In the social media age, some of the most reliable marketing tools are those that have been around when face and book were still two separate words and people communicated well in excess of 140 characters.
Speaking at the recent Canadian Marketing Association’s Digital Day 2011 conference in Toronto, a top executive of survey-based marketing firms Ipsos Canada said many agencies and marketers are employing various social media and mobile media technology to reach consumers, but these appear not to be striking a chord with their target market yet.
“There’s a lot of activity in microblogging (Twitter) and social media space, but we just aren’t seeing public appetite to receive marketing information via these channels that mirrors the time and money spent on them,” said Steve Levy, president of Ipsos Reid (East).
Similarly, he said, the hype over mobile marketing may be just that. “Some years back, it was said that 2007 would be the year of mobile marketing, that didn’t happen and today 2011 is still not the year of mobile marketing.”
Mobile is still in its infancy and no more than 30 per cent of Canadians own a smartphone today, said Levy. “If you don’t have a smartphone, you won’t see much of the advertising in the mobile space,” he said.
By contrast, traditional marketing and advertising media such as television, radio, print and even e-mail continue to hold a strong connection with consumers. For instance, a year ago, 38 per cent of marketers interviewed by Ipsos Reid said they intended to cut spending or television campaigns within the next two years.
“This year, marketers appear to be reconsidering reducing budgets for television. In 2010, 25 per cent said they will trim TV budgets, this year only 11 per cent said they would,” according to Levy.
Television remains unparalleled in its widespread reach because a majority of Canadians still watch TV at home even when they are on their tablet devices of laptops, he said.
Similarly, e-mail marketing still enjoy wide acceptance among Canadians.
“Eighty per cent of Canadians are online. From a consumer perspective it is already an accepted form of receiving marketing messages,” said Levy.
The digital shopper
But there is no denying that digital media has transformed the consumer and marketer equation, according to Angela Scardillo, vice-president of marketing and communications for Best Buy Canada.
“When they come to our stores, 80 per cent of our shoppers have already researched the products online and are ready to buy,” she said during a separate presentation.
Scardillo said that in many cases consumers come armed with so much product knowledge that many stores now find that the challenge for them “is to arm our representative with and equal amount of knowledge.”
“We need to be able to provide customers with more value because nowadays you can pretty much get anything, anywhere and almost at any price,” she said.
Brands need to establish a social media presence because many consumers can be reached in this space, she said. For instance, aside from its Web site, Best Buy maintains a Facebook page, is on LinkedIn and has a Twitter account.
Businesses, however, do not have to scramble to develop a social media presence if the strategy does not suit their brand, said Lisa Bradner, chief client services and growth officer for hyper-local advertising firm Geomentum.
“Take a careful look at what your brand is and who your audience are,” she said. “Don’t spend your money on Twitter if your customers are not there.”