Category: Digital Marketing | 2 min read

I'm starting to become a crotchety old man in the digital marketing world. I've only been in the industry for 8 years or so and yet I feel like I've seen and done it all.

I'm also starting to look at all the younger people out there just starting their digital marketing careers and seeing them make all the same mistakes I did.

In the interest in saving some of you a lot of pain and frustration in the coming years as you build your career I'm going to share two things that took me a LONG time to learn.

These are things that traditional marketers have known for years and have been successfully using since the dawn of advertising. It's kind of funny that in our arrogance we thought we had to re-invent the entire advertising industry just because we could finally track sales online!


There's an system called Design Thinking. It was designed at Stanford University and is a way of solving complex problems by reframing them. Instead of focussing on the problem itself it uses an understanding of the human needs.

This system is used by major consulting firms and top level executives to solve some of the toughest problems in business and the world.

The very first step of the process is to empathize.

Why can't this system be used to solve your problems in marketing? Instead of tweaking a bid or adding some LSI keyword to your landing page, try to figure out the emotions and people involved with getting to your site and in the end, becoming a customer.

With this kind of thinking you can move beyond small changes that might improve a conversion rate by a percentage point or two and create whole campaigns and ideas that can lead to massive increases across the board.

If you are doing A/B testing, only about 1/3rd of your tests will cause an improvement while all the rest will either leave it the same or decrease it. You need to make sure your ideas can cause a huge increase. Empathy - understanding the people you are shouting at with all your advertising - can go a long way in this regard.


There is a trap with digital marketing. We have a habit of getting into this habit of looking at data, tweaking something, then looking at it again and continuing the circle.

While this can help with making small improvements it can never get you to larger results.

What has lead to the most successful tests and campaigns in the past has been a combination of hardcore empathy for your customer and a healthy splattering of creativity.

Use empathy to figure out what questions the customer wants answered and creativity to answer them in a powerful way that they will remember and take action because of.

Not only this - creativity can lead to amplification that goes beyond just a decrease in your cost per conversion. Viral ads have always been based on creativity, not data.

There are others

There are plenty of other things that we digital people forgot on a regular basis, but I think the two above are at the very top. I forget about them all the time and need to be reminded.

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