A recent article on Forbes.com asked the question, Is traditional marketing still alive? As the article concludes, of course it is! But while the article argues that some forms of traditional marketing are still lucrative (like door hangers and junk mail), I’d argue that they’re far less lucrative than most online marketing initiatives. How much of your junk mail goes directly to the recycling bin? How many times have you seen an interesting billboard on your way to work and then actually followed up by visiting the store or website at the end of your commute?
Reaching new customers and cultivating loyalty in current customers are the reasons why we engage in any marketing, be it online or traditional. But in a company where every marketing dollar counts—and let’s be honest, no one wants to waste money—online marketing outshines traditional marketing any day. Here’s why.
1. Targeting – With online marketing, your ability to target your audience is far superior to traditional marketing. With traditional marketing, your audience is wide. You don’t know who sees your ads or reads your mailings. Flyers and door hangers go out to the community at large. You may choose to run a print ad in a magazine whose audience is more targeted, but even that is a very haphazard approach in today’s day and age. Online marketing allows you to target prospects who have already shown interest in a particular product or service (be it yours or a competitors) or by various demographics such as gender, age, etc.
2. Immediacy – Online marketing is real-time marketing. Hit publish and your message is immediately diffused. On the other hand, if you made an error, you can immediately take it back and fix it. Traditional marketing is time consuming in its creation and publication, and errors that go into print are not easily fixed.
3. Better ROI – Because you have control over more variables (see #1), you’ll also see a higher return on your investment for an online marketing strategy that is expertly deployed. Online marketing is also often less costly than many traditional marketing initiatives.
4. Global reach – If you sell products online, your audience is the world (or as far as you’re willing to ship). Reach more people in more places, faster, with online marketing than you ever could with traditional marketing. There are only so many junk mail postcards you can send.
5. Testing – Online marketing allows you to test your initiatives far more effectively than traditional marketing. Sure, you can put a promo code on a flyer or list a tracked phone number on a magazine ad, but online marketing allows you to track so many more variables and then to test them—one test after another or many tests at once. How do you know which headline would be more effective for your landing page? Run an A/B test and get quantitative results that will help you choose (based on impressions and conversion rates). Online marketing allows you to be more reactive, know with certainty what works and fine-tune your marketing efforts before it’s too late.
6. Two-way communication – Online marketing has to power to engage your customers in two-way communication. Think social media. Interact with your customers in a way that’s just not possible with traditional marketing.
7. Accessible – Whether you’re Lay’s Potato Chips or the new ma-and-pop brand operating out of your basement, online marketing is accessible to you. Because of its generally low entry costs and high ROI, online marketing helps small and medium businesses compete with the big guys in those years before they’re able to afford a billboard advertisement on the highway or a television commercial spot.
8. Online culture – People read online. So you may place a newspaper print ad, but many people are getting their news online. Many magazines have digital editions. Ask yourself if your audience is actually reading paper anymore.
9. Inbound. -Direct mail and other types of traditional marketing are interruptive in their approach. Online marketing can beinbound. That means you’re drawing your ideal customer to you, giving them content they want, and cultivating a positive relationship. By producing online content that your prospects are actually searching for and want to read, you’re reducing the need to chase clients and sales. A well-implemented inbound marketing strategy will bring interested, qualified prospects to you!
Is traditional marketing still alive? Yes, it is. But it often serves two types of businesses: the big guys (who are also rocking online marketing) and those who cater to a quickly dwindling number of people who are not online. If your business doesn’t fit into one of those two categories, ask yourself what inbound marketing can do for you and get a free marketing assessment.