Charles Darwin once wrote, “A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life.” In light of the societal and technological progress made since Darwin’s era, let’s replace the word “man” with “person,” and “life” with “digital marketing resources,” – and we’ve got one heck of an insight.
Digital marketing has completely disrupted the world of traditional marketing. Gone are the days where big name brands maintained monopolies on prime-time advertisement spaces across television screens and Sunday morning newspapers. Today’s wide-reaching market for digital advertising has altered the realm of marketing in a number of ways, each of which has shifted our understandings of the value of money and time.
Perhaps the greatest shifts accompanying the arrival of digital marketing have been in regards to a) an increased access to consumers for smaller brands, b) marketing capabilities and goals, and c) the warping of time amongst non-stop digital evolution. Each of these trends have contributed to the argument that, in digital marketing, temporal costs compute more value than monetary costs.
Strong Voices for Small Brands
Advertising norms of the past have been comparatively limited in availability, and thus costly in a world of emerging ideas and products. Television ad space has not only been offered with strict requirements of length, but also requires video-produced messages – instantly driving up advertisement production costs. Newspaper and magazine space was highly sought after before the emergence of digital publications and, being tangible products, offered limited space to the highest bidders. As such, only established or well-funded brands could afford to effectively get their word out, making money incredibly valuable in the pre-digital marketing era.
Today, as you know, TV and print advertisements tend to matter less. With the rise of E-newsletters, social media profiles, industry-specific blogs, and as the cost of augmented and virtual reality technologies decrease by the week, TV and print ad space have not only become more affordable, but less relevant. This reality has eliminated the need to produce costly videos, print and ship newsletters or magazines, or to fight for viewership in temporally and spatially limited advertisement platforms. The removal of such costs has also reduced the risk in allotting time for the development of digital marketing strategies, encouraging creativity without the fear of an expensive failure.
“No amount of money in the world can form a genuine relationship between a brand and its customer – that takes time.”
As such, digital marketing has in many ways leveled the playing field for up and coming brands, all the while edging out formerly dominant brands who have refused or delayed investment in their digital presence. Furthermore, this whole “internet” thing has enabled the gathering of large quantities of data on consumers. With access to information on searches essentially categorized by age, gender, hobbies, allergies – you name it – brands of all sizes can optimize their content in a way that even further improves their access to target groups in ways that traditional marketing practices never could. While developing search-engine-optimized (SEO) content takes time both in creation and rank-climbing, it’s ultimately “free” and certainly worth the temporal investment, as a Retailing Today study in 2014 found that more 81% of consumers conduct online product research before making a purchase.
You and your audience: ‘Til death do you part
Greater access to audiences for brands of all sizes has also altered marketing strategies themselves. With the ability for brands to identify and hone in on target groups, digital marketers have adjusted their strategies to, rather than talk at their audience, engage with them over long periods of time, establishing a relationship between company and consumer that encourages purchases over the span of a lifetime. Rather than shooting for one-off purchases, digital marketing strategies now seek to produce loyalty to and love for the brand, made possible through analyzing consumer behavior and adjusting outreach strategies accordingly.
While advertisements have generally always sought to elicit emotion from their audiences, digital marketing capabilities, with their specific target groups a various touchpoints and channels, have made marketers more likely to succeed in doing so, and thus more likely to develop a relationship with consumers. And, when successful, social media’s role in interpersonal communication makes it more likely that such advertisements will spread organically through sharing – at no extra cost to advertisers. This, in turn, raises the content’s social status within Google’s algorithm, bettering its search engine result ranking. As such, videos, articles, statuses, photos, or experiences produced in marketing strategies must be of utmost quality to be sufficiently heard and, if they are, they’ll be rewarded by appreciative audiences and, subsequently, keen Google algorithms. While finances still play a role in successful digital marketing, particularly in regards to the content creation, no amount of money in the world can form a genuine relationship between a brand and its customer – that takes time.
Quality time with your customers
For decades, marketing strategies have been structured in accordance with the speed of TV and print ads, both of which require lengthy development processes, months of editing, and guesswork as to how the ad itself will play out. In today’s digital world, reactions can be measured on the second, and daily life itself has sped up so that information is almost immediately distributed, processed, and discarded as new waves of information come pouring in, burying the breakthroughs of yesterday – perhaps best represented by the 24-hour news cycle. This warpage of time has made every hour in the digital marketing world more valuable, and in the realm of not absolute but comparative value, money is becoming decreasingly decisive of success in marketing when compared with time.
Our high-paced livelihoods bring with them the unpredictability of just what will go viral, increased consumer choice, and greater company accountability. In these conditions, strategies developed with time rather than money are most likely to foster meaningful connections with customers. As such, while the term “return-on-investment” has always referred to financial investment, perhaps the next digital disruption on our lives will be regarding the extent to which we value our time in an ever-evolving market.
Interested in an assessment of how your brand is utilizing time in the digital market? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.