Since this is my 100th ClickZ column, it’s a good time to revisit my online marketing philosophy. Looking back over my columns, most relate to one or more of the seven-step interactive marketing framework, which has its grounding in core direct marketing principles. Ultimately, these steps aim to engage prospects and customers to develop a profitable relationship.
At the heart of almost any interactive marketing program are the following seven steps. This is a good structure for planning an online campaign as well as for providing an in-depth creative brief.
Define Business Goals
Most marketing strategies aim to either increase sales or build brand to drive sales. Since marketing efforts are tailored based on the customers’ relationship with the company, this translates to one of three major objectives:
- Acquire new customers.
- Retain current customers.
- Reactive former customers.
While branding may also be considered an important goal, the ultimate marketing objective is always to drive sales.
Identify Target Markets
Unlike mass-media offerings, interactive marketing campaigns are generally focused on specific customer segments. To aid marketing development, these groups of prospects and customers may be defined along the following dimensions:
- Demographic traits. These attributes are defined in terms of geographic location, age, financial resources, and so on. Solely relying on this data may cause you to overlook other characteristics that cause individuals to make different purchase tradeoffs.
- Psychographic characteristics. These get at customers’ interests. They include pets, political advocacy, adventure travel, and anything likely to catch prospects’ attention.
- Behavioral actions. These show what customers have done in the past when they interacted with your organization. This is a stronger indication of their future activities.
Create an Offer
The offer can be described in terms of traditional marketing’s 4Ps:
- What’s the augmented product?
- What does the customer get in addition to the item?
- Are there extras, such as guarantees, ongoing support, and community?
- How is the product or offering priced?
- Is pricing consistent across channels? If not, is there a good reason?
- Are there premiums or single-channel promotions?
- Where does the prospect engage with your company, promotion, or both?
- Where is the offer made, and at what point in purchase decision process?
- Where does the consumer buy the product?
- What channels are used for ongoing communications, additional products, or both?
- Are there any incentives, time limits, quantity limits, or something similar?
- Where is the consumer in purchase process?
- What media format is used?
Choose a Medium
Media depend on your business goals and should reach at the customer groups identified in the target market:
- Third-party media is used to reach new prospects. This is media you buy from sources that aggregate an audience in line with your target market. They can encompass a wide variety of formats.
- Internal media is used to target current and past customers. You already have a means for reaching these segments, such as e-mail address, RSS feed, and postal address.
Creative relates to how a product or service is presented to prospects and customers. This can be broken into five different components:
- Product benefits. Think in terms of meeting customer needs, not product features.
- Media used. Since media-format specifics influence the creative presentation, it’s important to adapt to the strengths of the medium and type of advertising unit or communications piece to be used.
- Response channels. How do customers purchase the product? Options include online, retail, phone, mail, and fax.
- Call to action. What wording is used to overcome customer inertia? The aim is to get customers to act now.
- Branding. How is the company’s branding incorporated into the piece through the use of colors, logo, copy, and so on?
Test continually to find ways to improve your marketing results. Look for factors that will help you improve the bottom line. It’s important to run tests more than once to ensure results aren’t flukes. Test factors even if they haven’t been important in the past, since needs can change over time. Consider that traditional direct marketers set aside up to 25 percent of their marketing budget for testing. Areas to test include:
- Media. Consider another media entity or format.
- Creative. Change the copy, the art design, or both.
- Format. Use another advertising presentation, such as a banner ad versus an e-mail.
- Offer. Modify how you present the product and related pricing to customers.
- Target segment. Is there another group of customers who may be interested in your product?
- Engagement devices. Add or change these to increase results.
Define Success Metrics
At the end of every campaign and on an ongoing bass, it’s important to assess results to determine your marketing’s effectiveness in achieving intended goals. Most focus on the following three types of metrics (which will be covered in more depth in the next column):
- Count things.
- Develop rates. Put things in relationship to each other.
- Measure things and rates over time. Consistently monitor these metrics at given periods to assess trends.
Every campaign requires care and feeding to reach its full potential. This translates into ongoing marketing support and analysis of results.
Next time: three types of success metrics.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for your support and input over the past 100 columns. Please feel free to reach out and suggest ideas and input for future columns.
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