Daily Archives: July 1, 2011

Marketing 101 – The Digital Marketing Question…

 Written by Nicholas Beeson – Marketing Associate at Buzzwords Manchester

The past 15 years have seen the Internet revolutionise our society. The way we communicate, shop and socialise have all changed – meaning that marketing strategies had to follow suit. Nobody could have imagined the drastic impact the Internet would have upon our lives and marketing practices. Today, there’s a whole generation of consumers who have embraced the Internet, proving early sceptics wrong.

This has led to the development of digital marketing which has been described as the “execution of marketing using electronic media”. With digital marketing becoming ever more important, many companies are ditching traditional offline marketing (or reducing how much they spend on it).

In 2008, Orange announced that they would be investing all their marketing budget in digital by 2012. A company of this size switching to digital underlines the growing importance of the medium. Sarah Messer – Head of Commercial Research and Insight at ITV – was quoted in 2008 as saying:

The same ad content could be more effective online than on TV. In testing, ads on itv.com generated a 40% recall rate compared with 17% on ITV1.”

With digital marketing becoming a predominant part of many companies’ marketing budgets, it is important to gain an understanding, keep “up to date” with new marketing practice and determine how digital marketing is affecting traditional marketing strategy. Because the practice of digital marketing is relatively new, marketers will continue to have conflicting views about the issues surrounding it.

 
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Marketing 101 – Websites

Written by Nicholas Beeson, Marketing Associate at Buzzwords Manchester

It is generally accepted that online marketing revolves around having a web presence. Accessibility, communication, credibility, understanding, appearance, availability – these are all vital to successful websites. To maximise their potential, they need to work in conjunction with other online and offline marketing strategies.

Usability and accessibility are key elements for a successful website. They enable a site to be accessed by the widest possible audience and provide consumers with information and functionality they’re comfortable with. Usability is all about how easy it is for a visitor to achieve their objectives when visiting the site.

A website that provides good usability can pay dividends. If a user can accomplish their goals efficiently and effectively, it can increase website traffic, repeat visits and increase sales. The term “accessibility” in relation to the Internet, refers to the process of designing a website that is equally accessible to everyone. An accessible site enables a larger cross-section of the target audience to visit the site, thus increasing visits and sales.

For any website to reach its full potential, consumers have to be able to find the site. The majority of consumers today use search engines to find new websites. 80 percent of Internet users find new websites by typing a query into one of the major search engines. This emphasises the importance of the Internet search engines. As a result, the practice of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) has been developed.

SEO is all about making a site attractive to search engine robots by presenting its code and content in such a way that its pages will achieve high rankings in response to keywords typed in to make an online search. Matt Cutts, the head of the quality team at Google was asked in an interview with wired.com “Does search engine optimization work?” – to which he replied:

It does to some degree. Think of it this way: When you put a CV forward, you want it to be as clean as possible. If the CV is sloppy, you’re not going to get an interview for the job. SEO is sort of like tweaking your CV”.

SEO is becoming ever more important, and will continue to do so as long as the Internet continues to grow. In an online study commissioned by Google, it was found SEO could increase brand recall, increase purchase intent and brand affinity.

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Marketing 101 – Social Media Marketing

Written by Nicholas Beeson – Marketing Associate at Buzzwords Manchester

Social media has changed the way we interact with our friends, family, customers and colleagues. It has enabled consumers to become opinion leaders, leaving marketers only one option: to listen to their customers’ opinions.

Social media can be explained as, “The sum total of people who create content online, as well as the people who interact with one another.”

Through social media, consumers are now able to add their own opinions and content to sites. This has enabled them to form opinions between one another on social networking sites, blogs and forums. As a result, marketers have developed Social Media Marketing (SMM) which can best be described as;

‘A term used to encompass any online marketing strategy or tactic which uses social media as the medium for its communication. Further use of social media is where the marketer engages in discourse with members of the general public (potential customers) in virtual communities.’

Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter are at the forefront of social media sites and, as the world knows, they are growing exponentially. Expert Larry Webster states that social networks are “Member-based communities that enable users to link one another based on common interests and through invites”.

Sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter all provide users with different experiences. Ultimately, however, they all give users the ability to find and connect with friends, family, colleagues etc. Social networking sites enable marketers to advertise, improve online exposure/reputation and nurture pre-existing brand advocates. Although the security and privacy that these sites provide is often questioned, they continue to grow and influence modern society.

As an example: when a US blogger called Vincent Ferrari felt that he had been insulted by an AOL customer service representative, he decided to take revenge. Ferrari posted the audio recording of the conversation online. As word spread, 300,000 listeners requested downloads of the audio file, the story was picked up by thousands of other bloggers and websites, and eventually made national news. This is a great example of the power blogs have and the true freedom consumers now have to vent their frustrations and offer opinions.

Businesses are also using blogs to add a human connection to a previously bland corporate image. Marketers have realised the importance of blogs as they can create massive exposure and also engage consumers on a personal level. Micro-blogging site, Twitter, gives business the opportunity to put out short 140-character blogs that can be just as effective as conventional blogs in moulding and influencing public opinion.

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Marketing 101 – E-mail Marketing

 

By Nicholas Beeson, Marketing Associate at Buzzwords Manchester

E-mail has become a part of our everyday communication. It is now one of the most powerful elements of digital marketing, enabling marketers to communicate quickly, efficiently and at low cost. When used correctly and ethically, it is one of the most effective forms of online marketing.

E-mail marketing is like traditional direct mail. It goes without saying that accurate targeting is vital. Digital marketers use CRM to build a database of customers, to build and maintain relationships with consumers through regular e-mails, where they’re offering discounts, vouchers and so on.

CRM is an acronym for “Customer Relationship Management”. It’s a marketing-led approach to building and sustaining long-term business with customers. CRM enables marketers to build a relationship with customers and understand their needs. Customers can be segmented according to their tastes, resulting in e-mail marketing campaigns that are targeted towards customers most likely to respond.

E-mail marketing can also enhance brand loyalty. Regular e-mails that give consumers access to what they want, when and where they want it will clearly keep them interested in the brand.

E-mail communication gives the consumer a sense of being valued which will further enhance brand loyalty. Furthermore, ongoing communication reassures the customer they are using the right brand and helps to develop a relationship between them and the brand. Most importantly, E-mail marketing is low-cost, effective and very efficient.

 
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Marketing 101 – Online PR and Reputation Management

By Nicholas Beeson, Marketing Associate at Buzzwords Manchester

PR is one of the most important elements of the marketing mix. It’s all about building positive relations with your company’s customers through publicity that builds a positive image around the company.

PR is even more important online. On the negative side, rumours and stories about companies can spread like wild-fire, damaging reputations and credibility in double-quick time. On the positive side, customer feedback can be invaluable in gaining an understanding of what the market is really thinking about your company, its products and services.

Internet marketing author and blogger Dave Chaffey gives a good description of Online PR: “Online PR is about maximising favourable mentions of your company, brands, products or web sites on third-party websites which are likely to be visited by your target audience. Online PR can also be used to support viral or word-of-mouth marketing activities in other media.”

Overall, Online PR boils down to two key things: raising the online profile of a business and managing the online reputation of a business.

Although the Internet has allowed companies to monitor and influence online conversations, it can also present them with a new set of problems. In particular, the complete freedom of speech that is possible online has worked against many companies.

The Internet is to a large extent uncontrolled. In principle, anyone can say or show anything. Much of the material that reaches the public no longer passes through traditional gatekeepers such as newspaper editors, radio or television producers. The result is both freedom of speech and distribution of unreliable, unconfirmed and often untrue information. This can be a threat – but also an opportunity – for PR practitioners.

An example of this lawlessness on the Internet was seen with the recent BP oil disaster. The social media site “Twitter”, saw 1 million conversations about BP. Of these conversations, 59% were deemed to be negative towards BP. This absolute freedom of speech can be damaging to companies, which further underlines the importance of Online PR and having a fall-back strategy in place. Communicating with online communities and PR ‘publics’ is vital as it raises the company profile as well as maintaining the reputation of the company or brand.

Social media is of course at the heart of the Online PR frenzy. Blogging and online news releases are other inter-related techniques used by companies to promote themselves online. The Digibuzz blog talks about the importance of online press releases;

In a significant report, titled ‘Search Marketing Benchmark Guide’, MarketingSherpa reported that online press releases, combined with organic search engine optimization, are among the most effective Internet marketing strategies.”

In its aims and effects, Online PR is not hugely different to offline PR. The principles are the same but the channels are different. Nowadays, Online PR and reputation management are a crucial part of any digital marketing plan. Online conversations constantly need to be monitored to pre-empt any negative feedback. Whilst Online PR raises a company’s profile, wherever possible it also needs to be carefully managed to protect the online image and reputation of a company.

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