Here is a basic introduction into the different forms of online marketing such as how to Pay Per Click (PPC) and how to Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).
Digital marketing refers to marketing activities carried over digital media. This includes internet, mobile phone and interactive television adverts. This article focuses on internet marketing.
How to get the most from digital marketing
They key to getting the most from online marketing is getting the basics right first. Where can you make the most from the least?
We recommend that you start with search marketing and online display, which account for around 85% of all online marketing expenditure.
A brief introduction to search
Search marketing is the marketing technique du jour. Even up to CEO level, managers are concerned about their strategy for the huge expansion of marketing in the area. Google announced profits for the third quarter of 2006 of £412 million!
How Google’s business model is explored in more detail in our best practice guide to PPC.
Why are sites like google so important? Search companies like google, Yahoo and Ask are like the operating systems of the internet.
You need them to find the information you want, and they are essential to users because of the sheer volume of content on the internet. Just typing "Google" for instance returns over 1.79 Billion results!
Search is a god-send to marketers, because people are communicating their intentions through the search terms they type.
Someone who types "cheap flights", for example, is very likely to be booking a flight in the future. So if you sell flights and you can get them to your website, you have a very good chance of converting them into a sale.
PPC (Pay Per Click)
Pay Per Click is the primary way to do business with companies like google with using your marketing cash.
As the title implies, the advertiser pays each time someone clicks on your ad and is transported to your website. Whether they then buy anything is immaterial – you still pay.
PPC Ads are the results that appear at the right hand side of the search results page (in blue). They also sometimes appear at the top.
The position that you ad appears in is crucial – the vast majority of the traffic goes to the top 5 adverts. How do you get your ad position higher? Spend more money! There are other, more complex techniques too, which are discussed in the PPC Best Practice page.
Most businesses should buy the most important key words relating to your business.
How big your key word list grows depends on whether or not your can make them profitable. Large online travel agents will have key word lists in excess of 500,000 words.
PPC advertising is becoming a highly technical and analytical form of marketing. Online retailers and financial service companies are becoming increasingly sophisticated in its use, and spending very large percentages of their marketing budgets on it. Learn as much as you can before making a start.
Costs can vary enormously – from 2p per click to £20 per click in high value online transactional businesses.
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
Search engine optimisation is about how high your business appears in the unpaid listings that typing in particular terms brings up. These are highlighted in pink on the picture and they are also known as the "natural" search results.
The order in which search results are displayed are crucial to generating traffic to your website. Less than 10% of people look at the second page, and the majority of traffic goes to the top five results.
The rankings are determined by a complex algorithm which companies like google guard closely, and these are explored more in our SEO best practice guide.
The top determinants though are how many other sites link to yours, the relevance of your page to the search term, and the click-through rate your results produce.
In competitive categories of business, search ranking is fiercely fought over and can make a fundamental difference to a companies performance. Specialist search agencies can help advise you on how to improve your results, and are worth investigating.
Our view is that you cannot afford not to think about SEO. It’s free and despite the rocket science that most agencies claim to be experts in, the basics are very simple.
Search Engine Management is a general term which refers to both Paid and Unpaid (natural) search marketing.
Affiliate programs come in a number of shapes and sizes. At their most basic, network organisers like Trade Doubler or Commission Junction acts as your agent with a number of third party web sites.
These sites agree to send you traffic which you pay for. This is frequently done on a cost per sale basis. So you only pay the affiliate if the person they sent to you from their site buys something from you.
Affiliates can bring huge amounts of traffic to your site very quickly, and are great for brands who want to transact online. They can also be very accountable, because you only pay for sales that you make.
However, there are many, many unscrupulous affiliates out there who you need to be wary of, and online agencies do not always represent your best interests.
Our view is that affiliates are best left once you have a good understanding of web marketing and have excellent web metrics so that you can make sure you’re not being ripped off.
Affiliates are most useful for businesses with transactional products, particularly those that transact online. Commission and set-up costs tend to be too high if you cannot easily turn the clicks into cash.
Costs for affiliates can be as low as 10p per sale to £30-£40 in high value categories such as travel or financial services. The network organisers typically take a 20% commission.
The growth in traffic on the web has led to a huge rise in the number of places that you can place news stories. Many web sites boast audience numbers which are at least as big, if not bigger than their magazine counterparts.
They are also more desperate for stories and exclusives, because they are frequently ignored. Once there, your story will live on and can be found through search even thought it’s not on the front page any more.
Community sites – like this one – also pose a PR challenge. The web allows your customers to talk to each other, and when you let them down, talk they will. No one has yet cracked brands entries into this area.
Bottom line is, have an online PR strategy, and best of all it’s free!
There are a number of online advertising display options, the best known being banner ads. There are a range of other display options, such as MPU’s, interstitials and homepage take-overs
Rich media is very quickly taking over most display inventory. This allows video, sound and flash animation to be used. Click through rates increase by up to 50% through the use of rich media, though costs also increase.
A key debate over the benefit of online display is the post-impression impact. Research by a number of companies, not all of them web site owners, has demonstrated that web display advertising has an impact on brand equity, and on short-term purchasing.
So even though someone doesn’t click on your advert, you will get some benefit. Normally you will get around 50% more people being influenced by the advert and coming to your site than a simple measure of click-through would indicate.
We recommend that you use the services of an online media agency to guide you through the complex options which the online display market offers. They will be able to provide a range options. Generally online display is not worthwhile unless you are spending at least £3-5k on a campaign.
Who should use online marketing?
Online marketing is important for every business. Search marketing can be done on a basic level by anybody, though in competitive categories, you’ll need to call in professional help. More exotic forms, such as affiliates and online display will require you to work with agencies to get the best results. However, to improve your SEO and your PPC doesn't take too much hard work and you will see the benefits.
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