Focus on Your Digital Marketing Goals, Not Your Software Tools

We get it. We have a great job. It’s exciting to deliver content marketing and marketing automation platforms for our clients, delivering results for them and, yes, “playing” online all day. It can be tempting to dive right in with us, helping to choose the many products and services that we use to deliver our digital marketing programs. Frankly, we love it that our customers are so invested in partnering with us.

But it’s far too easy for organizations to lose sight of what they are really working to accomplish with their digital marketing efforts. It can be fun, in that marketing geek sort of way, to dive into the details on marketing automation platforms, email services, social media sites, and content marketing tactics. And with over 4,000 companies out there providing digital marketing services and tools, there’s a lot to sort through!

As the real drivers of marketing for your company (and yes, you are the boss!), it’s important to take a step back. A big step back, all the way back to that 10,000-foot level, to your high-level business goals. To achieve success, drive the most important details from the top, and leave the minutiae to your agency partner.


The truth is that most of the digital marketing services out there offer 99% of the same features as their competitors. Compare HubSpot and Marketo, for example. What do these two common marketing automation platforms have in common?

  • Email? Check.
  • Landing Pages? Check.
  • Forms? Check.
  • Lead Scoring? Check.
  • CRM Integration? Check.

You get the idea. All the major tools out there cover the basics. The differences between them all often come down to price, reporting features, and differences in the user interface. It’s true that some of them provide extras that others don’t, like social media posting, for example, but often times more is not better. Simply having a feature is not the same as doing it well, and there are usually purpose-built services out there that do it better.


Of course, having all these digital marketing products to choose from can cause decision paralysis: the difficulty in telling all of them apart makes it hard to just say “yes” and go for it. It’s the infamous paradox of choice. Psychologist Barry Schwartz explained it this way in Harvard Business Review:

“As the variety of snacks, soft drinks, and beers offered at convenience stores increases, for instance, sales volume and customer satisfaction decrease. Moreover, as the number of retirement investment options available to employees increases, the chance that they will choose any decreases.”

Fortunately, there’s an alternative: trust your agency.


As a corporate marketer, your job is to focus on producing results for your organization. Between all the other things you need to get done – handling corporate communications, sales enablement and presentation support, internal training and product education, market planning, and budgeting, spending time on selecting marketing tools is “out of the wheelhouse.” Spending too much time selecting technology is a sure way to lose focus on your customers, both internal and external.


I’m sure you can hear your CEO now reviewing next year’s budget request: “This looks great, but you need to cut it by 15%.” It can be incredibly difficult to justify even one additional FTE (full-time-equivalent) staff member. Marketing’s funds are viewed with envy by other departments, and are often the first to be cut in times of revenue pressure. Your team is already too crunched to spend their time evaluating technology platforms.


Close your eyes for a minute, and think about all those requests you get every year that go by the wayside because of lack of time. You’ve been asked to tackle new strategic initiatives, provide more sophisticated research and comparison benchmarks, and so much more. If you have any extra time to spend during the year, shouldn’t it be on these meatier projects?


Who has the capacity to stay up to date on constantly changing trends and challenges in digital marketing? Your agency, that’s who. Isn’t that why you engaged them in the first place? They’re the experts on this stuff. Not only that, but having the viewpoint from outside the company can be a huge advantage when it comes to selecting the right marketing technology.

Published by Marcus Sanford

Freelance marketing analyst.

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