How to make sure your marketing dollars are spent on truly reaching your customers.

It’s been over a century since the founder of Philadelphia’s first department store, John Wannamaker, stated, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” In this last 100 years, and even more so in the last few years, a variety of technology is available to shed light on marketing channels and waste versus productive spending. “The key is to take action with this information, and turn it to your advantage.

The most basic question to understand and address is: “Is my brand and message where my customers’ eyeballs are?” The answers to his seemingly simple question encompass some complex details that are critical to a business’s success in this digital age.

How can I identify wasted branding ad-spend?

The easy answer to this is by reviewing facts. Current data shows an illogical situation that there are more advertisers spending more budget on media other than where the customers are actually spending their time.  Here is the evidence. Let’s begin with a comparison of these two items:

  1. Media where people are spending time/consuming advertising
  2. Media where ad dollars are spent.

eMarketer recently reported these results for the US:



Giving these comparisons of time spent to dollars spent with these media

  • TV: 43% time spent, 43% ad dollars spent
  • Internet: 25% time, 18% dollars
  • Radio: 16% time, 11% dollars
  • Mobile: 8% time, 0.5% dollars
  • Newspapers & magazines (print): 8.2% time, 28% dollars

Now Let’s dive a little deeper. At first glance this report seems to say that television time and ad spending seems to match up. Until you apply the current statistics (courtesy of Hubspot) that 86% of people skip TV ads and 44% of direct mail is never opened. So are the eyeballs via these media really exposed to brand and message?

With print media, once those 8.2% (of media time share) readers turn the page, your brand is truly out of sight and out of mind. Studies on print advertising recall consistently show that on average, it takes a minimum of eight full color, full page exposures to an ad for a person to remember it and associate the product or service. Most often, recall of the brand takes even more.   Do TV and print then still deserve 43% and 28% respectively of total ad budgets?

The key items to uncover for your specific business are:

  1. “Where are my customers spending their media consumption time?” And
  2. “When they are there, are they paying attention, receptive, or in the best mood to hear what I have to offer them?”

How do I make sure my marketing reaches my customers?

There is no doubt that the Internet has fundamentally changed the way people conduct their consumer behavior. Pew Research cites that:

  •  3/4ths of US adults are online
    • 69% of these for at least an hour per day
    • and 35% for over three hours daily

Activities that previously were conducted offline are now done online. Pew also shows that over 60% of US adults online regularly engage in:

  • using a search engine
  • product research
  • getting news
  • buying a product
  • looking for ‘how-to‘ info
  • social networking

On top of that, statistics show that inbound leads cost 62% less than leads from traditional outbound sources.

More successful marketers are shifting budget away from “Interruption advertising” (such as traditional broadcast and print) to “Influence” and “on-demand” messaging in online marketing channels (including search, subject matter expertise, and social engagement).  This means that in order to have more productive marketing, you should cut back on interrupting what people are interested in and instead, give them what they are interested in. This requires a change in mind set, strategy and implementation. 

There is a balance to strike with traditional and online marketing. However, if the general trends reflect the profile of your customer, you should seriously consider reallocating some marketing budget toward more impactful online tactics. Statistics show that spend in online marketing channels increased 20% over last year and is trending to increase 90% by 2015. This indicates that it is quite likely that your competition is already shifting budget online, or planning to very soon.

What can I do to achieve productive marketing?

The best advice I can offer to achieve high performance marketing for your business is twofold:

  1. Understand your customer profile(s) and then evaluate all your marketing options alongside this.
  2. Track everything!!

A great example of shifting smart budget from print to online is Internet ad ‘retargeting’ campaigns. This tactic trumps the “out of mind as you turn the page” dynamic of print and allows your online ad impressions to keep showing up to people who have visited and moved on from your web page. It does so at an exponentially less marketing investment that funding more print ads to chase that brand message recall threshold.

Google reports remarketing case results of 50% to 75% reduced cost per conversion. I have a case study of remarketing driving an 82% increase in search traffic and influencing 85% of sales.

There are also a variety of ways to interweave online and offline tactics. Every day we see more encouragement to visit a website on radio and television, as well as on billboards. Creating campaigns that drive this kind of engagement brings a more interested prospect to you, and enables measurement of results previously unavailable with that medium.

Tracking is essential. And today tracking tools are easy and affordable. Google analytics on your website is free. Separate, dynamic phone numbers can be assigned to specific media, campaigns and even keywords.

Think through which metrics are the indicators of success to your marketing goals, as it is easy to get lost among the many available. Then apply and review them regularly. In the online world this can range from hourly to daily to monthly. Choose a consistent and meaningful measure and use this to guide marketing adjustments and decisions.

There are literally dozens of online tactical and campaign opportunities and effective ways to attach meaningful metrics to them. Best matching these with where your audience engages online is the key to striking a successful marketing mix for your business. It also is worth mentioning that a prerequisite to success in the online space, your business’s core web presence needs to be solid, functional and optimized. With these in place, you business is primed to most wisely spend and receive the best return on its marketing and advertising dollars.



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