Social Media Marketing. Content Marketing. Inbound Marketing.
In a web-centric marketing landscape that changes so rapidly year by year, is there still room for good-old-fashioned print advertising? After all, your marketing budgets aren’t getting larger – just your marketing options. But there’s a fundamental flaw with the concept that choosing online or offline marketing is an either/or proposition.
The conventional wisdom says that print is dying. Sure. Yup. Got it. We’ve heard it all. But by that same logic, we better write off commercial radio and network television while we’re at it, yes? I can get all the commercial-free music I want from my satellite radio or my iPhone. Factor in my HBO and my Netflix shows, I may never have to see or hear a commercial again! Meanwhile I still schlep to the curb every morning to get my morning newspaper. Crazy, I know.
So just for a minute let’s cut out the Henny Penny sky is falling thing, and look at this from a different perspective.
Yes. Agreed. Print publishing has taken it squarely on the chin over the last 10 years. And yes, the print advertising industry is radically different than the days before Al Gore invented the Internet. But at the same time, let’s look at some of the online options for small businesses.
Online Display Advertising
That would include all those banner ads that you completely ignore. If you’re Buick and introducing your new hybrid crossover luxury sedan, you probably don’t care that nobody clicks on your ads. It’s branding. “Oh hey”, you say to yourself. “Look… Buick has a new hybrid crossover something or other. But there’s no way I’m clicking on that banner because I’m busy reading about Jennifer Lopez’s liposuction to click off the page. For REAL businesses (like yours) …. online banners are often the upsell the newspaper rep threw in to get you into the print edition. Wow. Five thousand impressions in the Harrisburg Bugle for FREE?
Here are some frightening stats…
- The average clickthrough rate of display ads is 0.1% (DoubleClick Media)
- About 50% of clicks on mobile ads are accidental. (GoldSpot Media)
- Only 8% of internet users account for 85% of clicks on display ads – a large percentage being web bots (comScore)
Pay Per Click Advertising
Aka Adwords. These are the paid ads you see running down the side of the search results. Or the ones at the very top that are paid but most people think they are organic search results so they click on them anyway. The big upside? Highly targeted. For they right keywords they kick butt. The downside? You better know what you are doing because you can lose your shirt AND your shoes. But surprisingly, PPC dominates organic search for commercial keyword searches (see this article from wordstream).
Bottom line – PPC can be a great way to generate targeted leads. But you have to pay to play, and if you don’t know what you’re doing you could find yourself paying $10,000 in Adwords fees to make $1000.
Organic Search Marketing (SEO)
Talk about an industry that has changed dramatically of the last few years. In the old days (5 years ago) you could hire someone to game the system (fool Google) — create lots of links to your site from bogus sites, or even buy links. Then stuff your site with the best long-tail keywords so you come up to the top of the search engine results. In the end Google always wins. And today, you need great content, real links from social media, and a lot of time (and time is money by the way). Time to create killer content and time to see the results. If you have a big sale or event that is coming up, don’t rely on your inbound marketing strategies. Those are the long term traffic strategies that takes months and years.
The other challenge today is the results page itself. The organic search results are getting crowded out more and more with paid advertising and Google results – pushing your hard-won search rankings off the page. Oh, and don’t forget that depending on your past search history or location, your results can be completely different than anyone else.
Social Media Marketing
We’ve all heard how social media (or Inbound Marketing) is going to replace traditional advertising. For one thing it’s free (if you don’t include hundreds of man hours it takes to maintain your social media campaigns). But let me be clear here. Social media IS the present and the future of marketing. But just one piece of it. If you think that Twitter and Facebook will replace your traditional marketing, your mistaken. Support, yes. Replace no.
The bottom line is this: more and more businesses are realizing that social networks are NOT the ideal place generate new leads and find customers, but rather a great way to support and nurture your existing customer base. Of course there are many exceptions to this sweeping statement, but ask yourself this – when was the last time you got a new customer through Twitter or Facebook? I’m guessing never.
Corporate America has figured this out. Take Verizon for example. Do you suppose they use Twitter for new customer acquisition? Judging by all the TV, radio, full page newspaper and direct mail advertising I see from them, it’s clear they still rely on traditional advertising media. But after I tweeted about my high FIOS bill, I quickly received a message back from a Verizon rep asking me if there was any way they can help. Comcast does the same thing. Most service oriented companies do. That’s because they realize that the social networks are not the best for customer acquisition, but great for customer service.
The case for print advertising
So as you can see, while digital marketing has it’s place, there is no ‘magic bullet’. An ongoing SEO campaign is important to build traffic. Pay Per Click advertising is a great way to get targeted traffic for time-sensitive promotions. And as we mentioned, depending on the type of advertising, you can actually get BETTER click-through rates on paid search over organic search. Social media is strongest for nurturing prospects and existing clients – but not as successful for conversions. And as for online display advertising… well, save your money.
As for print? Even with declining readerships, there’s no place better to reach an older demographic. And as for reach, you can place an ad in the paper and reach 200,000 households in a single day (or whatever the circulation may be for your local paper). And if you have a compelling message and a decent offer, print advertising still converts like hell.
Next time: We’ll look at how you can leverage your print advertising to increase conversions online.