Understanding Digital Enmeshment
The digital industry is at a crossroads as social, mobile, display and search advertising become increasingly essential to marketing budgets. As a result, the intersection of these channels has forced marketers to view digital as less of a customer acquisition channel, and more of a platform for branding, increasing customer retention and building lasting relationships.
This will forever change the way in which marketers plan their media buys and determine their creative strategies.
Even traditional media is impacted by the rise of digital — it isn’t uncommon to see TV ads that have a social media component or print ads featuring a QR code, for example. It’s critical for marketers to understand how their various marketing channels interrelate in order to continue to engage consumers, reach new ones and build deep relationships.
While each channel might take a piece of the media budget, they are essentially working toward one common goal set at the forefront by the advertiser (the goal generally being to “sell more things”). And, although it is clear that it is not just one ad or channel that drives a sale, it is important to understand how channels might overlap and influence consumer behaviors.
For example, when you view television commercials or watch actual TV shows today, you may notice social media baked in, along with simple messages to visit a brand’s website. In these scenarios, the traditional channel is influencing consumers to take action (move online, search for specific products, browse specific sites, etc.). As channels become enmeshed, measurement and true attribution become even more complicated.
According to Forrester, 78% of marketers believe that a cross-channel marketing strategy is “important” or “very important” to their business. What’s interesting is that, on a scale of 1-5, only 6% said they were “extremely prepared” (choosing 5) to take on the task to manage cross-channel marketing — and only 33% rated their preparedness as a 4.
So, how should marketers navigate this landscape as lines blur and consumers migrate from one channel to the next? Marketers must ensure that their brand is leveraging the right mix of digital and traditional advertising, while also having a good understanding of how these channels can effectively work together toward the common goal. That said, understanding the following basics are essential to conquering what’s ahead:
- Landing Page Optimization: You might as well make sure that your current efforts aren’t being wasted. There’s no point in spending more money if your website isn’t optimized for performance — that’s like putting water into a leaky bucket.
- Search: You’d be amazed at how many people use a “set-and-forget” strategy for search. I’ve seen one study by my friends over at WordStream that says that 53% of small business advertisers do ad optimization only once per quarter! Search is a dynamic thing, so make sure you are using all of its features and make sure you are tweaking it at least once/week.
- Site Retargeting & Email Marketing: If you’ve got your landing page working, and you’re reaching the folks who are searching for you, then go out and make sure you’re selling all you can to the people who’ve visited your website. But be smart about it. Don’t send everyone the same ad. And try to get your frequency caps down to a reasonable rate or your customers will think less of you. Don’t use more than one vendor for this strategy unless they are really reaching different people in different ways.
- Search Retargeting, Behavioral Retargeting & Other Forms Of Audience Targeting: Tips 1-3 above really only help you with people who are already aware of you or your product. Now you’re ready to reach out to folks who don’t know about you. Figure out who your best audience is and go out and get them. Search retargeting is the most effective digital strategy in this category.
- Social: If you’ve got 1-4 humming, then you’re sophisticated enough to start tweeting and sharing. Don’t even bother doing this if you can’t do everything above well.
Integrating Digital & Traditional Advertising
Once you have outlined the basics above, you can look to integrating more traditional forms of advertising with digital components. Examples of deeply integrated campaigns are the now infamous Oreo Superbowl tweet, the RedBull Space Jump, and my all-time favorite (an oldie), the Most Interesting Man in the World (Dos Equis).
The impact of each of the above campaigns was felt across all media types simultaneously — making the marketing department thrilled and creating a serious “attribution” issue (the exposures were so ubiquitous, can you remember which one moved you?).
The lines are blurring between more traditional forms of media and digital channels. At the end of day, digital is and will continue to be the strongest indicator of marketing success. Whether you do a lot of digital promotion or a little, traffic to one’s digital assets is the strongest measure of how well your marketing and PR efforts are doing.
And amazingly, few organizations have systems in place that tell the head of sales, CMO and CEO how well they are doing based on increases and decreases in digital traffic. You should seriously consider this.
Make sure that you get the basics down and that you understand how all of your channels work together before breaking into this new era where digital is enmeshed with traditional channels. Don’t put the cart before the horse.
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