It’s time to join the big league and go digital! Digital advertising is now the new norm—it’s the fastest growing marketing channel with no signs of slowing down, according to Strategy Analytics. In fact, most companies spent more on digital marketing in 2015 than they did in 2014, and plan to increase spending in 2016. This shouldn’t come as a surprise—marketing has always been about three things: location, location, location. And today, your target market is largely online. Marketers are focusing more and more resources on meeting people there, and it’s working out well for them and their customers.
The digital marketplace has put a lot of buying power back into the hands of buyers and consumers, forcing many marketers to get more creative, more genuine, and more helpful. Consumers today jump from channel to channel, seamlessly throughout the day and increasingly those channels are digital. Today, the average consumer does research on products, solutions, and companies before making a purchase. Digital technology is giving marketers a breadth of new tools, allowing them to be more focused and strategic. Digital advertising simply makes sense if you want to get your message, campaign, or promotion in front of your audience.
Digital advertising has a lot to offer today’s marketers. Here are seven things we’ve learned about digital advertising, especially from big brands:
1. Digital Advertising is Targeted
What if each ad you create is always only seen by qualified prospects and target audience members? Sterling Cooper would have made you a partner in no time with that kind of guarantee, but today this is becoming the norm.
Traditional advertising is hit-or-miss, but digital platforms are changing the game. SEO and PPC can put your brand name and your content marketing in front of customers at every stage of the buying cycle. Social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn offer flexible ad options that allow you to segment by geographic location, demographics, interests, and more.
Finally, since many forms of digital advertising are “opt-in”—from customers who follow your blog and social media accounts, to those who receive your emails—you know your outreach is going to people who want your information.
2. Digital Advertising Provides Flexibility Across Channels
The keyword for success in digital advertising is “multi-channel.” With digital advertising, a piece of content can be shared across a variety of platforms, which means that you are no longer confined to one page, 30 seconds, or whatever format your traditional ad was designed for.
Cisco’s new campaign is a great example of how to capitalize on multiple platforms. The company is distilling complex tech topics into six-second videos on the social network Vine, and then augmenting that snippet with corresponding content, such as links to articles about security and analytics. This multi-platform strategy is allowing their customers to consume content the way they want to—as a quick snack or a full meal.
This can work for any marketer. Take a short Vine video and develop it into a vlog to offer more in-depth information. Reimagine long-form content by transforming key data points or statistics into an infographic or a SlideShare presentation. Repurposing existing content is a win for both your strategy and your budget.
3. Digital Advertising Invites Mobile Engagement
Digital and mobile marketing go hand-in-hand. Digital advertising allows you to reach your audience on the go, wherever they are, whenever they are online. It’s an especially great place to reach Gen Z and Millennial customers. According to a study conducted by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), mobile phone are the place Gen Z and Millennial are most likely to see relevant ads. Even better, nearly half of all typical smartphone users have taken action based on seeing relevant ads on their mobile phones.
In fact, it might even be more effective to advertise on mobile than desktop. AdRoll’s “Facebook by the Numbers” report found that the click-through rate for Facebook News Feed ads is typically 10% higher for mobile than desktop and produces a cost-per-click that was 61% lower than on desktop.
The best part is that this does not mean you need yet another unique campaign. Responsive design is an approach to digital design that automatically optimizes the content for whatever device it is viewed on. You can start maximizing mobile engagement just by making sure that your emails, landing pages, and content pieces translate smoothly from desktop to smartphone.
4. Digital Advertising is Faster to Market
Market conditions and trends change quickly, and that requires nimble marketing. Lead times for traditional advertising methods are so 1990s. Between the time it takes to create an ad, to the long lead times required to buy time or space, your message and your budget suffer from being locked into a design that was created months before it will see the light of day.
Digital campaigns can be executed much more quickly, and they can be modified on the fly if needed. Consider that as recently as April, Subway was touting a new ad campaign with its long-time spokesman, Jared. After a scandal this summer that resulted in his arrest, Subway couldn’t distance itself from their pitchman fast enough. Whether you’re trying to capitalize on the news or distance yourself from it, big brands are wise to retain as much pivot power as possible.
This ability to modify also comes in handy when considering fluctuating budgets. Companies that have an unexpectedly low quarter can cut back without incurring cancelation fees, and those with an unexpected windfall can bump up their buying power with ease.
5. Digital Advertising is Easily Measurable
Every department needs to show how it is adding value, and with a digital campaign the metrics are built right in. You know exactly who clicked on your content, opened it, referred it, shared it, etc. You also can trace the source of your traffic from entry to the shopping cart and eventual purchase. This will help you determine which platforms and strategies yield the best results, and which deserve more investment.
The key reason for tracking metrics is to speak the same language that your CEO and your CFO do. While soft metrics like brand awareness, impressions, organic search rankings, and reach are important, their real value lies in how they can be quantifiably connected to hard metrics like pipeline, revenue, and profit. Digital advertising offers a platform for tracking both types of metrics to show a concrete ROI.
Because digital advertising is quick to measure—often with real-time results and metrics—marketers may find that it helps them make their campaigns more cost effective. If one of your digital advertising programs is not performing well or working, it’s easy to quickly adjust your program to ensure that your budget is spent well and offers a strong ROI.
6. Digital Advertising Maintains Top-of-Mind Awareness
Does your customer like that sweater? Maybe she does, but maybe not enough to buy it. A study by Baymard Institute revealed that the average online shopping cart abandonment rate is 68.53%. And that’s where digital advertising has a major advantage. While it would be creepy and desperate to waylay that customer outside your store in the mall and beg her to come back to make a purchase, with digital advertising you can reach out to her again without seeming like a stalker.
Through remarketing and retargeting, you can stay in front of her to suggest one more time that she purchase that sweater. Retargeting means that the sweater will up in her Facebook sidebar the next time she logs in or appears in an ad spot on her favorite blog that uses Google ads. With remarketing, you can ping her again with an email to remind her of that lonely shopping cart. In fact, abandoned shopping carts can be recoverable by retailers who use marketing automation software to offer a sweet deal, like a discount or free shipping. Digital advertising can keep that sale from slipping away.
7. Digital Advertising Can Go Viral
(At least, that’s what the fox says!) With a strong digital advertising component, you, too, could become the next viral sensation.
Take Dove’s “Real Beauty Sketches,” which featured real women contemplating themselves through another’s eyes. Just one video, in an ongoing campaign, garnered more than 114 million views the first month alone, just because people chose to share it on social media sites. When you consider that 114 million is about the same number of people who saw the average 2015 Super Bowl commercial, according to NBC Sports, the power of viral content becomes obvious. Dove would have spent $4.5 million per 30 seconds for a Super Bowl commercial, and still wouldn’t have gotten the strong social proof inherent in social media shares.
There’s no magic formula for how or why something goes viral, but, in general, the content should speak to our emotions. Content that makes people laugh or feel good about themselves is very shareable. Beyond that, it’s hard to predict what will make something take off, but once it does it can take on a life of its own.
Digital Advertising is the New Norm
At $13.3 billion, U.S. internet ad revenues hit a record-breaking first-quarter-high in 2015, and the numbers continue to climb. When you consider the myriad of benefits digital advertising provides compared with traditional advertising, it’s easy to see why big brands continue to utilize all forms of digital advertising platforms as an integral part of their strategies. But it isn’t just for big brands. Jump onboard and start implementing these tried-and-true strategies. Check out our Definitive Guide to Digital Advertising to learn more.
Have any digital advertising lessons of your own? Share them with us in the comments below!