If you’re like most marketers in Lancaster County, you are spending a lot of time thinking about which media platform is best for your business or brand. Should you invest in newspaper advertising? Is it time to launch a digital campaign? What about local magazines? Outdoor? TV? Here in Central Pennsylvania, marketing pros and business owners must continually work to find the best value for their advertising dollars.
To add to this complexity, new media and ad platforms seem to pop up every day. The sheer volume of advertising and marketing choices, new and established, can be overwhelming. Each new program, platform, or publication offers its own strengths and weaknesses, pros and cons, and challenges and benefits for your brand and your business.
With so many choices available, your organization’s marketing campaign is probably already multi-channel in some way. But did you know that utilizing multiple communication channels in the right ways, in complementary combinations, can really help you improve returns on your investment? When done right, multi-channel marketing can increase awareness, drive engagement, and produce more leads and conversions. Connecting with your target audience in ways that fit how they use media can help improve your business’s sales and profits.
First Things First. What are Traditional and Digital Media?
Media and advertising platforms now fall into two basic categories – traditional and digital. Traditional media existed before the rise of the internet. Newspapers, outdoor billboards, magazines, TV, direct mail, couponing, and radio all fall into the traditional marketing category.
Digital media not only includes everything you see online, but it also includes technologies enabled by the internet. Most of us categorize online advertising as including search engine optimization (SEO), paid search ads, social media marketing, smartphone ads, online videos, and websites. But did you know that podcasts, digital billboards, geofencing, and streaming programming are also considered part of the digital marketing world?
While it may be tempting to choose one over the other, strong marketing efforts use the power of blending; use traditional and digital marketing together to get the most reach and impact.
Taking a multi-faceted approach to marketing allows your business to take advantage of the strengths of each media. You can customize messages and creative to leverage those strengths and fortify the impact of your message and increase your reach.
For example, traditional print marketing offers benefits that digital marketing lacks, such as touch, feel, and even smell. Print media has a long shelf-life, large-format ads, and is seen as very trustworthy. Traditional print is still preferred to reach older, wealthier households with plenty of disposable income.
Conversely, digital complements traditional media buys by providing reach and targeting, especially if you’re looking to reach a younger demographic. Digital media also gives consumers the ability to click to place an order, learn more, or sign up for offers. These actions, taken online, are called engagement. Engagement is the term used when a consumer moves beyond viewing into interacting. Liking, sharing, clicking, commenting, and buying are all forms of engagement.
Why Multi-Channel Marketing is More Important Than Ever
The media world is in constant upheaval. As digital marketing and resources continually change, the types of media and advertising tools available to business owners in Lancaster County have exploded. While advertisers in past generations could choose among a handful of media platforms, today’s marketers have hundreds of options. Instead of being limited to newspaper, magazines, radio, outdoor, TV, or direct mail, marketers must now choose among options that include websites, blogs, social media ads, social media channels and pages, organic content, instructional videos, online display ads, business listings, retargeted ads, pop-up ads, search engine listings, paid search (PPC), SEO, podcasts, streaming radio, subscription TV, connected TV, streaming video, gaming, text message marketing, email marketing, abandoned cart reminders, native marketing, affiliate ads, in-app advertising, location-based marketing, promoted search, and more.
With so many choices at your fingertips, websites and search engines now seem like old standards. But even these digital staples are continually evolving and changing. As each new technology enters the market, such as a breakthrough social media platform or another way to deliver clickable ads, that additional technology changes the way consumers read, think, and consume media. For example, in the beginning, Google offered AdWords which are paid search ads that showed up on the side of the organic search listings. As other ad options entered the market and the technology raced forward, Google added features and options that allow advertisers to run search network campaigns, display network campaigns, shopping campaigns, and video campaigns. Instead of limiting results to search engine results pages, Google advertisers can measure success by the number of sales or leads, website traffic, product and brand consideration, brand awareness, reach, and app promotion.
That’s why multi-channel marketing has become the new norm. Today, few businesses stick with one traditional or digital media choice. That’s why it’s so important to understand what multi-channel advertising is and how to integrate it into your marketing plans.
Multi-channel marketing uses a variety of media channels and tools to reach your best customers. It has also been called cross-channel marketing, cross-platform marketing, and agnostic marketing. By using different channels, tools, media, or platforms, marketers strive to reach consumers at the best time, to be placed next to the best content, to reach customers in the right frame of mind, and to drive prospects and clients to notice and adsorb the ad message or take the desired call to action.
With so much media at their fingertips, it’s no wonder that today’s consumers are more likely than ever to research products and services online before purchasing. People spend time looking at features, options, costs, and even warrantees before buying products online or offline. 82 percent of smartphone users say they look up reviews or information about a product or service before they make the decision to buy. In fact, most brick-and-mortar store owners are already aware of the impact of this ever-increasing online research. Maybe that’s why 99 percent of businesses have reported that they plan to increase their digital marketing budgets. These businesses understand that online marketing messages are now mandatory if they want to reach all those prospects and customers who are spending time researching online.
Of course, with so many choices for news and information, your potential customer doesn’t stick to just one media and neither should you. Your business should think about the buying journey. Which media do they use to become aware of your product? To research it? To get promotions? Think about what your potential customers expect from a newspaper, a podcast, or a social media post, and tailor your message in ways that facilitate engagement and continue to move your customer toward the desired action.
When you consider where your customers are as they identify a need and move through the marketing funnel, you’ll be able to evaluate media more critically and be more selective about the placements that make sense for your business. Creating multi-channel marketing campaigns allow organizations to reach customers at different times, with tailored messages formatted to the platform and designed to fit with the customers’ expectations on the platform.
While better targeting definitely benefits businesses, it also helps consumers. Mashable reported that 72% of consumers say they respond best to an integrated marketing approach. Delivering relevant information to people at the right time is a helpful service. Providing the wrong messages that are poorly timed may be perceived as a nuisance. Perhaps that’s why consumers respond best to ads that make sense within the platform.
Even though digital advertising has become a critical part of the marketing mix, the best marketing campaigns often include traditional components. Traditional media tools like newspapers and magazines not only increase brand awareness, but they also increase brand trust and credibility. Well-crafted ads in traditional media entertain and inform the buyer.
For example, newspaper ads offer lots of space and access to an older, affluent audience. For some businesses, this is the right place to load up on graphics, detailed product or service information, or testimonials for the product or service. Newspapers also continue to be a valuable source of coupons for all ages of consumers.
When marketers place their ads and messages in more than one media platform, it helps build frequency. Frequency allows your customers to absorb the message and develops preference. An old rule of thumb is that consumers must see at least three messages from an advertiser before they begin to have brand recognition. When your ads and promotions show up in many places, you create frequency without feeling repetitive. The dynamic formats allow customers to select the ways they want to interact with your brand.
When placing ads or creating content, it’s also essential to factor in editorial context. What content surrounds your brand? Can you choose the type of content your ad appears near? Many businesses in Lancaster County want their advertising to be surrounded by credible, responsible content that enhances the trustworthiness of their brand. Newspapers and their associated online news sites can deliver trustworthy context in a way that social and other digital media cannot.
When Central Pennsylvania advertisers align their marketing messages with a credible news source that people trust and respect, they enhance their own credibility and trustworthiness. That’s why newspapers, online news, and broadcast news are still some of the most valuable advertising placements for any brand or business.
Do people really trust the value and accuracy of information from news sources?
The following chart from a 2019 Gallup study illustrates how people’s perceptions of trustworthiness change across platforms.
When your ad is surrounded by trustworthy content, it pays off for your brand.
Which Media Should You Choose?
Creating the right multi-channel marketing plan can be intimidating. After all, today’s marketer has exponentially more media and placement choices than their colleagues did just 15 years ago. The experts at LNP Media Group can help businesses evaluate and place advertising with all of the following media channels:
- Online news
- Total Market Coverage (TMC) coupon mailings (Pocket)
- Targeted email marketing and text message marketing
- Social media marketing on channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat
- Online video content such as YouTube
- In-App advertising, such as Waze or WhatsApp
- Broadcast TV and radio
- Internet TV and Streaming Services such as Hulu and Peacock
- “Over the Top” or OTT and CTV
- Paid search (PPC) and Google Display ads
- Websites and blogs
- Geofencing (location-based mobile marketing)
Some Types of Media Tend to Work Well With Others
Wine and cheese. Dinner and a movie. John, Paul, George, and Ringo. Some things just go together. The same holds true for multi-channel marketing. Many Lancaster County businesses don’t have the resources or the budget to invest in all the different types of media out there. And the good news is they don’t have to. Instead, local businesses can evaluate some popular pairings, selections of media that are often used together to get extraordinary results.
To help your business get started on your multi-channel media campaign, here are some good media combinations to get started.
- Website / PPC / Print
- Online News / Email Marketing / Social Media Advertising
- Online Video / Social / Google Display
- Online Commerce Website / Print / PPC
- Newspaper / Geofencing / Email Marketing
- Podcasts / Email Marketing / Online News
Media Complementary Set: Website / PPC / Print
Campaigns that include a website, PPC, and print are core components in many Lancaster County business marketing programs. If your company or organization wants to get more people to understand what you do and how you do it, developing a good website is critical. Effective websites usually include compelling explanations of your work, describe why it’s important, and tell your prospects and customers how to get started and how to get in touch. Other popular elements are newsletter sign-ups, blogs, coupon codes, explainer videos, and company profiles. Websites also give marketers the chance to write the kind of long-format content that really digs deep into who you are and what you do. You can also publish articles that relate to your industry, share product lines, specifications, usage suggestions, and solicit comments or reviews.
However, no matter how good your website is, if no one sees it, it’s not going to help your business thrive. That’s why it’s so crucial that your website is built and programmed in ways that promote higher search engine rankings. This process is called Search Engine Optimization or SEO. To achieve strong SEO, seasoned pros will complete a long list of methods and tactics that ensure your website shows up when people are looking for your type of products and services. SEO also requires ongoing changes and updates to your site, so it’s smart to set aside an ongoing budget for this process. And while including SEO into your site may seem like a no-brainer, you might be surprised at how many website builders and businesses skip this step.
According to Michael Guta in an April 9, 2020 report in Small Business Trends,
“The data on the latest SEO strategy trends comes from a new report from The Manifest titled, “Top 5 SEO Strategies for Small Business in 2020.” And according to the 501 respondents in the survey, 70% don’t have an SEO strategy. When you consider 75% of people don’t scroll past the first page of Google search results, it drives the point of why SEO should be a key strategy by small businesses and businesses of all sizes. As the author of the report, Kelsey McKeon, says, now is a great time for small businesses to start performing SEO. Primarily because they are having to adjust to the COVID-19 crisis by cutting costs. The cost-effective nature of SEO makes it the ideal tool for saving money and improving your digital presence.”
Once you have a robust website up and running (and your SEO is going strong,) you’ll want to encourage even more people to see it and check it out. Paid search (also called pay-per-click or PPC) is a smart way to get traffic to your website. Formerly known as Adwords, Google Ads PPC ad extensions offer businesses many options that can help achieve real multi-channel marketing. For example, the Click-to-Call Extension adds a phone number to ads, which makes it easier for online users to call your business. The PPC Offer Extension lets advertisers include coupons with a PPC ad, which allows users to print out the coupon and bring it to your store.
Showing up at the top of the page is a crucial step to increasing web traffic. That’s important even if most (or all) of your sales happen offline. In fact, according to Google, 78 percent of local searches result in offline purchases. No matter which type of paid search ad you choose, utilizing paid search is the first step to moving your business into the top listings on a search engine results page, so people see your business first when they are searching for services like yours.
In April 2019, Search Engine Land reported,
“Even though we live in a digital world, consumer journeys that begin online rarely stay there. This is especially true when the consumer journey involves a local mobile search…By focusing on driving offline conversions from search, delivering personalized high-quality consumer experiences, and analyzing results, marketers can tap into the power of offline to convert consumers from shoppers into buyers and optimize marketing ROI.”
Which brings us to print. Advertising in Lancaster County’s only county-wide newspaper, LNP, is a great way to reach a broad audience and increase awareness. It’s also an excellent place to promote your website. Think of your print ads as another tool to drive people to your business online and offline. Whether you want to get people to your website or your brick and mortar store, ads in LNP can appear in print and on LNP’s companion news website, LancasterOnline. Like Google paid search ads, print ads can drive people to call, to use a coupon, or to visit your website.
Media Complementary Set: Online News / Email Marketing / Social Media Advertising
People love online news. Did you know that over 1.5 million unique users access stories on LancasterOnline every month? In fact, LancasterOnline is the leading news website in the Lancaster County and surrounding counties, attracting more visitors than any other Lancaster County news or information website. So placing ads on LancasterOnline is a no-brainer. But don’t stop there. Make sure you set up a relevant landing page that helps people take action when they click on your ads.
A dedicated landing page is a separate web page created to help businesses get user information and may exist for a limited time. For example, an ad promoting a homebuilder might lead to a landing page that encourages users to sign up for a free report on how to plan a new home. A video promoting a new restaurant might click-through to a landing page with a coupon for a meal discount. Useful landing pages not only provide a seamless user experience, they can also help capture leads and user data.
Tech Times, July 30, 2020, advises,
“To create a maximum effect, you should send people who click on your ads to a specialized landing page that connects them directly to the banner, messaging, and offers. This is because online advertising includes a set of steps that start with the banner, and the click is the next step. The third and equally important step is to drive clickers to act via a clear and convincing post-click experience.”
You can use the emails you’ve collected from your landing page to create custom audiences on social media. By uploading your email list onto select social media platforms, you can create customized audiences based on your email lists. Best of all, platforms like Facebook and Instagram also allow you to create a “lookalike” audience based on the attributes of your email list. This means that your business can now send ads and messages to more people who behave in the same ways the people in your email list do.
Once you have an email list, it makes sense to start email marketing. It’s time to create email campaigns that help you meet your brand and sales goals. Whether you want to nurture leads, increase loyalty, or encourage additional purchases, email marketing can help. In fact, the emails you capture through your LancasterOnline ads and social media ads can be used for email marketing campaigns for weeks, months, or even years to come.
Media Complementary Set: Online Video / Print / Social Media
One of today’s most effective marketing tools is video. People love watching videos, and online media gives users millions of ways to watch: on websites, in social media, on YouTube, and on video apps like TikTok.
In fact, video has become so prominent that LNP Media Group started offering video production to clients in 2017. LNP Media Group clients can now create long or short videos to use on websites, social media, or embedded in digital ads to get more attention and to tell more vibrant, visual stories.
“The consumption of video content on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube keeps following an upward trend. An astonishing one-third of internet users, as many as 1.9 billion people, use YouTube. That is a good enough reason for marketers to not only include ‘video marketing’ in their overall marketing plan but make it a focal point and strategize interesting video marketing campaigns.”
While online videos are hard-working marketing tools, they also work well as companion pieces to print ads and sponsored content in print. While videos are great ways to create engaging, emotional short stories, print allows businesses to expand on ideas, create offers, and even offer cutouts.
When you marry print and video campaigns, you get the best of both worlds, but when you add social media to the mix, you take your marketing to the next level. That’s because social media is a naturally complementary media for a print-video campaign. Social media channels like Facebook offer the opportunity to use video ads along with longer format descriptions. Social media supports both images and video, even within the same campaign.
While Facebook does not offer as much space for text as newspaper print ads, social media ads can target very specific consumers, so you can make sure your most valuable customers and prospects see your message.
CASE STUDY: Local Heroes Campaign
When the COVID-19 pandemic started, quarantined people quickly felt isolated and alone. Penn Medicine worked with LNP to create a symbol for Lancastrians to use to show their unity and dedication to social distancing.
This ad ran in March, asking LNP readers to post the red rose in the front windows of their homes to show support for neighbors and the community. “Social distancing is tough, but it works. Stay home and take good care of yourself and your family. If you take a walk, make sure you look for the red roses posted in the windows of homes around your neighborhood. It’s a little reminder that we’re all in this together.”
The same message was delivered on LancasterOnline, which also offered printable red rose cutouts. By running ads in print and online, this integrated campaign from Penn Medicine promoted community spirit and highlighted healthcare heroes. An article about local women, both retired healthcare workers, making masks for local healthcare workers.
This sponsored article ran in print and on Lancaster Online.
The video of the interview with the women also ran on the popular LancasterOnline Facebook page, complete with the Penn Medicine logo.
Penn Medicine reached more people, more demographics, and achieved much higher reach and frequency by embracing a multi-channel approach.
Media Complementary Set: E-Commerce Website / PPC / Retargeted Ads
If your business has a website with an online e-commerce component, this combination is for you, especially if your focus is a very specific customer type. B2B sites that sell parts, supplies, or services to an industry vertical will find this is an especially effective multi-channel marketing option.
LNP Media Group is experienced in helping e-commerce websites optimize listings, information, and SEO in ways that make these sites more visible to search engines and help them rank higher against selected keywords. Whether you’re selling five items or 5,000, our team can help you with paid search and retargeted ads.
E-commerce sites must address organic search, or SEO, first. Once that’s taken care of, paid search (also called pay-per-click or PPC) is the next step to more visits and more sales. By using the keywords that are most relevant to your site or your products, your paid search ads will appear when people search for products or services that you offer, and will click through to your e-commerce site.
For example, for a client selling parts online, LNP Media Group created a paid search campaign that used parts numbers and descriptions as keywords. This strategy enabled the client’s ad to appear in the top three paid listings at the top of the search results page when people were looking for those specific replacement parts.
According to Ronald Dod in an April 9, 2020 article in Search Engine Land
“When a site runs PPC advertising, they appear at the top of the search results, thereby being the first thing that searchers see. When coupled with SEO efforts, a brand can potentially consume a large portion of the SERPs (search engine results pages), showcasing adverts at the top and organic listings below. Therefore, if a searcher skips over the ad section and goes directly to the organic rankings, they will find the business there as well. This effectively allows sites to gain double the exposure they would if only one of these strategies were employed, thereby increasing the chances that the user will click-through to the brand’s site. Moreover, given that a particular company is so well-represented in the SERPs, this provides consumers with enhanced confidence that the business is a reputable one that provides quality products or services. By combining PPC and SEO, organizations can more effectively guide prospects to their site and encourage engagement among consumers.”
Once a user visits an e-commerce site, it’s smart to send retargeted ads to visitors to remind them of their shopping history, and to draw them back to the website to complete their purchase or purchase again.
Media Complementary Set: Newspaper / “Near Me” Optimization / Geofencing
When it comes to local marketing, people rely on hometown newspapers for tips and ideas. Online and offline, LancasterOnline and LNP are leading resources for finding local businesses, entertainment options, and services in Lancaster County. If you want to attract nearby people to your business, LancasterOnline and LNP are great places to start.
These two leading news sources also offer the advantage of providing highly credible, trustworthy content that is appropriate for all audiences. As mentioned earlier in this article, surrounding your advertising messages with reliable content is a good way to increase your business’s trustworthiness.
Another way to attract local people to your business is to ensure your website is optimized for “near me” searches on mobile. A “near me” search describes the activity of searching for a thing that is close by. Examples include:
- Find a pizza place near me
- Dentist near me
- Auto repair near me
- Homes for sale near me
- Lawn service near me
- Hair salon near me
- Fun shopping near me
- Fine dining near me
“‘Near me’ searches — localized mobile searches for brands, business locations and products close by — have exploded. Today, 65 percent of all Google searches happen on a mobile device, and 70 percent of these mobile searches are “near me” searches. This means that some 46 percent of all Google searches have a local intent. More than ever, as search engine and smartphone technology has advanced, consumers are prioritizing proximity and convenience.”
While you might think that merely being “near me” would qualify your company to show up in a search, it’s not that easy. Importantly, optimizing your online presence for near me searches is often time-intensive. But because it’s becoming a primary way of finding nearby businesses, local companies need to take the time to leverage this type of mobile activity.
Effective “near me” strategies include completing and optimizing your business listings, using proper schema markup, acquiring backlinks with geographic anchor text, optimizing location terms in your SEO, and making your site mobile friendly (since almost all “near me” searches happen on mobile devices.) And don’t forget about preparing a list of queries that people might ask smart devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home.
Finally, consider adding geofencing to your “near me” marketing mix. Geofencing allows advertisers to send a message to consumers’ mobile devices after they enter a predefined geographic area. When people are within the chosen perimeter, geofencing delivers your ads to them, but only while they are in the defined area. This ad tool allows you to deliver your message within a “fence,” so you reach consumers in the right place.
For example, you may want to capture people at a nearby event to get them to come to your restaurant. Or you may wish to send specials or ads to car buyers when they visit a competitor’s car lot. You choose the time and the area and the geofencing campaign will post the mobile ads. It’s a smart way to get more people to your location.
Media Complementary Set: Podcasts / Email Marketing / Online News
If you haven’t listened to a podcast yet, you are now in the minority. 55 percent of Americans have listened to a podcast and listenership continues to rise. That’s because the number of podcast listeners has grown almost 40 percent in the past three years. They’re a great way to reach commuters and people in places where listening makes more sense than watching or reading, such as during walks, at the gym, or while doing housework or yardwork. Almost all podcasts accept advertising in the form of sponsorships. These podcast sponsorships can be a smart move for businesses looking to find a way to advertise within focused content targeted to certain consumers.
“Digital audio advertising has one major advantage over other forms of media in that it doesn’t require a screen, so it allows advertisers to reach consumers when they are engaged in other activities. Pre-lockdown, many assumed podcast audiences were most likely to listen when driving or traveling by public transport. Still, recent experience has shown podcast audiences also listen when exercising or doing household chores – activities which make them hard to reach through visual channels. Also, podcast listeners in particular can be difficult to access through other digital audio channels, with over half of listeners saying they don’t stream music, for instance. “
Because most podcasts are listened to via headphones or in vehicles, this platform offers a “one-on-one” feel that many listeners appreciate. Podcasts ads are often delivered by hosts, adding credibility and trust to your message. Podcasts also target people at a time when they’re focused on listening, so if your businesses benefits are best delivered via audio message, this is a great time to reach focused listeners.
Email marketing offers that same focused, one-on-one feel. Emails are personal delivery devices, with messaging that can feel intimate and personal. Emails also provide the chance to share detailed information and even audio or video files.
The third component of this plan is online news advertising on sites like LancasterOnline. News websites are a natural fit for focused messages delivered in a more personal, targeted way. Like emails and podcasts, news sites can accommodate audio messages, but they can also feature video ads for a more engaging experience.
Ready to Start Creating Your Multi-Media Strategy?
These examples are just a few ways you can combine traditional and digital, news media and technology. No matter which media you choose, when trying to capture the attention of a niche audience start by understanding your target market. Know the demographic you want to attract and the offers that will capture their attention and drive them to act. Your multi-channel media strategy should be a plan of action that helps your organization reach its prospects and customers in ways that increase and improve your conversion rate.
Listen, we get it. Multi-channel marketing is complicated, ever-changing, and often overwhelming. New options are being created every day and sometimes it’s hard to figure out how, when, or why digital and traditional resources work. Increasingly, combinations of media, tools, and platforms are needed to obtain the reach and frequency required to make an impact and drive sales.
But you don’t have to go it alone. LNP Media Group has strong expertise in multi-channel marketing and we can help you combine all the parts of your marketing strategy in ways that help them work together. Contact us today and let’s start talking about ways to expand and strengthen your marketing program.