The digital world offers marketers a far reaching, flexible and personalised communication medium that effectively builds a brand and produces results. It is the only medium that offers real-time interaction.
And although traditional methods of marketing will never cease to exist, digital marketing adds a whole new element to the mix. Marketers must realise that it can be a very powerful tool.
Get a website
Websites are a marketing opportunity that builds a brand. Companies need to determine what they want visitors to achieve, whether it is buy a product, make an inquiry, subscribe to a newsletter, download information, or view a specific area of the website. This will determine the layout, graphics and content of the site.
Website traffic and activity is also traceable and measurable. By using a program like Google Analytics, companies can find out how their visitors found them and how they interacted with the site.
Websites, however, need visitors and to get them, companies need to advertise. The easiest and most effective way is banner advertising. According to a worldwide market researcher, online banners are as effective as television advertisements in their ability to create brand awareness.
Banners are click-through graphics that appear on other websites. To show how lucrative and far reaching banner advertising is, look at MySpace, the largest online social networking portal with 61 million registered users. To place a banner on MySpace, it will cost advertisers close to $1 million for just one day.
Optimise your site
Millions of Internet users find websites by using a search engine. There is no use having a pretty website if it cannot be found by the engine, so companies need to optimise their site content.
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the science of making website content more search engine friendly so it can achieve top rankings for relevant searches. It will in turn channel highly qualified visitors to the website.
SEO will provide statistics on information like how many visitors viewed each page, when, the duration of their visit and the keywords they used.
Pay per click (PPC) advertising, like Google AdWords, is another means of driving traffic to a website. According to Forbes magazine, PPC accounts for $2 billion each year and is expected to increase to $8 billion by 2008.
PPC advertising also uses search engines, however instead of optimising content for a higher ranking, companies pay for each click to their website. The results are immediate and guaranteed and companies can control where their listings appear, their content and where on the site visitors will land.
Digital marketing goes beyond websites
The use of mobile phones as a marketing medium is gaining popularity. More businesses are getting access to cellphone numbers and using SMS to advertise their products and services. It uses an existing Internet connection and is cost effective and provides one-on-one communication. MXit, a cellphone message exchange program, enables cell phone users to chat to people on their PCs, and their cell phones, anywhere in the world and at a fraction of the cost. With 1,85 million subscribers, MXit is a great medium for advertising. They offer a full colour splash screen that is displayed for five seconds each time a user logs in to the application.
Locality-based advertising also involves mobile devices and GPS. It exploits the knowledge about where a mobile device user is located. Users looking for a product or service will get a list of options within their location.
Virtual worlds or online 3D games are attracting fast growing audiences. They offer advertisers flexibility through a broad array of advertising placements in and around the games. For example, Double Fusion, a provider of dynamic game advertising offers 3D interactive objects, video, interactive ads and 2D signage that is integrated into the story line.
e-Mails push the message
e-Mail is one of the most powerful forms of Internet marketing as it is cheap, direct, instantaneous, easy to track and it pushes the message to the audience. Due to the sensitivity of unsolicited e-mail, marketers are encouraged to get their customers to opt in to their e-mails. This way, the communication is also personalised.
An online community
The Internet is the latest incarnation of customer relationship management (CRM). It builds a community of regular users around the lifestyles associated with a company’s products and services.
Each time a visitor accesses a website, they leave a trail of information on their activities. It opens up many opportunities for marketers to cater for customers’ needs and, if done properly, customers will create more loyal customers.
Marketers today have an armoury of tools they can use to build their brand in the digital world. Unfortunately many marketers jumped into the world without the knowledge of how to do it right. The trick is to combine the right tools into a strategy that will help the business reach its goals.
Cambrient is a South African full service Web development, content management and marketing process management company. Its solutions for large and medium-sized websites are based on world-class content management systems. Because these solutions are locally developed, they are priced competitively and clients’ requirements can be addressed immediately. Cambrient has developed over 300 websites, many of them for the top corporate names in South Africa, and internationally. In a world where websites are becoming the single most important way to access information anywhere, Cambrient’s content management focus is on organisational information assets and their appropriate structuring, storage and re-purposing. Cambrient’s marketing process management solution automates key processes in the marketing department, freeing up marketers for creative work, cutting down on admin, lowering costs, creating transparency and reducing financial risk. www.cambrient.com