Classic rocks: A case for maintaining established channels in your marketing mix

Marketers sometimes have “shiny new object syndrome” and rush to test out new channels. Yet, for all the hubbub around emerging digital marketing tactics and ways to address the latest and greatest social network, you can’t discount the classics. 

I understand the appeal - it’s like conquering the wild west before everyone else, giving you and your brand the chance to make a bigger impression.

On the other hand, just like The Beatles, Bowie or Madonna, classics are classics for a reason. 

Marketing channels like email continue to deliver strong ROI, surpassing newer channels like social media. Billboards are having a resurgence, with marketers adding them back to their advertising mix right alongside digital ads. 

Here’s a look at why these older tactics are still important and what marketers should do. 

Email ROI cannot be beat

Let’s start with an oldie but goodie, email. Study after study cites it as the most effective marketing channel. Campaign Monitor compiled some compelling stats: 

  • 90.9% of the U.S. population will use email monthly in 2019, compared to 81% of the U.S. population that has a social media account.
  • Email marketing earns $38 for every $1 spent, compared to an average of $2 in revenue for every $1 on Google Ads. 
  • 73% of millennials identify email as their preferred means of business communication. 

Why is email still so effective? 

For one thing, it’s something most people opt in to receive. Sure, there are spammers among us, but most email providers have gotten good at filtering that out and recipients have the constant ability to hit unsubscribe. 

Ann Handley notes that “email is the only place where people (not algorithms) are in control.” With email, you’ve earned your audience’s trust to secure a place in their inbox. And if you’re not delivering value, you’re very easily removed. 

Email gives marketers an opportunity to speak to their audiences and, if done well, build real engagement. After all, there should be a person on the other side of that reply button. 

New tech spurs out-of-home ad growth

None of this is to say that new innovation doesn’t improve classic, workhorse marketing channels. This is one reason why out-of-home (OOH) advertising is having a resurgence. 

Billboards on highways, street corners and bus stops are now digitized and buying is slowly becoming programmatic, opening up new possibilities for advertisers. 

As more billboard screens become digital, brands have greater options to respond in real-time and contextualize the ads they display according to time of day, weather, events and more. 

There’s more data available, too, with the growth of mobile leading to better location-based tracking. This helps marketers understand the amount of foot traffic, as well as audience demographics, near billboards. It also paints a better picture of ROI as it’s now possible to track how many people walk by a billboard and even tie purchases back to ad placements. 

Leading OOH growth are direct-to-consumer brands like Glossier, Everlane and Casper, the latter of which “has invested significantly more than the average advertiser in the OOH space,” reports Campaign. It also reported that tech giants have invested more as well: in one year, Apple increased its OOH spend by 17%, Google by 108% and Amazon by 285%.

Make your marketing channels play nicely together

Brand marketing mixes are generally varied today because the number of touchpoints required to convert a customer has continued to rise. One of the reasons is that we live in a saturated world, marked by the volume of brands in existence and number of marketing messages we receive each day. 

From social posts to display and search ads, chatbots to TV and streaming ads, brands can easily reach their audiences almost anywhere. 

Viewing one LinkedIn ad may not persuade a prospect to convert. However, with an integrated approach, a prospect could become aware of you by reading a blog post, seeing your company in a Forbes article, walking by a billboard in an airport or perusing positive product reviews on Capterra. This can get your prospect to respond to your sales development rep’s (SDR) inquiry, and bonus, they’ve already educated themselves on your brand before even having a conversation. 

To be clear, this is not advice to simply create more ads or touchpoints. 

Marketers must focus on building a positive and consistent experience throughout the entire customer journey. How does one touchpoint match your brand experience? How do all the touchpoints connect to clearly take consumers through this journey and to you? 

Marketers have so much data today, but it’s only valuable if you use it (and keep it clean). Personalize your communications. Don’t use a completely different brand experience on a billboard than you would on a digital ad, and don’t email consumers with a non-relevant message. 

The experience matters more than ever - consumers expect it and tune out brands that don’t deliver.

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