Previous marketing-focused pieces we’ve contributed to ARN have covered managing your marketing on a limited budget and developing your brand strategy. Now it’s time to examine how to take your brand online – an often highly impactful and cost effective, but sometimes misunderstood, discipline.
First up, from a strategic perspective, any activity online should only follow once you’ve set your clear objectives. We find these often fit into one of three broader categories: Brand awareness, lead generation and general communications.
Online fundamentals and choosing tactics
A brand awareness campaign online is usually best undertaken with banner advertising. A great way to develop a brand, banners come to mind for most people considering online marketing, but they are only one part of the customer journey.
The point is the big picture. Banners should take your prospects to a landing page; a cost-effective, basic site that must figure in any brand awareness campaign and is also relatively easy to create and host. But when that landing page doesn’t present consistency to the banner campaign with a clear offer, or instant and relevant information, then people simple bounce away from the site. So many companies miss out on capturing the registration details of prospects for this simple reason.
Consider MessageLabs – the front page of this company’s website features two registration capturing tactics prominently in its top right hand corner (a product trial offer and a sales contact button). This approach alone has given the company a 10 per cent new leads figure from all visitors who arrive at the site.
To move further into lead generation, it is one of the most widespread types of IT marketing online and for good reason. Lead-gen campaigns often integrate banner advertising with eDMs (electronic direct mail) and comparatively inexpensive online marketing tools such as Google Adwords and sponsored links.
You might wonder what a text link has over a banner ad – aside from being less expensive. Banner ad click-through rates are never high – in fact they’ve fallen from roughly 0.9 per cent of viewers to 0.2 per cent. Of course, that is still 100 potential leads from 50,000 exposures.
But a simple and engaging text link sometimes resonates with readers and can present direct business value especially when they offer an incentive like a conference invite or a free whitepaper on a pressing business topic. Adwords and text links also make best use of tighter budgets in particular. They offer a predictable monthly fee, can be switched on or off at will, and you only pay when prospects visit your site. Just remember to keep them there!
Regardless of whether you’re looking to generate leads or increase brand awareness, general communications must also figure into your ongoing digital marketing strategy. General communications are best served with tactics such as e-newsletters, business blog entries, video or video blogs and other updates to your main website.