Zombie Marketing TacticsIs print really dead? What about email? Did video kill the podcast star? Did karma finally catch up with QR codes for killing kittens? The list of supposedly “dead” marketing practices goes on and on, but does that mean once something is said to be six feet under, it can never rise again to deliver results? Not at all, in fact, breathing new life into “dead” marketing tactics is actually a savvy way to capture or recapture mindshare in the media, channel, or technology gaps that others have left behind. Moreover, these undead opportunities, or “zombie tactics,” if you will, are not only theoretical possibilities, but measurably proven best practices…

Email Marketing Gains New Bite on Mobile Devices:

Presumably declared dead more often than any other marketing practice, if email were a character on South Park, it’d undoubtedly be Kenny. Yet like Kenny, email just keeps coming back over and over again as if it never left. In her post, Email Marketing is Not Dead! Or is it?, Pam Moore reports that “91% consumers check their email at least once daily, and 88% B2B marketers cite email as their most effective lead generation tactic.” Still, despite such high performance, email has often been declared dead simply because seemingly cooler communication channels became available. Some said social media would kill email. Others thought Facebook Messenger alone would finish it off. Some also cited regulations such as the CAN SPAM Act or CASL as the death knell of email. Recently, however, mobile marketing technology research has shown that companies using mobile touch-points within marketing programs drastically outperform their non-mobile peers in key, year-over-year growth for business metrics like customer lifetime value (4.8% vs 0.3%), average order value (3.4% vs -2.7%), and improvement in cost to acquire a net new customer (2.1% vs -4.7%). Email being the easiest and most seamless way for marketers to expand into mobile channels, it’s only gained more life in its overall utility to marketers.

Print / Direct Mail Marketing Lives Because It Was Declared Dead:

print livesEmail may have new legs of its own through mobile, but it also had a hand in killing off print marketing… for a while at least. Aptly summarized in this cartoon, for a time, marketers’ print proclivities seemed to have exhausted the utility in the medium, as targeted recipients were inundated with overwhelming volumes of marketing mail items. When email marketing supposedly killed print marketing, however, marketers naturally decreased their print spend and overall activities. As far back as 2012, marketing research showed that only 30% of marketers were increasing their direct mail activities, highlighting a notable void in the channel that has only grown over time. This gap has actually created a novelty for print marketing, as Vladimir Gendelman reported in his post, Print’s Not Dead: Print Marketing Will Thrive in 2014 and Beyond, “73% of consumers actually prefer mail over other advertising methods. And according to Research by Mail Print, 85% of consumers sort and read their snail mail on a daily basis, and 40% try new businesses after receiving direct mail.” Of course, this doesn’t mean forgetting the things that killed print marketing in the first place – namely unremarkable, overwhelming volumes of useless collateral and increased mail costs – but in creating unique value through print, at the right time in the buying cycle, marketers may gain a revived opportunity.

Frankenstein’s Facebook Marketing Monster:

Admittedly, I myself thought Facebook to be dead, which is why in rolling out CMO Essentials, I had no intent of including a Facebook page in our launch plan, or even in our expansion plan, for that matter. For all the algorithm changes, restrictions, and new pieces and components, I didn’t think it’d be worth all the time and effort. But after talking to our team, and sitting through a session on Facebook at a prominent B2B marketing event where a panel of top marketers (John Haydon of Inbound Zombie, Joel Book of Salesforce Marketing Cloud, Katie Keating of IBM, and Amanda Maksymiw of Lattice Engines) all highlighted their own successes with the channel, it was clear that Facebook still matters to our own audience as well. As you can see in our newly launched Facebook page, we’re still figuring out our own formula for success, but because it matters to our audience, it’s worth the effort.

In her post, Six Facebook Myths: Why We Don’t Think Facebook is Dead – Yet, Laura Donovan concludes, “Businesses must continue to interact on the Social Media platforms their target customers’ are using… Smart business people will assess their options and spend their time and money wisely.” To Laura’s point, no matter how much Facebook has changed, and continues to change as the chaotic, ever-shifting channel that it is, if your buyers are engaging there, find value from the medium, or can connect to your brand in a unique or meaningful way, you still need to be there.

  • Ultimately, what Facebook marketing represents in terms of zombie marketing tactics is that even if a channel is declared dead by popular sentiment, if it’s still relevant or valuable to your audience, it’s vital to still find a way to breathe life into it.

Advertising Died to Go Digital:

In his post, Traditional Advertising is Dead… It Just Hasn’t Had the Conversation with Itself Yet, Paul Herdtner writes:

The elegance and efficiency of digital advertising really dawned on me a couple weeks ago as I was streaming Pandora (Isley Brothers channel). I use the free version, so I get the periodic commercial. That’s when I heard a spot for the 10PM news on a station I once worked for in Kansas City. I said out loud, “Well, Pandora’s algorithms sure got that one right.”

What Paul’s point expresses is the capacity in digital advertising to wow on relevancy and responsiveness. Traditional advertising, however – which relies on exposure to massive amounts of eyes and ears in order to reach the few relevant hearts who may actually convert – had to die to make room for the more effective digital advertising adaptation. As digital advertising research shows, with 59% of leading marketing organizations reporting that they place a strategic focus on integrating digital advertising into the buyer’s journey, advertising itself, is hardly dead. What’s more, in traditional advertising, the success of delivering relevancy and value shown in digital advertising can serve as a model for ad placement, content, and calls to action – making even traditional advertising able to rise again.

These are just a few undead marketing tactics that still have plenty of life of their own if used correctly. Do you have any tactics or trends that you’ve seen declared dead that still seem to work for you? Please share your insights in the comments below.