Digital Marketing – Better for Branding or Direct Responses?

By Linh PMP

It sounds like the question whether to stay home and study for the final tonight or to go out for a networking event. Both the final and the networking are important, but one is more short-term, another is more long-term oriented. Because of limited resources, one usually cannot take both at once, but still has to find the way to balance both. It depends on each situation to choose what to focus for now, but no matter what to choose, there are still some rules of thumb applied for both.

digital ad spend by purpose us

According to eMarketer (2015), direct response[i] make up 58% of total digital ad spending, leaving 42% for branding[ii] objective. However, the % varies in different industries. For example, in travel and retail, the % of direct purpose doubles and triples the % of branding one, respectively. This may due to the fact that customers in these industries care more about deals and in-that-moment-needs rather than brands. Or in CPG & consumer products, % of branding purpose doubles that of direct one, which may be because customers in FMCG industry are generally less loyal (according to Nielsen) and need to be exposed to a brand regularly and consistently. So statistically, it depends on the industry!

It also depends on the company. Major brands have spent tons of notes on image marketing, because they have notes and time. Small businesses are not that rich and they need to be quick before being kicked out of the market. Their brands are so small and easy-to-be-ignored in the big world of 5000+ ad and brand exposures per person per day. So with limited resources, small businesses may reasonably execute more direct response tactics to make a sustainable living.

However, brand and direct responses are not necessarily in conflict. Their well-designed combination can create the best “rhythm” for the business “melody”. It would be perfect if the company can run the brand-focus digital campaign (like paying low pitch) to keep customers interested and attracted, then sometimes push the direct response message (like performing the high pitch) to grasp customers’ attention for a purchase. Besides, no matter whether it is brand or direct response focus, it should have a proper set of metrics for evaluation (ROI, customer acquisition, customer retention, info sign-up, etc.)

Plus, in this chaotic digital world, it is super important to make the message stand out in the crowd, which is always the challenge for any types of marketing purposes. Digital Marketer can give some clues:

For Google Adwords

For Facebook

More to go…

[i] Direct response objective: to push responses of purchases, registration, etc asap. This type has specific offers and usually targets specific audience.

[ii] Branding objective: to remind customers and prospects about the brand, normally requires a lot of money to have an effective amount of sufficient volume. The expected time of purchase can be in the future (probably months or years).

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