Digital Marketing Decoded Part 2

Last fortnight in part 1 of BizParade’s Digital Marketing Decoded we asked Melbourne internet agency Salsa to share their knowledge on how to get the most out of search engine optimization to help drive your website’s presence in the free search engine listings, and how to get a head start by implementing an AdWords campaign or linking strategy to rank even higher.

In this issue the author talks to three digital marketing agencies to investigate the advantages of implementing digital campaigns, how you can market to your database more effectively, and the benefits of developing a more comprehensive digital strategy to maximize the return on your marketing spend.

Some of the most significant advantages to digital marketing over more traditional mediums include the ability to track the results and measure them against specific desired outcomes and segment your audience, but cost efficiency and fast lead times are also a draw card.
Sydney based digital marketing specialists Permission Communications specialize in digital marketing solutions for a range of medium to large companies spanning the FMCG, fashion and event sectors.

“We use a combination of solutions that are available, for example email marketing platforms, but we also build lots of little applications and solutions that say, well okay you’ve got a need in your business to do this, so we’re going to build a digital solution that can allow you to do that, for instance online surveying systems, event management systems and triggered email systems to name a few,” says Permission’s [insert title], Jeremy Glass.

One of their strengths is developing email solutions including direct marketing, CRM and promotional campaigns right through to more technical solutions including custom-built email systems, integrated email and spam management technology.

“Email campaigns are often compared to direct marketing, but there are significant advantages to online, which traditional direct mail simply cannot offer. Primarily this is the ability to easily measure the effectiveness of an online campaign, which can be more challenging and costly with direct mail,” explains Glass.

Advanced reporting software can track a consumer’s behaviour from the second your email hits their inbox, or they click on your banner ad or upgraded directory listing, right through the consumer’s engagement and purchasing process.

Unlike more traditional mediums where you don’t know if the response to an offer has uptake until the phones start ringing or the consumer visits your store, tracking an email campaign is significantly more telling and it is in real time.

Tracking reveals important information about your campaign and gauges whether it is delivering the desired results. If the results are below expectation, you can track this back to the number of people actually clicking on the email, and whether your subject line was a success. Or, if they opened your email and clicked through to your website, telling you whether your call to action was compelling or if it was clearly understood.

“You get those metrics down to the individual, so you can tell what different people in your database would be interested in, and then you can do a follow-up communication with them specific to that insight so that immediately gives you a lot more power,” adds Glass.

This is the other important advantage of digital: the ability to segment your audience and tailor messages to different groups depending on their purchase behaviour. “The tools which are available for building, sending and managing email campaigns generally come with the capability of both segmenting a database based on profiles of the members of the database, but also using that segmentation to send out content specific to that profile,” explains Glass.

One of the biggest trends in email marketing currently is automated and triggered response emails, which effectively communicates to your subscriber at any given time they act. “It’s based around the principle if you can talk to the person with the right message at the right time, you’re more likely going to.

Gaining these insights so you can segment and target messages gives you the added advantage of adjusting the campaign within the first few days or even hours, which can be critical to your event’s success.

Whilst email solutions are not necessarily cheap, says Glass, they are far more cost effective in delivering ROI against desired outcomes compared to above-the-line because they are relatively inexpensive to produce and they can be targeted so precisely.

In tests run for one of their clients Esprit, Permission found email marketing was five times more cost effective at delivering the same level of response than it was using direct mail. “And that’s just the cost let alone the insight and the information that we got from it,” says Glass.

This can also be said for mobile and interactive wireless marketing solutions, which brands such as Vodafone have been successfully testing since 2005. For the past three years Vodafone Australia has sponsored major electronic music festivals across Australia as part of their ongoing relationship marketing strategy, says AURA Interactive’s Sales & Marketing Director, Adam Dunne.

Similar solutions can be just as effective for implementation at events and conferences, with mobile marketing offering the same advantage of segmenting your database according to their previous purchasing behaviours or preferences.

“Entry level pre-event reminders and post event follow-ups via SMS can be just as effective to remind participants of conference dates or results post event, says Dunne. But being more active during the time they are actually engaged at your event is probably where mobile technology can cut through, given the often-limited access to email.

“Being more active during the event and using the conference database to actually drive traffic through to the seminars or to specific stands and sponsors, sending reminders about session times and potentially prize draws for example,” are all opportunities to add value to the consumer experience cost effectively, adds Dunne.

Measurability is just as easy with the ability to track user’s actions and gauge insights about their behaviour, whilst also being able to react quickly with different messages depending on your desired outcome.

Last minute offers, reminders, and refer a friend campaign can all be instigated at the push of a button and sent directly to consumers based on their previous level of engagement either via email or mobile campaigns, or both.

“From an event marketing perspective, I would look at putting a strategy into place that actually looks at all those different scenarios up front and have it all ready to go because it’s not like a print campaign where if you want something to be ready to go, you’ve got to invest the money, the time, and the logistics and it’s got to be all planned out. Rather, we just make a snap decision and within a couple of hours we can send out a special offer,” adds Glass.

Award winning digital agency, Clear Blue Day’s Peter Bray agrees that planning your digital strategy is integral to achieving better online results. “The adage about failing to plan is a plan to fail is very true. It is essential that you take time to create a strategy, but also you need to be realistic about what you want to achieve, and start with a budget. Having key performance indicators as part of your initial plan is vital so that you can judge your success,” Bray adds.

Specialists in the development of digital strategy, online campaigns, search engine optimization and website design, Clear Blue Day offer a fast and effective method of understanding your business and how digital can best meet your objectives, says Bray.

“The Sprint method cuts out a lot of the meaningless consultancy. Most of Clear Blue Day’s clients come to us with one end game: sell more products and capture more market share. There is no point in spending weeks working out what needs to be achieved when everyone in the room knows the goal. The sprint model allows companies to not only come up with a strategy in minimal time, but also to roll it out quickly. In the time precious world of business, this is vital.”

In a landscape that is constantly changing with the introduction of new technologies and capabilities, engaging a specialist digital agency before you engage your clients is an important first step in planning any digital activity.

“One of the key principles that we often talk about is that there are a lot of little potholes and falling into one of them can actually scuttle your whole campaign,” adds Glass.

“You’ve got to make sure you’ve ticked all your boxes to ensure this doesn’t happen, and I guess that’s the difference between working with someone that’s been doing it for years who is a specialist.”

And, if you are concerned about the costs, then you will be reassured to know the investment is worth it. Online marketing is considerably cheaper and more cost effective than more traditional mediums and there are a number of entry points depending on your budget, ranging from search engine optimization to a fully integrated email system or mobile campaign.

Small Business Spending on Digital and Social Still Growing

2011 Outlook for Small Business Digital Marketing

Just received some updated statistics on Small Business advertising spend from the 2011 Outlook report from Borrell Associates. Borrell surveyed over 2,800 Small Business owners to find that, of the 84 percent who will spend on digital, 53 percent plan on increasing their budgets in 2011. Money invested in website development, social media and e-mail marketing will grow more than 30 percent in 2011. On the flip-side, local print media, newspapers, directories and radio will continue to get squeezed out of the budget with double-digit cuts across the board from most SMB’s.

According to the report, Small Business represents a huge growth market, and accounted for over 70 percent of all online advertising expenditures last year. Social media is especially interesting for SMB’s and most are interested in Facebook, Twitter, location-based services, and daily deals platforms. I think YouTube also makes sense for the right kind of small business so I’d expect to see some interest and spending there as well. It was interesting that Borrell did not include any data related to YouTube or Mobile marketing strategies. Despite all of the buzz around mobile and video, it seems that small business owners just have not caught-on the way larger brands and retailers have.

Potential Pitfalls

Despite all the data suggesting growth and willingness to spend, the reality is that there is still a lot of confusion as to who to work with to make all of this happen. There is so much noise in the market right now, with average small business owners getting 22 new media advertising pitches a month. These pitches range from local boutique agencies to national solutions like Yodle, ReachLocal and Web.com. It is this noise and shear amount of options that paralyzes decisions makers. With so many so called experts and best-of-breed technology platforms to review and analyze, making a decision alone can take several weeks.

Furthermore, many Small Business owners still lack a real understanding of digital. Website analytics, social media insights and search engine marketing tactics are still fuzzy. Due to this minimal amount of knowledge, SMB’s must trust the provider they partner with to do the right thing. Unfortunately, most of the “big-boys” of SMB marketing are focusing on market share and not the quality of the products or services they provide. This mentality leads to less than stellar results for business owners and a burned relationship for the provider – which ultimately hurts the perception of every SMB marketing company.

Leaving Traditional Behind And Going Digital

Companies are becoming increasingly dependent on technology. But, the agencies they depended upon have now become obsolete. Hence, these companies are turning to Digital Marketing Agencies to get their business up and running again. Traditional marketing has almost gone out the window and could soon get extinct. Let us for instance consider hoardings. It is firstly very expensive and there is no way of quantifying the Return on this particular investment. There is no way of perfectly knowing the number of views, how many people like or dislike it.

On the other hand, Digital Marketing will give you very quantifiable results. What are the various digital solutions that can be offered to us? How do they compute these results?

Websites: Incase your firm still does not have a website, a digital agency could help you from scratch. They will build, design, create content, manage and update your site regularly. As they are professionals it greatly helps in enhancing user experience and thus getting business. How can you get business from your ‘site’? Well, a survey suggests that most number of people first look you up on the web and only then take the next step of buying from your site directly (if such an option is available) or visiting your store or office.

Mobile Marketing: Nowadays there are millions of people browsing the internet on the go via. mobile phones. If your site is not compatible with mobiles you are missing out on a major market share. Your site should not only be compatible with a desktop computer but also with tablets and mobiles. Even in mobiles, your site should be well- suited for phones of various size and operating systems.

Search Engine Optimization: As stated above, people look for your site online. How do they go about this? They do it via. search engines like Google, Yahoo or Bing. There are millions of sites on the net. What if your site is on the say 27th page of Google’s search results? Is that going to get you any visitors? SEO tweaks your site in such a way so as to bring it to the top three positions of the search results. This will highly increase your traffic. Google provides an analytics tool to track no. of visitors to you site, the time at which they came, geographical region, from which source did they reach our site etc. None of these are possible in traditional forms of marketing.

Social Networks: This kind of digital marketing solution is used mainly to build brand awareness, its recognition and thus brand equity. Most of your users today are very active on social networks. It is where you can connect or in better terms converse with your customers. Again, traditionally this is not possible. Your customer service betters manifold thus getting your brand a better name and thus, more customers. It is very easy to measure the people interested in your brand with provisions of the “like” button, +1 etc. These features vary from one network to another.

Pay per Click: There are also paid ads available on the internet. You have to pay on the basis of the number of clicks you got. Also there is a Pay per impression. Here, the hosting website or search engine displays your ad thousand times for a particular price. Still, this is comparatively cheaper than traditional marketing.

An agency provides every necessary digital marketing solution that a business may need. You could be catering to other businesses (B2B) or directly to customers (B2C). A digital agency does everything from scratch for you, thus giving your company higher returns.