Wants vs. Needs: Priorities in Your Digital Marketing

Digital Marketing Priorities
Image Credit – Natasa Adzic/

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned in life is knowing the difference between “wants” and “needs,” and it definitely applies to your digital marketing efforts.

Applying the Wants vs. Needs Principle to Digital Marketing

When it comes to setting priorities in our daily lives, this is the principle we should apply for both life’s major purchases and the small things too:

  • You want the big beautiful house with 5 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, a pool, and spa.
    But do you need it?
  • You want the cherry-red Corvette with a thunderous sound system and top-of-the-line wheels & tires.
    But do you need it?

Of course, this applies to small things, too.

  • You want the luscious chocolate frosted donut.
    But do you need it?

The same principle applies to digital marketing.

When it comes to digital marketing, just as in daily life, the budget is usually the most important factor in determining how and where you spend your digital marketing dollars. That’s why understanding exactly what you need – and how it fits within your budget – overrides what you may just want.

Digital Marketing via Website – Want vs. Need

You Want: An awesomely cool website with tons of widgets and snazzy features that gets millions of hits.

You Need: An attractive, user-friendly website that engages visitors and turns prospective customers into leads and sales.

While there’s a lot of things you can add to your website, there’s no substitute for good solid content and a well-thought-out design. User experience doesn’t always mean throwing all the trendy features onto your site; it means a positive interaction with your company and your brand – one that hopefully leads to interest, engagement, and new customers.

Social Media Followers & Digital Marketing – Want vs. Need

You Want: 100,000 followers on social media.

You Need: The right followers on social media.

Every new Tweeter wants to grab up as many followers as possible. Like a cult leader, s/he is intoxicated with the thought of an army of people waiting for every 140-characters-or-less message from their fearless leader on high. And while having thousands and thousands of followers on Twitter is great for the ego, if they’re not buying from you, they’re not really helping you. It’s much better to focus less on your number of followers and more on turning “friends” and “followers” into “customers.”

Digital Marketing using Emails – Wants vs. Needs

You Want: Emails that explain in great detail why your company/product/service is the best.

You Need: Emails that are brief with a strong, effective call-to-action.

Shakespeare wrote that “Brevity is the soul of wit” – and he’s still right 400 years later. In today’s world of overstuffed email inboxes, the concept of “tl:dr” (that’s “too long, didn’t read”) is still relevant. Getting someone to open an email is the trickiest part, so if you’re lucky enough to get them to read your email, make it quick. Get to your “ask” and get out. Focus on persuading them to visit your site – or better yet, go directly to a product page where they can purchase from you.

Digital Marketing via Blog – Wants vs. Needs

You Want: A blog that gets millions of viewers and shares.

You Need: A blog that attracts the right viewers. (Shares are nice, but you can promote your blog via other means.)

It’s the same trap as the “Followers” item above. Getting caught up in the number of readers and subscribers is a mistake, because while they may be your loyal readers, you’d rather have them as loyal customers. Not to say that “thought leadership” and being viewed as an industry expert are bad things; it’s just that those things might not lead to actual sales.

Banner Ads and Digital Marketing – Wants vs. Needs

You Want: Banner ads that use innovative technology and win creative awards.

You Need: Banner ads that get people’s attention and clicks.

Just like in the world of print advertising, a creative concept doesn’t necessarily mean an effective concept. You want to grab attention and if possible, get them to click. That’s about all you can hope for with a banner ad, since click-through rates on display ads are roughly 2% – 6%. So, if you’re lucky enough to get a click, pat yourself on the back!

Basically, it’s a common-sense thing. And there’s no better time for good old-fashioned common sense than when you’re putting together your digital marketing budget and plans.


You may want to be a billionaire …

But you need to make a living.

Have any stories about how “wants vs. needs” affected your decision-making for the better? Or even for the worse? Post in the comments below. And please share this blog with your social networks if you found it interesting!

Harley David Rubin

Harley David Rubin is a freelance copywriter, content creator and marketing strategist who has worked for both advertising agencies and corporate marketing departments for more than 20 years. He loves his family, pop culture, fantasy baseball and creativity in all its forms.

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