Many SMB’s are spending more on digital marketing than on advertising with traditional media. This trend show no signs of subsiding, with a study by Thrive Analytics finding that more SMBs plan to invest a bigger portion of their overall marketing budgets in digital formats in the future. There are a large number of advantages to online marketing over traditional forms of marketing, ranging from being able to target a much wider audience, to greater interaction and more easily measured results. However, does this mean you should always abandon traditional media for online alternatives?

The challenges of measuring media performance

Measuring media performance is not always straightforward. Many companies are not assessing their results sufficiently, limiting the effectiveness of their campaigns. A 2016 survey found that 40% of respondents (114 out of 284) said that they were not sure about their ROI from digital marketing efforts, and that is with the clear to read numbers available within a few clicks. Awareness for traditional media, such as viewer numbers of a TV ad, are harder to come simply because we don’t record this data in the same accessible way. How can SMB’s effectively measure and compare data if they either aren’t looking at media performance or can’t find the numbers they need? This is where media audits come in.

Specialists in media audits can assess both traditional media and digital media in ways that most can’t. They can look at the value of bought media marketing, based on the market and time. This interpretation is key to understanding what works and where the best value can be found. Media auditors like AuditStar provide can carry out media performance audits in order to identify how and where to improve performance efficiency, whether by media channel (online, print) or provider (SEO agency, PR company).

A pitfall of many companies marketing campaigns is comparing themselves to non-comparable advertisers. It might turn out that offline media marketing could be more effective than online if the results of particular campaigns were assessed correctly for your SMB. Media audits instead strive to define benchmarks specific to each company’s strategy and against relevant competition.

Potentially clearer and better ROI from digital marketing

Many SMB’s are also using online marketing because it provides you with immediately measurable results from a campaign, unlike most traditional marketing, such as print, television and billboards. For example, you can instantly see the numbers of visitors to your site and what the conversion rates are, whereas it is difficult to gage how many people have seen your billboard. In many cases it is simply much more effective to run an online marketing campaign, with clear numbers that can account for what works, and show ROI at once.

This is in addition to the fact that digital marketing is usually cheaper than traditional marketing. Typical traditional advertising mediums are costly, whereas online marketing such as via social media, content marketing and email marketing is usually significantly cheaper in comparison. Therefore, in many cases online marketing does represent a much better ROI. This does depend however, as even if you are paying more for traditional media, you may still be reaching more relevant people than you would via social media. Depending on your audience, this may be where the bulk of potential buyers will see the advertising, therefore representing a better ROI.

Different marketing for different audiences

This is why one of the key deciding factors between deciding whether to run an online or traditional marketing campaign is who you are aiming your campaign at. For example, luxury audiences aren’t likely to be a quick Google away from buying a car, they are more likely to be looking at brands gaining visibility in their magazines and at events. But a private jet charter company might do well being advertised online where personal assistants are browsing, as they are the ones making the bookings. Similarly, the average consumer is online, making purchases from online stores and as online only items, like eBooks, yet they won’t necessarily respond to a high end watch ad in the local paper.

Media audits can be helpful in helping you determine which advertising medium to use for your audience profiles. Compare the media strategy with the proposed plan and evaluate that strategy, looking at consumer research and therefore where your audience are likely to see your campaign to determine how much funding to place in digital marketing and how much in traditional media.