At a panel discussion of the Automotive News World Congress in January of this year, the major auto makers said they were basing all their marketing on the ‘digital first’ posture.
In a recent article about the event in Automotive News, Trudy Hardy, VP of marketing for BMW America, said: “If our agency comes with a TV spot first, that’s the wrong way to go. They have to show us the digital ideas first and the TV comes at the end — supplementary.”
When major auto makers say their marketing is ‘digital first,’ we need to take notice.
You may run an online business, or a company that plays in the technology field, so digital marketing is a foregone conclusion for you. But if you run a true offline company (are there any left anymore?), and the core of your marketing activities have been TV, radio, newspaper and magazine advertising, events, speaking engagements, you should probably go digital first.
1. Your Customers Take a Digital First Posture
In the opening of his latest book Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook marketer Gary Vaynerchuk asks the reader “Where’s your phone? In your back pocket? On the table in front of you?….If you’re in a public space, look around….what do you see? Phones.”
We all live on our phones.
- 58% of Americans own a smartphone. Source: Pew Research Center.
- 44% of cell phone owners sleep with their phones by their beds. Source: Pew Research Center.
- 60% of social media time is spent on mobile. Source: Business Insider.
And we all spend more time online than on TV:
- In 2013 digital was due to take over TV in time spent with media in the US. Source: eMarketer.
- 50% of Americans now get their news online. Source: Pew Research Center.
There’s a logical rule of thumb in marketing : go where your customers are. Your customers are online, and especially on their phones.
2. Digital is Measurable
Digital is inherently measurable. Everything can be measured. Even if your marketing is largely offline, you should use digital as a way of measuring how effective your content, messaging and calls-to-action are.
For example, you can track the effectiveness of your offline ads, such as ads in magazines and newspapers, by providing custom landing pages that can be measured.
A feature of the 2012 presidential election was just how inaccurate the polls were. But the Obama campaign wasn’t surprised. The Obama campaign relied on real-time analytics to predict the online behaviors of millions of individual voters and to measure what messages resonated.
And it worked!
The success of the Obama campaign in the 2012 election was largely due to their digital first posture. According to Breitbart: “Three world class technologists headed up a team of 300 technology geeks working out of Obama for America headquarters in Chicago.”
3. Online Is the Most Cost-Effective Way to Test Your Marketing
You can test your marketing messaging before taking it offline. To do this, launch a short PPC campaign, put up a landing page, and see if people click-through.
But even better than that, use a landing page to test various messages by performing A/B testing. Landing page vendor Lander has a great tutorial on just how to do that.
The Lean Startup methodology has shown marketers how they can test their ideas. Startups following the Lean methodology start a new venture by creating a minimum viable product (MVP), releasing it to the marketplace, getting feedback, improve their product, get more feedback, and improve again, or pivot (change their business model).
The key tool for testing whether astartup idea is sellable or not? The Landing page. The landing page becomes almost a pre-MVP.
Take a page out of the Lean entrepreneur’s playbook and test your marketing ideas with a landing page.
4. You Can Free Yourself from Renting From the Media Monopolies
When your marketing is mostly offline, your only choices are to rent space from larger companies, or start your own media company – neither of which are cheap.
You either have to advertise in a newspaper, a magazine, TV, radio or a billboard, or rent a tradeshow booth, or start your own newspaper, magazine, TV channel or radio station. Most people opt to place their own ads on somebody else’s media platform.
With digital you can create your own media platform – your website or your blog – and use free or inexpensive sources, such as social media or pay-per-click ads, to drive people to your online marketing hub.
5. You Can Choose to Be as Creative As You Want
Finally, online you can be as creative and as engaging as you want.
Jose Muñoz, chairman of Nissan North America, said: “digital content gives marketers more creative freedom to tell different stories about a new product simultaneously.”
You can launch a YouTube video with an embedded link so customers can click through to a sales page. You can publish multiple media types on your own blog: text articles, infographics, slides from SlideShare, videos from YouTube or Vimeo. You can create 6 second videos on Vine, 140-character messages on Twitter, publish beautiful high-quality images on Pinterest, post a combination of all-of-the-above on Facebook.
The sky’s the limit – or rather, online has no limit.
Even the most boring industries should take a digital first posture. You can market bricks online using furry puppet animals. You can market solder paste with a blog that dozens of engineers contribute to every month. And you can make software outsourcing sexy by providing an inside glimpse into the beautiful seaside offices of an Argentinean nearshore development firm.
So what’s your reason for not going digital first?