Luke Pursey, Managing Director of Online Lead Generation company Clash-Media UK, shares his opinion on how best to go about putting in place a digital marketing strategy.
Most companies realise that they must increase their online marketing budgets in some way, because they can reach millions more potential customers through the Internet.
More households now have high speed access to the web, which has resulted in consumers moving away from the High Street in their droves – in the run up to Christmas 2007 there were 27 million online shoppers who spent £15 billion – up 60 per cent on the year before.
Significant investment will go into digital marketing this year, and next, but without a properly targeted approach, will companies make the most of it? Recent research from WPP’s GroupM predicts that online advertising will grow by six per cent this year and that it will come close to overtaking television advertising – Internet spending will reach £3.4 billion compared to £3.5 billion for television – emphasising how fast the new medium has become a mainstream means of promotion.
Internet shoppers love the ability to compare prices, search for reviews and make instant purchases. The Internet is so expansive and diverse that it can offer more opportunity than traditional campaigns – but by its very nature needs to be managed and integrated into an overall marketing strategy.
Creating a strategy for Digital Marketing
There are distinct merits to every form of digital marketing, from Adwords through to Affiliate marketing and the newest arrival, Online Lead Generation, and they all work very effectively in combination. Search Engine Optimisation helps increase a company’s visibility, affiliate networks help to nurture leads, while Online Lead Generation helps boost conversion rates. If marketers do not go about digital marketing with a strategic approach, knowing what and to whom they are marketing, then they will only dip their toes into the commercial ocean that is the Internet.
The many techniques within digital marketing allow companies to create a unique strategy to address their precise needs, enabling them to achieve a cohesive formula for success over the web. Digital marketing campaigns are highly flexible and can target specific demographics, so marketers must have clarity on exactly what they want – in terms of geography, age, lifestyles and interests. A proper strategy is needed so that organisations can define the most suitable approaches to digital marketing, usually a combination of multiple methods to ensure a more comprehensive coverage and return from the campaign.
The traditional marketing mix has been successful in the past by combining television advertisements with poster campaigns on billboards, in magazines and in niche locations such as tube stations – plus some direct marketing activity. It would be regressive for marketers that are moving online to start to focus purely on one aspect or method of advertising such as Google Adwords. Digital marketing provides compatible services, which can create a strong online mix.
Search Engine Optimisation and Google – a starter
Google Adwords and SEO are proven tools that achieve advertising goals within a campaign. Virtually all consumers will have exposure to Google, so it is something that has to be harnessed. Visibility on Google search pages can be extremely valuable, because not only is it good advertising, but it is also highly effective at driving customers to a sales page on a company’s website, and encourage repeat visits. However, there is no direct control of that sales process for the vendor.
Affiliate Marketing and Online Lead Generation – providing real focus on target markets
There is now a new generation of more advanced and targeted methods of digital marketing – affiliate marketing and Online Lead Generation – that will help to, more directly, generate online sales.
Online decisions can be made very quickly, so if immediate conversions do not happen, the customer may be lost. The second the customer moves onto another website, he or she could be gone forever.
Affiliate marketing creates a network all working to drive customers towards a point of sale. Whether through online advertising, reference pages or review sites, affiliate networks can capture a customer, and channel them towards a company’s website, where a sale can be completed.
Online Lead Generation pro-actively takes charge of the sales process by capturing customer information at the point of interest, so that prospects can be contacted immediately by the company’s sales agents.
Online Lead Generation uses a Lead and Data Network of thousands of website publishers to host a campaign. They will capture leads and pass them back through the host’s central system for cleansing, verification and forwarding to the client.
Instead of a database sitting at the back of a company’s own website, collecting the data submitted by visitors, Online Lead Generation goes out into the web and proactively captures consumer details. The lead is very hot when contacted because of the speed of turnaround, which enables businesses to increase their conversion rates.
Another benefit to Online Lead Generation campaigns is that they can be set up more quickly than other elements of the digital marketing mix, enabling organisations to be more reactive to changing business goals and requirements.
Online Lead Generation is a valuable tool to sit alongside other activities, such as Google Adwords or affiliate marketing.
Any online activity has the benefit of being more traceable than poster or television advertising, because it is easier to monitor how many people, and who, has actually seen the campaign.
Adwords are calculated on a pay-per-click basis, so it is possible to match how many people click through to the website together with the number of sales made – making it easier to calculate a return on investment. Similarly with affiliate marketing, it is straight-forward to see whether a sale has come from the affiliate network or not.
Even more easily measured is Online Lead Generation. Companies pay for each new lead that they are given. This way every single ‘purchase’ is a hot lead – rather than other methods, where mistaken identity or Internet surfers can skew statistics. Conversion rates give a direct ROI.
Combining a Digital Marketing Portfolio
Every form of digital marketing has distinct merits, but they all work most effectively in combination. Much like traditional TV, Poster, Cold Call and Door-to-Door methods, which all fit together offline, an effective digital marketing mix represents a total and fully-measurable online strategy.
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