This is the most sought after answer from most of my clients. And today’s plethora of choices in media and ever-expanding marketing outlets are only confusing the matter.
Traditional marketing such as television, radio, newspaper, outdoor, print, directories, and direct mail are not cutting it on their own these days, or are out of the question for many small businesses or startups who simply can’t afford it. Yet social media and internet marketing alone may exclude a substantial percentage of your target audience who have yet to partake in the social media frenzy or deliberately avoid it.
What’s a business owner or marketing manager to do? How can you sort through this confusion and best use your marketing dollars and time?
Statistics Regarding Various Marketing Outlets:
Where are the people? What media outlets are your consumers spending most of their time? Well unfortunately, there’s no easy answer to this because consumers are using a variety of media outlets these days, and sometimes multiple outlets at once: “We’re even consuming information on multiple devices simultaneously with 42 percent of tablet owners using them daily while watching television.” – A recent Nielsen study stated.
Let’s sort through this confusion and break down the pros & cons of each marketing outlet:
Traditional Ads: A 2012 Forrest Research study stated: “Twelve percent of U.S. online adults use print ads to find sites, 11 percent use TV ads, and only 4 percent use radio ads.” However, offline content such as newspaper and magazine articles “drive almost 1 in 5 consumers to websites, and TV shows or news stories drive 14 percent of consumers.”
- Caution: For successfully traditional marketing, you have to have an effective online marketing strategy in place to direct potential consumers. One cannot be used without the other, so don’t ignore your internet presence, as it will become vitally important as you increase your traditional marketing ads. What is the alternative if you lack the funds for traditional marketing?
“This brings me to the good news and the bad news, which, interestingly, are one and the same: Time and money are interchangeable. You can always save one by spending more of the other. In other words, your ad budget is going to be measured more in shoe leather than in dollars.” – Roy H. Williams, Entrepreneur.com
Social Media: The Forrester research survey showed that social media platforms (Facebook and Twitter) outperformed traditional website traffic, email and review sites. A whopping 23% say “social networks drive them to websites,” even calling “Facebook the new Google.” If using social media to promote your brand, keep the message simple and offer incentives. Most consumers follow brands on social media to get discounts, a recent study showed.
- Caution: Don’t confuse your followers with too much information or constant marketing rhetoric, that may actually steer them away but give them what they want – contests, specials, giveaways and discounts.
Organic Searches via Search Engines: Not surprisingly, the Forrester survey found organic search is still the primary source of all web traffic. “Fifty percent of U.S. online adults use search engines to find websites.” How important is SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to your marketing plan? “70% of the links search users click on are organic,” meaning 70-80% of users ignore the paid ads in search engines, and “75% don’t go past the first page of search engine results”.
- Caution: So you need to work very hard & long (or pay an SEO consultant) to help get your URL to the top of the page organically.*
PPC Search Engine Ads: “The Google Display Network serves 180 billion impressions each month (about 6 billion a day!). The average click-through rate of an ad on the Google Display Network is 0.4% — four times as high as the average banner ad in the US and almost ten times as high as a Facebook ad.” As we read above, organic results get the highest CTR, but if done right, with the optimized and accurate keywords, and constant monitoring, search engine ads can draw some attention.
- Caution: Once you stop paying for them, they’re gone and they do not affect organic search results. (“89% of the traffic generated by search ads is not replaced by organic clicks when ads are paused.” – Google Research)
Banner Ads: The average banner ad has a 0.1% clickthrough rate(CTR), and the standard 468×60 banner has a 0.04% CTR. (To put that in perspective, “You are more likely to complete NAVY SEAL training than click a banner ad.”)
- Caution: Don’t waste your money.
Email Marketing: “44% of email recipients made at least one purchase last year based on a promotional email.” That sounds encouraging, but more and more emails these days (around 80% according to one survey) is spam, so your email may get lost in the shuffle. With an average open rate of 40-50%, you can increase those odds by a short, simple and engaging subject line. “64% of people say they open an email because of the subject line.” And a subject line that is shorter performs better. The ROI is very encouraging as well … For every $1 spent, $44.25 is the average return.
- Caution: More consumers are using mobile devices to read email, so make sure your email is responsive and always include links to your social media as you can increase your CTR by 158%.
Your Company Website: 78% of Internet users conduct product research online. 97% of shoppers research local products & services online. That means your website stands a good chance of being a prospect’s “first impression.” This is a well covered subject on this blog so I will avoid being repetitive.
- Caution: If your website is often the first impression, are you making a good one?
Company Blog: By 2013, it is projected that 128 million people in the US will be blog readers. Small businesses that blog get 126% more lead growth than small businesses that do not blog. Blog readers are usually repeat visitors as their looking for fresh content, so keep your blog updated with topics that engage and are rich in keywords.
- Caution: The more you blog, the more indexed pages, the more content that drive traffic from search engines to your site. Blog regularly, consistently and be authentic.**
In conclusion, a combination of online and offline marketing efforts are needed to reach your specific target audience. The correct ratio of each will be determined by your specific industry. Instead of online marketing versus traditional marketing, both strategies should be working together, as multiple tools in your toolbox. My one and last caution, is if you try to market to everyone, you market to no one. Define your audience first. (A future blog will discuss this further).
* For more info on Organic SEO: See my past blog post on that subject.
** For more info on Blogging: See my past blog post on that subject.
Definition of Acronyms used in this article:
SEO – Search Engine Optimization
CTR – Click through rate
ROI – Return on Investment