Get Traditional — Go Analog

How do people find you these days?

Sure, we know that banner click-through rates are down. That’s been hashed over again and again here at ClickZ, and just about everywhere else. With rates of 1 to 2 percent becoming the norm, it would stand to reason that lots of folks aren’t finding you via advertising.

And what about word of mouth? Getting your URL out there by way of people telling their friends seems to work on an anecdotal basis, but no one I know has actually done a study yet. Email can be a powerful way of getting your URL into the hands of lots of folks, but I don’t have to tell you the dangers of spamming and the not-so-good will it engenders.

So how are people finding sites? Increasingly, it seems like traditional media is the way to go.

For any of y’all out there who didn’t watch the SuperBowl this time around, you missed out on the biggest budgets spent on web ads ever. Monster.com, HotJobs, HotBot, and Yahoo all pulled out the stops to get their message out in front of the biggest TV audience of the year. And if you watched the game (and weren’t driven from the room by KISS’ scary comeback spectacle), you were sure to have seen one of these spots.

They seem to be effective, too. HotJobs was nearly brought to its knees by the response from the ad. Victoria Secret’s “Net Fashion Show” had its servers melted down by horny geeks errr serious fashion connoisseurs who wanted to see the jiggle via RealVideo. Let’s face it. The ads worked.

So what does this mean to us Net marketers? First of all, it means that a Net-only strategy of advertising may not be enough. We can talk ad models until we’re all blue in the face, but we still haven’t addressed the fact that people are increasingly finding sites offline, not on. With studies like the famous Media Metrix one which showed that portals are only gaining 15 percent of the total Net traffic, increasingly we’re finding that people are going on line to go direct to the sites they want, not surf around for entertainment and hopefully click on one of our banners.

So how can you use the analog world to your advantage? First of all, you’ve got to start thinking about the offline media as channels that are just as valid as the ones you’re cultivating on the Net. A lot of sites now are seeing the advantages of alternate Net channels for distributing their presence around the web. “Sponsored” areas, syndicated branded content, and branded decision support tools are starting to poke up here and there as ways of getting your stuff in front of more people.

But why stop at the Net? If you’re sending out branded content to other web sites, why not look at ways to get traditional media involved? Sponsor weekly “state of the industry” reports on radio (FastCompany’s doing this now). Provide syndicated content to wire services. Strike some deals with newspapers to provide columns with your URL attached. StreetTech does this now by providing content to the Baltimore Sun’s “Plugged In” section and gets even more bang for its buck when the content goes out via wire services. In effect, the content it places on the web gets national distribution and national exposure with no extra work involved.

Also, don’t underestimate the value of good PR. Getting press interest either by way of the general press or industry news is a great way to garner more exposure. A few thousand bucks spent on getting some decent placements will end up in front of a lot more eyeballs than the equivalent amount of money spent on banners.

It’s all about integrated communications. We’re in the Net biz now, but as advertising and media keep blurring the lines more and more, we’d better be ready to respond. Start building your marketing infrastructure now before you get left out in the cold of Cyberspace.

It’s all about integrated communications. We’re in the Net biz now, but as advertising and media keep blurring the lines more and more, we’d better be ready to respond. Start building your marketing infrastructure now before you get left out in the cold of Cyberspace.

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