Smart companies invest in digital marketing in down markets for an assortment of reasons. Primarily they are looking for efficiencies that allow them to continue to market to their audiences. Behavioral marketing is about targeting refinements that enhance marketing effectiveness and make it a natural for budget-challenged marketers. Follows are reasons to invest in digital marketing in a down economy.
- This is a prime opportunity to present your brand story in a less cluttered advertising environment. With competition from thousands of other ads, yours ads will be much more visible and the message more easily received by your target audiences. Not only that, but all those fancy graphics and large-format ads you would normally spring for to stand out from the crowd may not be necessary — which will save you money. Or if you still use them, they will have even more impact. The messaging, of course, offers more impact when it responds to recent, actual behaviors that can be tracked online.
- Publishers are more flexible with rates and opportunities. We’re seeing rates for display advertising decline, enabling you to stretch your dollar further. Ask for consideration from your publisher partners in the form of better or value-added placement, but remember they have to make a buck as well. We want them to continue to innovate, and we want them around for the long term. As more publishers and networks now offer behavioral targeting options, be sure to ask and price accordingly.
- A consistent advertising program pays off with consumer loyalty — the holy grail. You don’t want customers wondering where you disappeared to or, worse, finding your competition when they’re ready to buy and you’re off napping. As consumers become more open to switch messages, you can gain market share from more timid or less able competitors. Delivering a great experience for that new customer may bring you a lifelong customer and long-term advantage.
- Consumers are more attuned to a value proposition in a challenging economy, which may translate to opportunity if messaging and offers can be tweaked. Watch your competitors’ on- and offline offers, or even those in related categories, and get creative. We all know free shipping works. What else can move consumers to action?
- Online profiles have limited life spans. Cookies expire. That’s where behavioral marketing fits in. A consistent approach maximizes your targeting opportunities and creates efficiencies. Long-time behavioral marketing practitioners will attest to the value of the learning that takes place in a consistent marketing environment. If you stop and start, you not only lose momentum but, in the world of behavioral targeting, you may lose valuable targeting data.
- Online consumer activity continues under all economic circumstances. Even if they aren’t buying as much or as often, consumers still shop or research potential purchases online and may buy later. They may pass along links and their opinions to others as well. Watch and respond to behaviors earlier in the consideration phases when consumers are reluctant to buy.
- Due to rate efficiencies, this is the perfect time to test. Use the lower rates to fine-tune messaging, creative, media plan, site, and other program elements using small budgets. If you haven’t dabbled in behavioral targeting, now’s the time to try that as well. Then roll out the winners.
- Online programs return definitive results that can be tracked and measured. Measuring online results has become a cliché that happens to be true. When budgets are limited, every dollar must count and be accounted for. Whether the goal is awareness, sales, leads, or a combination thereof, third-party ad-serving, sophisticated behavioral, and other tracking systems allow you to identify effective programs and program elements as well as ineffective ones. Pulling budgets from nonperformers and reinvesting it in performing programs in the continual optimization that’s possible online maximizes the return on your marketing dollar.
- If there’s no consumer program, there’s no consumer learning. Your audience is undergoing change, which you need to understand if you don’t want to fall far behind or become irrelevant to them. How have the recent economic stressors changed their priorities and patterns? If you aren’t in market to see and respond to the shifts, your effectiveness will be compromised. While not everyone should be or has the fortitude to be an early adopter of new online advertising opportunities, it is extremely dangerous to let your staff knowledge and experience lapse. The best learning comes from doing.
So get out there — in a small, smart, and structured way to continue relevant consumer conversations, support your marketing objectives, and train your important staff. If you halt your efforts, you may lose clients, staff, and your business. Steal from the traditional marketing budgets if you have to — they won’t mind. Promise.