Beyond The Banner Extravaganza

A special promotion headed my way from barnesandnoble.com (now also known as bn.com) for Father’s Day. The promotion was this: A claim code to save $5 when completing an online order. And take a look I can’t redeem the mailer at my local store – only online!

We’ve all seen the increased use of print, television and radio advertising for web sites. Web banners used to be a great way to drive traffic and in many cases, they still are. However, marketers are starting to think beyond the banner, quickly adopting other online and offline marketing media and making it important to expand marketing efforts in an integrated way.

Synchronized Advertising

A recent Forrester Research report, “Driving Site Traffic,” revealed a new advertising concept called synchronized advertising. The idea is to take advantage of the best of both online and offline advertising, “linking traditional advertising’s branding strength with the web’s power to tailor messages based on a consumer’s media consumption and purchase behavior.” The goal according to Forrester is ” to identify high-value visitors and involve them with the brand.” Basically, traditional mass advertising is used to establish brand credibility; the web gives marketers the refined reach of a focused market.

Forrester’s synchronized advertising model proposes that the mixing and matching of online and offline media will shorten the buying cycle and eliminate the disconnection between awareness and purchase. Mass advertising builds awareness, but consumers don’t immediately jump in the car, drive directly to the store, and buy the product just seen on TV. With the synchronized model, if someone views a television commercial prompting him or her to go to the web site, it creates a connected awareness to purchase by closing the “consideration gap.” To be successful in this approach, Forrester suggests:

  • Contiguous Campaigns — Create campaigns with both offline and online elements simultaneously to ensure continuity. “At the point where they intersect, the on-line experience will pick up where the off-line ad leaves off.”

  • Distributed Experiences – Use interactive ads that give customers valuable information at the right moment. Forrester suggests that affiliate networks “will also bring tailored content and advertising to the web’s diffuse audience.”
  • Action-Based Targeting — Serve targeted ads based on the content and the individual user.
  • Retention Focus — Move some of your marketing dollars from customer acquisition to customer retention.

Advertising Bag O’ Tricks

We have multiple advertising options now, with more being dreamed up each day. Forrester reports that 60 percent of survey respondents will be combining online, offline and email promotions to drive web site traffic.

When choosing the best methods, it comes back down to your objectives for online promotions. The best approach will contain a variety of media to cost-effectively reach your target market. While I know you’re already familiar with the following media, I’ve added a few thoughts to consider when using these methods.

Offline Media

  • Television — Do more than just listing your URL at the end of the commercial. Include it in the voice-over and/or integrate it with the visuals to increase response. When I see a TV ad that shows a browser, arrow cursor and mentions the URL by voice and text, it does more than just make me aware of the web site, it is actively “planting” the idea of a web visit in my mind. (Examples: recent Jeep and K-Swiss TV commercials, plugs by news programs, etc.)

  • Direct Mail — Do what barnesandnoble.com does by specifically promoting your web site and including tracking codes. Don’t hide your web site URL somewhere in the corner of the page! You can use direct mail to send cheaper mini-catalogs that feature a small set of products but drive people to your web site for the full or a personalized selection.
  • RadioPriceline.com successfully used radio advertising to drive web site traffic. In fact, a few months ago, I spoke to Priceline.com and learned it had not used online advertising — yet they are one of the most recognized online brands. Create radio contests and promotions that require people to visit your site.
  • Public Relations — People use the web for information, why not promote your useful and expert content. Many web sites make the news when they provide innovative ways of interacting with customers. As we all know, public relations is very cost-effective, so why not?
  • Magazine Advertising — There are so many magazines, making it easy to find your target market in a cost-effective way. Plus, magazines pull higher response (25 percent of consumers) versus TV (14 percent) and radio (3 percent) according to Forrester. (Also, 57 percent of people use search engines, 28 percent use word-of-mouth recommendations, and 7 percent use banner ads to find web sites.)
  • Grassroots/Events/Point-of-Purchase — Have you seen the Yahoo Indy race car yet? Eddie Bauer promotes its URL on its cash register display.

Online (Beyond the Banner)

  • Sponsorships — You can get lots of “real estate” with a sponsorship on web sites that meet your target market requirements. Such sponsorships can have the added benefit of credibility from the association with a branded site.

  • Affiliate Programs — Affiliate marketing programs are cost-effective because they’re based on a pay-for-performance model. Get your name out across a wide network of sites at a relatively low cost. Plus, results are trackable.
  • Opt-in Email — Participating in or creating your own email newsletter or alert can be relatively inexpensive. The benefits are that it’s personalizable, trackable, generates higher response rates than banners, and can build ongoing relationships with customers that lead to repeat visits or purchases.

Remember to use every point of contact with customers to drive them to your web site. Integration is key. Make sure your total campaign is both integrated and contiguous. Get yourself a system that can integrate the databases required to deliver and track campaigns.

Next Week: No matter how sophisticated your precision marketing efforts are, it all comes down to your brand.

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