Back in the day, the marketing process was a little easier to understand. We were taught that the marketing mix consisted of the 4 x Ps (Product, Price, Place and Promotion) and the traditional marketing communication methods in our marketing toolkit included advertising, direct mail, tradeshows, telesales, printed glossies and email marketing. A large chunk of our marketing budget was spent on creative artwork, print and ad agency management costs.
Whilst traditional marketing methods have not gone away, the impact they now have on an audience is diminishing as the introduction of new web based technology has provided alternative, cheaper and more targeted methods to get our messages in front of the right people. In addition, marketers are under more pressure to ensure they can track, measure and justify the return on investment (ROI) of their marketing spend.
One of the biggest sectors this has impacted is advertising.
The problems with traditional advertising
Traditional advertising relies upon identifying the right series of publications or medium to place your ad, not as easy as it used to be with the demise of many magazines and newspapers, the fragmentation of TV audiences and the introduction of Sky+ and TiVo.
In all forms of advertising the headline and creative design has to stand out in order to convey the important business message in the brief moment the page is browsed, the billboard is in view or the TV ad shown (or skipped) but great headlines and designs are not always easy to come by. The combination of creative and placement costs make traditional advertising methods expensive and once the print run has started it’s almost impossible to make any changes or amends to the ad.
Audience interaction is difficult to track, the call to action requires the user to remember a URL/telephone number/email address or have a pen and paper handy and more of us are “tuning out” as ads take a shotgun approach to target a population by interrupting them whether they are in buying mode or not.
What are the online options?
Online advertising is not immune to some of the issues mentioned above but web banners placed on selected websites where you know your audience is active, narrows the focus and makes the ad more relevant to the target population. Online advertising also enables an immediate response e.g. “click on the ad to download the e-guide immediately to your desktop”
The headline and creative design is just as important here, maybe more so because the size of your web banner may be much smaller than any off-line advertising space. Banner impressions or click-throughs to your dedicated landing page can be measured providing metrics to determine the Return On Investment (ROI). However, some people are still not too keen on clicking on web banners as they are worried about being tracked or downloading a virus.
An alternative is Pay-Per-Click advertising via Google, Bing, Facebook or LinkedIn where ads can be targeted to display only when specific key words or phrases are typed into the search engine or by using demographic or socio-economic filters. Advertisers only pay when the ad is clicked (a Cost Per Mille or CPM impressions based option is also available). Care must be taken as clicks (and costs) can quickly accumulate but budgets can be capped to a daily amount.
Online advertising is generally a cheaper solution and is less interruptive than traditional advertising although some pop-up banners can be very annoying.
The advantages of online advertising
Online advertising has several advantages over traditional advertising methods, namely:
Measurement: By using a measurement tool such as Google Analytics and ensuring the addition of conversion tracking code to your web pages you can quickly determine what is or isn’t working.
Visitors to your site or landing page can be tracked and you can determine where visitors have come from and the route they take through your website. Any actions taken such as downloading a document or registering for an event can also be tracked (emails can be collected as part of an opt-in process for lead nurturing). The famous phrase attributed to John Wannamaker “I know that half of my advertising works but I don’t know which half” is no longer valid.
Speed: Based on your analytics results you can quickly swap your web banner, change your Google ad message, landing page content or re-direct visitors to a new page. With PPC ads you can get instant results as soon as you get your ads online.
Sharing: When a visitor clicks on an ad they can immediately be directed to a web page or specific landing page which displays social share icons. Alternatively these icons can be shown on a thank you page after the call to action has occurred. If the visitor likes what he sees/receives they have an opportunity to share this with their social network.
Experimentation: You can compare and contrast in a way that’s not possible with traditional advertising methods e.g. through A/B testing and multi-variate testing. PPC advertising can be a great way to trial the promotion of a specific campaign or a piece of content such as an ebook.
There is plenty of evidence around to show that the behaviour of buyers is changing. The first action the majority of people take when they decide they need a new washing machine or a holiday in Cornwall or Devon is to search online for a solution. They are not interacting with a sales person or organisation until they have carried out their own online research, found out what you (and your competition) have to offer and are much closer to making a purchasing decision.
As more and more people are searching online for a solution that you can provide, then it makes perfect sense to target those people who by their very behaviour are looking for what you have to offer, rather than take a shotgun approach to the masses.
If you want to have a chat about how Rame Marketing can help improve your current online marketing strategy or help you with your PPC advertising, give me a call on 01803 413481
PS: Download the latest Rame Marketing ebook, 16 reasons to invest in content marketing.