Digital vs. Traditional Marketing: Lessons Learned

By Mark Gibson

Digital marketing is here to stay—and it’s a full-time job understanding it, keeping up with its latest developments and using it effectively. However, that doesn’t give bank marketers a license to abandon traditional marketing. Doing so at this stage would be throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Most institutions are best served by a thoughtful combination of both digital and traditional marketing techniques.

But when it comes to the optimal mix of digital and traditional marketing, there is no silver bullet that applies to every institution. It’s your job to find the right balance, based on the specifics of your bank’s strategy, segments and brand position.

As you finish your marketing plan for 2020, consider the key takeaways that came out of a series of discussions at the recent ABA Bank Marketing Conference. These are points that can help you find the best balance for your bank, maximize the success of your programs and further demonstrate the value marketing brings to your organization.

  1. It’s time to update your marketing funnel

The days of expecting the customer to move linearly from awareness to consideration to purchase are over. After all, many young consumers don’t even trust advertising. Today, marketers focus instead on the customer’s “lifecycle,” (see diagram below). This updated approach accounts for the unique blend of multi-channel interactions—including web reviews, influencers and friend referrals—that move the consumer along the path to purchase. This path can meander, and there can also be short circuits where consumers skip entire steps. That’s why it’s critical to define who you are targeting and try to understand how your target segments learn about, buy and use the specific product or service you are selling. It may be more complicated than in the past, but it can also be more effective and less expensive.

  1. “Video killed the radio star”

Even if you are too young to remember the Buggles 1979 hit by that name, the message is clear. We can all recognize what video on demand—especially YouTube—has done to traditional media like radio and local newspapers. Like live network TV before it, digital video is unparalleled for brand building and creating a powerful emotional connection with your audience. And the good news is that the ads on many digital channels are much more cost effective to produce and run than either network TV or print ads.

  1. The future is addressable

Just when we started getting good at developing personas, the world began moving to the next stage—addressable media. Advances in customer data management and media technology are now enabling savvy marketers to move beyond personas to target the exact people they want as customers. Bank marketers have been doing that with direct mail for years, but recent advances allow you to use customer IP addresses or set-top boxes to target them on their digital devices or TVs. The first step is to analyze your existing customer base to identify what your best customers look like. Then you use data analytics to find prospects that have similar attributes. Finally, you work with an agency that is “addressable-savvy” to use everything from digital display, search engine marketing, paid social and addressable TV to reach the exact people you want as customers.

  1. Digital is fast and cheap

This statement, in a nutshell, explains why digital media has grown so rapidly—and is expected to eclipse traditional media spend in 2019. Digital creative is often faster to develop than traditional print or television. You can get it “on air” and online almost instantaneously. And you can easily do A/B testing, measure results—and adjust your creative or message—in hours or days instead of weeks or months. Regarding cost, you don’t have to buy a three-month flight of TV or radio at 100 GRPs. You can set an upper limit of $50 or $50,000 to your campaign and see how it performs before committing additional dollars.

  1. Digital is often used for the wrong things

Often because it’s fast and cheap—or sometimes just because it’s the “shiny new toy”—digital marketing ends up being used for purposes it’s not well suited for. For example, if you are moving into a new geographic area and your brand awareness is low, traditional media like TV or billboards work much better than an exclusive diet of banner ads and paid search. What is needed here is an understanding of the target consumer’s learning and buying journey to ensure that you are delivering the right message and content at the right time via the right media channel. (See diagram below.)

  1. Marketing automation is the ‘supercharger’

A key advantage of digital advertising is that it engages the customer or prospect in a conversation rather than a one-sided monologue, as with traditional advertising. (The underlying message of traditional advertising is: “We are great and you should buy our product.”) However, this unique capability of digital can reach its full potential only if you or your agency partner has the technology to see what content each consumer engages with—and to tailor a response based on that intel. Without campaign automation and a content management system, your digital marketing will end up being much like traditional advertising on a computer or mobile screen—a digital billboard with limited ability to have a relevant conversation.

Mark Gibson is senior consultant at Capital Performance Group, a strategic consulting firm that provides advisory, planning, analytic and project management services to the financial services industry. Email: mgibson@capitalperform.com. LinkedIn.

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