Building a Successful Online Advertising Strategy

Marketing has always been an important – even back when it was adverts in the newspaper or billboards. However, we now live in an online world in which the vast majority of consumers are permanently plugged in to the internet via smart devices. The online sphere has completely changed the way in which businesses approach marketing, offering an incredibly powerful tool at their discretion. However, online advertising involves so many different factors and it can be daunting to know where to begin.

Goals

One of the main pitfalls when creating an online marketing strategy from scratch is attempting to do everything and, in the process achieving nothing. There are many avenues to choose from- SEO, brand recognition, Google, viral marketing, content, lead generation and the list goes on. Going in to the process without setting out a plan isn’t likely to garner success. Preparation is key and deciding which aspect or aspects of advertising that you’d like to employ will not only streamline the overall process but will also help to save time and resources. Map out the campaign ahead of time and this will offer a clear roadmap to follow.

Target Market

Who are you selling to? That is a vital question when designing an online marketing campaign. The vast majority of businesses will have some sort of idea on their target audience but precision is important. Relying on broad categories such as gender, age or location are unlikely to focus marketing in the way that is required. A much clearer, more detailed insight in to the target customer is required and this can only be achieved through research. Whether it’s the use of surveys, test products, analytics or ideally a combination of everything, research is paramount. Interestingly, companies are often surprised to find out that their actual customers differ from their target customers and have to adapt accordingly.

In-House or Contracted?

Choosing whether between in-house marketing and outsourcing to a dedicated agency will depend on different factors, namely the scale of the campaign and the budget. If you’re looking for a multi-pronged approach that will require a heavy investment of time and effort, it may make more sense to employ a third-party marketing agency. They will have the experience and resources required but this will obviously require a hefty budget. If budget is an issue or if your project is smaller, then in-house is best. A dedicated marketing team is a massive advantage but not always tenable, especially with smaller companies. Tailor the project to you and the resources available to you.

Search Engines

Search engine results are an important aspect of marketing, whether it’s through the use of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) or Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising. The overall aim of the majority of companies is to rank high on search results- namely Google. The organic way of accomplishing this is to encourage searching through high quality content or brand awareness. This isn’t always easy so many opt for SEO, which involves the use of keyword rich content in a way to boost your ranking in results. This is a viable approach but takes time and effort. Conversely, you have PPC adverts which are bumped up in search results but obviously these are paid for. However, it’s worth keeping in mind that businesses only pay for the advert when a consumer clicks on it. Both techniques have been very popular in recent years but there’s definitely a shift happening towards more modern, organic approaches.

Social Media

Social media is the single most valuable tool for marketers. This is because it provides a direct connection between the business and the potential consumer. It’s also a platform that allows for a variety of marketing techniques- whether it’s traditional PPC adverts, content publishing, viral posts or just brand awareness, social media is incredibly versatile. However you choose to utilise sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, a continual and vocal presence is paramount. Post often and engage with visitors and this will boost your overall social media strategy.

Review

Planning and launching a marketing campaign is only half the battle, continual assessment ensures long-term success. Not everything is going to work and that’s fine but evolution needs to happen in real-time. Utilise analytics, customer data and feedback in order to gauge which aspects of your marketing campaign are hitting the mark and which aren’t and change accordingly.

Is it true that 80% of your business comes from 20% of your customers?

The 80/20 rule has been a part of the business world for many years but it actually goes back much further than that. It originated with an economist called Vilfredo Pareto in the late 19th Century, which is why it’s often labelled ass the Pareto Principle.

The idea behind this rule is fairly simple, stating that 80% of something good is generated by only 20% of something else. Back when Pareto came up with this theory, he was talking about land- more specifically that 80% of the land was owned by only 20% of the people. This idea was born from a socialist perspective and was objectively correct. In fact, it’s common knowledge in today’s society that the vast majority of wealth is owned by a small percentage of people.

Conversely, the 80/20 Principle jumped over to the business sphere- an irony that wouldn’t have been lost on Pareto. The idea has been applied to a variety of relationships but the one that gets talked about the most is the theory that 80% of sales comes from only 20% of customers.

It’s clear to see why this idea has become so popular amongst those within the business sector- it’s music to their ears. If the majority of a company’s sales is only coming from a relatively small section of customers then promotion becomes infinitely easier and cheaper. Aiming all of your resources at a select few is always going to be an attractive option- especially compared with the alternative which is casting a wide net, taking extra time, money and effort.

So, is the 80/20 rule valid or is it an urban myth that won’t go away? Short answer is- it’s a myth. Yes, there are examples in which companies receive the majority of their sales from a small number of customers but it’s rare. Not to mention that sales fluctuate constantly, with some customers leaving and new customers joining. Therefore, it would be next to impossible for this 80/20 ratio to be a hard and fast rule.

One of the ways in which this idea has been able to take hold is because companies refuse to actually sit down and work out their numbers. Having a real-time view of sales and customers can be invaluable as it gives businesses an advantage when it comes to marketing.

Another point to consider is Sharp’s “Law of Buyer Moderation” – which basically states that you can’t extrapolate buyer behaviour using limited date. For example, there is no guarantee that a customer who makes many purchases one year will repeat this in the next. The marketplace can be volatile and customers are often unpredictable, especially when you’re trying to fit them in to a strict ratio.

Furthermore, whilst the 80/40 Principle is attractive in some respects, it may not be something to aim for. If a business is relying on a small number of customers for the majority of their revenue, that’s a very precarious place to be in. The company would only have to lose a small percentage of customers in order to notice a dramatic dip in sales. When the customer base is larger, the risk is spread out further and the likelihood of crashes is reduced.

Whilst it’s clear that the Pareto Principle was never a great fit with business- there are circumstances in which companies rely on smaller pools of customers for the majority of their revenue. For example, high end fashion and other luxury items. In situations such as these, it would make sense to target these particular customers. However, even in these rare cases, businesses would be foolish to ignore the vast majority of customers who make smaller purchases.

To summarise, whilst it may be an interesting concept, the 80/20 law is far too rigid to apply to the diverse and ever-changing world of business. It may be costly and time consuming but reaching out to a wide range of customers and potential customers, regardless of how much they buy is still a tried and tested roadmap to success.

How can remarketing help my business?

Companies invest huge amounts of time and money in to marketing in the hope of directing new customers to their website. Whether its banner ads, viral marketing or social media, the eventual goal is to convert leads in to sales. However, whilst many forms of marketing will be successful in getting people on to a website- that doesn’t automatically lead to a sale. There’s a whole host of reasons why this may be the case, but the overall outcome is the same. In situations such as these, remarketing may be the ideal solution.

When a customer leaves your site without making a sale, they could potentially never return. In fact, a whopping 96% of visitors will leave without making a purchase and on average, it will take 9.5 visits before a person will actually complete a transaction. Therefore, the time, resources and money that was invested in to attracting the visitor could be potentially wasted. This is where remarketing comes in. It’s a technique in which companies will follow visitors who have left their website, showcasing their own banner ads on other websites and apps that the customer visits. Often the ad will be specific, advertising the individual product that the customer was viewing.

Some of the most popular vehicles for remarketing are Google, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Whilst the majority of remarketing is done using cookies, user IDs and mobile advertising IDs, you can also utilise email addresses, phone numbers and physical addresses. It’s also worth noting that many companies are now utilising social media and apps more as they receive so much traffic.

The remarketing process falls in to two different camps, self-service and 3rd party platforms. Self-service tools such as those offered by Google and Facebook, are cheaper and offer more control but require more time, effort and skill. 3rd party platforms are more expensive and offer less control but are easier to use. Both routes offer their own advantages and disadvantages but it’s worth noting that self-service platforms tend to be more popular.

There are many benefits to remarketing with the obvious one being that it can lead to an increase in sales. People get distracted when surfing the web and the gentle reminders provided by banner ads can lead to visitors returning to your site and making a purchase. This is especially likely if the visitor was close to making a sale before leaving the site. Another often overlooked benefit to this type of marketing is the effect it has on overall brand awareness. Building a brand identity using traditional methods can be time consuming and expensive. Remarketing allows companies to push certain products or services, but it also helps in showcasing the business as a whole. With banner ads continually in the periphery of potential customers, it’s a very subtle but effective approach to boosting overall awareness.

When discussing remarketing, the focus tends to be on traditional banner ads but there are other techniques at hand. Another form of remarketing which tends to be particularly successful for generating sales is to remind customers that they have items within their basket and then offer them an incentive in order to complete the sale. This usually comes in the form of a discount offer or free delivery, sent via an email. An offer which has been specifically targeted in such a way can make all the difference for customers who are on the fence.

Clearly, there are many upsides to remarketing but there are some disadvantages to consider. One of the major pitfalls is the “creep factor” – as many customers dislike the idea that brands will follow them to other websites. It’s all part of the growing unease with companies collecting so much of our data, often without us noticing. The best way to combat this idea is through moderation. For example, don’t be too aggressive with remarketing in terms of the frequency of ads. Also, don’t remarket to customers who have already made a purchase, instead aim at potential customers who are close to converting.

It’s also worth noting that many experts believe that the “creep factor” is overblown and the numbers back this up. Remarketing is still a very powerful tool, and this wouldn’t be the case if customers were being alienated by the technique.

As marketing become more sophisticated and companies have even more access to customer data, it’s likely remarketing will evolve further, offering even more benefits in the future.

Is the B2B Telephone Dead?

There have been countless changes within the business world in recent years- many of which have been game changing. It’s fair to say that one of the driving factors behind so much change is the progression of technology and the changing way in which we interact with technology. Smart phones in particularly are really transforming practices. One such way in which business is being influenced by technology is the way in which we use the phone- specifically talking on the phone.

There has been a notable shift in the way in which people communicate, both in and out of business. Talking over the phone is being replaced with texts, emails, instant messaging and video chat. Ironically, It’s the rise of the smartphone which has caused the slow demise of traditional phone usage. This trend is widespread, with many people opting to disconnect their landlines and rely solely on their mobile phones. Obviously, this is mainly because mobile phones are much more convenient and consumers are opting to forgo the extra cost of a phone line they no longer use. Whilst we are placing this in a domestic context, it’s also happening in the corporate sphere.

Companies are experiencing a faster pace than ever before and text-based communication offers an attractive alternative to talking. It’s quicker. easier and allows us to get much more done within the working day. Not to mention, talking on the phone is a dying art, especially with younger people. So much so that research has shown that a majority of younger workers (25 and under) actually report a fear of talking on the phone. This is understandable considering they’ve grown up in a world in which smartphone and text-based communication is standard. This is an important point as we are moving through a generational shift in the which workforce is going from a baby-boomer majority, to a millennial majority. Therefore, the way in which businesses communicate will likely be going through a major overhaul in the coming years.

So, if workers aren’t making voice calls, how are they communicating? It’s actually quite a varied mix of techniques, ranging from texting, email and online communication such as VOIP and Skype. Whilst these methods may be more convenient and cheaper than using a traditional landline- there are disadvantages to be considered. For example, online communication requires bandwidth and as more people use it, more bandwidth is required. There are concerns that the infrastructure isn’t prepared for this shift away from voice calls. Another issue is security, which can be much more precarious when communicating via the internet. Considering the rise of hacking, data theft and attacks, security is more important than ever before.

However, one of the main downsides to the decline of the phone is the unique experience that it offers. Talking on the phone can facilitate a warmer, less formal interaction which can then be beneficial for creating stronger business relationships.  It’s also worth pointing out that although fewer people are making phone calls, they aren’t dead yet and are still incredibly popular with the 50+ age group.

We may be heading for a situation in which phone calls are so rare that when they happen, the mean more. For example, day to day interactions happen via text or email but when it’s an important business deal or a new client, then a phone call is used. Therefore, the customer feels special, in the same way in which post and letters have become rarer and more meaningful.

Whilst it may be premature to declare the death of the business telephone, it’s clear that change is coming. It’s probable that the phone won’t die but will evolve and companies will adopt a more multi-faceted approach to communication. Whereas in the past, the majority of businesses utilised mix of phone and email, we now live in an age where many forms of communication exist. Therefore, instead of a one-size-fits-all approach, companies will choose according to the specific situation and what benefits them at that time.