Merging Traditional Program Marketing with Digital Marketing

Mobile devices have transformed the way people consume media. Did you know that, on average, users now spend nearly 2 hours per day on their smartphones, compared with just 1.5 hours watching TV? But market analysis giant Price Waterhouse Coopers predicts that spending on traditional advertising in 2020 will still be greater than on digital.

So, should you switch completely to digital marketing, to ride the mobile trend to the full? Or stick with tried-and-tested old-school methods? Or is there a blend that marries the good stuff from both?

What’s the difference anyway?

Traditional marketing makes an impression. Just to be clear, when we talk about traditional marketing channels, we mean newspapers, magazines, radio and TV ads, billboards, flyers, brochures, press releases, direct mail, outbound calling and even live events. Using online channels like social media, email, paid search and websites to connect with customers is what we call digital marketing.

There is some overlap, but broadly speaking, traditional marketing is mainly advertising. It’s fairly formal one-way communication that captures smaller audiences. On the other hand, digital marketing provides a more interactive tool to create organic conversations, engagement and attitudes about a brand.

Pros and cons of traditional marketing

Neuroscience tells us that print marketing (direct mail) takes 21 percent less cognitive effort to process and brings better brand recall than email and digital display ads. Using fMRI scanning, researchers found that physical material is more “real” to the brain, and involves more emotional processing, which is important for memory and brand “internalization.”

It’s difficult to track true interaction within traditional marketing, though.  You put your ads out there, hoping they’ll land, but it’s hard to measure response and therefore gauge true ROI. If you spend $3,000 on a billboard ad, you have no way of knowing how many people even saw it, let alone went on to buy as a result.

Newspaper, TV and radio ads can be costly, and direct mail is expensive to distribute. And considering that these channels capture fewer eyeballs every year—because we now watch TV via no-ad Netflix, listen to music on paid Spotify, and get our news in bite-sized online chunks—traditional marketing methods become a less and less attractive prospect.

Pros and cons of digital marketing

Digital marketing meets consumers where they are—online. In contrast to traditional advertising, digital is a bottom-up strategy, involving unstructured, multilevel conversations with and between brand followers. Users actively engage with your content. They also create and share their own content across free social media platforms in real time, filling the top of your marketing funnel and building brand awareness and loyalty as they do.

Interaction and sharing is integral. You can encourage followers to post photos, visit your website and write reviews—and give them a shout out when they do. Friends and influencers have a big impact on consumers’ decisions, and their online endorsements amplify your marketing efforts without costing you a thing. Your high-value content can spread like wildfire through social sharing.

Compare that to sales flyers. How often do they get passed around instantly by customers?

Another benefit to digital marketing is that it can be precisely tailored to gender, location, age and interests. This is all thanks to market segmentation. And data from insight tools like Google Analytics mean you can quickly adapt to focus on those high-converting segments, or craft offers to catch historically low converters.

Of course, as technology (and Google’s algorithm) constantly changes, it can be difficult to keep up. And unlike TV ads, which help subsidize viewing, ads on free digital platforms can just annoy users by interrupting the fun (and costing data).

Blending the best of both worlds

A while ago, Pepsi switched entirely to digital marketing. But they quickly returned to TV advertising when they found they simply weren’t reaching a huge section of their audience through digital media alone.

In contrast, in 2013, the UK-based mobile phone company O2 had an enormously successful campaign combining traditional and digital techniques to deliver their message across TV and cinemas, mobile phone ads, YouTube and MSN.

In the end, the marketing approach you should take depends on who your audience is, and where they hang out—which affects how you can engage with them. O2 appreciated that their prospects were everywhere, and dominated every advertising platform to connect with them.

Combining digital with traditional marketing, in a proportion that fits your specific audience demographic, means you can maximize your reach and impact, and create a well-rounded, data-led approach to customer engagement and brand positioning.

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