Increasingly, food and beverage brands are focusing on digital marketing, rather than traditional marketing tactics. Instead of exclusively paying for radio spots or working with grocery stores to improve product placement, food brands are expanding their vision to include strategies like search engine optimization (SEO), pay per click (PPC) advertising, social media marketing, email marketing, and more.
Why is this the case? Why are so many food brands investing more heavily in digital marketing? And should you follow suit?
The Appeal of Digital Marketing
These are some of the most prominent reasons why food brands are turning their attention to digital marketing.
- An increasingly digital audience. Online grocery sales are projected to grow to represent 21.5 percent of the entire U.S. grocery market by 2025. More people are ordering from restaurants online. Before buying a product in stores, consumers often spend time researching the product to learn more about it. There’s no question that consumers are increasingly spending time online – and brands are motivated to reach people wherever they are. It only makes sense that food brands would spend more money on digital marketing to connect with an increasingly digital audience.
- A low cost basis. Though prices fluctuate based on a number of variables, including marketing channel and reach, digital marketing is generally less expensive than traditional marketing. You can claim a social media account and start making posts for free. You can put together an email newsletter and start mailing it out for free. Even strategies like SEO can be hypothetically executed with an investment of time alone. If you’re working with a limited budget, or if you just want the most “bang for your buck,” it’s hard to beat digital marketing.
- Broader overall reach. How many people can you potentially reach with an in-store display? In a single store, you might get a few thousand impressions. If you feature your display in stores across the country, you might get a few million impressions. But with digital marketing, you can reach anyone with an internet connection – which now means billions of people. Granted, it’s hard to reach billions of people organically, but the potential is there. If your budget is big enough, you can easily reach millions – including both people who shop in store primarily and people who shop online primarily.
- Unlimited creative potential. The internet is a big place, full of a multitude of channels and platforms you can use to reach your audience. Accordingly, you have almost unlimited creative potential. You can write articles, research eBooks, create videos, or even launch your own podcast. You can start a blog, launch a forum, or make use of niche social media apps. Whatever your creative marketing vision is, the internet has a place where it can fit.
- Plentiful tools and resources. Digital marketing has been popular for long enough that there are hundreds, or even thousands of tools designed to help you be a better marketer. There are software platforms for analytics and tracking, campaign design and execution, AB testing, automation, and channel-specific strategies. If you have the budget, these tools can make it much simpler to create and launch a campaign.
- Consumer data and shopper marketing. If you follow the principles of data-driven marketing, you know just how valuable consumer data is. The better you know your customers, the better you can appeal to them and serve them. This is especially important if you’re interested in shopper marketing, which many food brands are; the entire strategy revolves around reaching your niche audience with sharp focus and personal relevance.
- Agencies and partnership opportunities. Finally, some food brands are eager to invest in digital marketing because of the digital marketing agencies and partners available to help them. If you don’t know what you’re doing, that’s okay – you can hire someone who does.
Refining Your Digital Marketing Strategies
Adopting a digital marketing strategy for your food brand isn’t, in itself, a guarantee of success. There are countless potential directions for your digital marketing strategy and not all of them are going to be effective.
If you want to make the most of your digital marketing investment, you need to be prepared to refine your approach over time. You need to weed out tactics that don’t work, learn more about your target audience, and experiment with new platforms and different variables to see what’s most effective. All of this is much easier if you have the help of a digital marketing agency.
The appeal of digital marketing for food and beverage brands is unlikely to wane in the future. With audiences buying more of their food online and an increasing array of tools, data, and techniques at your disposal, digital marketing is only going to increase in value from here.