In An Internet Minute…The Augean Challenge of Reaching Your Audience with Digital Content

1digitalminuteEach minute, more than 1 million GBs of data are transferred around our planet. Think about that for a moment and let it sink in.

The growth of mobile traffic alone is staggering: Intel predicts that by the year 2017, connected devices will outnumber people by three to one.  (Source:, “What Happens in an Internet Minute?”).

Market online? Engage your customers with digital only? Is it even possible to do this given the massive amount of content that flies by us every single second we are connected?

Even in the best multi-channel digital campaigns, marketers are competing with staggering amounts of new content. According to Intel, in every Internet minute:

  • 1 million searches are performed on Google
  • 3 million pieces of content are shared on Facebook
  • 347,222 tweets are tweeted on Twitter
  • 57,870 pages are viewed in Pinterest
  • 10 million ads are displayed

Budget pressures have surely played a role in this. The cost of generating digital inbound leads is less than traditional outbound marketing (Source: Hubspot, 2014 State of Inbound), but at what price?

Because the barrier of entry to a company’s digital lead funnel is so low (enter your email to view an article or look at a product on a website and voila, you are now a lead), the leads are less qualified, need more nurturing and are far less likely to become customers than leads generated via traditional outbound tactics.

All too often, the marketing department does a pretty good job of getting these digital “leads” via content marketing, building an sizable database of names and emails for follow-up. Yet because of the massive amount of content available to view and the inexact nature of relevant targeting online, these leads are far from qualified. Now begins the Herculean task of qualifying that list of leads and turning them into purchases.

Not convinced that this is the case? Ask any digital marketer to rattle off some of the bizarre responses they get to their online lead forms. Many of them are hilarious (my personal favorite is Mr. Ed at Talking Horses) until you look at what this really means to a company’s lead gen efforts. On the other hand, if someone takes the time to call or return a postcard from a direct marketing campaign, it’s far more likely to include real information from real people who really want the info they are asking about.

True, advances in data technology makes it increasingly feasible for marketers to target and customize their messages online. Yet even if you do reach your target, the odds that they are interested in what you have to say is bleak. According to Hubspot:

  • 91% of email users have unsubscribed from a company they previously opted into
  • 84% of 25-34 year-olds have left a favorite website because of intrusive or irrelevant ads
  • And a study by Harris Interactive showed that consumers are tuning out digital ads at an alarming rate.

Clearly digital-only is not the solution; No matter how much content you create and distribute, a digital-only marketing strategy is sadly lacking.

What’s missing? Print, according to one noted content marketing expert.

“Marketers today are so focused on digital channels that they’ve all but forgotten the power of print,” laments Content Marketing Institute’s Joe Pulizzi.

“Now, am I saying that brands should be looking at print as an opportunity right now to get and keep consumer attention? Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying. I believe there has never been a bigger opportunity for brands in the printed channel than right now,” Pulizzi continues.

Make no mistake about it, even the experts in digital content creation and lead generation like Pulizzi understand that print remains powerful, and nine in 10 consumers welcome print marketing, according to Nielsen Research.

What all this points out so clearly to us is that digital will never “replace” print, as so many digital experts predicted. A digital-only marketing strategy may look razzle dazzle and generate lots of clicks, but to bring home the bacon you’ve got to wrap it in paper.