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I know half my marketing budget is working; I just don’t know which half. An old joke or a wise quote, it’s hard to know where to invest your marketing dollars with the digital game changing daily. What is constant is that people get their information digitally, and this is where brands need to be to connect with their audience.
Currently, what is traditional is also digital. A segment on the Today Show, a traditional media outlet, gets 4.46M viewers. The same segment posted on Today.com gets 23,917,404 unique visitors per month (UVM). The Today Show Facebook page has 6.4M followers, Instagram has 2.1M followers, and Twitter has 4.28M followers. The Today Show and all its assets on screen and online reaches 41.2M people. In addition to reach, digital media has longevity as that content lives online long after the segment has aired. Add to that the credibility of a third-party endorsement from a presenter on one of America’s most-watched morning shows, and you’ve got marketing gold.
You still can’t buy a segment on the Today Show. You can’t buy any editorial coverage worth its integrity. And no form of paid marketing can improve the reputation of brand or build its credibility the way earned media does. That’s because people buy what other people tell them too. They trust their peers and they perceive journalists and other types of influencers to be their peers—peers with followers. It’s especially effective if those peers (journalists and influencers) have an area of expertise and interest they know more about than the average consumer.
Now imagine taking that content and posting it on your own brand website and social media platforms and then amplifying it by boosting it and geo-targeting it to a larger target audience and sending it out in an email blast to customers and potential customers. It will stick around even longer and reach more people.
Before a brand explores boosting paid media with earned media and vice versa, it’s important to understand the difference between paid and earned marketing.
There are 3 B’s to remember.
- Budget—One month of digital marketing can cost more than an annual publicity campaign executed by professionals because the price of digital ads increases with the reach while media publicity is free.
- Believability—When content is paid for or sponsored it doesn’t have the credibility of an organic review or profile.
- Buzz—Few consumers talk about ads they see unless they are funny or disturbing. They are more likely to talk about an article they saw in a trusted media outlet or a personal recommendation of a known influencer.
While digital marketing in all its forms may be more affordable and impactful than splashy TV ads or traditional forms of outbound marketing, it is still a considerable investment to independent brands trying to make themselves know.
“We advise brands to have an earned strategy in place to make paid advertising dollars work smarter and harder,” said Rich Zeldes, EVP-Managing Director, Stella Rising, a leading marketing and media agency.
Experts in all forms of digital marketing, Stella Rising recommend the following method for investing in digital:
Start with advertising & retargeting in “Walled gardens”
The walled gardens are technology platforms that don’t allow you to cross market, such as Amazon, Facebook and Google. Digital advertising dollars allotted to Amazon won’t benefit Facebook followers or Google search. If you want to close and convert Amazon shoppers you need to retarget them. Retargeting chases potential customers with a message where they buy, until they buy.
Site, search and social retargeting
After you have invested in targeting shoppers searching the walled gardens, you can start to find and target them on other platforms.
Building a “look alike” audience
Once you’ve got the people searching for what you have or something like it, you can start to reach out to more shoppers just like those shoppers. Digital marketers use programmatic technology to reach those people with a message on the websites, blogs and social media feeds where they hang out.
Sponsored content/Direct Ad
Only after you’ve concentrated on reaching walled garden searchers and the shoppers who have the same interests, should you start to invest in traditional online advertising placing content and ads in media outlets.
Experimenting with Digital Video and OTT (Over The Top)
If a brand has been successful and has more funding to invest, it can reach more people where they spend more time on what the industry refers to as over the top media, mainly online TV.
All of this can be enhanced by digital PR, which is media publicity that increases awareness of your brand using online methods. In many ways, it’s similar to traditional PR, but it offers the opportunity to reach a much broader audience that can’t be reached with only offline methods.
PR gives digital marketing its credibility and authenticity. It helps build the reputation of the brand while seeking exposure at the same time.
Digital PR helps with the following:
Web traffic—when a brand is mentioned online on a more frequent basis in different places, more people will start to visit the brand site.
Improve search—When brand content is published on authoritative sites that link back to the brand website, ranking will improve for target key words. As ranking improves, so will website traffic and sales.
Establish authority—Nothing increases the value of a brand more than PR. Quality articles on established sites improve the brand reputation and position it as a credible, trusted source
Increased sales—More positive reviews and endorsements from third parties give people confidence to buy and talk about what they buy.
Digital PR is powerful. It involves the same techniques of traditional PR, which is networking with journalists and feeding them news they can use. Adding a focus to digital PR reaches an even higher readership or viewership.
Don’t wait for people to find your publicity. A publicist will always tell you when they are about to get a story, when they get on and when they got one.
PR—traditional as well as digital channels including online, print and social media platforms—helps build credibility, awareness, recognition and exposure.
When recycled as paid content and repeated on additional digital platforms, the digital PR & Marketing start to snowball into buzz and conversion.