Digital Media Impact on Marketing in 2010
Traditional marketing budgets are being shifted toward digital media at an increasingly fast pace. Business leaders and consumers hear this message daily. Although media reports promote the shift with numerous articles from both credible and dubious sources, is the trend for real or is it more hype than reality? If it is real, what is driving this trend and will it continue in 2010?
When websites first caught on in the business community, many jumped at the opportunity to create a web presence for their business because it was “in vogue”. It was the thing to do to make the business look “on top” of the innovation curve. The initial trend was more in keeping up with other businesses and competitors than it was about embracing the value-add of this new marketing and communications tool – and it showed in the many crude, user unfriendly, information-poor websites that added little value to the business.
Fortunately, we have come a long way since then. For the most part, we now see websites that have improved significantly in terms of appearance, functionality, interactivity, the communication of information, targeting, tracking and the overall value-add realized by most businesses today. The business website today is viewed as a critical element in the branding, positioning, marketing and selling processes of any business, regardless of industry.
With the current increasing interest in digital media that is seemingly confiscating a major share of the limited marketing budgets earmarked for 2010, are we experiencing a repeat of the early website craze? Are businesses risking their marketing investment by throwing hard earned dollars at digital media in fad-like fashion while intentionally starving the traditional channels?
The answers to these questions is “no”. There is a major difference between the web craze of the early - and mid-90s and the digital marketing media trend of today. The difference is in the results. The digital marketing trends of today have already proven their effectiveness in terms of traceable, value-added business growth with demonstrated economical advantages that are unmatched in traditional marketing media. Digital media has already stepped beyond the “craze phase” by proving true value in generating new sales inquiries, promoting customer loyalty by enhancing relationship building, strengthening brand equity and improving targeting efficiencies to name but a few.
Businesses today are not shifting to digital media to be “in vogue” like they were with the early website craze. Businesses are experiencing success in utilizing digital media to grow their businesses economically and effectively. This is the reason that dollars are being shifted from traditional to digital media outlets and this is why digital media will continue its expansion trend unabated in 2010.
Digital media represents a broad array of web-based marketing, promotional and communications tools. In 2010, there are several vehicles that will attract the most attention and the largest marketing budgets based mostly on their proven performance in previous years. Assuming every business has a high quality website, which is a requirement today, the following digital media outlets will prove to be most prevalent and effective in driving business growth in 2010.
The digital media that will attract the largest increase in marketing dollars in 2010 is e-mail. According to a recent B2B Magazine survey, “2010 Outlook: Marketing Priorities and Plans”, 68% of respondents indicated that they will increase e-mail spending over 2009 levels. This survey result is supported by numerous other sources. While the percentages vary slightly, most surveys agree that e-mail spending in 2010 will increase by the largest amount when compared to other digital media.
E-mail has proven to be a highly cost-effective means to securing incremental business growth through both existing as well as new customers. Additional benefits of e-mail marketing include: fast outbound communication, elimination of postage costs, fast response, better return, easier and less expensive to implement as well as easier to target, track and measure.
The second largest allocation of digital media dollars will be focused on search. For B2B buyers, search engines are the primary means used to initiate the buying process and has the most influence on purchasing decisions, according to a recent Enquiro Search Solutions survey. From the general search engines, the progression is often to vertical search engines and then on to the specific company website as buyers progress through the purchasing cycle. A total of 62% of B2B marketers intend to increase budget allocations to search in 2010, according to a survey by btobonline.com research completed in November 2009. Experian Information Solutions, in their 2009 Benchmark and Trend study, reports similar results on the consumer side of business. A total of 89% of search terms entered by consumers are company or product names. This appears to indicate that most consumers use the search engines to find companies and products rather than typing in an actual URL or using the “favorites” function.
Social media will experience the third largest allocation of digital media dollars in 2010. The social media outlets complement search efforts by displaying real-time content and facilitating geographic, contextual, demographic and behavioral targeting. As a result, social media outlets allow businesses to further enhance the relevance of the marketing message. Personalizing ad formats on the fly increases relevance which results in higher response rates. This, in turn increases the value and the cost-effectiveness of social media.
According to the recent B2B Magazine survey, “2010 Outlook: Marketing Priorities and Plans” that was referenced earlier, 60% of respondents indicated that they will increase social media spending in 2010. The survey reported that 54% of B2B marketers are currently using social media. The top reasons cited for using social media were the establishment of industry thought leadership, the generation of sales inquiries and customer feedback.
Digital media will have a significant impact on marketing endeavors in 2010 and rightly so. Many digital media vehicles have proven to be highly effective as well as economical in contributing to incremental business growth. Three of the most viable choices that will undoubtedly be more extensively implemented in 2010 include e-mail, search and social media. Used appropriately, these tools can contribute to incremental business growth, customer loyalty, relationship building and brand equity. Rather than just jumping on the digital media bandwagon, ask yourself this question, “How can I effectively incorporate digital media into my marketing mix to best achieve my desired marketing outcomes?” Used effectively, digital media can cost-effectively deliver results that traditional media can only dream about.
TDH Marketing, Inc., is a Dayton, Ohio based marketing firm with alliances and joint ventures in the U.S., England and Singapore that support its global client base. The firm provides technology infused strategic, marketing and operational planning and implementation for large, mid-size and small corporations looking to develop profitable, technology-driven business growth.