Looking for the next big thing in Internet marketing is often insufficient as first-mover advantages quickly erode when thousands of marketers rush to employ the same techniques. This means that marketers must start to develop online marketing strategies using tools that consistently produce superior results.
It all starts with three key areas that offer the best opportunities for improvement. As you will see, when it comes to marketing on the Internet, things are not always as they appear.
1. On the Web, 10% is not always larger than 1.5%
Without realizing it, marketers are basing their decisions to invest in a particular Internet marketing solution on inaccurate data. When it comes to click-through rates, 10% is not always larger than 1.5%.
Take, for instance, the most popular Internet marketing tool at the moment: opt-in email marketing. Email brokers have been quick to compare click-though rates across the full spectrum of Internet marketing tools because email marketing produces the best results. Or does it?
Consider two different online marketing campaigns. One campaign consisted of an email marketing program that generated a click-through rate of 10% while the other used ad banner advertising to produce a 1.5% click-through rate. At first glance, one would be inclined to infer that email marketing produced better results (660% higher click-through rate) and, therefore, represents a better alternative than ad banner advertising. Exactly what email marketing brokers have been saying; exactly what the entire marketing community has come to believe.
However, when one looks at all the data, a different picture emerges.
Are email marketing results really 660% better than those of the ad banner campaign? Not according to tables 1 and 2. In fact, the complete figures tell quite a different story. Click-through rates may be 660% higher but the results are not. Not only did ad banner advertising drive more visitors to the advertiser's site but it also lowered the cost per visitor by 12%.
The important thing to remember is that you must really compare apples to apples and oranges to oranges to identify the best Internet marketing tool(s). Otherwise, you will end up paying far too much to attract customers online.
Note: Reach is calculated by dividing Budget by CPM. Cost per visitor is calculated by dividing Budget by the number of visitors. In these cases, the cost per visitor is $3.00 for email marketing and $ 2.66 for ad banner advertising.
2. Are click-throughs that important?
The obsession with click-through rates and traffic was ignited by the very dotcoms that are now disappearing from the face of the World Wide Web.
The problem is that click-throughs are too often viewed as an end in themselves. Most marketers would be surprised to know that even if their efforts generated high click-through rates, it might not be enough to produce solid results. First, a large number visitors will never get passed the advertiser's home page. Before even starting, the site never has a real chance of turning the visitor into a customer (see :: When numbers lie: the hidden danger of web site traffic). Second, a disturbingly large number of sites still cannot effectively sell the products and services they feature. These sites are capable of taking orders, but they cannot actually turn visitors into buyers.
Don't get me wrong, click-throughs are vital in specific situations where sites have been designed to transform prospects into customers and competition for the prospects' attention is still relatively low, allowing for an acceptable customer-acquisition cost. Otherwise, marketers might be better off exploring opportunities to extend the web content outside of their site. Several tools can give advertisers a real edge as they start the prospect/customer transformation process before the prospect even reaches the advertiser's site.
Digital brochures and rich media advertising are the perfect examples because they can feature the same content and ecommerce functionalities present on a web site. This means that a prospect could actually buy your product on the Web without ever visiting a web site. An interesting proposition when you consider that, today, invitations to visit a web site are no longer enough to drive a prospect to the site. While competitors strive to encourage prospects to click here or there to view product info, you will be able to get a head start by initiating the conversion process before everyone else.
Suddenly, you are making the most of every opportunity presented. Your chances of building brand awareness/brand equity, educating prospects as well as influencing their purchase decisions are greatly improved; your online marketing budget simply goes much further.
Yet, the real potential of these tools is realized when they are closely integrated with Web sites. Eventually, prospects should be encouraged to visit your web site. Typically, your site should take the user experience to a new level as you have more control over content, presentation, and design.
3. 80/20 vision
First, there were hits; then, there were click-throughs. Now, it is time to focus on the marketing outcomes you need to achieve to attract the right prospects and transform them into customers. And when it comes to attracting the right customers, less is more.
Here is a concept that seems to work well in the real world and could certainly do wonders in cyberspace. About 80% of your revenues are generated by 20% of your customers, customers who place larger orders as well as repeat orders again and again. Why not concentrate on developing an Internet marketing strategy that reaches only these 20 %? The cost of keeping a customer often comes down to delivering what you promised plus great customer service when things go wrong. Hence, every time they come back to buy something else, your profit margins are getting healthier.
Once you know who the right prospects are, what their online purchase behaviors are, you will know where to find them. A little homework will then direct you to a few tools that will allow you to reach, educate, as well as influence their purchase decisions. While everybody else strives to drive millions of people to their sites, you will focus on the ones that really matter.
Comparing what is comparable, focusing on the right metrics, and identifying the right customers will lead the majority of online marketers to realize that they need more than one tool to accomplish their objectives and achieve solid results on the Web. Competition is so intense that any single Internet marketing solution is insufficient to produce satisfactory results.
Today, marketers must develop fully-integrated Internet marketing plans where tools work together to attract and convert prospects into customers. Each plan will be as unique as the advertiser's competitive situation, budget constraints and audience. Hence, once in place, it will be much harder to copy by other companies.
On the Web, one thing is becoming clear: what works for a company might not necessarily works for another. A little protection that can translate into consistent results over the long term.