By Jack Willington, Internet Advertising Bureau.
It’s officially the end of summer, and that means that the end of 2008 is nigh. The collapse of several companies this year has reminded marketers of a recession as has a number of budget cuts, cheaper television advertising rates and falling newspaper profits.
The medium of internet advertising however is set to soar by 16 per cent with 31 per cent of advertisers claiming to increase online spend over the next 12 months as their use of television decreases.
Programmes manager at the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) Jack Wallington warns that it could be time now to start thinking about those 2009 budgets. Here is his Top Ten methods for beating the credit crunch by maximising your online marketing strategies.
1. Search your way to the top
We’re all searching for the right answer and search marketing is definitely top of the answer barrel. Any marketer worth their salt knows that search is a safe bet for return on investment. You pay for clicks so you know exactly what you get, at least from the search engine, and combined with your own website’s analytics it is 100% measurable. This means that if you have a strong web presence with a great customer journey you will know how many sales or enquiries you can actually get. Visit our Search Help Centre for more.
2. Display power
Search is all well and good, but it’s a passive tool that often relies on the consumer having an idea, thought or a need that makes them search. You need a tool that gets your brand, product or service noticed above the competition in the first place. Display is that tool and is to online marketing what TV, billboards and press is to offline. People may visit a search engine, but it’s the gateway to the billions of web pages that they spend the majority of their time on.
Display lets you reach people on those pages with new video and interactive formats, powerful targeting and mass reach through networks. This makes it one of the most engaging, effective and powerful tools on the planet. With pricing for the number of impressions based on the quality of content, there are some real bargains to be had alongside the higher cost of premium content. Read our Display Advertising guide for more.
3. Affiliate and get networking
Extend your virtual consumer net by increasing your web presence with affiliate websites. If you offer services or products online through your website, why not extend your online shop to the millions of visitors that don’t visit your site.
Setting up an affiliate programme means that other websites can sell your goods for a small percentage of the profits. Many affiliate networks now exist to make this process a lot easier.
Affiliate marketing also allows you to grow your business with no upfront cost - you only pay when you make that sale! Read our Affiliate Marketing guide for more.
4. Be brave: Optimise
Yes, yes - we’ve been banging on about optimisation for years. But it’s important, and in times of economic woe, it’s even more important to minimise waste and lost consumers.
You need to monitor and optimise the entire consumer journey, from seeing a display advert, to searching, through to visiting your website. If every link in the chain isn’t optimised to perfection, you risk wasting a lot of money and potential business. Optimisation requires a lot of testing, tweaking and experimentation.
5. Online PR
Going out with a bang works offline to generate free promotion, and the same is true online. In fact, the stakes have never been higher for online PR because to get valuable coverage and links from the big news sites requires a lot of attention grabbing.
Go the extra mile to get journalists’ attention by offering something new and useful and combine all of your messaging into one high impact blast. Don’t forget that social media is now as big a part of your PR activity as the big sites - now everyone’s a journalist.
Make sure you involve relevant blogs by informing them and sending them a press release. You may be surprised - or probably not these days - by how powerful blogs can be in driving both online and offline PR.
There is undeniable evidence that most marketing tools work best when used together, multiplying the results significantly. In some cases coupling display and search can provide a traffic uplift 7 times that if done on their own (source: Microsoft 2008).
Think very carefully about the ways in which different media affect each other. For instance, if a TV or poster advert includes a slogan or phrase, does your search campaign and website include them too? If you PR a story to the press, is it also on your website to capture interested visitors?
7. Go mobile
More and more examples of mobile marketing are proving to be successful for marketers. From special offers sent by text message to mobile websites, companies are beginning to find niche uses that are paying for themselves.
While mobile is still a relatively small medium there are amazing opportunities to get in early and make a pretty penny or extend your impact while no one else is. As mobile grows, so too will its importance to your business - don’t get left behind.
Visit our Mobile Marketing Guide to get started.
8. Email, but do it right
It’s an oldie and a goodie. Email marketing is cost effective but incredibly difficult to get right and we still see many companies messing it up for the rest of us. If you’ve done a marketing degree, don’t waste it - one of the biggest things you would have learnt is that existing customers are five to seven times more valuable than new ones.
Get it right and you can build a useful tool that builds a relationship with your customers, adds value to your original proposition and generates further sales from existing customers. Use email to help keep them. See our Email Marketing Guide for help.
9. Service your customers properly
Staying on the retention theme, online customer service can be a huge turn-off. How many times have you got annoyed because you have been directed to a bank of FAQs when all you want is a phone number? Your customers feel the same pain.
Make it as easy as possible for your customers to be able to speak to you directly and quickly, either by phone, email or even online chat. Most importantly, make sure the people they speak to know what they’re talking about. Get this right and we will guarantee that you keep more customers and begin to generate new ones.
10. Fish where the fish are
How much do you spend on attracting and directing people to your website? A lot. In many cases it can be a real mission to make people want to visit your site.
While your own web presence is obviously essential, why not make the most of the thousands of lovely visitors on other websites.
By sponsoring a page or setting up a tenancy (creating content or a shop on another website) on someone else’s website?! If they have the right audience this could prove to be far more cost effective than flogging your own site.
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