Digital marketing continues to be one of the primary forms of consumer outreach. Its methods, such as websites, certainly tend to be more accessible to a wider range of businesses than many analog methods. Even small enterprises have the ability to reach a genuinely global audience without decimating their budgets. Not to mention that brands can now create impactful video and textual content without seeking out relationships with television networks or publishers.
But does this mean that traditional marketing should be discarded as irrelevant? Far from it. Both digital and analog practices have important roles to play in the current landscape. Even when traditional tools aren’t appropriate, the methods and ideas behind them can help make digital practices more effective.
Let’s dive a little deeper into this idea by exploring what digital marketing still has to learn from traditional approaches. How can you utilize this knowledge effectively in your campaigns?
Recognize the Differences
The first step is to gain a better understanding of what separates these approaches to advertising. When marketers assume false equivalencies between traditional and digital marketing methods this prevents either from being effective tools. For instance, thinking of search engine optimization (SEO) as just another form of billboard is both inaccurate and unhelpful. While both can be used to raise visibility, they each have different roles in achieving this. SEO is more akin to improving statistics in a way that demonstrates to search algorithms that your marketing materials present value to searchers. While a billboard is a static brand statement that is intended to immediately grab attention.
Learning about the key differences between these marketing methods isn’t just about selecting the right tools for your campaigns. It also helps you to embrace these variations in ways that benefit your strategies. It also empowers you to truly understand what aspects of traditional marketing you should aim to transfer into your digital approach wherever possible.
Make Meaningful Connections
The first and perhaps most important thing digital marketers can learn from traditional efforts is the focus on building meaningful connections. Too often, digital marketing is aimed at gaining engagement from as wide an audience spread as possible. Unfortunately, the methods and tools used to achieve this forgo the genuine human connection that is so often found in analog marketing.
If you think about it, traditional marketing can’t rely on the potential for consumers to revisit content later or bookmark pages. It has to gain the trust and enthusiasm of audiences in a short space of time. As a result, traditional marketers tend to lean into messaging and tools that enhance the recipient’s emotional connection to the brand. This can often be made more meaningful by traditional tools that are more physically integrated into the audience’s lives, like their daily newspapers or the billboards they drive past every day on their commute to work.
Digital marketing really needs to gain a better handle on forging those meaningful connections. Videos and podcasts can be informative while also utilizing audiovisual elements that induce positive emotional responses. When digital marketers partner with influencers, they should prioritize those with more than a surface role in their followers’ lives.
Among the key differences between digital and traditional marketing is the potential reach. Purely online campaigns have the advantage of the potential to connect with a global audience. There are certainly opportunities for global campaigns with analog tools, but these tend to be more expensive and a little unwieldy. As such, traditional marketing practices usually have a far more localized focus.
This localization doesn’t necessarily mean traditional marketing is inferior. In many cases, it allows marketers to make more relevant and impactful pitches to consumers. When brands reach out to customers in limited geographical areas, the content and visuals can be tailored to the preferences of local demographics. Sponsorship of local teams and events can also mean the brand gains invaluable community recognition that wouldn’t usually be achieved through social media marketing.
There is starting to be greater recognition of the importance of this approach, with localized SEO becoming more prevalent. Nevertheless, this still focuses on search engine rankings and discovery. Digital marketers need to learn from traditional marketers’ approaches to gaining footholds in communities. This could certainly involve performing outreach to online groups or subcultures or partnering with live-streamed events like esports tournaments.
Incorporate Analog Approaches
The differences between digital and traditional methods should be recognized and embraced. However, it’s always worth exploring whether there are elements of analog approaches that can be directly transplanted into digital tools. After all, there are certain traditional methods that continue to be effective despite rising digital dominance. Delivering the substance of traditional marketing in a digital manner can help brands gain the best of both worlds.
It’s important to be mindful in your approach here, as not every tool is suitable for this kind of digital transference. One analog method that is worth exploring in digital realism is the sales mail-out. Analog direct mail is most effective when it provides recipients with personalized value. This often involves coupons based on consumers’ purchases or information in an area of niche interest. Therefore, your email marketing campaigns shouldn’t just introduce your company and provide a call to action. Offer value via sales emails by including a piece of informative or entertaining digital content or a unique discount code for their preferred products.
As a digital marketer, it is vital not to dismiss traditional efforts as irrelevant. While some of the tools are different, this doesn’t mean the methods and intentions can’t still be useful. The first step should always be to gain a better understanding of the differences between each to avoid making unhelpful false equivalencies. Digital marketers must find ways to enhance the emotional value of their content to make similar meaningful connections to traditional counterparts. By the same token, having a more local digital focus can bring brands closer to communities. Not all analog practices can make a good transition to the digital landscape. Nevertheless, marketers should take the time to explore the opportunities and ideas traditional approaches offer.