Acceptance of Circumstances, integrated marketing, keeping up with trends, Objectives Setting, online advertising, social media, staying current, Target Marketing, traditional marketing, Uncategorized, Understanding Your Environment

Happy (I think?) 25th Anniversary to the Internet!

As with all national days and unique holidays celebrated via social media, I’m going to take the news that “today marks the 25th anniversary of general public access to the internet” with a grain of salt; however, it’s fitting that I learned of it via Twitter.

I didn’t grow up as a “digital” marketeer. I’m proud and glad to date myself. I broke my marketing teeth in the world of traditional advertising and public relations. Think “Mad Men” vs. Mark Zuckerberg. While my very first marketing-related position was at a national market research supplier, Market Facts, where I oversaw or was involved in conducting primary research for large consumer brands like Stop & Shop and Gillette, all subsequent positions have been more marcom (marketing and communications)  focused.

My earliest marcom roles were at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of MA and Bay State Federal Bank — back in the early 1990’s through early 2000’s — when companies were just dipping their toes in the promised power of the internet. Companies felt compelled to launch and maintain Web sites and set up e-mail addresses at which they could be contacted, but I don’t believe marketing professionals, or any professionals for that matter, appreciated then the extensive impact the internet would have on traditional marketing, the role of a marketeer, or life, in general, as we knew it.

Mad_Men_season_5_cast_photo

I have to digress and take my fellow marketeers down memory lane for just one minute. Remember the days when advertising options consisted only of print, radio, network T.V., and vehicles like billboard and transit? And the days of needing to mail camera-ready ads aka slicks to media for publication? Yes, those days when e-mail blasts, social media influencers, pay-per-click and banner ads, and vlogging and blogging didn’t exist?

I’m guessing the majority of my readers will agree that there are pro’s and con’s to a world ruled by the internet. Below are what I believe to be the most critical impacts of the introduction of the “World-wide Web” (for those who don’t remember or know that’s the origin of “www.”). Given my profession, I focused on those that affect marketeers, but obviously, there’s been immeasurable impact on the day-to-day lives of all human beings.

Pros

  • It’s easy to find like-minded people or individuals facing similar challenges or opportunities, and to hold a conversation with them.
  • The opportunities to target individuals who enjoy certain hobbies and interests, belong to certain demographic groups, and/or who serve in particular business roles seem endless and are abundant.
  • Smaller organizations without deep marketing pockets can play the advertising game as well as, and sometimes even better, than larger advertisers via integrated online campaigns that are much less costly to execute and run (partly because of low or no production costs associated with online ads vs. the higher production costs often associated with print or broadcast advertising).
  • You can use the internet to research or locate just about anything or anybody.

Cons

  • Advertising $ have become quite diluted. The size of average marketing budgets has held steady and marketing monies now need to be spread across numerous media since target audiences are no longer listening to a limited number of radio or TV stations or reading a limited number of print publications. Per my Getting More Bang For Your Marketing Buck post, this means an advertiser’s marketing spend may not be as impactful, making it harder to achieve wished-for awareness or sales objectives associated with an ad campaign.
  • Marketeers may be pressured by external and internal clients to put the bulk of their time, energy, or budgets into online advertising and communications, such as social media or pay-per-click ads, when that may not be the most-effective vehicle for reaching a client’s business-to-business or business-to-consumer targets.
  • Maintaining an online presence on social media, blogs, vlogs, etc. is time-consuming, and marketing staffs may not be large enough to support the appropriate time expenditure on both traditional and digital marcom activities.
  • It’s become almost impossible for public relations (PR) professionals to know who and how to outreach to regarding covering certain topics and stories. Some publications employ different staff to handle their online vs. print communications and won’t share e-mail contact information. Instead, they encourage you to communicate with staff online. This evokes another “con”– it’s hard to have a private conversation these days as some social media users and bloggers don’t offer the capability for you to e-mail or message them, thereby forcing you to share your message with both them and the rest of the world.

What’s the key takeaway? As you set budgets, develop marketing plans, and hire staff for your next fiscal year, give a lot of hard thought to the target audiences for your products and services — not only where do your target audiences hang out, physically and virtually, but when and how do they best like to be communicated with? For example, they may be hanging out on LinkedIn because they’re conducting a job search or trying to do business development there, so that may not be the best time and place to bombard them with an ad about your business services. You and they might be better served by a more traditional marketing activity — a direct mail piece delivered to your targets’ physical office mailbox.

I’m always available to discuss any and all of the above and look forward to your thoughts. Depending on your feelings regarding the internet, take this 25-year celebration as motive to post and tweet away, or to take a walk outside and say “hello” to your neighbor in-person.

 

 

Objectives Setting, online advertising, social media, Target Marketing, Uncategorized

Online Advertising: Top Five Things You Should Know

Online Advertising: Top Five Things You Should Know

Since Results Communications and Research’s official launch in April 2014, the majority of advertising work with which clients and prospective clients have sought assistance has been online (digital). As you would expect, whether our client contacts are dedicated marketing individuals for their mid-to-large-sized organization or small business owners, all are greatly aware of the last decade’s shift in how target audiences want to communicate and obtain information.

While I still believe there will always be a need for and benefits associated with more traditional forms of advertising, such as billboards, transit, print, and broadcast (radio and TV), online advertising definitely rules the advertising roost right now, and I don’t see that changing any time soon, if ever.

Given the above, as a Google AdWords-certified specialist, as well as someone who’s researched and been exposed to a large variety of other forms of online advertising, I’m sharing – in what I hope are layman’s terms (but know that you can always reach out for an explanation) – a list of important things to know when considering online advertising.

Laboure_200 x 2005

  1. Before you research and brainstorm any kind of online advertising campaign, define your campaign objectives. Are you trying to create awareness of your organization/brand/products? Or, are you trying to increase sales of your products, services, or programs? It’s imperative that you clearly define your objective before beginning to focus on an advertising campaign.
  2. Similar to defining objectives, determine upfront whether or not individuals are likely to be actively searching online for information on the product, service, or program which you plan to promote. If you are offering a product, service, or program that your target audience likely doesn’t know exists, implementing a search campaign using Google or Bing search engine advertising platforms is not going to help you achieve campaign objectives. Tools available in search engine advertising platforms can help you assess the volume of searches being undertaken in a particular geographic area that are relevant to your organization’s offerings.
  3. You’ve got options. Here’s a quick summary of what those are:
    1. search engine search advertising – gives you the opportunity to have a text ad presented to individuals entering search terms in search engines that are relevant to your product, service, or program.
    2. search engine display advertising – gives you the opportunity to have a text or image ad presented to individuals who meet certain targeting requirements, e.g., have particular interests, belong to certain demographic groups, visit Web sites focusing on topics relevant to your offerings, and/or who read online content pertinent to the aforementioned.
    3. other bulk display/banner advertising – gives you access to advertising on a variety of topic-relevant Web sites by providing options beyond search engines to purchase display/banner advertising on a collection of Web sites simultaneously. Google’s Display Network (known as AdSense) isn’t the only “bulk” display game in town.
    4. direct-purchase banner advertising – gives you the opportunity to have an image ad presented on relevant Web sites that will directly sell you advertising space.
    5. direct-purchase e-newsletter, e-blast, and Webinar advertising – relevant organizations may offer you the chance to advertise in their weekly or monthly e-newsletters or e-blasts, or to sponsor a Webinar they are hosting, so you can reach their members/customers/subscribers. And, opportunities may include the ability to push out your own content via e-blast or Webinar authorship/presentation.
    6. social media advertising – the majority, if not all, social media platforms offer advertising opportunities to reach a variety of target audiences. Think Twitter Web cards, and Pinterest and Facebook Pin and Post boosts, among others.
  4. All impressions are not created equal. I equate an impression to a set of eyeballs, i.e., each impression accrued for an advertisement means it was presented to one individual for viewing. Many online advertising opportunities require advertisers to pay for any and all impressions achieved; you may be okay with that, if creating awareness of your product, service, or program is a key objective of your campaign. However, if the focus of your campaign is to drive traffic to your Web site, and even further, cause visitors to take actions beneficial to your organization (known as conversions), such as completing an inquiry form or purchasing a product, then you’ll likely want to engage in advertising arrangements where you pay only for ad click-thrus to your Web sites (pay-per-click/PPC advertising), or where your advertising cost structure is related to visitor conversion behavior (advertising that offers cost-per-acquisition bidding).
  5. It’s possible to easily pilot, test, pause, and change course. Certain forms of online advertising, particularly search engine search and display advertising, only require a very small “entry cost” to use their platform. There’s really no true set-up fee you have to pay them, but you will have the human resource expense of using their tools to set up text ads and design image ads. You can launch a campaign where you’ve indicated you only want to spend $1 a day. Granted, depending on the competition from other advertisers to have their ads presented for search terms or to audiences similar to yours, the $1 may not be sufficient to have your ad presented; however, there are no required daily, weekly, or monthly advertising spends for search engine search and display advertising. And, unlike directly purchased banner advertising and some other online advertising opportunities, search engine advertising tools allow you to pause campaigns yourself 24/7 and to change campaign settings, ad content, targeting strategies, and search terms prompting ads at any moment of any day.

I and my team continue to educate ourselves on a daily basis about the pro’s and con’s of available online advertising opportunities, so that we can best serve our clients. We know that no one size of online advertising fits all. I am always available to brainstorm with you about your particular needs or to explain further any of the information outlined above. The online advertising portion of digital marketing will continue to evolve, and we’ll be here to guide you through that evolution.