Internet marketing is dead?

Angus Robinson, Brandsh Media founder and executive creative director, discusses the question: Is Internet marketing dead? (This article was written for and published in Strategic Marketing magazine)
Are you as jaded as I am about divisive and unnecessary rhetoric-filled headlines like this?

For years, hype mongers have been lamenting the death of existing media as 'new media' makes the incumbents less relevant, more out of touch, less measurable and downright boring. For years we've heard that "this is the year of ".

Ok. Enough of the dramatics. So what does this really mean?

Each person, company or community has their year, their watershed for the adoption of new technologies, channels, services and platforms, so trying to bundle everything into one doesn't do justice to the opportunities that exist. Conflicting messages create so much confusion that they end up being counter productive to the point that marketers default to the 'tried and tested'.

The current jostling is between internet and mobile marketers, with the mobile camp claiming that its time has finally come. Maybe it has, but certainly not at the expense of all other media, especially the internet. We need to consider that no media or channel selections are mutually exclusive - they are a factor of objectives, target market, creative execution opportunities and budget.

Strategists want strong, close-knit integration between all media types, and the typical process is to add digital (web, email, mobile, social and search) as elements. However it has often been as an afterthought, a campaign micro site or SMS shortcode to make sure those boxes are ticked.

But what if mobile was considered as the centre point of the media mix, and all other media types build on this by harnessing mobile's most important inherent characteristics - personal and portable, location aware, interactive, immediate and targetable. To make this even more relevant and powerful, how can an interaction that is initiated via mobile be enhanced via the other digital channels - such as richly interactive websites, highly targeted and informative emails and appropriate and fun social media interactions.

Campaigns should be considered as 'interventions' that build on the overall customer (or potential customer) journey that is underpinned by a consistent, long-term CRM strategy. Customer acquisition, brand awareness and positioning, customer retention and communication campaigns can all be given lives that extend beyond the moment that the budget ends. Placing mobile and other digital channels at the core of the thinking process and cross-discipline planning enables this longer-term view.

By having regular communication (on the preferred channel and about relevant topics) and simple calls to action; and by building profiled, engaged communities around brands, products and services, marketers are able to use mobile, web, email and social media to build these longer term relationships. These relationships can be enhanced by the additional value that a brand offers - such as VIP treatment and special invitations, sneak-peaks at new product releases, vouchers delivered to mobile phones and other random acts of kindness that are fulfilled digitally.

By augmenting traditional channels such as direct mailers, in-branch/store, and out of home media with SMS shortcodes and unique keywords, 2D Barcodes, mobile site URL's, simple call-centre numbers and social media presences will allow for better measurement and faster responses.

To understand the reality of digital opportunities let's consider Nigeria. With 42 percent mobile penetration as opposed to seven percent Internet penetration it would seem logical to discount Internet marketing as an important channel. However, as insignificant as Nigeria's internet market might seem, in real terms this translates into 11 million users - more than double South Africa's internet user base. This 11 million is likely to be more affluent, educated and valuable for many brands than the majority of 63 million mobile users in Nigeria. The best approach would be to have tight integration between the channels that delivers on the brand promise.

Certainly it would be shortsighted and limiting to discount any form of marketing or media type, and when it comes to mobile and Internet marketing, we haven't even begun to scratch the surface. We are only now getting the opportunity to illustrate the depth of innovations, interactions and returns available.

Remember, video never did kill the radio star, it just made her bigger and bolder.

14 Mar 2010 14:03