Digital vs. Traditional Marketing: Do’s and Don’ts

By Mark Gibson

Bank marketers face the ongoing dilemma of how to balance traditional versus digital media—especially when it comes to marketing budgets. And it can be tough to land on the right answers without the benefit of hard-won experience. During some recent discussions at the ABA Bank Marketing Conference, a number of bank marketers shared their stories from the trenches on what has been working—and not working—for their institutions. That discussion provided some rich food for thought—and real-life examples of things that have worked really well, and other things to avoid.

This article is the second in our series about finding the right balance between digital and traditional marketing for your bank. Click here to view the previous article: Digital vs. Traditional Marketing: Lessons Learned .

Give your digital and traditional marketing planning a jump-start by considering these must-do’s.

  • Do – Determine what your goals and objectives are. Complete this step before you start deciding whether to use digital or traditional marketing. For example, if your primary goal is raising awareness, your media plan will need a heavy dose of traditional media that “surrounds” your prospects and helps them understand who you are and what you stand for. However, if your primary objective is to sell a specific product—and your target audience is younger than 60 years old—you are probably going to rely much more heavily on digital tools supplemented by direct mail or other traditional techniques.
  • Do – Tailor your media selection to the media habits of your target market. Start with identifying who you are trying to reach and what media they consume. Only then should you start choosing which media you are going to use. Don’t be afraid to engage your target customers in conversation and ask them to tell you their favorite media outlets.
  • Do – Experiment with combinations of traditional and digital media and measure what works. There was a great example from one bank marketer who shared that her commercial real estate team wanted to attract attendees for a seminar. She usually used email or an ad in the local paper, but she decided to try targeting specific job titles and companies on Facebook. To everyone’s surprise, they oversubscribed the seminar in three days for a grand total investment of $25!

But avoid making common mistakes along the way.

  • Don’t create a hard-and-fast budget allocation between digital and traditional with the idea of sticking to it throughout the year. As evidenced by the Facebook example, an important part of getting the mix between digital and traditional right is constantly testing, and then shifting resources toward what is working and away from other tools.
  • Don’t abandon a traditional media tool that is working—like direct mail or TV—in order to fund a new digital media or platform. We heard about an institution that shifted most of its budget to purchase an inbound marketing automation platform and get it up and running. Unfortunately, it took nearly a year to train the staff, develop content, then develop and launch the campaigns. Meanwhile, the product sales and new households that used to be generated by the tried-and-true techniques dried up. Make sure you can maintain external communications and marketing while you build the internal tools you need to more effectively and efficiently manage your marketing plan in the future.
  • Don’t avoid trying something just because you don’t understand it or it may be difficult to measure success. If you learn about something new that one of your peers has had success with, don’t be afraid to dig in and learn about it. After all, digital marketing is changing fast—and new techniques are constantly introduced. Just be sure to limit your experiments to small dollar amounts so you don’t disrupt the revenue engine that you have built with tools and techniques that are working.

Questions worth chewing on

As you prepare your plan and budget for 2020, give some thought to the questions your peers are asking.

  • What are the relative strengths and weaknesses of traditional and digital media? Start with the media habits of your target consumer or business, and talk with your peers and your ad agency to help you better understand where and when to use each.
  • How will you budget and allocate across both digital and traditional media? One bank marketer admitted that she was not yet using any digital media, but knew she needed to. She just wasn’t sure how much of her budget to allocate. While there are no hard-and-fast rules, understanding what media your customers consume and starting small are both good rules to follow.
  • What’s the best way to get started? Dip your toe in the water with a low-cost campaign on Google Ads or Facebook Ads to familiarize yourself with the world of digital advertising. They are easy-to-use platforms, and learning how they work from the bottom up will prepare you for better understanding, discussing and assessing the options being thrown at you by your agency—or your CEO.
  • Are there special compliance considerations with regard to targeting using digital or social media? Marketers are adept at meeting FCRA requirements. But there are also broader concerns we should be aware of. The regulatory environment around digital and social is in a state of flux, so conversations with your peers can be extremely useful—especially if you have a particularly cautious compliance officer. The industry is closely following recent Facebook changes that limit what and how banks can advertise on the world’s largest social media platform. You need to understand the rules and stay abreast of these important changes.
  • How does automation for marketing and sales factor into the overall digital and traditional marketing equation? Automation can supercharge your efforts by making audiences easier to select—and campaigns easier to build, run and measure. Marketing and sales forces need to be collaborating and working in harmony. Technology can help nurture and deliver qualified leads that are turned into new customers and product sales. But let’s reiterate one important fact: you need to keep marketing while you implement marketing automation.
  • How do you measure success and determine the optimal mix of digital and traditional media? When measuring results, an old adage applies: “Perfect can be the enemy of good.” In other words, striving to attribute every sale to a marketing tactic can prevent you from measuring what you can. If you measure what’s possible—and effectively communicate it to finance and the business lines—you can make a big difference in how they view marketing and how they allocate budgets.

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: [email protected]. LinkedIn.

Questions on how to balance digital and traditional marketing? Email the author and he may be able to address your topic in a future column.