The Future of Advertising and the Benefits of the Web

Future of advertising and the web

Benefits of Internet Marketing

For a quick kick in the Interactive Pants, check this out:
Did You Know 4.0 – New Fall 2009
Cool Info on the way the web has grown and affected the world

The benefits of the web and internet marketing have been clearly documented by such companies as emarketer.com and Forrester Research and below are just a few highlights and key considerations for those rare few still on the sidelines.

  1. Directed by the user vs. passive
  2. High ROI, Organic seo campaigns can last for years
  3. More tools than any other media in history to track performance
  4. Enormous audience that can be surgically targeted
  5. Often a small budget can beat or compete with an entire traditional marketing budget in terms of track-able leads
  6. Most likely to produce a sale since active not passive
  7. Most Interaction with customer
  8. Lowest cost way to keep in constant contact
  9. Strongest loyalty building through social conversation marketing and user generated content
  10. Viral effect generates extra and often unexpected activity such as being approached by the media because they found you online when searching for an expert in your field
  11. Constantly changeable content at a low cost
  12. Laser target by demographic
  13. Track results in real time
  14. Approximately 85% – 90% of Web traffic comes from search engines.
  15. Search is the closing in on email as the most popular online activity
    Search delivers relevant information just when the searcher needs it.
  16. Search has eclipsed radio advertising
  17. Search has eclipsed yellow pages advertising

Stats/Highlights

Forrester research

“Interactive marketing over the next five years will not be dominated by a single revolutionary channel. Forrester forecasts that interactive marketing spend will grow to $61 billion by 2012, an increase driven by marketers who will leverage a distribution of channels rather than pour new spends into a single place. This maturing perspective on interactive channels coupled with technology advances will lead to a customer-centric future in which interactive technologies actually infuse all marketing efforts. “ Forrester Research

  • 6,710,029,070 user’s worldwide (2008) estimate
  • President Barrack Obama leverages the social web to win an election
  • Regardless of doom-and-gloom, online advertising is booing to the point where Laura Desmond of Starcom MediaVest predicts that the advertising industry is headed toward a “50%-50% world,” where one-half of spending will go to online campaigns.
  • Of the 14.3 billion U.S. searches performed in March 2009, Google held 63.7 percent of those. That averages out more than 293.8 million searches per day!
  • The number of text messages a day is larger than the total world population
  • It took 38 years for radio to reach 50 million users. It took 13 years for TV, 4 for the internet, 3 for the ipod and 2 for facebook!

Why is search so HOT?!?

“There is no question that the Internet is now a mainstream medium. By 2013, 221 million people will be online, nearly 70% of the population.”
emarketer.com

“With online ad budgets tightening, eMarketer expects one area to see growth: search engine optimization (SEO). According to a recent report, search engine optimization will see increased growth because optimizing websites can help an online campaign post great ROI.”

According to the report, SEO investments will grow while actual search campaigns will decrease. Forecasters expect paid search campaigns to decrease from 15.9% in 2009 to 11.3% in 2013; meanwhile SEO will grow from 17.7% to just over 20%. Overall search marketing is expected to reach just over $23 billion in 2013.” See the full article.

I have been bragging about the benefits of SEO since the mid nineties. Now we are also shouting about social media optimization and online video as critical important mediums that are directly tied to search marketing. Creating a holistic strategy that gets your results in the top ten, whether it be a video from Youtube, a local listing, Facebook or LinkedIn Link, a paid ad, Flickr Image results, a craigslist or ebay or a digg.com post, will ensure you not only rank well but that you dominate.

Paradigm Shift

“The marketing funnel is a broken metaphor that overlooks the complexity social media introduces into the buying process. As consumers’ trust in traditional media diminishes, marketers need a new approach. We propose a new metric, engagement, that includes four components: involvement, interaction, intimacy, and influence. Each of these is built from data collected from online and offline data sources. Using engagement, you get a more holistic appreciation of your customers’ actions, recognizing that value comes not just from transactions but also from actions people take to influence others. Once engagement takes hold of marketing, marketing messages will become conversations, and dollars will shift from media buying to customer understanding.” Forrester Research

With many print publications going under and TV moving toward on demand / convergence with online, the internet simply has to be the center of your marketing activities.

Due to increased competition and to get the full benefit of search engine marketing, you can’t just dabble with meta tags / adding keywords and track the ranks. You have to engage visitors, track their behavior and monitor that business goals are both defined and met.  Can your traditional account executive or marketing director do that? Does he or she even really know how to use Google Analytics or how to decide what makes good landing page content based on conversion testing? The shift to a 50/50 split of a traditional and online marketing spend is happening so fast that old school marketers are struggling to explain and deal with these processes for companies properly. The clients are suffering because they are often misinformed by traditional strategists who simply don’t know what they are talking about and in their own interests don’t push the right mix of spending.

Marketing Mix

You need to make sure your web activities are part of your overall strategy. All advertising will increase traffic to your site, so if your site is weak or does not rank well or does not have similar concepts from other campaigns, you will lose conversions from offline media. Your website is the center of all marketing activities: PR, direct mail, ads, radio, tv, etc.

Change in Approach

Traditionally advertising is centered on ringing a pavlovian bell and assuming customers will respond in kind like a faithful dog doing what they ask. Now that customers have control over media and can get just the info they want, when they want it, the control marketers used to have is gone. If we keep assuming the old methods of mass marketing are still working, we are in for trouble. Savvy marketers have discovered, that going with the flow of the customers being in control and simply helping them along their search for information and ultimately to a purchase of their choosing, is what works best. By sharing information that you know the customer ultimately will seek before making a purchase and offering social proof of why your product is good, such as blog comments and reviews by other customers; brands have an opportunity to do honest marketing that wins long term.

The Future of Advertising and the Benefits of the Web

My belief is that there are three main methods to increase website profits:

  1. Increase Conversions
  2. Adjust pricing and offerings
  3. Drive Traffic

Building a pretty site and or driving traffic is not enough to generate leads and sales. You need to bring all of the above tactics together, in way that is aligned with your core business goals, matches your marketing and branding efforts and is not just the “geek stuff”. Each of these topics has its own chapter which includes the background of why to do each and essential steps you can take right away.

Before we launch into specific tactics, let’s briefly explore some of the benefits of internet marketing and why it is so hot.

Search Engine / Internet Marketing: A General Overview

Marketing on search enginesWhat is Search Engine Marketing?

Search engine marketing (SEM) is the process of designing, adjusting and coding your Web site to achieve top listings for your industry terms (key phrases).

What is Search Internet Marketing?

Internet Marketing goes beyond of reach of just the search engines and can include such things as banner ads, affiliate marketing and social media marketing.
Within the field, there are two main areas of activity:

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Search engine optimization is the process of making a site and its content highly-relevant for both search engines and searchers. Optimization may involve design/layout changes, new text for the title-tags, meta-tags, alt- attributes, headings, and changes to the sites text. Link campaigns are also a part of SEO. They can be highly effective at both bringing in traffic from the links and by helping your rankings. If you have numerous links from relevant communities/authorities, the search engines see them as votes of confidence. This area has a number of different names, including Organic-, Natural- and Algorithm-based.

Paid Search

This form of advertising is done by auction and some of the bid listing providers are Google Adwords and Yahoo! Search. Most search engine results pages (SERPs) have these paid forms of search marked by such designators as “sponsored listings” and are usually found at the top of a results page above the “natural” search results and/or to the right of the natural results. This area has a number of different names, including pay-per-click (PPC), pay-for-performance (PFP), and paid-for-search.

What is Social Media Marketing?

Social media is content created by people using tools making it easy to share and vote on information. It became extremely popular because it allows people to form relationships for personal and business. Businesses also refer to social media as user-generated content (UGC) or consumer-generated media (CGM). Social media is transforming the web’s monologue into a true dialog. Social sites are broken into several categories such as social networking, social news and multimedia. These sites can have a direct effect on organic search optimization and overall site traffic.

The top 20 techniques and their benefits (Summary)

The track-ability of internet marketing and the massive volumes of targeted customers that can be drawn from social media are driving marketers to embrace these “new” technologies that we have promoted for years. The following are some of the top techniques and reasons to be excited about internet marketing:

1. Internet Marketing Strategy The roadmap that integrates all activities.

It is essential that all your internet marketing be done with the understanding of how each technique can enhance the other methods, and is attached to business goals in a track-able way.

2. Domain Names Online Real Estate

Domain Name Real Estate is sometimes more valuable than physical real estate. Domain names that have keywords, links already pointing to them or that are just simply catchy for strong branding are valuable.

3. Web Content Development The backbone of you campaigns.

Content that is engaging, not a one way push, is what now works best.

4. We Design – Branding Your website is the foundation of all marketing efforts

Design without strategy can cause major problems. Don’t even think about building a website without talking to an internet marketing expert first. Don’t assume a programmer can design your site or that a designer can build it if it has any significant complexity.

5. Web Programming / Development The coding of a site plays a direct roll in search rankings if done right

Content management s systems and many programming techniques such as flash, dynamic pages, frames and ajax, can ruin your chances with Google, so again, don’t build a website without talking to an internet marketing expert first.

6. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Adjusting your website to make it rank better.

Has great long term ROI since the adjustments to your website and corresponding natural ranks can last for years.

7. Link Building Encouraging people to link to your site.

Without links, your SEO will fail. People follow links from other sites to you and Google’s Algorithm was made famous by their emphasis on these votes of confidence.

8. Social Media Marketing Engaging and interacting with your customers.

The web and marketing is now a conversation not a monologue.
Examples sites, Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, YouTube
Socials News: Digg.com, Reddit.com.

9. Online PR The Internet has revitalized Public Relations.

If you send a newsworthy press release, you can reach the end user, news outlets and the blogosphere all at once.

10. Paid Search Marketing (PPC) Paid ads in the search results

Very fast to implement, ads appear right way. Can be costly but targeting regional or niche terms can be highly profitable. Simply starting with $100 a month can sometimes get your local needs covered, i.e. pay for terms like “Hudson MA Credit Union”, when you don’t yet rank organically.

11. Website Analytics Tells you how many visitors you have and what they are doing.

Google Analytics is free and reasonably powerful. In order to A/B test conversion enhancements, you need tools to see what happens when you make changes.

12. Conversion Enhancements Adjusting content to produce more actions, leads or sales

Google Website Optimizer lets you track many subtle changes at once to find the best combined use of headlines, photos and copy that have the best results.

13. Email Marketing Newsletters with updates, specials and or helpful content

Email newsletter content can also double as added website or blog content giving you multiple uses of quality text content.

14. Multimedia Optimization Adjusting Multimedia to make it drive people to your site.

YouTube for videos, FlickR for Photos, Itunes for Podcasts etc. Users and the search engines see you all over the place and your brand spreads virally which benefits your SEO campaigns.

15. Blog and Community Marketing Blogs are the backbone of many social media activities

Blogs allow you to share with your customers easily and regularly. Forums allow a regular place for customers to interact with each other and with you.

16. Landing Page Optimization A focused offering on page about one topic.

Paid search ads can benefit greatly from making pages that are highly targeted to one concept and that have one direct call to action. By Making separate pages for each ad group the user comes to a page that exactly matches their search without distractions and an enticing singular offer.

17. Adjust Pricing and offerings Without the right price, conversions will be low

You have to be sure your price matches your brand and has a unique selling position in relationship to what other offers people will be finding online. Sometimes sites with an incredible amount of traffic get no sales and others have incredible conversions based on the price or perception of vale.

18. Often can totally replace your yellow page listings

Be sure to sign up with Google for a free local listing and optimize for your keywords with your state and city combined with them.

19. Display Ads

Banner ads can be effective but usually should come after SEO and PPC.

Having ads on key sites like retirementhomes.com or a Boston.com type of site can often drive solid traffic but be sure you are tracking the results through analytics and not just trusting the company selling you the ad space to tell you what clicks you are getting.

20. Usability If your site is hard to use, stop everything and fix it.

Make sure you use analytics to tell you where customers are clicking or not clicking. Running a usability test with a handful of people that are not in your company can produce incredible insights yet few companies perform this simple step.

Photo credit: Justin in SD / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Photo credit: Danard Vincente / Foter.com / CC BY

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