Your Javascript has been disabled, please enable Javascript to experiance the site as intended.
The Whole Marketer Podcast – Episode 5 - Labyrinth Marketing
Labyrinth - logo - mobile

The Whole Marketer Podcast – Episode 5

Digital Marketing: with guest Daniel Rowles

Whole Marketer Podcast - Episode 5

Episode #5. In this episode, Abby is joined by her fellow CIM trainer and Digital Marketing superstar, Daniel Rowles. As CEO of Target Internet (which provides online courses, training and industry benchmarking for digital marketing) Daniel is a leading voice on digital trends, opportunities and challenges facing marketers. In this chat with Abby he talks about skills gaps, how to keep pace with fast moving technology and bringing the fundamental principles of marketing into your digital channels as well as top tips on new resources to explore….. living legend. 



Resources mentioned in this podcast:


Digital Marketing Toolkit:


Sponsored by Labyrinth Marketing


FULL TRANSCRIPT (with timecode)


00:00:00:21 – 00:00:05:03

This podcast is brought to you by Labyrinth Marketing.


00:00:05:05 – 00:00:14:08

So hello and welcome to the Whole Marketer podcast.


00:00:14:12 – 00:00:44:18

Today’s topic is digital. Shortly I’ll be introducing you to Daniel Rowles. But before I do, I just want to kind of give you an overview as to why I think this focus in today’s podcast on digital is so important. So I think for me as digital has come into the fold as another activation platform or another form of promotion we’ve given it a lot of head space and focus as we as marketers trying to get ourselves up to scratch about where we need to be, plus it’s ever changing.


00:00:44:26 – 00:01:20:09

In an ideal world we’ll look at the message that we want to convey and look at the relevant platforms in which our consumers or customers are using in order for us to communicate and not separate in digital from traditional and but more in an omni-channel approach but is still pulled out as a separate skill there are focused on just digital marketing courses is just digital activation and still focused on digital roles. So I thought to be vital for us to cover digital today. I quickly and since due to Tuesdays expert who is Daniel Rowles.


00:01:20:15 – 00:01:51:18

Apart from being in love a human and my favourite colleague at the CIM, get yourself into trouble. Yes sorry not sorry everyone. He is also CEO of Target Internet. His clients include Sony, BBC, British Council, Aviva and his works digital marketing for almost 20 years. Both client and agency side as well has been of course director for CIM. He is also a lecturer Imperial College and to be fair and all round awesome here and being Daniel welcome to the Whole Marketer podcast. Thank you very much for having me here.


00:01:51:20 – 00:01:56:15

It’s a pleasure. Big juicy question. Up first in your words what is digital marketing?


00:01:56:17 – 00:02:27:23

Right so you touched on this a little bit already there. There’s this kind of thing I teach digital marketing courses all the time and what I always say is that it’s not this separate thing it’s just part of marketing all the key principles still apply. It’s a set of channels we’re using but actually forgetting all of that and kind of taking a step back. Digital has strategically changed everything. I.e. we communicate with one another differently. We buy and research things differently. So I would actually see it more as a fast changing environment that affects everything else.


00:02:27:25 – 00:02:44:17

So I do a lot of digital marketing stuff. I do a lot of digital transformation training as well and trying to say to people what on earth is digital transformation because they get very focused on the tech side of things and it’s really saying Actually where are we now and where do we need to be as an organization in order to deal with this fast changing environment.


00:02:44:19 – 00:03:15:15

So I think you know we have this conversation should we call it digital marketing. Is it just marketing this and digital channels. I think it is a bit of both but I think fundamentally it’s something that has changed everything else. You watch TV in a different way now you sit there with your device you look at print you or you’re walking around with these devices attached your whole time. So it’s changed the way that humans interact with the world around them and therefore it is just part of marketing. If we’re looking at from a marketing perspective but it’s everything as well. And I think it’s an absolute non answer I’ve just given you.


00:03:16:06 – 00:03:18:17

But I really think it strategically changes everything.


00:03:18:19 – 00:03:33:23

I’m really glad you said that because you know as I said earlier I do think it is just another platform in which to communicate on. But I guess it’s a platform that marketers aren’t as skilled in as they are traditional or coming up to scratch with shall we say.


00:03:33:25 – 00:04:05:12

I was just gonna say that with that we did the digital skills benchmark which we’ve just literally published again last week. And it’s it’s an actual test that we go and test people’s skills not get their opinions on where they are but actually it’s about 5000 people that we sampled to find out where they were their digital skills and basically it’s appalling. There is a massive skills gap. The more junior people have improved. We did it back in 2018 and we’ve just done it again now. And there is some real good improvement at a kind of graduate and intern. And just starting up executive level


00:04:07:01 – 00:04:41:29

what was interesting is that it’s gone backwards at Head of Department level and we’re trying to work out why that is and why there is such a digital skills gap. What’s happening is the environment is moving so quickly that our expectations as users is changing. So me as a user of all this stuff I expect your website to be better, your app to be better, my customer service interactions that used to be better are more digitally joined up. And therefore, if my skills as a department kind of stay the same even if I’ve got no responsibility for actually implementing this stuff I don’t know the right questions to ask.


00:04:42:01 – 00:05:06:27

I don’t know how to challenge my agency I don’t know why I should be measuring because the environment is moving so quickly around me and what it means is that if your skills aren’t updating constantly you are basically getting behind step by step. So one is a massive digital skills gap overall the lack of skills in the area. But two it’s moving so quickly that actually if you did learn about it a couple of years ago and you’ve updated yourself you’re going backwards.


00:05:06:29 – 00:05:28:15

That’s a really interesting point because I think my next question was going to be what have you seen over the last 20 years and I think you’re thinking about when consumers first are sent to interact with things like Facebook on their own personal agenda. And they’re now trying to utilize it as a tool. I think rightly or wrongly whether it’s right for your target audience or not.


00:05:28:17 – 00:06:01:21

I think the fact is the pace isn’t it is the pace in which it’s constantly evolving and consumers expectations are changing which is fuelling that.

It is and it’s it’s about the fact that the technology platforms themselves are constantly investing innovating to try to outperform each other. And then what happens is marketers are trying to use the latest elements of this to get there. We’ve got to be a little bit careful of the latest shiny things in growth where just because we can do something we decide that we should do it. And I think there’s a little bit of a step back as you’ve said this talk about the user journey. What’s the objective all that kind of principle based off of marketing.


00:06:02:20 – 00:06:32:21

But in reality user expectations of more are more demanding and we’ve become more fickle you know I’m less likely to read your emails I’m less likely to share stuff on social media I’m more likely to be using multiple social platforms now it’s working out how you can actually engage those people in an incredibly noisy environment. And I think that’s what digital has done over the last 20 years. It’s given us loads of opportunity. But what it’s also done is just add a horrendous level of noise the things as well. It’s got busier and noisy and has more channels a more content.


00:06:33:14 – 00:07:03:19

And our target audiences have become better at filtering that. And it means if we’re not utilizing the technology to get the right message to the right person at the right time in the right channel we’re just adding to the noise and is sitting there shouting buy my staff is really irritating. And it just doesn’t work because it’s become so noisy. So I think in a way, it means that we have to be better at what we’re doing because if we’re just kind of getting away with bare minimum it just doesn’t work anymore. And that’s only going to increase and continue.


00:07:03:21 – 00:07:40:00

It comes back to the omni channel pieces and it is for understanding the where and the journey you are using that digital touchpoint and therefore what you need to say in a tailored way as opposed to shout saying that message and hoping that it sticks the more it changes or it stays the same that because the more you need to take a step back and say who is my audience what do they really want and what’s the journey they’re taking and all those kind of basic principles that have been around for a long time which sadly actually in our skills benchmark came out that a lot of the junior people hadn’t done those fundamental was a marketing and fundamentals of branding training.


00:07:40:02 – 00:07:46:23

They understood the tactical stuff but they didn’t necessarily understand on the principles behind it. There’s definitely problems at both end of the seniority levels.


00:07:47:01 – 00:08:23:03

Yeah and that doesn’t surprise me from what I’ve seen as well. I think you know they’re coming in. If you think about where well in my experience of where digital was that’s just say 10 years ago where we knew we had to do something like the digital consultant came in he probably had at that time five years-experience in this in this area and told us told the business they needed to kind of upskill they put digital marketeers in often you know fresh out of uni or kind of digital focused roles they haven’t necessarily grown up through the ranks in marketing and gone you know marketing assistant and marketing coordinator marketing manager.


00:08:23:07 – 00:08:42:06

Okay now here’s digital. How do I now activate on that. They haven’t got those kind of 1 on 1 principles. And I think that’s probably caused that first gap. And as you said the later gap in senior management is it’s constantly evolving and therefore do they know what they need to do and what they need to ask in order to move things along.


00:08:42:08 – 00:09:23:14

Well that’s the problem isn’t it because when you’re when you’re very tactically buried in it that’s what you focus on so you might not look at the key principles and then when you’re not tactically responsive anymore you’re there to strategically guide things and point people in the right direction. You still need to be able to push back and answer the right questions and ask the right questions. But because we’re not doing it we kind of lose touch with it. So I think it’s it’s hard to find that balance. What it means is that we need a culture of ongoing learning across the organization. And it’s no good anymore just going on a training course once a month. It needs to be that you’re listening to podcasts to doing lunch and learns at work doing all these sorts of learnings and reading blogs listening to podcasts and YouTube channels and all those different opportunities needs to be built into the culture of the organization.


00:09:23:17 – 00:09:38:12

And it’s a kind of afterthought where it’s not really seen that you should do this during your working hours. You just don’t get that culture of learning and it need to be at every level it needs to be from the C Suite downwards because you need boards that can ask the right questions as well.


00:09:38:22 – 00:09:41:08

That’s so so true and are you seeing boards ask the right question?


00:09:41:11 – 00:10:15:01

Well we did some work with  the IOD the institute of directors last week and what we’ve actually seen is that from where it was two years ago to where it is now it’s improved slightly but you’ve got to bear in mind that was from an absolutely terrible base. And actually what it means is that they’re the most likely group of people not to really understand this generally speaking because of age because of maybe living their lives digitally slightly different to the everyday kind of person and what it means is that they are starting to realize it’s important the IOD are putting some steps in place to try and do that it’s starting to go in the right direction but from a really low starting point.


00:10:15:03 – 00:10:31:21

But once you get that buy in at that level then there is a trickle-down effect which is really important. And again on the digital translation side of things those transformations that are led by the  C suite and particularly the CEO are those that have the sufficient momentum to actually build into something that works rather than failing.


00:10:32:00 – 00:10:38:28

And where are they getting their kind of inspiration from about where they would like to take the organization as a whole forward to?


00:10:39:15 – 00:11:16:26

Well I think the boards that are really accepting. I don’t know everything. I know that this is really important and actually taking that truly customer centric point of view and actually say what do our customers do now where where are they kind of interacting with what the touch points and just taking a step back and I think all the digital transformations that take us that back to the user journey but not just the user journey now but what the user journey could get like in the future. And I think when you then get into things like innovation processes like design thinking being built into your your normal cycle of things. That’s when it really starts to work but they have to go and sit in a customer shoes truly to be able to work out how do we need to change.


00:11:16:29 – 00:11:23:01

What are we doing well what are we doing badly. And without that it’s it’s very easy to kind of get too focused on what you’re doing on a day by day.


00:11:23:10 – 00:11:48:11

So with that insight from having lived and walked in the customer’s shoes what would you say that the key questions that they need to ask are either from their agencies or just generally within the organization to give digital the focus it needs?

I think it’s what are the current touch-points, and it’s just very simple say okay let’s let’s do a user journey map and work out how people are researching how people are engaging how people are converting and all that’s going to different things. 


00:11:48:13 – 00:12:20:29

But realistically say how would they likely to and how could they do. Its all very well at the moment I might go online research you get your telephone number give you a call whatever it may be but that might not because they want to do that. It could actually be that I can’t do it any other way. And I think that’s the risk is like buying a car right that the whole thing after going to a dealership and you have to try and persuade them to sell the vehicle you want at the price you want it for when you already know exactly what specification you want and exactly how much you’re willing to pay for it. It’s a bit of a broken system and it’s primed for disruption.


00:12:21:01 – 00:12:51:10

A lot of the time. The brands that have turned that into more of a service experience that will deliver a car to your home for a test drive etc. are the ones that are doing well for it. So I think it’s just looking at the journey. I also think thinking about the emotional drivers behind thing what’s actually emotionally driving you so you know if I’m selling digital marketing e-learning why does someone want that it’s not because they want to access digital marketing e-learning it’s not even because they want to improve their skills it’s because they want to improve their career and make more money and have a happier life. Most of the time.


00:12:51:21 – 00:13:23:21

So how can connect emotively what I’m doing to what people actually want and that’s when you start to see the opportunities of doing things slightly differently and then you can select the appropriate channels and you can deliver the appropriate messaging. But without that complete step back it’s not really going to connect and therefore what channel use isn’t really the question. It’s really more about what’s the best way of delivering that and how can I deliver those more emotionally connected answers to the question. 

Which as you said earlier you know as we started this podcast off saying it is isn’t it.


00:13:23:23 – 00:13:40:22

It’s fundamentals of marketing. So you know who is the customer who is the consumer. What is their pain or gain point. What is their current user journey. What insight do we have that’s on an emotional deep-rooted level that we can leverage to ensure that we’re building propositions behind that and then communicating on the right platforms.


00:13:40:24 – 00:14:18:17

Yes. And I think this is too easy to shout in digital even in email market. It’s been around forever. Email blasts. And then we would do Google ads and Facebook ads and we do display advertising to our eyeballs bleed and it just it it’s just overwhelming and it just gets ignored and tuned out. It’s what’s happened in most industries and then what you had to do. Okay well if you’re going to do print advertising or TV we’ve got to really resonate and we’ve got to do some really emotive advertising for that work. And it’s still now I mean if you look at some of the best digital campaigns are the ones that are based on that emotional hook they kind of get what’s motivating you and therefore they’re able to hook into that.


00:14:18:19 – 00:14:49:21

Now you can do that in a good way and you can do that in a manipulative way. You can be someone like Dove that kind of really get you thinking about self-image and beauty and connects you to the brand then you like the brand or you can be one of those Instagram ads that I get suckered into all the time thinking I need this product. It’s amazing and it does loads things that it doesn’t really do. And you know that’s been around marketing forever but that’s the stuff that grabs you and engage. And it’s also now we’ve got this ability to do stuff at the right time and to take a lot more data to understand where are you in the journey.


00:14:49:26 – 00:14:58:03

Just just talk to you rather than shouting at the right point. Here’s something that’s incredibly relevant for you at the moment with your particular need. Wow that’s amazing.


00:14:58:05 – 00:15:06:04

And I’m more likely to go and get engaged with you. 

And that is of the benefits of digital is the insight that it gives you a wealth data that allows you two minds to get the insight.


00:15:06:18 – 00:15:34:06

Well it’s the it’s the benefit and the disaster at the moment as well because what we’ve got at the moment I think is huge volumes of data and no one doing anything with it. You know Google Analytics great example over 360 reports. And most people reporting on it but not actually iterating on it not actually saying this is where our data is why what could we change do something different iterate and improve and just keep chipping away. The traditional idea of marketing channel mix has never really existed.


00:15:34:08 – 00:16:07:24

No one knows the ideal mix for your industry because one your complete audience set will change all the time, the marketing channel mix will change all the time based on how much we are watching TV how much we’re using Facebook all that stuff. The only real way of doing it is work out from a best practice point of view. I think my audience uses these channels and then I do it. I work out how it works I  iterate and I improve and we can. We can now turn marketing into more of a science because we can say I did this. It led to this. I can improve it this way and keep going through that process and start joining the dots up for a long time.


00:16:07:26 – 00:16:42:16

We use branding as an excuse in digital. So you say why did you do that Facebook campaign and now so it’s a branding campaign. Meaning they don’t know why they did it and they don’t, they can’t measure it and it’s not the branding isn’t important branding is phenomenally important. But we need to put metrics against it and we need to start joining the dots up. And Digital makes that more possible. It doesn’t make it easy. I mean if you’re e-commerce great it means you can do something and you can see results perfect. Whereas if I want you to walk into my retail store or if I want you to vote for me in the election or if I want to choose my food product in the supermarket aisles there’s a lot more subtlety to it still.


00:16:42:18 – 00:16:53:03

But we can join the dots because we can kind of work backwards and work out why did you do that. So I think there’s a there’s a lot to be said for starting with your end goals and then kind of working your way backwards.


00:16:53:15 – 00:17:01:24

So thinking about those brands that have done that well and connect those dots. Have you got any that spring to mind that you think are doing this well or badly even?


00:17:01:26 – 00:17:39:28

Yes I think there’s a couple ways of looking at this. There’s a lot of big consumer brands. People look at their amazing digital marketing and all they’ve really done is they can really emotive ad campaigns and just put them online so they are great campaigns and they work whatever channel you kind of put them into. Then you’ve got the pure plays that people go to and to look at while Pretty Little Thing and ASOS and all these kind of great brands are doing. Yes they’re really good at this kind of stuff because they’ve been geared up from the outset to be digital brands. I kind of like looking in between the cracks a little bit at the kind of B2B brands and I like that if you look at HubSpot so HubSpot you’re not familiar that basically a customer relationship management marketing automation platform.


00:17:40:04 – 00:18:13:01

But if you look at their marketing it’s totally on brand and every touchpoint they live what they preach they know what their brand positioning is. They provide exactly what their target audience wants and they are a lead generation machine. They’re really good at kind of doing exactly what they talk about. So I think it’s good to look at some of those brands sometimes the brands that are doing it badly are generally the ones that are not really being very authentic. So if you say well okay it’s and you’ve seen a lot of this at the moment


00:18:15:03 – 00:19:01:00

This is what we’re going to dot, get all of employees at home to do like a little gym video we’re gonna put them all out. We really care and we’re real people. And it’s like Yeah but your your policies are still the same and you’re still not giving out loans to people that you said you were and all these kinds of things. So I think you can play the game but people see through it very very quickly and and therefore if you are inauthentic people will see through that a lot more quickly than they used to do as well. So I think we’ve got to be kind of careful of that. I also think in a fast changing environment the a lot the algorithms will filter this stuff so if you look at Google are doing well this is like a very tactical insight that leads to something reported Google are making changes so that their search algorithm can take into account the usability of your website how good it is to use what good experiences they’ve been doing this for a while but it really ramping up.


00:19:01:07 – 00:19:27:06

And what that means is you can’t game the system like for years people would try and game search optimization in the right words and pack them into the pages and even more subtly kind of did it. But get to the point now that if I get your website I don’t like the experience and it’s not good. Google does won’t show up the algorithm in the first place. So you have to live it. You have to as a brand say we want to do things for our customers not to them. And if you can do that then you’re in a good position.


00:19:27:26 – 00:19:41:07

So you just mentioned there about search engine optimization changing what else is changing that marketers need to kind of learn more about understand more about.

You’ve got these constant tactical changes like the Google algorithm.


00:19:41:09 – 00:19:56:29

You’ve got the changes in the social media algorithms they’re trying to filter out content it’s not relevant and trying to make it a better experience. There’s always a bit of a conflict with that because what Google is trying to do is sell ads and what Facebook is trying to do is sell ads so you’ve got to try and look at why they do anything.


00:19:57:04 – 00:20:29:19

I think what everyone of them tell us is that actually it’s more about our customers and going back to those basic principles again. It’s about giving me a good experience is making me understand why I want the product. It’s about not shouting rubbish at me on Facebook I’m not interested in and actually work why am there in the first place. So I think it all goes full circle. I think we have to keep an eye on the NCR algorithms the social media algorithms we need to look at new social channels does TikTok matter. Does Snapchat matter to me. Should I still be using Twitter. All those kind of things and you won’t know unless you speak to your customers and things can change really quickly.


00:20:29:21 – 00:21:05:29

So TikTok before kind of Covid in the UK for example or the average user rate was a lot lower than it was globally. If you look to the global stats you might’ve gone it’s quite a young audience and I can use that was actually it was basically kids in the UK that suddenly shifted upwards and the adoption went through the roof as well. If you look in Google Trends which is a great place to look you could see how search volumes change during the lockdown period. So people searching for online courses more than doubled. Interesting my favourite fact of lockdown was that the searches for trampolines went through the roof because people are on lockdown.


00:21:06:02 – 00:21:55:27

Oh I’m gonna go buy a trampoline for my kids to keep them entertained which then means that you know there are opportunities you can see start trending so I think a good way of doing this is keep an eye on the channels the way I do that incidentally I use a thing called Feedly which is a little RSS reader and I pull in the Google blog the Facebook blog the Twitter blog the Instagram blog because that’s where they announce any changes and I just kind of go into that day by day and to see what the latest news coming out is. That’s quite good for showing my audience as well so I can keep myself up to date with those kind of changes but then also I will look at Google Trends for search volume changes and I’d use a social media monitoring tool to try and understand what is my audience talking about differently and the combination of those three sets at all to kind of keep you abreast of what’s changing with the channels.


00:21:55:29 – 00:22:03:08

But how is my audience changing and then you need to speak to your customers constantly and if you do that then you’re going to keep up that customer centric viewpoint.


00:22:03:10 – 00:22:08:18

That’s amazing. I’m going to literally I’ve written down Feedly on my notes of what I’m going to do next.


00:22:08:20 – 00:22:41:02

I tell you what there’s a couple other tools while we’re just touching on tools because we’ve just done a new version the digital marketing tool kit. So if you if you want that if you just google digital marketing tool kit you’ll find it. But there’s some some brilliant tools I’ve just been playing with so Sparktoro is a tool by Rand Fishkin who used to used to run Moz. And it will. It will analyse how fake or real an audience is for for various different social accounts so you can look at the age of influencers. There’s lot talk about that. Put a Twitter account in and it will analyse how fake the followers are.


00:22:41:04 – 00:23:11:09

So that’s brilliant fun. And then another one we used to use Klout quite a lot which would score social platforms like how influential were in it. And it it kind of disappeared when GDP came in. So I don’t know what they were doing with data but there’s a great plug in for Google Chrome called up-fluence and you can look up social accounts and work at the best time of day for posting and how influential people are. So yeah if you want to play rabbits in the digital tools get a feel for this. Have a look at the digital marketing tool kit and you we’ll put it in the show notes afterwards I guess and you can have a play around with some of those.


00:23:11:11 – 00:23:23:04

Thank you so much Daniel. So just to wrap up today if you could as your parting words for today’s podcast what one tip would you give to marketers for today?


00:23:23:06 – 00:23:32:16

Speak to your customers and understand how they actually interact with an app what they actually want because then you’re going to know how important and how you should be using digital.


00:23:32:18 – 00:23:46:26

That’s great. Thank you so much for joining us in today’s podcast. Thank you for having me it’s been pleasure. Thank you for tuning in to the Whole Marketer podcast. If you’ve enjoyed today’s episode please do click follow below for more weekly podcasts. Thank you.



The Whole Marketer Podcast - Episode 6

The Whole Marketer Podcast – Episode 6

The Whole Marketer Podcast - Episode 4

The Whole Marketer Podcast – Episode 4

The Whole Marketer Podcast - Episode 3

The Whole Marketer Podcast – Episode 3