How inbound marketing can make above-the-line advertising more effective

The inbound marketing approach can help make all elements of your marketing both strategic and effective. Find out how it affects above-the-line advertising.

The inbound marketing approach can help make all elements of your marketing both strategic and effective.

Most marketers know the legendary quote by John Wanamaker, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.” He died in 1922 but nearly 100 years later, he’s still not alone in experiencing this frustration. Today we live in a digital marketing era where everything is possible to measure… almost. But what about above-the-line (ATL) advertising?

Above-the-line advertising defined

Above-the-line advertising includes conventional media like television and radio advertising, as well as print advertising, billboards, and other outdoor advertising. This traditional form of marketing, which has been used for centuries to shout at prospects, rather than engaging them, is still around. But if you think that pushing messages out to people, hoping that they’ll pay attention is not the ‘inbound way’, you’re wrong. It’s still remarkably effective... if done right.

The old advertising metrics (views and audience) are not enough

If you’re spending R50 000 on an advertising billboard you want to know it’s working. The same goes for expensive television advertising campaigns. Advertisers have cleverly developed metrics that will show some results, but they take time and you have to trust the industry metrics. Just because you know many people watched a show, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll know if that advert drove the right behaviour, at least, until now.

At Spitfire Inbound, we’ve been able to combine inbound and above-the-line marketing effectively. It’s not rocket science, though. It comes down to these four things:

  1. Sales and marketing alignment
  2. Measuring the right things
  3. Using HubSpot and campaign management effectively
  4. Preparation and execution

Here are a few examples of how above-the-line advertising can go wrong, if these four principles are not followed, and how things can go right, if they are.

Example 1: attending an event

If you’re attending an event just because all your competitors are going, the chances are that you’re already thinking about it in the wrong way.

Alternatively, if both sales and marketing are well prepared long before the event, measure the right things, and work backwards from your company’s goals, it’s easy to find the real ROI of an event. Begin by establishing how many sales you want to generate, and how many qualified contacts you’ll need to justify the ROI. Then work collaboratively with marketing to ensure the messages resonate with the target audience and, more importantly, make sure that every offline activity leads back to the place where all leads can be measured… your website.

Example 2: sponsoring a TV show

Does sponsoring a TV show work, or is it just a waste of money? How do you know? Quite simply, web traffic is the answer. Our customers live in a dual screen world, if an ad or sponsorship moves them they Google the brand, so if the sponsorship doesn’t result in a significant increase in traffic on the website during that time, the answer is ‘no’. However, increased web traffic is not enough. If the leads are rubbish then the sponsorship was still a flop.

Here’s a tip: if you’re planning to sponsor a TV show make sure you already have a campaign set up in HubSpot. Or, better yet, make sure the sponsorship is aligned with other marketing activities that carry the same message and amplify your other campaign elements. Provide a meaningful incentive, intrigue people, and target your campaign to prospects that are likely to convert.

Example 3: off-site promotions

What happens if your customer decides to incentivise salespeople by getting them to capture email addresses at a shopping centre promotion. Sounds like a great idea, right? Unfortunately, if you end up with a list of addresses that read like it’s not really going to deliver the desired results.

Alternatively, if lead tracking is meaningful and measured (and, in cases like this, double-checked) off-site promotions can actually serve a valuable purpose. Be warned, though, they can’t exist in a vacuum, and they need to be meaningful.

It is possible to integrate inbound and above-the-line marketing

Today it’s possible to track campaigns in a more granular and affordable way than ever before. You don’t have to have massive budgets or vast amounts of data at your fingertips. Responsive campaigns that balance an understanding of the data, with realistic expectations about what the results are likely to be, can work amazingly well if you’re measuring the right data and are able to tell whether the leads that are generated are actually valuable.

In conclusion: inbound is not the alternative to traditional marketing. It’s the augmentation of it.

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