Seven Things to Learn in Digital Marketing from The Office

Re-Watching NBC’s The Office: You Miss Every Shot You Don’t Take and Other Digital Marketing Lessons 

When The Office first debuted on NBC, many of us may have been in school–or were beginning our careers. Maybe we tried watching the show, based on how much we enjoyed Steve Carrell’s performance in The Forty Year Old Virgin. So we devoured each weekly episode when it aired (and then again from Bit Torrent). However, the humor (it seemed) eluded us. As George Costanza would say, It didn’t take. Which, honestly, wasn’t because the writing was poor or the jokes were off–far from it. We’d just never experienced being in an actual office to fully appreciate the (in)political correctness, subtle jabs, nor the concept of politics. Nor would have we imagined there were things to learn about digital marketing from The Office.

Halfway into our careers, some of us still can’t stomach much of the TV series. Again, it’s an impeccable show–but it’s all too real, too accurate. The cringe-worthy quips from leadership, the complicated office romances, inevitable layoffs, and unexpected heartbreak that comes from a boss abruptly leaving; the one that once seemed to bother you at every whim. Albeit, the very same boss who somehow became your most impacting mentor–and dare we even say, trusted friend

In fact, the more we rewatch the show, The Office does so much more than offer a satiric window into which an audience can view a twenty-first-century workplace. The show peppers its viewers with moments of intimate human reactions of real-life situations. And, dare we also mention, practical and applicable business advice. Here are seven things to learn about digital marketing from re-watching NBC’s The Office.


And I’m Optimistic, But Every Day I Get a Little More Desperate

The Michael Scott Gift Basket of a sentence that perfectly describes the trials and tribulations of paid media advertising. And, of course, there are many golden moments from Michael: the office charity run, the Adam Sandler-esque Diwali song, Prison Mike, the dinner party with Jan–too many to count. But this particular nugget of truth rings all-too-true for those of us trying like hell to keep a client happy. 

Forrester Research found that search and display advertising account for nearly 80% of advertising spend in 2016. However, nearly 50% of paid search marketers report poor-to-average ROI for the channel. Even more shocking is that 67% of display marketers report the exact same results for their ads. It’s not because these professionals aren’t capable; it’s because the channels are expensive, complicated, and time-consuming. 


And I Knew Exactly What to Do. But in a Much More Real Sense, I Had No Idea What to Do

Google Ads, Goole Analytics, Microsoft Advertising, DSPs, and Amazon. They’re largely how digital marketers accomplish triumphs for their clients. And said platforms also report revenues that seem unworldly to the rest of us. If you’re like most digital marketing professionals, it should come as no surprise that paid search and display account for 77% of all paid media revenues. 

It probably comes as no surprise that the previously mentioned digital marketing giants (Google and others) report earnings in the hundreds of billions of dollar amounts. However, according to a HubSpot survey, 80% of digital marketers report revenues ranging from $50K–$2.5M, annually. The big question is, how do we level the playing field? How can digital marketers capture more market share and realize a stronger ROI? At Finch, we believe the answers lie in A.I. technology and automation.


Michael, Technology Helps Business, Okay? You Should Not Resist It. This is the Way the World Is.

Well, I happen to think the old ways of doing business are better. And I will prove it. 

There seems to be an ever-longing suspicion that technology hurts us more than it helps us. The same debate exists within digital marketing: agencies and in-house marketers have a tendency to fear A.I. and automation, afraid the advancements might threaten their job security. Much like how Michael disagreed with Ryan that a website was the Scranton branch’s saving grace–opting, instead, for personalized gift baskets. However, data–along with Ryan (and the inevitable proof that gift baskets only result in the gifter wanting back their goods)–disagrees: 80% of all marketers agree that A.I. will revolutionize their roles. 

Even more surprising is that, in 2018, companies across the globe spent $6B in marketing artificial intelligence. Much like Ryan’s website (well…arguably) helped with customer acquisition and retention, A.I. and automation are here to stay. The burgeoning technology actually helps marketers become better at their jobs. Imagine having the free time to focus on strategy and interpreting data–rather than making countless campaign updates each day. These are important things to learn in digital marketing.


Is it cheaper to sign a new customer or keep an existing customer? 

Dwight: Keep Existing.

Michael: It’s Equal.

This is a very honest question that has somewhat mixed amounts of results. Seventy percent of companies believe that it’s cheaper to opt for customer retention rather than acquisition. But, as you may recall, Ryan mentions that it’s approximately ten times cheaper to keep an existing client. 

In all reality, we were curious how accurate this statement is–and the results surprised us. Harvard Business Review reports that customer acquisition costs are both expensive and range significantly. New customers can be as much as five to twenty-five times more expensive for businesses than retention rates. 

What can digital marketers take away from this? Before you spend your team’s energy spicing up that next RFP, you should really consider asking how satisfied your current customers are. And if you are considering parting ways from your current digital marketing agency, you may want to make sure you’re doing so for the right reasons.


Am I Scared of a Computer? Please. The Computer Should Be Scared of Me! 

Despite Ryan Howard’s nefarious and illegitimate attempts with lead generation (by finally launching the Dunder Mifflin Infinity website), using web-based tactics for lead-gen is a crucial piece of digital marketing. Just make sure you’re qualifying actual, legitimate leads. The end product for generating leads through your website should entice visitors to give you their contact information in exchange for products or services. And there are many productive ways to accomplish this task.

For instance, you can offer gated content in the form of blogs or eBooks/whitepapers. Or, if you’re in E-commerce, you could offer discounts or free products if somebody fills out your form. And, trust us, it’s a much more sustainable practice than offering gift baskets to customers (and ending up in a lake). In fact, you can use the Finch platform to both automate and optimize your lead gen through paid search. By identifying converting keywords, the platform favors which search terms result in actual conversions. Through an automated bidding process, your form pages will show up in paid search results, driving customer conversion. All crucial things to have in digital marketing.


Never Ever, Ever Give Up

Yes, this was more of Michael Scott’s inspiring speech to Jim Halpert about not giving up on love. But the same can be said for digital marketing prowess. Many businesses cite similar struggles with digital marketing: it’s expensive, margins are lower, and there isn’t a sizeable ROI. For many, digital marketing seems like an insurmountable summit. Whether you’re struggling with paid media management, lacking conversion-driven content, or figuring out the complexity of Amazon Advertising, you must not abandon digital marketing! If you’re one of the many who struggle with digital marketing–especially in paid media–know you’re not alone

Digital marketing–especially paid media–is very complex. But the truth is you have to employ solutions that make you productive and scalable. Display and paid search advertising should account for 77% of your digital revenues. You should optimize for device, audiences, and bidding. Structuring your audience data will help you craft more efficient campaigns. Not to mention, you should spend your time driving strategy–rather than sifting through endless amounts of data. You need a paid media automation and optimization platform that helps you focus on meeting your goals while driving results.


I Wish There Was a Way to Know You’re in the Good Old Days–Before You’ve Actually Left Them

What good would any Office-themed blog post be without the quintessential quote from The Nard-Dog? For many digital marketers, working in silos–or even with large teams–are becoming things of the past. It’s no longer as simple (or as complicated) as using free Google or Microsoft Advertising tools to manage your campaigns. In fact, if you’re still manually-managing your paid media tactics, chances are you’ve found it very difficult to achieve minor success. It’s 2019 and digital marketing is rapidly evolving. Live video is becoming increasingly more important.

And that’s not the only change. Voice-search SEO, chatbot features, and personalized data are all becoming necessary strategies for success. But perhaps the biggest adaptation you need to ensure happens with your work is leaning on A.I. and automation to drive results. Google, Microsoft Advertising and many DSPs already employ various forms of automation. In fact, if you’re using paid search, shopping, and display, you may have noticed that these seemingly-disparate channels aren’t as transparent as you’d like. That’s why so many of our customers have leaned on the Finch platform for full-funnel optimization. 


What are your favorite lessons you’ve learned from watching NBC’s The Office? Are there additional things to learn in digital marketing from The Office? Is there a quote or scene that has impacted your understanding of digital marketing? 

We’d love to hear from you! Drop us a line at

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