Deciding on the best-placed areas to spend your marketing budget can be tricky. Considering the above the line (ATL) and below the line (BTL) aspects will allow you to choose the right path for your business. We will look that the various methods employed by each group, how they work and where they are best used within the audience buying cycle. We will also look at how you can measure each group and the associated cost to your business.
Above the line activities such as Radio, TV, printed ads etc have a firm place within marketing strategies and are useful to engage a broader audience across widespread demographics. These methods rely on the user seeing your TV advert, seeing your printed ad or hearing your offering on the radio etc. Whilst it can be argued, especially from larger brands, this type of marketing is integral – it is also costly and can be hard to track back your investment. Above the line activities, can allow you to reach many different audiences and can really help to raise awareness of brand and keep it in consumers mind. The investment needed in these areas will be fixed and you will have to be able to play at that level in order to secure this type of marketing coverage.
Below the line activities focus on Paid search, social, PR, SEO and events. BTL activities are targeted to smaller groups. They have data and trackable, measurable metrics attributed to them. They target relevant audiences, publications, content, and groups. This will allow you to segment your budget and attribute success in a much more granular way to the particular streams. You can also start at a smaller investment with BTL and ramp up over time making it more accessible. This allows you to spend and save in the right areas where the data backs this up and attribute success to individual streams and spend.
Typically, ATL is used in the awareness and consideration stages. Whilst some of this advertising will go onto ‘convert’ this will usually be significantly further on down the customer journey. These activities really build the first stages the funnel. BTL activities are much more audience centric and the intention behind the engagement shows that there is the opportunity to convert these users.
We have talked a lot about measurement between ATL and BTL activities and so this is outlined in more depth here. From the graphic you can see there are far more ways of measuring your marketing activities with BTL. This allows you more insight and greater control over your budget. Knowing who your customer is and when they are engaged will make the world of difference when it comes to your results.
BTL activities have more data and give you great insight as well as being spread out over more channels. In a digital world, the need for BTL activities are really non-negotiable and a business that does not take these into account would be at a serious disadvantage. Regardless, it is likely that any potential audience will look on the web for your business and so you need to be there to capitalise on any ATL activities online.
What is the cost is key as to any decisions that are made within Marketing. The general rule is that the ATL activities are much greater in terms of investment. Often agencies will also take a commission on any opportunities that are secured, and the budget needed to make an impact will be substantial.
BTL activities are open to lower budgets and gives a better chance than being dominated by players in the market with a far deeper pockets. Although the costs are higher on ATL activities, more money is spent now on online advertising than ever before. Digital is big business and with a world which is likely to have continuing restrictions for the foreseeable future, this will only increase nas time goes on.
From all that has been discussed above you can see that there is considerable merit in using BTL activities to drive your business. Whilst there are more metrics readily available and campaigns and outreach far easier to measure, BTL are also substantial revenue drivers for many businesses.
People are more likely to be swayed into conversions if they have been actively searching for your product or service, that you are there when they search and that your online presence is both credible and optimized. Landing on right page is usually where most conversions start. People are shown to be more influenced by a blog rather than a magazine for example and being there to fulfil the needs of your audience will set you in good stead for future success – as well as the all-important bottom line!