The Basics & Principles of Digital Marketing

A lot is made of the vast amount of data and rapid innovation in the digital marketing space, but to what extent is that a good thing, or even useful? After all, between ad fraud, metrics, with issues, unusable data and analytics issues we've conspired to make marketing needlessly complex, whilst at the same time often making collateral less effective and justifying spend with poor metrics.

In the name of restoring a certain amount of sanity to this state of affairs, I thought we'd look back at the fundamentals, and how to construct relevant, useful, performant digital marketing campaigns.

The Problem

At the root of this issue is something that seems useful, but leads to a race to the bottom in terms of quality; namely that people aim to do the least amount of work to yield the greatest return. This results in people happily producing something of poor quality if it's simple and vastly replicable, because the work involved is virtually nil, and the returns are (thanks to the mass volume) positive.

Little investment, positive return. What's not to like?

The Problem with the Problem

Producing marketing on this basis leads to work being created that no-one should be proud of. Creating clickbait targeting news sites aiming to get coverage might mean you get lots of eyeballs but it doesn't mean anyone actually cares about the brand. Visits aren't what helps a business grow sustainably. Neither is time on site, bounce rate or anything else. Those are all proxies to the two things that matter:

The outcome being perceived it as having net positive customer value


The thing being received actually doing what it promised

That's all. And the beauty of it is that the second part of this particular equation is down to the client (or if you're client-side, your company). The former is your part, and here's the first two steps toward achieving it.

Deliver Value

Marketing is communcating persuasively to groups of people. Nothing more or less. With that it mind, it therefore shoud be...


You've got to grab the person's attention initially. Without a great, immediate hook, your audience isn't going to engage at all.


If you're going to intrude into a person's life with marketing collateral, you sure as heck better make sure that it's so engaging that they'll get from the start to the end of the content.


Whether you want to make someone feel outraged, scared, angry, elated, amused, proud, superior or anything else doesn't matter too much. But you really, really need them to feel something as a result of your material.

Beautifully Designed

Not just the visuals, but the entire experience of interacting with this content and the campaign it sits in needs to reflect the brand, flow correctly, and have all the details nailed down so it's cohesive and memorable.

Doing these four things means taking time. It means not aiming for a spray-and-pray approach to your marketing efforts. You're going to have to actually care about your content production and overarching campaign messages.

Be Present

If someone only sees the brand once, they're probably not going to remember it. Even if you delivered value, the memory of that experience will fade, and in the end:

Your brand is just the collected memories that person has of interactions with your company.

Some of those might be with the product; some will be previous marketing collateral, if they were previously aware. But it's not enough to simply interact once and hope that's enough. You need to be present enough to be constantly reminding your audience of your existence, in an engaging, interesting way. You don't want to annoy them. But you do want them to regularly be reminded of your company, and to take away a feeling of positivity and tribe towards your brand.

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