In my ten years working as a digital advertiser I’ve been asked this question many times – by clients, colleagues, friends, competitors – and never in my life so far, have I ever told anyone, “Sure, sounds like a good idea.”
Not because I don’t think it might be an interesting (which does not necessarily equal good) idea or that some brands or companies might benefit from it, but because it’s not a yes or no question. It’s a very complicated question and answering it requires a very good understanding of many factors that might influence what the right answer is.
What should you take into consideration when considering this
1. It depends on your budget
If you have very small budgets, the question probably answers itself. In most cases, when you have a very limited budget on your hands, it will yield better results when invested with a focus. Keep in mind that when you break down advertising down to its core fundamentals, you need to ensure that you achieve two things:
A: Deliver your ads to the relevant audience (an audience that cares about what you sell and has at least some basic intention of buying it in the near future)
B: Deliver your ads to relevant audience enough times to make an impact
Small budgets can only buy you very limited campaigns on TV, and print advertising is typically not targeted enough. Some might opt for smaller, local radio stations to run their ads but digital will probably deliver you the best returns on your ad spend.
2. It depends on how specific your target group is
The question of whether you should advertise “offline” depends not only on your budget but also on your target group. Many companies have customer segments that are so specific and small that going offline makes little sense. Offline advertising is typically a blanket, one-size-fits-all approach – if your target group is small and specific a lot of the advertising and as a consequence a lot of your cash will be a misfire, targeting the wrong group of people.
SaaS services, software solutions, B2B-oriented solutions or services targeting specific types of companies or end consumer products that are aimed at specific types of people will typically prefer to spend their budget online.
3. It depends on your market strategy
Many companies I have worked with had the challenge of entering new markets as a fresh and unknown player in their category or service. They all had great dreams and aspirations related to market shares, but not all of them had the money to back it up on the get-go.
If you have limited budget available when entering a new market and you need to get cash flow positive as soon as possible, digital will probably deliver you the results faster. One benefit of digital is precision targeting that allows you to focus on your ideal customers in the beginning and run remarketing ads on people who display interest in your brand instead of trying to go for the coveted “top of mind” position on a market that knows nothing about you.
Digital with its tracking and analytics will also enable you to optimize your advertising spend faster, with greater accuracy and greater speed. If you combine this with the option to run a multitude of granular advertising tests for a small amount of money, you can see why this can be the better choice.
4. It depends on your target customer segment
Digital agencies love to promote and perhaps even believe the fact that digital advertising has an unlimited reach in terms of customer segment. In my experience that is very far away from the truth. Penetration of digital advertising diminishes considerably as you move up the age groups. If your target customer segment is above the age of 55 or 60, it absolutely makes sense to use traditional marketing channels – they will have better reach and often will do a better job of convincing the consumer to give your brand or product a try.
If your company targets solely younger generations towards the end of the alphabet, then traditional channels will have problems reaching them as the majority of content consumption and brand engagement they generate happens online – especially in social media.
So basically, you’re telling us to go digital…
Not at all; in the majority of cases I’ve seen in my career a marketing mix of offline/online and outdoor was the most efficient in delivering results— if it was backed up by a proper budget.
Funnel management is in my opinion probably one of the most important aspects of marketing and sales—and if you want to work across the entire purchase funnel, you need more than just performance digital marketing.