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“Saturated” does not begin to describe the channels for digital marketing. Brands wield billion-dollar budgets for it like the internet is about to go out of style—and maybe that’s because, in some ways, it is.
Everything in the digital space eventually goes out of style or at least becomes less effective. Consider ad fatigue, the common phenomenon in which consumers stop converting from overexposure to the same ad content. With every business pouring money into similar digital marketing strategies, it stands to reason that these (suddenly) traditional online marketing methods will face the same diminishing returns.
The next wave of marketers should beware of the possible effects of digital marketing fatigue and consider getting inspired by some of the most front-running and innovative brands, like the ones who leverage physical elements as anchors in their marketing campaigns.
Traditionally, creating physical products for the purpose of a marketing campaign would be costly and inefficient. But as tech continues to accelerate faster than ever, we’re seeing traditional processes like manufacturing become much more accessible.
Advancements in AI and robotics have significantly decreased the costs and increased the capabilities of custom manufacturing and therefore custom products. Nowadays, getting a physical product made is comparable to the process of ordering business cards online, which is arguably easier than implementing an effective digital marketing campaign.
Perhaps, this generation of marketers may want to think twice before pouring their entire budget into digital marketing.
With each passing year, consumer audiences become harder to impress, making it increasingly difficult to leave a lasting impression on a cohort who believes they’ve seen it all. Ads can be great, but remember the feeling of finding a surprise gift in your cereal box?
Unlike fleeting digital experiences, physical products create a long-lasting emotional and nostalgic connection. Appealing to emotion is known to be an effective marketing strategy, but tapping into fond memories to serve up genuine nostalgia can truly be invaluable.
For brands already selling physical products, this kind of nostalgia-focused marketing might manifest itself as a “free gift with purchase.” Beauty powerhouse Glossier includes a pink bubble wrap makeup bag and branded sticker set in each order, not only delighting the customer with thoughtful relics of yesteryear but indoctrinating them into Glossier’s massive influencer network. Whenever that customer uses their Glossier makeup bag in public, for a brief moment, that customer is a walking talking Glossier billboard. By incorporating this kind of sustained physical touchpoint in your marketing strategy, you can stay top-of-mind in the consumer psyche.
That said, even solely digital brands can incorporate a physical element into their marketing strategy. For example, a mobile gaming company might consider moving away from an in-game rewards model and try out a physical item (think personalized trophies or figurines of the game’s characters) to give players a tangible reward for their achievements in the virtual world.
This is important because physical real-world moments are shareable in a way that digital experiences are not. Creating opportunities in your marketing strategy for physical touchpoints is more likely to help your brand’s reach than even the most nuanced and targeted ad content.
When you’re thinking long-term about your brand, opportunities to deliver a personalized experience are key. Consumers want to feel like they’re purchasing from somewhere small and from somewhere that can give them a bespoke experience—even if they’re purchasing from a giant conglomerate.
Novelty is shareable, especially when it is physical. In addition to offering limited edition and short-run specialty products, brands can go so far as to engage users with opportunities to design their own text, colors or shapes into a product. These kinds of personalized products can become treasured items.
Between digital marketing resources, insights we have about customers and flexible supply chains using digital manufacturing, there has never been a better time to add a physical layer to your brand’s marketing strategy.