Who’s Winning Between Traditional and Digital Marketing?


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There seems to be this philosophical discussion going on in the world of B2B marketing. Who’s winning the battle between traditional and digital marketing? I’m not participating in the discussion for one reason; I don’t agree it should be a battle at all. There’s always merit in discovering the new, but you don’t need to discard the old. Digital marketing methods are new, evolving, and exciting. But what marketers have tried, tested and profited from for the last so many years can’t be worthless all of a sudden, can it? Where is that bridge between traditional and digital marketing? Why are we afraid to walk across it? Why do we fool ourselves into believing that there is only one right path and that is the “new” one?

I think the fear and the folly comes from a “herd mentality”—a phenomenon we follow to a great extent in many aspects of our lives. If it was so easy to figure out the best approach using the thumb rule of “everyone is doing it so it must be right”, then marketing would be a piece of cake. But it’s not.

Nick Wallenda walked the tightrope across the Niagara Falls two weeks ago. As B2B marketers, we walk a tightrope every day. There are so many factors to balance—limited resources, tight budgets, mixed audiences, a choice of many different tools and techniques making it difficult to select an appropriate marketing mix, and so on. But if we used a safety harness, just like Nick did to keep him from falling into the Falls, I think we would be more rational. That safety harness is a deep and clear understanding of buyer needs and behaviour.

At the end of the day, it does not matter what form of marketing you deploy, the goal is customer engagement. Until you have engagement you cannot even think about conversion. The problem starts when organizations focus on the beginning i.e. leads, and the end i.e. conversion. What about the middle? How are you going to progress leads towards conversion without careful nurturing and ongoing, increasing engagement?

Engage Your Target Audience with Quality Content

I read about a recent study that analyzed engagement levels on YouTube. Now this is a new, digital marketing medium and probably one of the sexier ones at that. Not surprisingly, the study by Yesmail Interactive shows that while 33% of the most-engaging YouTube campaigns run under 30 seconds, only 11% of campaigns by volume run that length. Furthermore, the number of YouTube campaigns rose sharply over the 3-month study period (by about 38 to 80% across all brands), and yet, the average campaign engagement plummeted by roughly 66%. That’s exactly my point! Companies spend valuable time and resources on a piece of digital marketing but are not gaining greater engagement. The better approach would be to combine both traditional and new methodologies into an integrated marketing strategy that actually works and delivers results.

In all this frenzied buzz about social media and all the different channels available to marketers, what seems to be missing is quality content. If all those videos on YouTube had more meaningful content, we probably would see much higher engagement levels. I see so many self-serving blogs and social forums where marketers wave their flag like it’s the countdown to the Euro Cup finals. (PS: Wonder which side is going to be driving around the streets honking semi-final victory tomorrow—Portugal or Spain?). Whether it is a traditional tool like a sales letter or phone call or a newer technique like an online video or blog, you just can’t be too in the face and selling, selling, selling all the time. Buyers are fed up of pushy sales talk. They want good, meaningful, engaging content. It can be in the form of a printed piece or an online post, but it must add value in order to grab their attention.

It’s somewhat like cooking a great meal. There’s nothing wrong with buying frozen puff-pastry, for example, but what you fill it with will make all the difference. The combination of store-bought and made-from-scratch can deliver a delectable dish that you can be proud of. Your audience must be able to sink their teeth into your creation, enjoy the flavor and relish it for a long time.

Is your organization caught in this commonly seen battle of traditional versus digital marketing? What methods are you adopting to find the perfect balance?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Louis Foong
Louis Foong is the founder and CEO of The ALEA Group Inc., one of North America's most innovative B2B demand generation specialists. With more than three decades of experience in the field, Louis is a thought leader on trends, best practices and issues concerning marketing and lead generation. Louis' astute sense of marketing and sales along with a clear vision of the evolving lead generation landscape has proved beneficial to numerous organizations, both small and large.


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