The only certainties in life are death, taxes, and digital marketers proclaiming one of their channels is dead. This is a common symptom among those suffering marketer-itus. If the reports were to be believed, the job of a marketer would be more akin to a funeral director than an efficient force for meeting the needs of customers.

But we don’t spend the day mourning – and neither should you! It’s too easy to say a channel is dead and then abandon it; the best among us look to adapt our tactics for long term growth.

Evolving, not dying

Marketing is an ever-evolving animal. It is partially driven by advances in technology; but also (and more importantly) by customers numbing to the same old selling techniques being deployed over and over again.

It is also a very competitive space. Therefore, when a certain technique is successful in grabbing a customer’s attention, we try to imitate that success. And in the modern age of content marketing, where all achievements are documented for anyone with a laptop to see, it has never been easier to cash in on someone else’s great idea.

As a result, certain channels not considered ‘flavour of the month’ are perceived to have died of old age, are read their last rites, and buried six feet under. However, we think some channels simply drown temporarily under the weight of their own success – these channels often resurface in a slightly different form and become just as, or even more, successful as the original iteration (See the table below).

Why invest in ‘dead’ channels?

Obviously, there are some exceptions to the rule; I don’t advise advertising on VHS any time soon. However, it’s down to us as digital marketers to take note of when a channel is no longer proving successful and critically analyse whether we can reinvest in this channel, possibly leading to the next stage in its development.

This means doing something new and doing it better than ever before – and than everyone else. It also means staying in the loop with the latest advancements in the market, as shown below in the Gartner advertising and marketing report.


Resurrecting dead marketing channels

Below are some examples of marketing techniques once perceived to have died, but which came back in a blaze of glory:



Why it died

What it is now

Evidence of recent success


Mass, untailored campaigns, sent to a list of random people.

Personalised, segmented, unique email marketing campaigns more reminiscent of an actual email conversation.

A recent email campaign we sent generated £10 for every email sent.

Social media

No One really knows, but likely bad ads that were poorly targeted.

Hyper-targeted ads designed to be another touch point, and not necessarily there just to sell.

Holzconnection showed a 25% increase in sales and a 30% increase in footfall thanks to Facebook advertising.


Spammy ads with little focus.

Quality score-driven results, tightly dictated by Google’s rules and algorithms.

We have driven more than 100% growth for the past five consecutive years for one of our clients.


Keyword lists on websites – the ‘wild west’ period.

Content marketing – the evolution of searches, not only being about a subject, but also considering how useful they are, as well as more than 200 other algorithm points.

Many, many reasons.


Broadcasts during popular shows to anyone watching.

YouTube, on demand, interactive ads, video marketing.

200-300% uplift in click through, 64% of customers more likely to purchase after seeing a video online.

Direct marketing

Leaflet drops and spam letters.

ABM marketing - highly personalised and targeted.

79% of customers act on a direct mail consistently. 80% say they will open all mail they receive.


Low quality, pack-em-in events/expos.

To be honest, it feels like this has yet to change.

An area for investment?

Google Shopping

Organic listings.

Increasingly targeted ads with a pay-to-play model.

In the past six months, we drove increases of more than 400% in one of our client’s Google Shopping campaigns.

Blog comments

In comment sections – a discussion had only at the bottom of the specific page.

A discussion on various social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn), used in status’ etc...

Any social media post ever.

 What can I do about it?

The conclusion to be drawn is simple; marketing channels rarely die out completely – they simply grow up. It is up to us as marketers to recognise the trends in our industry and react accordingly.

The fundamentals of marketing will never die. All we are trying to do is meet the needs of the customer by giving the right message, at the right time, in the right place, with the right products. Regardless of marketing channel, if you are making decisions with these fundamentals in mind you are likely to succeed.  

So instead of declaring a channel dead, booking the funeral and buying the flowers to give to the bereaving parents, open up a discussion. What is the next evolutionary step? How can we maximise it for future success?

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