Why DIY is a lie

Cartoon of a couple attempting DIY

[Image via]

Most popular tools/methodologies in digital marketing call themselves simple. Makes sense, how popular would a tool be if it claimed that you need “substantial technical knowledge” to make use of it? But just saying that a tool is simple/accessible doesn’t make it so.

In our experience, digital marketing tools tend to drastically underestimate how much background is needed to use them to their full capacity. And while most of these tools provide huge benefits to beginners, we’ve found that the sell of simplicity can lull beginners into a false sense of security about how much of a tool they’re actually using.

Basing decisions on incorrectly configured data points is the other primary risk of DIY. This isn’t to be elitist and these tools have continued to improv over time but the need to have enough background knowledge is real, be it technical or strategic. For example, below are some very simple statements/utterances but if you don’t have any background in that particular language you’d be forced to guess and that guess might turn out to be wrong:

  • сколько тебе лет?
  • x=x+1;

We aim for our website’s knowledge base to give practical advice and explanations across a range of technical and strategic topics that we find ourselves frequently discussing with colleagues and clients. But we don’t pretend there’s a 10min article that can teach you how to safely configure Google Tag Manager for your boss if you’ve never learned Javascript. Because of this, our knowledge base is separated into two tracks:

Technical marketing and implementationStrategic marketing and analysis
More comfortable with code, HTML, regular expressions, spreadsheet formulas.More comfortable with ad copy, strategy, messaging and asking questions about users.

Are these mutually exclusive? Of course not.

Can you be strong in both? Definitely and if you’re a sole trader or in a a small team, you might have to be!

Should you learn skills in the “other” track? Absolutely.

All we would caution against is underestimating the true learning curve for either of these. Some examples from working with our clients:

  • We generally don’t recommend for our clients that they manage their own Google Tag Manager account unless they are familiar with HTML and Javascript. Although it’s often portrayed as allowing marketers to “tag the website” without developers, once you get beyond basic tags this falls apart.
  • Similarly, it’s fairly easy for a strategic marketer to set up basic Google Analytics goals or Google Data Studio dashboards themselves. But once these get quite specific to your business (as they should!) the amount of required learning skyrockets.
  • Conversely, the person who set up the Google Analytics account is often not the best person to perform campaign analysis and the like. Doing good analysis requires a lot of context and background knowledge about your business, your competitors, the market and a range of other things that a technical person may be privy to.

We see job ads all the time that expect people to be able to build a great Google Ads campaign with compelling ads, build the responsive landing page, write SEO-optimised page copy and “W3C-compliant” HTML afterwards, track the user behaviour, analyse performance and report back in a custom-built dashboard. That’s great but how many people can truly do that properly? How many have had the time to get good (and not merely passable) in all areas?

If that is you though then congratulations, you should definitely ask for a salary appropriate for what you are!

Got a question?

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