Congratulations on your new job as an online publisher. Now, you must think like one.
Congratulations on your new job: you're now an online publisher! You may think you're a marketer merchandising a non-media product. Think again. Every company with a Web site is, at least in part, a media company. As a marketer, this means you must think differently about your brand, consumers, and job.
Kraftfoods.com epitomizes this perspective. It's one of Nielsen//NetRatings's top five food and cooking sites, along with media-company-run sites such as Food Network and About.com Food. In April 2006, over 7 million visitors spent over 8.5 minutes on Kraftfoods.com. This brand experience had no associated media buy or competition from other brands!
Now that you're an online publisher, here are some things you need to consider above and beyond the latest sales figures.
As a marketer, you control your brand's or company's Web site. This is your public face. Your audience extends beyond current customers to include all potential users of your product, your distributors and other sales channels, your employees, your investors, the media, the government (particularly if your product is a regulated one), the local community, and the broader public. With a public Web site, your content's available to a broader audience, including those who love your product, those who hate it, and those who never heard of it.
Corporate content extends beyond advertising, on-product labeling, and related marketing documentation. It includes all collateral, press releases, and public financial information. This content may live on your company Web site or exist on a third-party site, such as Wikipedia, MySpace.com, or a on a blog that may not always be friendly to your brand. It may not even be owned by your marketing department or company.
In addition to monitoring the variety of content touch points that can interact with your Web site and drive users, consideration should be given to keeping content fresh. Like any media company, you should have an editorial calendar, user-generated content, and other techniques to guide content creation. You must also provide guidelines regarding copy and design to assure a consistent corporate message and look.
Consider which media formats are best suited for reaching your target market. Web site content extends beyond text to include podcasts, Webcasts, and video. These may vary based upon your specific target audience and marketing objective. For example, email may be best for distributing ongoing information such as recipes, while a podcast may be best for investor relations.
Consider the essentials of Web site marketing to organize and promote content and to drive traffic. This can dramatically differ from traditional product marketing. Here are some ways to keep traffic levels up:
Getting visitors to the site is only the first step. You must engage them to build relationships that turn casual visitors into repeat visitors or purchasers:
Key success indicators to evaluate include:
A Web site provides marketers with a great way to engage directly with consumers and prospects and to build and extend relationships. You must think like an online media publisher to maximize the opportunity. Consider what content you'll provide, where you'll provide it, when you'll provide it, the context it'll be in, how you'll promote it, and what it'll look like. Consumers, at least the younger ones, turn to the Internet as the first step in their research and purchase process. Be there when they do.
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Heidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies, an interactive marketing consultancy. She has over 20 years' experience helping clients increase profitability by developing innovative marketing programs to acquire and retain customers based on solid analytics. Clients include New York Times Digital, AccuWeather.com, CheapTickets, and the UJA. Additionally, Riverside Marketing Strategies has worked with numerous other online content/media companies and e-tailers.
Prior to starting Riverside Marketing Strategies, Heidi held a number of senior-level marketing positions at The Economist, the Bookspan/Doubleday Direct division of Bertelsmann, and Citibank.
Heidi is also a popular speaker on current industry topics.
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