“Without tradition, art is a flock of sheep without a shepherd. Without innovation, it is a corpse.” — Winston Churchill
Traditional marketing can be categorized as any marketing strategy, commercial channel, or promotional advertisement that has a successful record of increasing business. In the past, some of the tried and true forms of marketing have been physical placements like billboards, newspaper and magazine advertisements, as well as intangible placements like radio and television commercials.
As early as 1704, marketers realized the power newspapers offered as a viable vehicle for driving sales growth. Benjamin Franklin, founding father and renaissance man, not only pioneered a section of advertisements in his Philadelphia Gazette newspaper, but he also printed the first American magazine ad.1
As technology continues to evolve, every incremental innovation seems to drive more utility for the marketing industry as a whole. Although each technological innovation disrupts the marketing channel that preceded it, advertisers still cling to the ways of the past by purchasing space on billboards, newspapers, radio shows, and more. Study the methods that follow and how they can be implemented in your mobile marketing or jump to our infographic below.
For years, newspapers, magazines, and other periodicals were the single largest source of advertising spending. In fact, newspaper revenues grew almost perfectly linear from 1919 to 2000 when growth started to decline.2 The tectonic shift in media from paid daily news to free news instantaneously impacted circulation and the marketing reach these publications once commanded.
As with any innovative technology, it took time for the telecommunications industry to build the infrastructure and customer base to make telemarketing feasible. It wasn’t until the early 1980s that telephone technology became sophisticated enough for the telemarketing industry to get its start. But by the mid-90s, US companies were spending almost $90 billion on telephone marketing.
Even though the first radio technology dates back as early as 1895, the first commercial radio broadcast didn’t come until November 2nd, 1920. The value proposition of radio was made clear that day when it became the first source to break the news that Warren Harding had won the election for President of the United States. Although radio has not been immune to disruption with the recent proliferation of podcasting, it continues to engage a large audience. Research has found that traditional AM/FM radio reaches an astounding 91% of Americans above the age of 12 every week.3
Digital marketing is the utilization of internet connected devices to distribute marketing material. What separates digital marketing from its elder, more traditional brethren? The methods of digital marketing cannot rest on the laurels of past performance, as traditional marketing is able to do.
Since the relatively recent inception of digital marketing, a huge percentage of the total advertising dollars have transitioned online. In 2017, digital advertising grew to account for nearly 42% of total US advertising spending.4 This number does not reflect organic or unpaid digital marketing efforts, which most likely account for a similar percentage of total marketing efforts.
The disruption of traditional media companies by social media has decentralized the power to publish. This new trigger-happy world of peer-to-peer publishing has given brands a much sought after ability to blend in and connect with customers on a personal level. The large social platforms quickly grew their audience to billions of users giving marketers access to their target markets with organic and paid reach.
Even though radio still commands a large percentage of monthly active listeners, podcasts have been growing in popularity. Podcasting is another great example of digital platforms decentralizing the power of broadcasting. Previously, radio stations were required to file licenses with the FCC, limiting the number of stations competing for airwaves. Today, anyone can start a podcast and reach millions of people instantly.
Historically, marketers would simply attach their brand to content created by a third-party publication. Only companies from intellectual industries would release their own content, and these were typically white papers or research reports for educational purposes. Today, companies use content marketing to converse with their customers, giving their brand a more authoritative voice in their field.
While some mobile app marketers actually purchase billboard space as a part of their overall strategy, there is a lot to learn from the marketing principles of the billboard in general. The average billboard is viewed by a reader for four seconds and often times those four seconds are preoccupied with other, more attention-demanding tasks. Successfully conveying a message in the blink of an eye requires an elegant choice of words paired with compelling imagery.
According to the Wall Street Journal, digital ads on-screen for at least four seconds will have a 25% chance of being recalled by the reader. When viewed for seven seconds, video ads were recalled between 50 and 75% more.5 When crafting your marketing material, use four seconds as the time constraint to make a lasting impression.
Direct Mail and Flyers
Realistically, the conversion rate for direct mail campaigns are low and can be quite expensive. Many people do not bother to read the stack of advertisements in their mailbox, which is why the average conversion rate is between 0.5 and 2%.6 Although time-consuming and costly, one tactic that has increased the rate of return on direct mail is incorporating handwriting when addressing the envelope or when writing the message inside.
When considering what marketing strategies to employ for your app it is best to understand what kind of performance to expect. Explore various channels and analyze what return on investment you can expect compared to costs.
The increased conversion rate from personalization in experiments with direct mail campaigns is another huge takeaway. Customers are easily enticed by the use of their name and impressed by campaigns that feel human, and are custom-built or individualized for them.
In-person sales calls, live product demos, and industry trade shows are all face-to-face marketing tactics that are still relevant today. Some people question the scalability of these individual direct conversations. These skeptics do not account for the word of mouth evangelism that can result from a great in-person experience. Putting a face to the brand can change the perception of the company in the mind of the customer.
Most business leaders agree that face time is an essential part of business development. In fact, 54% of business executives reported in-person meetings with customers to have an enormous impact on their businesses.7
In the field of psychology, social norms are the rules that govern and influence social behavior. Most of us implicitly trust the recommendations and endorsements of celebrities, friends, or even a group of complete strangers. (Ever see a line stretching out the door of a restaurant and thought, “They must have great food”?) This is why social proof in marketing is so effective.
In fact, 77% of consumers report family and friends are the most persuasive and informative ways to educate themselves before a purchase. More broadly, 60% of online shoppers trust customer reviews.8
The perfect example of this social phenomenon plays out every day in economics. The more scarce an object is, the higher value we tend to place on that object. While most people do not rely on the supply and demand curve to dictate their purchasing decisions, we still allow scarcity to weigh on our decision making.
In marketing, this often takes the shape of a time-sensitive offer or discount. Loss aversion, another aspect of cognitive psychology, peeks its head in when we are faced with a decision to buy now for less or postpone the purchase. Most people take advantage of the deal at hand to avoid spending more in the future.
In his book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Robert Cialdini talks extensively about the law of reciprocity.9 This is the obligation we feel to return a favor with an equivalent gesture. This tendency of social psychology is responsible for innumerable sales and marketing campaigns.
For years, grocers and food vendors have offered free samples to take advantage of the law of reciprocity. Tech companies imitate the free sample model with free trials of software, which has also proven very effective.
The bridge connecting traditional marketing to digital marketing provides safe passage across the sea of market uncertainty. Previously, it could take months or even years for traditional marketers to validate their performance. Today, digital marketers are able to quickly implement, test, measure, and pivot based on real-time validation.
Digital marketing has inherited the established principles and techniques from past performers but with the added ability to quickly fix what is underperforming. It would be naive to think every traditional marketing approach will be applicable in the digital age — or that digital marketing is without its flaws. What are some of the disadvantages digital marketing presents?
As software advances and more of our time is spent on web and mobile devices, the marketplace for digital marketing and advertising continues to grow. In many ways, the marketing industry has benefited from the transition to digital, solving many of the pain points traditional marketers once faced. In the same breath, however, digital marketing has created a new set of problems that the industry must learn to cope with.
The open-source nature of many projects and platforms allows computer engineers to manipulate the user experience marketers intended for their sites. Ad-blocking software, for example, hides the digital banner ads that would otherwise be shown. While many sites have started to defend against ad blockers, the iterative and innovative nature of programmers will likely lead to more attempts and more successful ad-blocking software.
Transparency can be a double-edged sword. When the feedback is good it can provide positive social proof. When the feedback is mostly negative, it can work against the company even when the complaints are out of the company’s control. Many online shoppers rely on customer reviews and comments before making a purchase. If customers rate the product below average, it can drive prospects to buy from competitors.
While some disadvantages of digital marketing have revealed themselves as these platforms continue to grow, it’s worth reiterating that digital marketing has also solved many problems faced by marketers. When we consider the tools available to marketing teams today compared to only a few decades ago, we start to see just how elementary these traditional marketing efforts were.
A lot of people default to using traditional marketing techniques, reasoning, “It’s the way it’s always been done.” This argument assumes the marketing environment is static and not threatened by disruption — digital marketing has proven this is not true. Although these methods have been the tried-and-true tactics in marketing, they are not without their disadvantages.
One key drawback to traditional marketing is that measuring the results of any marketing effort proves extremely difficult. Measuring the performance of a highway billboard in the 1970s, for example, would be nearly impossible to differentiate from the other marketing strategies in place, like the full page magazine ad.
Another downside to traditional marketing is the inability to test different images, copy, and placements in real-time. While traditional marketing teams used focus groups to test various campaign performances, these samples were often not large enough to accurately account for the entire population.
Digital marketing might appear to be an entirely new discipline in marketing but most of the time marketers are applying proven methods to new channels. In most cases, marketers are not reinventing the wheel — more like putting old tires on a new car.
George Santayana, writer and philosopher, famously wrote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Santayana obviously didn’t write this with the marketing industry in mind, since many times marketers are relying on the past to guide their future marketing strategies. Studying the methods and techniques of traditional marketing can be a great place to start when considering a marketing plan for your mobile app.
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