If the Terminator movie franchise taught us anything it is that there are good bots and there are bad bots, and in marketing we have a specific problem with bad bots. Good bots can help sales teams win new customers and are positive examples of effective automation in action, however it’s the bad bots I want to concentrate on for the purposes of this article, the bots that take our marketing content from our intended targets and falsify impressions for social media and digital marketing campaigns.

The rise of the ‘bad’ bots provide considerable issues for us as marketers, in fact I’d say we’re going through an epidemic. Brands spend billions of pounds each year in order to produce creative digital marketing content that resonates with their customer base, but the reality is that not as many ‘real’ people are seeing this content as we might think. According to the Association of National Advertisers, only a quarter of digital ad spend reaches actual people. This means a serious amount of money is being wasted on digital marketing impressions which ultimately leads to wasted expenditure. A study conducted by Imperva Incapsula suggests bot eating adverts cost businesses in the US $7 billion dollars a year and according to Cheq, this ad fraud is predicted to cost brands worldwide $23bn in 2019.

So how can brands avoid falling foul to bot-driven ad fraud and recover the money that they’ve lost?

Refresh your approach

It’s time for a fresh approach when it comes to effective customer journey planning. For too long digital has been the winner in most annual department budget battles, back in 2017 digital advertising spend hit $209 billion dollars worldwide, and perhaps that’s because a couple of years ago it deserved to. Now in 2019 the competition is fierce, customers are fatigued from the overcrowded online ad market and fake online traffic driven from bots is making the value in digital channels decrease.

Opt for the more traditional

One way to freshen up your marketing approach is to open up utilisation of other channels including offline and direct mail. As more and more expenditure is placed in the utilisation of online channels for marketing the opportunity to increase your share of voice and truly stand out from the crowd across digital becomes much harder. This is where traditional methods of communication can become very important and there is plenty of insight already existing on the power and effectiveness of direct mail as part of a multi-channel marketing plan. A recent study from Royal Mail found that 70% of consumers have responded digitally after receiving a direct mail

Join forces

Direct Mail has been given a new lease of life by gaining the connection to the digital environment. Programmatic Direct Mail is the new channel that combines the best elements of digital marketing with traditional postal marketing to maximise engagement and increase conversions for brands. This means adopting a more traditional approach doesn’t result in brands having to shut the door on digital marketing, in fact both avenues can be explored and integrated together to impact ‘real’ people that matter to your business.

Bots might be able to engage with your content but up to now we have never seen one open a letter, read it and convert off the back of receiving. Utilising a physical address and postcode allows you to know for certain that you are targeting real customers which in turn will only serve to improve and drive the conversions for campaigns.

Sure, there might be a unit cost associated but ROI also improves, due to more attention paid to the channel also eliminating any fear that 25% of the targeted universe aren’t actual people.

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