s 2012 campaign.

What I really want to focus on in this article is the importance of a cohesive and cogent strategy when you’re dealing with data analysis. This article really goes in to how they took into account their entire strategy and used data to really hold it together, in order to have one singular goal.

Can you speak to that a little bit Bill, about the importance of really not focusing too much on any singular number, kind of how we talked about in the last article, but really making sure you’re always moving towards the single goal and having every action respect that.

Bill: Right. Yeah, if you are around digital marketing enough you’ll probably have heard the term digital strategy.

I think that will be a term that you hear again and again and again in any articles you read in digital marketing by all different players.

It’s kind of cliché, but it’s actually very important.

I think the reason Obama team is very successful in running their campaign is because they have a team together in different facets of digital marketing and try to have a coherent strategy and trying to tackle all different channels and mediums.

For example, one team was getting voters to come out and vote and another one was spreading the message etc etc etc.

I definitely think Obama won because partially of the data science efforts, but one thing I do challenge you guys to think about is in the most recent election in 2016, the Trump team used a very different strategy than Obama did in 2012 and it achieved great results too.

A lot of the Trump’s popularity and vote came from Twitter and came from his messages there. I think that’s the question for you guys.

We’re not gonna discuss that today because we’re talking about Obama, but think about why the Trump and Obama, two very distinctive personalities, both succeeded in digital marketing and what we can learn from there.

Zach: Yeah, I think that’s a great point. It’s important to have a cohesive strategy, but that doesn’t mean there’s only one strategy that’ll work.

This is a really great article to kind of glean the importance of applying data analysis, but applying it in a really focused way.

Okay, so moving on now. We’ve come to our fourth article. ‘How Digital Marketing Operations Can Transform Business’ from McKinsey.

So, this article kind of talks about the five steps that are really important in order to bring marketing operations into the digital era.

It has some steps like understanding customers, delivering a superior experience, etc.

You can read through the rest, but the one I want to take a moment and talk about is the step focused on the best metric to drive success. One acronym we hear tossed around a lot is KPI, Key Performance Indicator.

People obsess over these numbers and use them to kind of drive all their decisions, but there are some pitfalls involved in that and I just want to pause for a moment and make sure that we’re really making the best decisions when choosing the best metrics to lead our business strategy, so Bill what do you think about that?

Bill: Exactly. I think what you said was perfectly true when you’re tackling digital marketing.

One thing that’s good and bad about KPIs is that you only have very few and if you mess one of them up, it will change the direction of the entire company.

So choosing the correct KPI should not only be the effort of the highest paid person, which is the CEO, it should also be discussed with an entire team of different backgrounds to make sure you’re actually covering everyone’s goal and purpose within the organization.

I think the rest of this article is also very good. Sorry, it’s a little bit dry if you’re reading through it but it’s a McKinsey article and they tend to do that. However, if you go through it it has a very good framework they’re presenting to help you understand doing digital marketing in your business. McKinsey is extremely good with that.

Their customer journey model, a model very similar to this, is being used by almost all digital marketers right now, so yeah. I recommend reading it through in detail and take good notes. That’s all I’ll say.

Zach: Take good notes. Bill’s professor will be proud. Alright, so McKinsey: a little dry. Can’t expect to get fun and smart. Except from us, of course, right Bill?

Bill: Yes. Precisely.

Zach: Alright. (laugh) Wrapping up that article, our last article comes to us from Inc. It’s called ‘7 Essentials for Any 2018 Digital Marketing Strategy.’

This is a good article. It outlines some evergreen strategies that you can use to improve your digital marketing.

Now, while they’re all useful individually, it is definitely very important to make sure that you’re looking at these strategies within the context of your business.

I think it’s really important for you to make sure that your strategies align with your goal and you’re not simply implementing willy-nilly everything that these articles tend to list because they do list the same things. What do you think about that thought, Bill?

Bill: Yeah. Listing the same things, definitely true for almost all articles. This is the first of the series, but we’ll probably repeat ourselves inevitably in the future. I’ll say-

Zach: Yeah, we will almost certainly repeat ourselves.

Bill: (laughs) I’ll just say this, theory is easy. Application is really hard, as we’ve discovered, at Humanlytics when we are doing things.

Pick one or two and be really really good at it, like content works very well with us. Sometimes to our surprise, you’ll find with our course the same way, so yeah.

Just find whatever works and keep going at it and extract the most value from it, then move on to the next one. Don’t do 100 things at the same time. It doesn’t work that way.

Zach: Right. Yeah, personal gripe for me is, oh my gosh, all these articles list the same strategies over and over and over again. This doesn’t mean you need to implement all of them, it just means you need to find the ones that work for you.

Alright, and that will go and wrap up our inaugural edition of Data Points 2.0. We will see you next week, and by that I mean, talk at you next week. Leave comments below as well. Bye!

This article was produced by Humanlytics. Looking for more content just like this? Check us out on Twitter and Medium, and join our Analytics for Humans Facebook community to discuss more ideas and topics like this!

Analytics for Humans

We examine how technologies can work with humans to create…

Bill Su

Written by

Bill Su

CEO, Humanlytics. Bringing data analytics to everyone.

Analytics for Humans

We examine how technologies can work with humans to create a brighter future for everyone. To that end, we showcase augmented analytics tools we are building to bring us closer to that vision. Beta test our AI-powered marketing analytics tool for free:

Bill Su

Written by

Bill Su

CEO, Humanlytics. Bringing data analytics to everyone.

Analytics for Humans

We examine how technologies can work with humans to create a brighter future for everyone. To that end, we showcase augmented analytics tools we are building to bring us closer to that vision. Beta test our AI-powered marketing analytics tool for free:

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