How to Combine Face-to-Face With Digital Marketing

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Despite advancements in technology and throughout the marketing industry, many UK marketing consultants and agencies still rely on traditional marketing methods. Surely, this must mean these traditional marketing activities are still working?

Constant Contact and Our Social Times recently joined forces and, with the support of Smart Insights and Enterprise Nation, surveyed over 130 UK-based marketing consultants and agencies on their habits, priorities and fears when it comes to their own digital marketing. You can download the report in full here: Digital Marketing Survey 2015.

digital-marketing-activity

Perhaps unsurprisingly, 66 percent of the 130 marketing consultants and agencies we polled said that digital marketing makes up over 60 percent of their total marketing activity, with 38 percent saying it accounts for between 81-100 percent of their marketing.

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This shows broad similarities to marketing industry reports, such as Econsultancy’s Marketing Budgets 2015 Report, which found that 77 percent of all companies are planning to increase their digital marketing spend this year, while just 22 percent plan to keep it the same and 1 percent are reducing spend.

What percentage of the overall marketing activity for your business is digital

Perhaps more surprising was the finding that for 13 percent of marketing consultants, traditional marketing methods, such as trade shows, face-to-face and offline advertising, account for up to 80 percent of their total marketing output.

The marketing industry has undergone repeated tech revolutions in the past twenty years – but readers might be astonished to discover that experts aren’t 100 percent invested in the most advanced methods. Yet as Dr Dave Chaffey (who spoke at the launch event of our report) pointed out to me, face-to-face is still the most powerful medium available to marketers.

Of course, if marketers combine reach and frequency of social and digital marketing with the trust and authenticity of face-to-face the result can be an even more potent cocktail. This probably explains why Constant Contact provides a marketing platform that combines email with social media and event management. Smart cookies!

In fact, for all the misgivings I might have about traditional marketing methods, my company, Our Social Times, has been combining digital marketing with events to great effect for the past six years. A blog post we published about the power of social media and events (complete with obligatory infographic) is still being widely read and shared today.

There are clearly lessons for digital marketers and traditionalists alike in our report. Thankfully, in addition to making it available as a download, we have had some printed. If you’re in the offline 13 percent just send us a note and we’ll get one out to you in the post.

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Combine On-Site & Off-Site Factors for Online Success

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For some business owners, especially those who may have recently shelled out a large chunk of change on a top-notch website, it can be hard to understand why they now need to invest even more money into marketing and promoting their shiny new site. Conversely, businesses with creative, well-developed online advertising strategies may be drawing a blank as to why all of their hard work isn’t translating into more leads or sales.

To understand how both on-site and off-site factors interact and ultimately determine the outcome of your digital marketing efforts, it can help to think of things in a more “traditional” business sense. In this article, we’ll discuss how focusing only on on-site or off-site factors can have a negative impact on your digital marketing success.

Focusing only on on-site factors (aka ‘Your Showroom’)

Imagine that you are the proud owner of ACE Furniture, a fictional furniture retail store that just invested a significant amount of money into building a state-of-the-art showroom. You threw yourself into this showroom project, sparing no expense and maxing every resource you had in the quest to build the greatest showroom in the history of furniture retail. And boy does it look awesome!

Plush mattresses spin atop rotating platforms, beckoning customers to lay on them. Reclining couches and leather love seats are flawlessly staged around wooden coffee tables and ornate entertainment centers. You’ve built the Taj Mahal of furniture showrooms. When customers walk into this palace of fine furniture, there’s no way they’re leaving without a new memory foam mattress, or at least an ottoman!

Problem is, nobody is walking in. There isn’t even an occasional passerby outside. In fact, besides you and a couple of employees, your expensive new showroom is basically a ghost town instead of the sales machine you thought it would be.

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Replace ‘showroom’ with ‘website,’ and we run into some of the same exact issues facing business owners who’ve dumped a truckload of cash on a brand new website, only to completely neglect off-site factors like marketing and promotion (see below). I work with clients on a daily basis who have really impressive sites – beautiful graphics, amazing design, textbook site structure and navigation, compelling copy, strong CTAs – but they totally dropped the ball when it came to developing a plan to drive people to their wonderful new website.

Well…not quite.

This isn’t Field of Dreams. If you want see the payoff from your new website, then you need to invest equal (or in some cases, more) time and resources into planning and executing off-site strategies.

Focusing only on off-site factors (aka ‘Your Commercials’)

Using our ACE Furniture example from before, let’s assume that this time, instead of investing in a fancy new showroom, you went all-out in the promotion of your furniture store. Working with the best minds in advertising, you came up with the most creative, persuasive marketing campaign the industry has ever seen! Potential furniture shoppers are exposed to your catchy radio spots, high-end TV commercials, sophisticated online ads, and even traditional print and billboard messaging at every turn.

Bottom line – if someone is even remotely interested in buying a piece of furniture, they are only thinking about one brand – ACE Furniture. Success! Now that you have influenced the mattress-buying masses to visit your store instead of the other guys’, the sale is pretty much in the bag, right?

Well, not exactly. While you were investing all of your time and money into snappy advertising and promotional strategies, your competition was investing their’s into making a better product. People start to complain that your pillows aren’t as pillow-y as the other guys’, your comforters not nearly as comfortable. Sure, you were able to get thousands more people through your showroom doors than your competition, but what you ended up with was thousands of lost opportunities.

Ok, now let’s put this in a digital context. While I’m an online marketer by profession, and would love to work with a client who is down to throw everything including the kitchen sink into their marketing efforts, I know all too well about the dangers of doing so. Open the floodgates of traffic to a poorly-developed website with bad functionality and weak CTAs, and not only will you be disappointed with the results, but you risk damaging your brand’s image and reputation.

Putting it all together

Success in online marketing is comprised of many complex factors, but boils down to one simple concept: balance. Everything in your digital strategy needs to come together and work towards a common goal if you want to optimize your results. When one component is missing – or is the sole focus – the outcome will be marginally successful.

Rather than favoring one over the other, work toward balancing the on-site elements and overall design of your website with generating a buzz and promoting your brand off-site. Yes, this generally takes more time and effort, but the results are much more impactful than focusing on on-site or off-site factors alone.

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