In the past decade, the marketing lens shifted its focus significantly towards digital channels, as companies began to recognise the value and low cost per conversion of digital ads. Audiences moved their attention to smartphones, tablets and computers, lifestyles and purchasing habits of customers changed and traditional marketing, while ever-present, began to take a backseat.
However, what industry leaders are recognising now is the beginning of yet another seismic shift in trends. The great migration of business owners to the digital space has caused a an oversaturation of the market, and customers are inundated with advertisements on their devices. Costs per click have increased, conversion rates have decreased and the everyday audience has become less sensitive to the overwhelming amount of information and offers they’re presented with daily.
What’s more, 2020 has been unlike any other year before it. Workers are spending more time in their houses, with working from home becoming the accepted norm. In a sense, there’s been a cultural reset. COVID-19 has forced many of us to hit pause and adjust our lifestyles, which we predict will have an unforeseen impact on what typical modern consumer behaviour will look like. Suddenly, traditional marketing platforms are more relevant than ever, placing your advertising material in front of your audience in every space they visit in any given day - not just online.
In 2020 and onwards, the best and most effective marketing strategies will utilise a combination of both traditional and digital marketing - and the best examples will have the two working together in unison. Here’s why.
It’s All About Your Audience
A good place to start is the way that marketers approach which channels they’re going to use to effectively reach their target audience. Often, marketing executives will be quick to jump straight to: the channels they know, the lowest price point, or even the latest trending channel of the moment without considering where their audiences actually exist and what media they engage with in a day.
The reality is, any audience is across a broad range of channels every single day (conscious and subconscious). From reading the paper (or online news) to driving to work and listening to the radio (or their favourite podcast), observing billboards in their travels, scrolling through multiple news feeds, to then arriving home and consuming more media, whether it’s broadcast TV or a YouTube binge - your audience is everywhere, online and offline, not one or the other.
For this reason, it makes sense to design your marketing campaigns this way too, so they become as dynamic as your customers’ lives are - giving your business the best opportunity to have max impact, recall of messages and conversions to sales. Whether it's billboards, radio, letterbox or TV, entwined with social, mobile, Google or other digital marketing – the best plans have multiple layers – because that is the customer’s journey.
In our experience, as a general rule, an average of one out of ten shoppers will be strictly offline - they don’t engage with digital products and they’re pretty old-school when it comes to media consumption. On the opposite end of the spectrum, it's said that one in ten customers are digital-only - they don’t consciously interact with real-world advertising and their buying behaviour lies pretty much entirely online.
That leaves a whopping 80% of customers that engage with both traditional and digital channels before they make a purchase. The smartest businesses know this and will align their marketing to the customer, not the channel they know - leveraging both online and offline messaging.
Channel Planning is a Delicate Balancing Act
If you’re in the position where you know your audience’s habits and you understand the value of a cross-channel marketing strategy, the next question quickly becomes “how do I know which traditional channels to choose”, followed by “how much ad-spend do I place in each?”
Truthfully, channel planning is a delicate balancing act and should focus on your audience profile and as much data insights as possible. When the digital explosion first occurred, many big box brands poured all of their ad-spend into digital marketing but learned the hard way not to place all their eggs in one basket.
Just take Pepsi for example, who in 2010 launched the controversial Pepsi Refresh Project. For 23 years, every year, Pepsi used to participate in SuperBowl. But in 2010, it walked away from spending $20 million on television spots for Pepsi and planned to spend the money for the social cause, focusing on Facebook, Twitter feeds and hashtags solely. Subsequently, Pepsi’s market share declined over the next two years, falling to third place behind Coke and Diet Coke. Perhaps an early example of when a cross-channel approach might have been more beneficial.
It’s always important to know where your audience is and use data to inform your media planning decisions. Understand the customer journey, and place your ad-spends accordingly. For example, if your customers are typical of a much older demographic and regularly read the physical newspaper, consider up-weighting your spend on traditional mediums like print. If your customers are typically online and their buying habits are centred around mobile devices, down-weight your traditional spend and invest more in digital than traditional.
Be responsive and adaptive with your channel planning, and very rarely would statistics say to invest in only offline or only online. With the support of a good provider who understands both platforms and the right data on how effective your marketing is, your decisions will become quite scientific, and you can really nail-down just how many marketing dollars should be spent and where.
Mediums and Messages are Evolving
To add another piece to the traditional and digital marketing puzzle, both sides of the coin are changing and adapting to work with each other better and take the best bits from each.
Traditional Mediums are Becoming Smarter
Take, for example, our highly targeted letterbox mailers right here at Reach. Gone are the days where catalogues were dropped in a free-for-all style, casting the net wide and hoping to convert.
We now have a wide range of data around demographics and purchasing behaviours available to us, be it NZ census data, electronic transaction data for brands or categories mapped against households, or even anonymous mobile location data, we are now more informed and strategic than ever about who we’re sending mail to. Our clients tend to be either all on board from the get-go or pleasantly surprised at just how accurately we can pinpoint and strategise sends.
This new breed of marketing company emerging (like Reach) who apply smart targeting to physical marketing such as letterbox mailers, effectively enables business owners and marketers to dial up the ROI they get on any campaign.
Furthermore, the use of the letterbox medium itself is evolving. Back in the day, mailers used to be focused on the quick deal (think 'price slash!' only...). Now, what we are seeing is an evolution of letterbox material becoming ‘in-home media’. The messaging is designed to exist in the home-space longer and compliment digital mediums. Think along the lines of QR codes in mailers, AI designs in print form to work with your mobile device and print that goes hand in hand with digital gamification.
The opportunity for the mediums two to work hand-in-hand is immense, and we’re only now scratching the surface of the full capabilities.
Even the standard printed flyers are evolving in terms of design, shape, information, messaging strategy and paper types...created as helpful shopping tools to be shared and kept.
Online Mediums are Adapting a Bricks and Mortar Approach
On the flipside, traditionally online customer shopping experiences are beginning to understand that some customers need the ‘try before you buy’ element of the shopping experience and are adapting a more bricks and mortar approach to satisfy this demographic.
Take, for example, the concept of virtualising shopping to mimic the in-store experience using AI and 2.5 dimensional modelling. This ranges from something as simple as being able to rotate an item like a shoe to see what it looks like from every angle, to full shop-fronts.
The future is undeniable in the merging of both traditional and digital platforms, to appeal to the customer and their buyer journey at every touch point.
What Does the Future of Marketing Look Like?
As put by McCarthy in the NZ Marketing Magazine, ‘The Brand Issue 2020’ on his thoughts on the digital and traditional cross over;
“I think you need both sides of the picture when you’re marketing to people. I think there can almost be this ‘glaze-over’ effect with digital. We’re used to getting so much content thrown at us, that no matter how good [that digital experience is], we can still interrupt it with a physical object or printed piece”.
At Reach, we’d agree. The future is in the alignment of both, with integrated channel-agnostic activity designed to fit within both. As a company who’s actively using the adoption of both to market ourselves successfully, and implementing the same techniques for big brands across NZ and enjoying watching the rewards off the back of the efforts, we’re confident that things will consider heading in this direction. Our best advice is to get ahead of the trend and adapt now, rather than later.