4Ps Marketing

Digital Marketing vs. Traditional Marketing

About the Debate

I spoke at Marketing Week Live as part of a panel discussing the pros and cons of Digital Marketing vs. Traditional Marketing techniques.

Out of the 5 people on the panel, 2 represented direct and promotional marketing, 2 represented digital marketing and the final member provided a neutral perspective. The traditional marketing perspective was heavily focused on direct and promotional marketing.

Here are the highlights:

90% of those who attended the debate do NOT engage in any digital activity

A survey of the debate’s audience confirmed a tendency amongst B2B professionals to believe that direct and promotional marketing is the safer bet. The majority of the debate’s audience were marketing managers and managing directors from the B2B sectors, so we can conclude that digital marketing is still very new to this industry.

When trying to persuade these traditional B2B marketers to invest in digital or, more importantly, trying to get buy-in from C-level, it is worth stressing that digital marketing can be tracked and is fully measurable. It is therefore possible to see the ROI of any online marketing activity and, should the campaign not be working as well as hoped, the campaign can be turned on and off at will.

Direct mail still works

The main message from the panel members representing direct & promotional marketing was about age groups. This consideration is particularly important in the B2B market, where the target audience are often aged 40+. The main reason for their aversion to digital marketing is that they find some of the processes too invasive. An example of this is retargeting advertising, which can ‘follow’ you around on the internet.

The average age of a company director is 55, and they often prefer to receive direct mail and promotional gifts. An example of direct  promotional gifting is a brand sending additional items with every purchase, such as a sample of a new product. While this certainly engenders good will, the challenge in this type of campaign lies in the tracking. If they send these samples out to 100 people and they only get responses or feedback from 5, how will they know if the other 95 like the product? They consequently have no data for those 95 people.

On the other side of the coin, digital marketing makes it possible to track almost everyone. From the data gathered, we can see whether or not they are interested in the product and if they are, we can then retarget these people with relevant ads.

The next generation of customers are going to be digitally minded

The great thing about digital marketing is that it is possible to find out more about the next generation of customers. Future marketing professionals will be that much more receptive to digital marketing techniques and are happy to actively engage with brands online. A popular belief amongst younger audiences is that promotional merchandise being sent directly to a home or office address is a more invasive tactic.

Consequently, digital and traditional marketing need to converge and integrate in order to reach the target audience in a way that encourages a response. Various tracking capabilities also mean that you can see whether campaign is reaching the right audience and how effective it is.

The votes are in, which channel comes out on top?

The result from the vote taken at the end of the debate was a resolute ‘both’. Marketers need to use both traditional and digital marketing techniques in order to reach their target audience. The audience all concluded that an integrated approach to marketing is needed to achieve the best results, a conclusion shared by the panel members.

Key Message: Direct and promotional marketing can have a huge impact when integrated with digital marketing, and the use of both methods can help you to future-proof your company.

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