4 Ways Digital Has Disrupted Traditional Marketing

February 15, 2018 Ginna Hall

For decades, marketers have used channels such as print, radio, TV, yellow pages and outdoor ads to reach consumers. But the digital revolution has proved disruptive to these traditional marketing approaches. TV, radio, print, and outdoor now work alongside digital marketing – search, organic and paid search, email, social, and video.

The growth of digital has given rise to a new category of addressable channels – where individual, user-level data is available to track touchpoints in the consumer journey.

Estimates of how many people might have seen your message have given way to knowing the location, device, time, browser, and action of every consumer touchpoint online.

With greater access to data about consumer behavior, marketing has transformed from an art to a science. We’ve moved from “spray and pray” to targeting with the precision of a surgeon.

These statistics show how digital is disrupting marketing:

  • Online advertising is expected to overtake TV advertising for the first time this year.
  • YouTube viewers watch more than 1 billion hours of videos a day, nearly surpassing TV viewership.
  • Mobile’s expected share of media ad budgets (22.7 percent) is greater than print (13.9 percent) and radio (7.4 percent) combined.

But the initial euphoria of digital marketing has given way to some sobering realities. We’ve learned these channels exist in silos. That it’s incredibly difficult to follow customers and prospects across multiple channels and devices, and even harder to find out which marketing and advertising is effective.

  • Only 45 percent of organizations are satisfied with their measurement of marketing ROI.
  • 79 percent of CMOs report they are not prepared to pursue digital marketing opportunities.

Being able to reach and engage your best customer as they move along a tangled digital path requires sophisticated understanding of tools and tactics and clear strategy and vision.

But the strategies and technologies that marketers have relied on for years to target, analyze and optimize their marketing and advertising campaigns have not evolved fast enough to keep pace with these demands.

While digitalization has created a number of opportunities for marketers, it's also created a number of challenges. Getting ahead of these obstacles can make the difference between success and failure.

Challenge 1: Using Accurate Metrics

Addressable channels offer multiple ways to track campaign success, but they are comprised of paid, earned and owned channels, which do not share common metrics. As a result, marketers have been forced to use the last-click prior to a given success criteria as the industry standard for some channels, while others use “opens”, “views”, “likes” or some other type of arbitrary metric for gauging success.

This leads to internal confusion and inflated success. Because multiple channels – owned by in-house and/or agency teams – can each take credit for a conversion, lead or other KPI, it leads marketers to double-count metrics.

Channel-specific metrics also fail to consistently measure the contribution of marketing tactics within each channel, making comparisons impossible. Is a social “like” worth more than a search “click”?  Is a display “view” worth more than an email “open”?  

Since each channel has its own KPIs, marketers can’t tell how they are working together to drive desired business outcomes (engagement, leads, conversions, sales) at each stage of the funnel. Even worse, having separate goals and incentives for each channel may actually mean teams are working against each other.

Further complicating this is the fact that brands can’t influence or dictate what path a consumer takes across paid, earned and owned channels. This makes understanding the inherent value of each dimension, and how it influences a given KPI, critical.

Challenge 2: Understanding How Offline and Online Channels Interact

Today’s engagement path involves multiple channels, but consumers don’t distinguish between online and offline. They just want a seamless experience from their mobile device to the desktop to an in-store visit.

Yet many marketers struggle to correlate online activity with point of sale (POS) purchases, in-store sales and other offline conversions – especially when pre-sale offline engagements can quickly add up to dozens or even hundreds of interactions.

Without the ability to bridge the gap between the digital and physical world, it’s impossible to optimize your marketing and advertising tactics to drive different online and offline success criteria or effectively manage the total consumer experience.

Challenge 3: Tracking and De-Duplicating Individuals Across Channels and Devices

When customers and prospects can’t be mapped across their various devices, problems arise. Without de-duplicated tracking, an interaction on three devices is counted as three separate buyers. Not only is the consumer experience disjointed, but reach is inflated and paths to conversion become siloed by device.

Marketers end up making optimization decisions without an understanding of the multi-device, cross-channel consumer journey or the synergies between touchpoints.

Challenge 4: Understanding Consumer Attributes and Preferences

Most companies use disparate systems to collect data about their customers and prospects. CRM systems tend to be the application of record for customer management but fail to capture information about prospects.

The evolution of data management platforms (DMPs) has closed this gap by combining first-party data (CRM, site analytics, etc.) with third-party data (attributes about consumers). But neither provide an understanding of these consumers and the performance of marketing or media within a single application.

This means marketers lack true insight into the attributes and preferences of their best customers and makes it difficult to know which marketing messages are resonating among audience segments.

Understanding Every Touchpoint

To truly understand the value of each consumer interaction with your brand, it’s not enough to count impressions, eyeballs or measure the effectiveness of your digital marketing using the consumer’s last interaction with your brand (i.e. last-touch metrics). You need to know the effectiveness of each marketing touchpoint in every consumer journey regardless of where those touchpoints occur.

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