Don't spend blindly on internet marketing efforts
07 December 2011
Continuing her exposition of the common pitfalls and misconceptions encountered during online marketing, Amy Munice of ALM Communications Inc points out the importance of adapting
Is online marketing strength enough to win? There is no one-size-fits-all answer. For some companies –especially locally-based companies in parts of the world where e-commerce is well developed – it is often all that is needed.
But for other companies, often trying to reach consumer markets that are often not fully ''online'', approaches need to differ. This is and especially true for B2B companies serving niche markets worldwide.
So how you need to approach internet marketing and whether, if, or how to assign a significant portion of your budget to offline marketing is often a complex decision.
As a simple example, if you are selling computer accessories in Mumbai or London or New York - whether to businesses or consumers - your customer prospects are highly likely to be sourcing information about your products online.
It will vary though in these diverse locales, in terms of how much or how little and which social networks will be reaching them on the web and how these online social networks will be affecting your site's visibility to online searchers.
Social networks are reported to be more important in terms of the ever-changing brew of the way search engines determine how they display information on searchers' pages.
Social networks tend to be more local. Twitter, Facebook, Google - yes they extend beyond borders, but people's connections are usually more real-world geography-bound.
To the extent that your business is seeking out local customers and to the extent to which your can assume your customers are into internet sourcing, local search algorithms are helping you enormously; as are free services like Google Places.
In Mumbai as in London as in New York, there are markets that simply do not use the internet to source any information at all. And there are markets and places where sourcing of information is rapidly migrating to mobile devices.
Then - if your company is in any way selling on a global scale - you need to appreciate that you have a different set of problems to solve, largely because of the local search algorithm built into today's search engines.
These can bias search results to local companies; thus it may often happen that places where your competitors are headquartered will crowd your company off of top search pages.
This can matter a little or a lot. It is very industry dependent and location dependent; and again affected in the first place by how internet-''hooked'' your prospects are.
Search engine optimisation (SEO) companies that promise to gain you profile by translating a page or two of your content can do that if it housed on your country-specific local domain, but tend to over-promise over what they actually deliver.
If your company can afford country-specific domains aplenty, do it. That is what works - being found locally; especially if you use SEO linguistic tools that can find the best supporting theme words in the language of that country that make your pages in that domain almost instantly ''culturally-literate''.
A better spend for a company that sells globally is to first and foremost look to ways to spend marketing budgets that transcend all local search algorithm tilts to provide optimum focus in the niche verticals you target.
This might mean, for example, making sure that you have global news release distributions to online publications that have entrée into local search results that your company cannot as easily achieve; and also a ready well-developed local readership audience.
Better yet look into not only advertising with these publications but providing editorial of value (white papers, articles, blogs, etc) that will showcase you company, and in many cases provide direct links to your company website.
Similarly, global directories for particular vertical niches, and especially those maintained by reputable trade media - from medical devices to energy companies to nanotech technology developers - may absolutely be the best advertising dollar spend. Google advertising (and display advertising mixes) that are very pinpointed geographically are absolute musts for developing tests for web pages geared for particular audiences.
If you are selling locally or globally and especially for big ticket items, don't ignore the many free tools that now exist to find ready leads for what you sell. These might include signing up to follow Facebook, Twitter and similar pages of companies that sell products that make your products needed as a follow on.
For example, a client of ALM Communications' marketing/PR firm that manufactures digital cutting machines now reports that in the US at least, they can source leads just by following companies that sell digital presses.
Before there were Twitter hashtags, there were Google Alerts, and they still work to give you the head-up on similar news - as do free online trade publications and business publications that tend to print news along the lines of ''X company bought Y company technology'' (such as domain-b).
You have to know how your prospects are finding you today;
You have to know that how they find you at some tomorrow in the not distant future will be different; requiring you to keep a pulse on this information very specific to your market/s and your business.
Reading generalized reports about migration to online or mobile is not all that real. People selling to construction companies in the US, for example, might not think of the themselves as dealing with a cutting edge buying audience; but even a casual observation will tell you that most construction managers in the US and any similar managers who are comparably mobile have long ago switched to smart phones and similar devices as their primary information sourcing tools.
You have to assess if local search algorithms have a positive or negative impact on your sales and if the latter, choose among the many ways to get around these impacts.
Is there still a place for off-line marketing spends? Yes, and another article in this series will elaborate on it.