It will be increasingly difficult for brands to ignore the web when making marketing decisions. The brands that get ahead will be the ones that harness the web to work in conjunction with their existing offline campaigns while adopting more social marketing strategies to generating new consumer insights. Customers will continue to increase their time spent online and they need to be reach where they prefer to be reached.
Even for companies marketing entirely online or B2B businesses, the question will be how to benefit from blogs, social media and search engine to achieve the marketing goals? How to take their brand message online and into web communities that will create new business opportunities?
Here are 3 web marketing trends to consider:
1) A Shift in Web Properties to Blend Online With Offline Campaigns
There are two parts to this trend. First is the optimization of web properties, specifically efforts in blogs, social media, search engine optimization and email. Second is the strategic usage of those web properties within an overall campaign that may or may not include offline media (ie. direct mail, catalogs, print ads, TV, radio etc.).
Benefits to consider: Both online and offline campaigns have similar concepts in reaching target audience with different processes so define your desire outcome first.
- More touch points (frequency) to reach target audience throughout the buying/researching process
- Lowers marketing costs by shift more campaigns online from offline (plus flexible payment models)
- Faster time-to-benefit in tools and planning
- Find out more about your customers via two way conversation online
- More strategic options with online campaigns (ie. brand awareness campaign, call-to-action campaign, lead-generation campaign)
- Target new customer base across multiple demographic, wider reach.
Ideas for action: For consumer brands - build and drive traffic to your own community, identify and communicate directly with your fans to help close the sales with promotions, coupons or rewards. This is a popular approach to get opt-ins and many consumers actually look for these value-added deals. Aggregate your social media profile on all outbound materials both online and offline to support the decision and buying process of prospects and customers. Own the relationship and be platform agnostic with you network of customers, focus on supporting the needs of the community as a priority before promoting your offerings.
For B2B brands - Leverage content marketing strategy to drive sales leads from search engine ads, email campaigns, social media communities, affiliate blogs or offline media to a highly targeted micro-site for prospects to opt-in for webinars, podcasts or free resources (ie. whitepaper, reports, presentations). The goal is to pre-qualify leads that can filter through the sales cycle to improve the probability to convert the sales efficiently. When you're able to convert sales efficiently, it saves time and money allowing your operations to more productivity.
2) New Measuring Matrix: Hybrid Measurement
Unlike traditional forms of gathering consumer insight, online tools are often cheaper, based on much larger sample sizes, and are quicker to deliver results. For the past few years the value of search engine marketing (SEM) are measured largely by ad impressions, page views and click through rates. However, as internet users are more willing to input additional data online, companies are now looking to measure key metrics of engagement on a person-level.
According to a recent comScore and Starcom USA's study on how U.S. Internet users click on display ads, "Only 8% of internet users now account for 85% of all clicks... The results underscore the notion that, for most display ad campaigns, the click-through is not the most appropriate metric for evaluating campaign performance. Rather, advertisers should consider evaluating campaigns based on their view-through impact."
That's just one of the examples that web analytics can be misleading. It will continue to be challenging for marketers to abstract reliable data as social media adds another pile of data to the media measurement mix. The future trend to measure more accurately will be to combine technical web analytics (server logs) with a sampling of user surveys (opt-in by visitors) that visits the site. Although there will be sampling errors, it certainly beats making assumptions that doesn't reflect real user behaviors.
Benefits to consider: - Provides more realistic feedback that extends the meaning of web analytics
- Rich information aggregation from online surveys provide personal data and demographics to better understand your audience
- Keep track of page(s) users frequent and the duration can help you benchmark it against server data to find the delta in errors
- Can be utilized across multiple platforms including mobile, gaming, ad networks and offline campaigns
Ideas for action: Create a web survey on your site, put them on different pages then compare them with your web analytics. Develop your own dashboard in hybrid measurement by choosing one that's got the API integration with your Google Analytics account (most of them do now). There are a number of online survey tools such SurveyMonkey, Checkbox, SurveyGizmo, Zoomerang, GetResponse, Vovici, QuestionPro, Kampyle, and you can even use Google docs as your survey tool. Reward the visitors that take the survey with coupons, discounts or gifts. Switch out the questions, put them on different pages and try different styles of asking from stealth at the corner feedback button to in-your-face pop ups.
3) Marketing Platform Extends to Mobile, Social, and Local in Real-Time
There is no question with 13 hours of YouTube videos uploaded every minute and over 900,000 blog posts every 24 hour, you can definitely count on the continuation of information overload over the social web. This means content has to be tailored to fit the lifestyle of today's digerati on smart phones that can accessible the web via faster and more available network. Accordingly to The Niesen Company, "U.S. mobile subscriber base grew 7% to 277 million by the second quarter of 2009, which represented 221 million unique users.... Social networking drove the growth train for mobile Internet, with a 187% increase in audience for the year ending July 2009. The distribution of 18.3 million unique social network users by the top three sites is Facebook (26% reach), MySpace (13% reach) and Twitter (7% reach)."
What does this mean? It's means that the growth in social networking will accelerate as mobile technology advances to embrace emerging trends in mobile social commerce, on-demand interaction from the real-time web, and fascinating concept of augmented reality.
Brands should leverage mobile marketing strategy to drive sales and cultivate customer engagement. There are a number of ways to do this but ultimately consumer brands will have an easier time in adopting the usage of the mobile platform than B2B companies. The opportunities for B2B companies remain the same - to generate leads and shorten the sales cycle.
Marketers will need to rethink content marketing strategy that aligns with the business objectives to deliver a dynamic mobile consumer experience.
Benefits to consider: - More opportunities to engage with customers (new or existing) means brand building and top-of-mind awareness
- Smartphone owners tend to be affluent with expendable income, making it a prime target for product and service marketing (ready-to-buy candidates)
- Aggregate rich user information (ie. user profile, ratings, recommendations, tags etc.) from location based mobile apps
- There are numerous mobile apps that can push out information across all social networks by authenticating with your Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube account, making it mobile and real-time viral
- Deliver superior experience with augmented reality
Ideas for action: Leverage the mobile platform to provide unique location based experiences (services, games, ads, commerce) for your audience via instant customer support (ie. assist in the buying process like check inventories or availabilities), real-time product information (ie. price check, health labels), or event promotional notifications (ie. cause marketing programs for non-profits, or buy-it-now via SMS or mobile web app/browser).
Another idea is to create downloadable coupons to promote offline activities to drive traffic to local events. According to RetailMeNot, "coupons are now the deciding factor in purchases for nearly one-third of consumers." In today's economy, coupon is the call-to-action that can produce rapid, favorable results to drive sales. Offer coupons based on location also helps your customer to discover new retail locations, making marketing as a service via alerts.
The take away: These Web marketing trends will reshape your marketing efforts as more conversations, engagements and experiences are delivered via the internet. In order to stay relevant, brands must transition to become more social on the web and use mobile platforms to gain competitive advantage or risk of loosing opportunities.
Are you thinking about moving your marketing efforts online? If you're already doing the mix and match of online and offline marketing, how are you measuring your ROI? Do you have a mobile marketing strategy?
- 3 Brand Marketing Trends That Will Continue in 2010
- A Social Media Marketing Handbook
- 5 Keys to Incorporate Social Media in Your Business
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