Since online marketing has undeniably become so important to the vast majority of customers and businesses, many people tend to argue that traditional marketing channels are irrelevant and not worthy of investment. We believe this is far from accurate and probably never will be, as long as humans continue to interact offline in some shape or form.
We would also argue that it should never come down to a choice between the two methods, different though they may be. Right now, almost all businesses are actually best served by a combination of marketing efforts based both online and offline. However, a careful strategy and good planning will be required to ensure that the right channels are being utilised to get the right benefits. So what are the benefits to each option here, and how can we use either one of them, or a combination of the two, to get great results for a business?
Why include digital in your strategy?
There are many reasons why this trend is continuing to grow, as online marketing has proven itself to be a worthwhile endeavour for a huge number of successful brands over the past two decades since its inception.
Social media is an area that tends to be a major focus in the world of digital marketing. It is highly complex and particularly intimidating for people who have little experience using social networks, but with the right approach for your business it can be an incredible way to connect with your customers on a more personal level. Social media marketing can be outsourced to a professional digital services company, although it always requires coordination across your entire business to work effectively. The intention should be to carefully shape your own online presence and define a role for your brand through an ongoing series of public interactions with your audience.
For businesses more interested in the numbers and looking for something easier to compare with traditional marketing, there are also many options for paid online advertising. Using services like Google AdWords allows you to pay for placements on search engine results, as well as reaching your audience across the internet with targeted display advertising (including banners, videos and so on). The analytical tools available with methods like this can be extremely valuable to businesses looking to stay within a strict budget and get measurable results.
Of course, one of the first major steps is to build a website for your brand, which serves as the main hub for most online marketing activities and ties all the different facets of your online presence together. It’s expected that every single business will have a website, and failing to do this usually looks unprofessional or even suspicious today. Even if you have no intention of selling online, your own website is the ideal place to communicate key messages about your brand (not just directly, but visually and in other subtle ways).
What are the downsides to digital marketing?
For businesses that do have a digital marketing budget, the potential costs and return on investment tend to vary a lot more wildly when compared to the relatively predictable nature of mass marketing through traditional methods. Even professional marketers and business owners are not necessarily very knowledgable about the ins and outs of how digital advertising works, and they may not be able to quantify the costs, risks or returns involved in the process. Many companies have taken advantage of this grey area, developing services and pricing structures for advertising based on ever-changing technology, which is understandably confusing.
It is worth considering that marketing budgets are not entirely spent on what we would refer to as advertising. Many more indirect marketing costs are incurred by modern businesses, such as training marketing staff, developing content, creating resources and so on. Since digital marketing lends itself better to a “do it yourself” approach, many businesses may find they are investing in their employees’ skills in the hope that their time and efforts working on online marketing for the brand will result in a good return. Metrics may include how many people were reached on social media or how many visitors came to the company website. Crunching the numbers while trying to account for intangible factors can be tricky, and this leads to doubt about investing heavily in online marketing.
Another issue with digital marketing goes back to the fact that not all business owners, managers or even professional marketers have the required IT skills to keep up with the latest technology and trends, which automatically sets them back compared to more tech-savvy competitors. This is one of the most commonly cited reasons for failing to adopt the latest strategies, other than budget constraints. Despite the availability of outsourced services that we mentioned earlier, lack of time to learn these skills is usually the root cause of the issue, because a significant amount of research is usually required to stay on top of the latest digital marketing trends.
How marketing budgets are spent in 2017
Currently, the majority of marketing budgets are still spent on traditional marketing channels (i.e. offline). This is partly because the infrastructure for delivering marketing messages through these channels (e.g. television, radio, newspapers, magazines etc.) is already well established and a relatively fixed hierarchy is in place which dictates how much advertising on these channels costs.
Although more than a quarter of marketers confirmed they have deliberately reduced spending in this area in favour of digital marketing, this figure would not suggest a completely takeover by digital channels. Businesses that have been established for a long time and developed a reliance on the income they get from traditional advertising are often very wary about risking that revenue by switching their focus to a new method. However, it is anticipated that digital marketing will continue to grow, despite the unwillingness of many companies to divert too much of their traditional advertising budget into newer channels. Ultimately, it makes perfect sense to use a combination of the two methods to get what you need.