The glory days of quick and easy digital customer acquisition seem to be numbered.
The changes have caused many, from small to medium-sized brands, to reconsider full-funnel marketing strategies, finding a more concerted balance between brand building and direct-response marketing. This means deploying more marketing touchpoints, like outdoor and streaming video, in addition to performance marketing tactics like social media and paid search.
“At some point, you saturate the acquisition and there’s not a whole lot of fruit to hand,” said Mike Mikho, chief marketing officer at full-service agency Laundry Service. “The reason you’re moving from acquisition to full marketing is that you’ve gotten all the low-hanging fruit that you can and now you need to expand your funnel and drive more people to your brand.
Recently, these tactics have been adopted by brands such as Claire’s, Edible arrangements, Shutterwhich has intensified social media, among other channels, and Rowing Hydrowwith more dollars going to media, including out-of-home.
Retailer Tween Claire’s recently launched what it calls “the brand’s largest and most integrated initiative yet” with its Be the Most campaign. It’s backed by a robust media plan, which includes e-commerce, in-store experience, OOH placements in New York and the brand’s hometown of Chicago, as well as Hulu, TikTok, Twitch, Snap and others.
The push from Claire’s, a 50-year-old brand, aims to appeal to Gen Z audiences and their parents. The company also considered expanding into new categories, such as metaverse and games.
“We have to be present where our consumers are. We keep a pulse on all the new platforms that customers show up on, whether it’s the virtual world or TikTok,” said Claire’s Chief Marketing Officer Kristin Patrick. “Because [society has] moved so fast and they’re so in tune with the culture, we need to be there too.
The volatility of the pandemic has caused advertisers to tighten budgets, especially discretionary spending, which means more marketers have invested in quick and easy digital customer acquisition channels. Meanwhile, lockdown measures and mask mandates have also pushed more people to shop and spend more time online.
“What we’ve seen holistically during Covid-19 is that marketers have turned quite heavily towards performance media and particularly in this paid search,” said Claire Russell, head of media at ad agency Fitzco, noting the appeal of high intent and low risk. “Everyone just wanted to talk to people who are in the market right now.”
It made sense at the start of the pandemic, Russell added, but if companies want to build the brand over time, brand awareness and storytelling channels are key. For performance marketers, CTV and OTT look promising, as technology has enabled programmatic buying, marrying creativity, targeting and measurement.
This is not to say that comprehensive marketing is a revolution in the industry; some advertisers say it’s just marketing 101.
To industry watchers, it looks like a pendulum swing. During the digital boom, marketers prioritized digital channels of customer acquisition. Going forward, that pendulum could see dollars go to storytelling channels, such as television, said David Song, CEO of ad agency Rosie Labs.
“Full funnel means you’re literally in front of that consumer in every possible area where that person might interact with your brand,” Song said. “The most successful brands are the companies that have always filled the funnel. And for me, it’s just branding and direct response that come together.