Key Marketing Methods For 2008
Isn't online marketing by definition, expensive? Not
necessarily. Online businesses are coming to the realization that
in an organic environment like the Internet, organic marketing is
required; paying for traditional or static marketing only gets
you so far before it becomes ineffective. The consumer now
controls your marketing.
What is wrong with the old methods?
Old marketing methods are failing because users are beginning to
wise up (Rise Up) against the old brute force advertising that
tries to win users over through sheer volume, using abrasive
web-page banners, unrelated Adwords displayed on the page, or
repeated newsletters (most being restricted by anti-spam laws).
The old methods no longer work effectively for two key reasons.
One is the fact that they are a "flash in the pan", directing
users to websites only so long as you continue to pay for the
campaign, the second reason is consumers are now at the stage
where they either ignore them or go out of their way to block
them (with plug-in based browser or email filtering).
Let's quickly run through some of the "traditional" ways to
market on the web, and their failings.
* Paid Campaigns - (These only work while active) Paid campaigns
may lure people to your site, but they are regularly not your
target market and after arriving they promptly leave (High
* Banner Ads - People hate banner ads. Most of the ads on the
Internet are loathed because they aren't relevant. Seeing a
banner for a better insurance rate when on a gaming site is a
massive disconnect for the audience and a significant portion of
banner ads are plain abrasive to users. Filling one third of your
page with banner ads will not increase the likelihood anyone will
* Adwords - Adwords (PPC, Pay Per Click) have the same problem
as banner ads, though to a lesser extent. Adwords work by
displaying "sponsored results," in search engine results.
Adword results are separated from normal search results so not
many people select them and the unknown quality in the users eye
causes distrust (how do I know that a sponsored result is better
than an organic result). Competition is fierce, with prices
spiraling upwards, and returns staying constant. For more
information see our article about Google marketing pitfalls.
* Newsletters - One word: Spam. Because of the spam epidemic,
users are becoming ever more wary signing up to receive mail from
any online source. Legislation and the ever increasing ability of
spam filters mean a continually shrinking audience (Restricting
the ability to send newsletters, and filtering them before they
reach your audience).
The "Old World" marketing relied on one or two large marketing
sources to drive traffic with big budgets and marketing firms.
You have to get people to create the "news" then you pay other
people to distribute the "news", so you are pulling people into
your "store" to show them what you have (whether they want it
New methods for marketing
These days having other create and distribute your content for
you is in vogue, this can mean syndicating your articles for
other users to repost, paying users to review or rate your
services, guiding users directly on forums or having users sign
up to receive exclusive information. In every case, the handiwork
of distribution is left to others.
Lets quickly run through some of the new "web 2.0" ways to
market on the web, and the reason you should try them:
* Blogs - Blogs are a goldmine to both the reader and the
writer. Blogging is less time consuming and considerably cheaper
than traditional marketing. Blogs give you the ability to convey
your personal thoughts on happenings in your industry and your
personal and corporate life, letting you really connect with your
audience. Another positive is the viral marketing component where
you are referenced through various social media websites, search
engines and other blogs, increasing both your credibility and
searchability, making it easier for consumers to find and trust
* Forums - Forums give you an insight into what people are
talking about, letting you get directly into the heads of
potential customers. An easy way to find an appropriate forum is
by asking existing customers what forums they frequent. Join in
conversations, threads, contribute to the community and become a
trusted member, then you can give your professional advice and
mention what you do for a living. You should approach this as a
way to get insight into what people are talking about, with the
side-effect of possibly generating leads. If you approach this as
direct marketing the community will quickly tell and either ban
you, or develop a healthy disdain of you.
* Articles - Articles are a great way to show you are connected
to the issues in your industry and the wider world around you.
You can either submit your articles through a syndication
service, or post it on your blog, even better is a combination of
the two: Choose a topic you enjoy talking about and write an
article (like this one!) with your personal opinion or some
helpful advice. If it is well-written and educates readers, you
will already have an edge on your competition.
The theme of the new marketing methods is tailoring your content
to the audience. The intent is to create something reader want to
read. Marketing is not about trickery or insincerity, it's about
communicating your ideas with honesty and authenticity. If it is
worthwhile to your users, then they will happily talk about the
content and spread it around, you have to communicate
authentically with your customers and it simply doesn't happen
using "traditional" online marketing.
A word of caution: if you try any of the above methods but
approach them traditionally (as a direct marketing channel) then
not only will you annoy a great deal of users, you can also
damage your company image. Again I stress the above point, make
the content something people want to read, not just marketing
Old marketing methods that are now approached differently
Benjamin Franklin said insanity is "doing the same thing over
and over again and expecting different results." This is
increasingly true for some of the more traditional forms of
online marketing. It's not so much what people are doing, but
more a case of how they are being done.
Let's take a look at how we should be approaching some of the
old marketing methods today.
* Press Releases - Before we start, I'm sorry to tell you, but
unless you are in the 5% of the market that people pay attention
to, no-one reads your press releases - at least no potential
customers do. A high percentage of companies marketing on the web
use traditional methods of delivery, either in print or on a
section of their website. Consider changing your press release to
positively present your company then send it through a
syndication service for papers and online news sources to pick up
* Search Engines - Previously you had to specifically tailor
your site to search engine specifications to ensure you had a
high pagerank and were located at the top of search results. To
put it simply, the important factor was how your site was
presented to the user. These days although page display has an
impact, it is far more important to have the right content on the
site. Search engines now care more about content. Structure your
pages logically and efficiently with appropriate content for each
page, and be sure to link to those pages wherever possible,
especially if you are engaging in blog or forum marketing.
* Mailing Lists and Newsletters - With new anti-spam laws coming
into effect, coupled with users increasingly annoyed at anything
email based, mailing lists and newsletters are becoming far less
effective. Ensure all the users on your mailing lists and
newsletters have agreed to receive them. You don't need to
re-ask permission from your existing list, but be sure to let
users op-out, and put an optional op-in form link in your
Old-world communication can still be effective but you need to
ensure it is not your only approach.
Reevaluation is the key to a healthy online presence. You need to
be constantly measuring and reevaluating your marketing methods
to ensure you are not wasting money, and can take advantage of
effective new methods.
Sam Law and Julian Stone - Project, Task & Time
Management specialists for: ProActiveSoftware.com,
www.proworkflow.com & Julian101.com.