Navigating The Sea Change From Print To Online
The writing is on the wall for the print advertising industry. It’s been there for a long long time. Everyone knows that print marketing dollars are migrating to digital because that’s where the eyeballs are going, and with that come several challenges that all businesses must confront so they can make informed and intelligent decisions with their marketing dollars.
Even after having spent nearly seven years firmly in the online marketing space, dealing extensively with products aimed directly at small and medium sized businesses, I still find that the paradigm shifts are only slowly moving across the vast face of businesses at large. As quickly as the marketing field changes online, the pace of businesses figuring it all out moves equally slowly. This points to a sense that the transition from old traditional advertising models to new ones is not one of seamless grace. There is no easy hand off happening.
Part of the reason for this unsteady evolution is related to the sheer scale of eyeballs out there looking at ads in general, and where the looking is happening. Despite the mind numbing numbers of online users growing year over year, there is still a staggering number of people looking at printed pages that contain ads (even while those print viewing numbers continue to decline). Because of that, businesses must think long and hard before jumping ship on their long standing traditional advertising models. A simple example drawn from one of the most basic measures of advertising effectiveness serves this caution well: phone calls.
While it is not true for every business type, many industries will find that well executed online marketing strategies produce a more profitable cost per phone call, often far less expensive at a call to call comparison with print advertising dollars. A plumbing company, for example, might enjoy a $22 cost per call online, while spending $57 per call in print. Is the answer easy here? Should the plumber immediately pull out of print and pour all ad dollars into the Internet? This is where the sheer scale of eyeballs comes into play.
This hypothetical plumber could be generating 200 calls per month out of a print advertising campaign. Their online campaign might be generating 50 calls. The problem arises when the plumber wishes to replace those 200 $57 print calls in the online space. The fact is, there may not be enough searching eyeballs to support all the money the plumber would love to spend online getting cheaper calls. Especially pertinent for local businesses in an online search scenario, an advertiser will eventually run out of searchers who might see and click on an ad. This is not too dissimilar from the concept that there are only so many full page ads you can buy in the newspaper or phonebook before ad dollars becomes wasted. In the end, online advertising might only be able to generate 80 calls per month, far too few to keep this hypothetical plumber’s fleet of trucks on the street.
In these cases, businesses must work this enticing online lower costs per phone call into a realistic marketing measure. They must view their on and off line marketing dollars as a whole. Instead of trying to get all their calls for $22, our plumber must view all marketing avenues collectively and strive to get a blended overall average cost per call down to, perhaps, $45 through well balanced on and off line strategies.
Again, the shift away from print is happening, of this there is no doubt. But making the best use of all marketing media is a challenge that all businesses must face as the technology advancements work at a pace slightly different than that of the end users migrating from one medium to another.
Incorporating all marketing platforms into one concise overarching metric of profitability is a critical step of consideration for businesses as they strive to succeed with the marketing landscape changing beneath them.