Not a day goes by that we don’t hear about the latest trend in digital marketing. Last week it was search engine optimization. Before that it was social networking. This week, I got an email from someone saying “it’s all about mobile.” Here’s my take on the latest trends in online marketing:

It is not about SEO.

It is not about social networking.

It is not about mobile.

It is not all about those goofy videos that pop-up up on the homepage with someone talking to you.

At the end of the day, none of these matter. Building a marketing or communications operation around any tactic — no matter how “awesome” or “killer” or “bleeding edge” it is — will ultimately result in failure if, in fact, it is not tied to what is important.

It IS about the audience.

The target audience — and the action you want them to take — should be the foundation of any marketing effort. To pit one tactic against the other with broad brushstrokes is futile until put into the proper context.

That’s why we’ve worked so hard to launch RootsHQ and Studio 31A, two services designed to implement the marketing channels required of effective communications plans. RootsHQ is designed to help campaigns and advocacy organizations put their message online, whether that be through a website, email, Facebook, or advertising. Likewise, Studio 31A delivers similar resources to marketing efforts of small businesses and professional firms.

So with this perspective, once a marketer looked at the goals of the effort, the communications habits of the target audience, and the action they want the audience to take, then we can more effectively look at what tools and tactics will make the most impact within the budget.

It very well may be that we need to be aggressive with SEO, or that mobile is the linchpin to our efforts. But without that broader perspective, preaching the virtues of a single tactic is just shouting into the wind.

I love new technology. Can’t wait to put the latest gadgets and software to use in a marketing campaign. But without the proper context, without knowing our target audience, what action we want them to take, and how they communicate, we can’t begin to pick one tactic over another.

To do so would be, well, stupid.