New Industry Trends in Online Marketing

Today, everyone wants to start an online business because they all see the potential that this sector has, since the internet allow users to reach a larger and more global audience. Starting your own business also means that you can adjust your work timings to suit your lifestyle and you have a chance to keep all the money that you earn, without paying employees and infrastructure costing.

When you start an online business, the most important thing to keep in mind is the kind of online marketing that you will be using to promote your online business. The online marketing trends keep varying according to the kind of resources available, and what is most popular among the people. This article aims at outlining some of the latest industry trends in online marketing. The one thing to keep in mind when looking at new online marketing strategies and trends is that, given the current economy, cost cutting has become crucial.

The first trend that is being seen is the increased effort towards retaining customers. This is because market share in recent times has often been at the cost of competitors and other channels and also the fact that marketing to an existing customer base has proved to be more cost effective. Another important trend has been towards the creation of more attractive content. This helps to optimize searches. A large portion of content has also become video-based.

Online businesses in the recent past have also turned their attention towards creating targeted and relevant communications, which is distributed through a variety of different media like email, advertising, mobile phones, smart phones and IMs. This has proved to be a very effective strategy in online marketing, since it reduces costs. Online marketing is also moving towards direct marketing strategies. The principles and philosophies used by direct marketers for the past 80 years or so have become critical to the development of a solid online marketing strategy, with people now analyzing cost per sales, click throughs and other factors that direct marketers have been utilizing for decades.

Other trends that online marketing has been seeing in recent times are the enhancement of search marketing and integration of distribution channels. Despite these measures being a little more expensive, they have a great payoff in the long run. Search engine optimization has become vital to the success of an online business. These trends have expanded their base however, and are now extending to various other media like social media, local searches and mobile devices. Multichannel merchants are now looking at improving efficiency in order to provide for these changes.

Multi-Channel Marketing – The Keys to Making it Work

As we all know, marketing comes in many flavors from television and newspaper ads to direct mail and email. So how are today’s top marketers leveraging these and other mediums to drive incremental return on investment (ROI) from their marketing spends and contributing to company profits? The simple answer: through effective multi-channel marketing integration.

When deployed as channel-specific efforts, marketing pieces deliver only a fraction of their potential value. This results in a mediocre ROI at best. A two-year study conducted by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) confirmed that utilizing a variety of media vehicles in a thoughtful and strategic way have a higher likelihood of making a connection with your target market. By embracing a holistic approach to marketing, professional marketers can out-pace their competition by delivering an effective consumer experience while building a loyal customer base.

So what could it look like when we pull it all together? Perhaps something like this…

A cosmetics company wants to target new customers for their recently launched facial moisturizer. Using all of the collected data about their current and prospective customers, the organization puts together beautiful full-color brochures that utilize graphics and photos appropriate for their well-defined target market. The call-to-action in an introductory direct mail piece is a visit to a custom landing page within their website announcing the new addition to their product line with a special purchase offer.

The printed direct mailing is coordinated with an email campaign to their current opt-in customer base with identical branding and messaging and a link to the same URL. They include a “Live Chat” feature on the webpage to answer any visitors’ questions (and an opportunity to up-sell online customers). The new products can be conveniently purchased right there through the web page.

Two months later, about the time the newly purchased moisturizer would typically get close to empty, the email application (based on purchase date) automatically sends out a friendly reorder reminder and includes an online coupon with a link to the website shopping cart and the discount already applied to the customer’s purchase. The email also extends this special offer to any “friends” to whom the original recipient wants to forward it and then encourages those “friends” to opt-in for their own future mailings.

In this example, sales can easily be tracked online given the unique landing pages for each marketing campaign. Marketers can easily gauge the effectiveness of the campaigns and optimize them in real-time based on the formatting or messaging that proves the most effective. In addition, they can more effectively track marketing expenditures (and therefore ROI) with the sales generated from specific campaigns.

The IAB’s Cross Media Optimization Study found that an integrated approach can lift brand awareness and image by 8% to 34%, and purchase intent can be affected even more… from 5% to 1,000%. It is important to recognize the tremendous multiplier effect from the employment of multiple, coordinated marketing channels. Companies in a wide variety of industries – both business-to-business as well as business-to-consumer – are taking advantage of this effective method of running multi-channel marketing campaigns.

So what are the keys to successful multi-channel marketing campaigns?…

Get all of your marketing people and service providers working together. The most successful marketing campaigns come from diverse teams that work together from start to finish. This means agency partners must work together with your internal marketing team (and with each other if you work with more than one agency) to closely collaborate to define strategy, develop creative ideas, and plan the execution.

Really know your target customers. Understand your target audience at a deep level. Give them names and personas. Learn their preferences and personalize your communications to and with them. The more personalized, timely, and relevant your communications, the more effective they will be (but that’s a topic for a whole separate column).

Define all customer touch points. Identify in detail all of the opportunities you have to interact with your customers and define how all your employees should speak with them, how to ask for their permission for further communication, ask for their preferences, and learn more about them at every opportunity. Lay out the process of your customers’ experiences with your brand. Each customer touch point should fully support the brand image you wish to convey… it is all about the complete brand experience.

Test, test, test. You always need to test the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns, however the testing of each channel individually is a bit different than testing the overall multi-channel campaign as a whole. Define your success metrics up front to ensure that you get a holistic view of the campaign results throughout the campaign.
The days of disjointed marketing campaigns are certainly numbered… If you work to integrate teams across your organization (including your vendors), you’ll be able to engage your customers in new and unique ways, build greater loyalty and brand awareness, and achieve a higher return on your marketing investment.

Turn Leads Into Sales With a 6-Step Marketing Strategy

The phones are ringing, web traffic is up, and the sales manager is telling everyone you’re a marketing genius. Your business-to-business lead generation campaign is a success!But before you break out the bubbly, remember that getting prospects to express interest in a product or service can be the easy part of business-to-business marketing. Converting those leads to sales is often a lengthy and complex process.Here’s how to build a smart marketing strategy that engages B-to-B prospects and helps persuade them to say “yes.”6 Steps for Successful Lead ConversionBusiness purchases typically involve multiple decision-makers who can take weeks or even months to select a vendor. Since leads may need to be nurtured over time, you need to build a relationship with these prospects.Your sales team will make frequent contact with prospects during the sales process, but marketing can play a pivotal role, too. Following these six steps can help you create a successful lead conversion marketing strategy.1. Capture Contact Data to Facilitate a DialogueDuring lead qualification, capture the contact data needed for an ongoing sales dialogue, especially e-mail addresses and permission to send e-mails. One way to get this data is to require it for fulfillment of your original direct mail offer, such as a product sample, free trial of your product or service, or a premium.It’s also a good idea to ask prospects to help you identify other team members who will have a role in the purchasing decision, so you can reach out to influencers, authorizers, and end-users.2. Develop a Data-Driven Contact Management PlanUse prospect data to build a contact management program, a carefully planned series of regular touches with prospects to keep them interested, keep your product and company top of mind, and create additional opportunities to generate a response.Use data such as company size, NAICS code, industry, geography, or future revenue potential to group prospects with similar characteristics into segments. Then, develop a marketing communications plan for each segment that regularly delivers information tailored to prospects’ interests.Most B-to-B marketers try to reach prospects at least quarterly. For others, a bimonthly or monthly contact is appropriate. A mix of tactics and channels, such as direct mail plus e-mail, can help you keep in touch with hard-to-reach business executives.3. Send Information that Helps Prospects Make the Buying DecisionYour goal is to persuade prospects to make the buying decision. Send information that facilitates that decision, such as:- Product samples;
- Newsletters about industry trends or product usage, such as new applications, peripherals, upgrades, or enhancements;
- Case studies showing how others are using your product or service;
- Customer testimonials about your company.4. Tailor the Marketing to the ProspectNothing turns off a prospect faster than feeling like you don’t know them. Thus, it’s vital that your lead conversion marketing campaigns reflect your prior contact and the budding relationship.A data-driven sales/CRM system can help you track contact with prospects and tailor future initiatives to each individual. It’s also smart to customize communications to various individuals within a company according to their level of authority and their role in the buying process.5. Treat Top Prospects Like They’re Already CustomersEven among qualified prospects, all are not equal. Move your very best leads – those with the greatest likelihood of converting to a sale or offering the highest potential revenue – into a preferred contact queue that treats them like they’re already customers.Send these prospects higher-end, highly personalized direct mail and consider offering them, for a limited time, select advantages only your customers receive, such as special offers, preferred pricing, new product previews, or private invitations to customer-only events.6. Create Opportunities for a Face-to-Face DialogueThe Holy Grail for most business-to-business sales reps is an in-person meeting with the prospect. Identify potential opportunities for face-to-face contact and use direct marketing to promote them. Invite prospects to events, seminars, or educational programs, or encourage them to meet with you or attend activities you sponsor at trade shows.When They Still Haven’t Said “Yes”Be realistic about the timeframe for B-to-B lead conversion. What seems like a long time to you can seem perfectly appropriate to the prospect. Keep your best prospects on your contact list, be sure to keep the list current, and continue sending marketing messages to prospects that clearly have a need for what you sell. Communicate regularly, stay on the prospect’s radar screen, and your next marketing initiative could be the one that finally results in the sale.