You may have heard the rumors about traditional marketing being dead or dying. As print media circulation declines and television morphs into streaming services without ads, it certainly feels like these rumors could be true. However, when you look at the essence of any ad campaign, be it digital or traditional, you’ll see the fundamentals of marketing (product, price, placement, and promotion) still hold true. Traditional marketing isn’t dying, it’s evolving.

When the digital age hit, it didn’t roll in gently giving us time to adjust. It crashed into our civilization and flooded our culture like a tsunami. The night and day difference between the internet not existing to it taking over our daily lives seemed to happen almost overnight. Its sweeping changes touch almost every part of our existence and marketing is no exception. Businesses, both small and large alike, have had to evolve right along with it.

The Facts And Flaws Of Traditional Marketing

The old titans of marketing were print ads, radio spots, billboards, television commercials, cold calling and direct mail. These things worked well when newsprint, radio, and TV were the main avenues that connected us, but there were several fundamental flaws that only grew worse with time. The first issue is cost. All of these forms of marketing are extremely costly and have very little tracking to back up how much of a direct impact they have on sales. It’s been difficult, if not impossible, to conduct split testing or try out different messages. Smaller local businesses were often priced out of the marketing pool altogether.

Can you imagine spending 5 million dollars or more shooting and buying media spots for a television commercial and having no solid way of tracking its performance? While many large brands still do this for brand awareness, small businesses usually opt out of television completely. Local businesses often relied on word of mouth, flyers, local sponsorships and maybe some local newspaper ads when Sunday coupons were in favor.

One of the biggest drawbacks to traditional marketing is something we didn’t know we needed until we got it, interactive communication. Traditional marketing is a one-sided conversation where a brand tells strangers about their product. All that changed with the invention and widespread use of the internet, which not only changed how we get our information but how we communicate as well. Brands were now given the opportunity to attract a targeted audience, demonstrate their unique value proposition and get instant feedback from consumers.

Jumping Into The Age Of Digital Marketing With Both Feet

Small businesses breathed a collective sigh of relief when internet marketing began. It was fast moving, affordable and trackable. Knowing your ROI has been a tipping point in successful marketing campaigns. The new titans of advertising are online ads, email lists, content marketing, affiliate marketing, and the biggest game-changer of them all, social media marketing.

Social Media not only united us but it became a goldmine of information for marketers. Let’s face it, Facebook knows absolutely everything about you down to what brand of underwear you buy. Not only does this allow you to speak directly to your target audience, it allows you to go hyper-local which gives local businesses the leg up they’ve always needed. Small business can use online ads and social media marketing to promote their products and specials to their true customer base, their neighbors.

Another mega-benefit of digital marketing is that it is extremely cost effective. Not only is digital marketing cheaper than print or TV, its trackability makes it more effective as well. This means higher conversion rates and fewer dollars wasted in the long run. Along with strong tracking capabilities and a lower cost, came the invention of split-testing marketing messages, allowing brands to tweak their message again and again as needed.

What online marketing really did to change the advertising game forever, was allowed for a two-way conversation between consumers and brands. This has improved customer service, customer feedback, and brand loyalty. A strategic online marketing plan can take consumers on a journey from strangers to buyers to promoters all with social media. Small businesses can now target their audience, tighten their budgets and turn customers into raving fans who bring them even more business.

What Comes Next In Digital Marketing?

While commercials and print ads continue to exist, no one can deny that online marketing is here to stay and it will only keep evolving and changing with time. In fact, things change so frequently in the online marketing world that it can be overwhelming. That’s why many small businesses outsource their digital marketing to an agency of experts in the field.

Social media marketing has become the dominant force behind brand advertising. Consumers can’t get enough of the small chunks of content shared on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other platforms. Stunning images and video are the most cutting edge trends at the moment. But what comes next? Here are a few predictions.

Live Video Content – Live video is a wide-open level playing field right now but it’s growing in popularity quickly and will soon become another competitive advertising channel. Small businesses looking to expand their reach would be smart to dive in now. You can “go live” on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube any time you want.

Artificial Intelligence and Automation – AI, which pretty much means computers talking to each other and learning from each other, is a fast-growing field. AI can be used to mine your data, alert you of social triggers and help you become more efficient in analyzing your marketing activity. Automation will help you connect to consumers with things like chatbots for customer service use or by seamlessly delivering digital goods in real time.

Influencer Marketing – As social media took over our free time, certain stars were bound to rise. Social media influencers are stars of the smallest screens. With hundreds of thousands of followers, sponsored content from popular influencers is gobbling up many businesses ad spend and for good reason. Influencer marketing is the cheaper more modern version of celebrity endorsements and it’s certainly the wave of the future in digital marketing.

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