Sending Mixed Messages
TO THINK, A mere two decades ago, the World Wide Web still was a new-fangled contraption. Yet, with the advent of podcasting, SMS, even adver-gaming, it’s about as old-timey as the phonograph. Simple Web sites certainly are adequate, but for marketers looking to proactively connect with clients, the Internet as a cutting-edge communication tool has approached a crossroads marked “new media.”
What’s the buzz about? Have traditional tactics taken a nosedive? And what, exactly, is “new media,” anyway? For answers to these questions and more, Promo Marketing turned to Holly Berkley, interactive marketing consultant and author of “Marketing in the New Media,” for a pro’s eye view on navigating the new marketing mix. PM: For starters, can you give a quick overview on the types of marketing vehicles that fall under the “new media” heading?
Holly Berkley: While traditional media includes television, radio and print, new media refers to media delivered through newer technologies such as iPods, cell phones and, of course, the Internet. New media allows for more consumer control and engagement than traditional media.
PM: How have some of your clients used these mediums in their marketing efforts?
HB: First of all, there is not a “one size fits all” approach to new-media marketing. Just because company X decides to create a MySpace page, doesn’t mean that it’s right for your business. Think about your customer and how they use the Internet to determine the best new-media strategies to implement.
For example, I had a client that was a local winery. Their most successful new-media strategy was consistent, monthly e-mail blasts to their customers. In the e-mails, they let customers know about local events, in addition to their wine specials. It was a great way to strengthen their brand as leaders in the local community and encourage their loyal customers to forward the e-mails and spread the word.
I had a children’s toy manufacturer that benefitted from simply posting testimonials and allowing for honest feedback about their product from moms on their site. Research shows … new moms are more likely to buy a product that has [been recommended by] other moms. You don’t have to implement a complicated or ultra-creative new-media strategy to be effective. Sometimes simple ones work just as well and get the job done even faster!
PM: What are some of the benefits of incorporating these new methods into a marketing plan, as opposed to using more traditional means?
HB: There are many benefits of including new media in your marketing mix:
1) Cost. Updating your Web site with new promotions and featured products is much cheaper than having to revise a printed brochure or television commercial.
2) Speed. You can test new promotions, price points or products and get instant feedback on whether or not your campaign is working. The Internet allows for real-time tracking and immediate feedback into a campaign, whereas traditional advertising is more difficult to track.
3) Wider audience. The Internet allows you to easily open your product and services up to a global audience in a way that most traditional media has not been able to do.
4) Levels the playing field. When done correctly, new-media marketing can essentially level the playing field between a large business and a smaller company with a limited budget. Think creative viral marketing campaigns or excellent search engine optimization strategies—both can be implemented at a fraction of the cost of any traditional advertising campaign.
PM: How can these approaches help better sell products?
HB: No matter how creative and successful a new-media marketing campaign is, it’s the quality of your Web site that will turn that visitor into a lasting customer. Your Web site should be the center of all your marketing efforts and reflect your professionalism and show customers that you are a trustworthy and credible company worth doing business with. Use your Web site as a forum to showcase products, customer reviews, feedback and latest promotions. … Include tell-a-friend incentives and always encourage visitors to sign up for your e-mail list.
PM: What steps would you suggest to a marketer looking to branch out into new media?
HB: The first step in new media marketing is to clearly define your goals. … Don’t just say, “I want to increase sales,” but define how you plan to do that. What would make the new-media campaign successful? For example, selling three times more of product X? Increasing the conversion rate of your current Web site traffic by X? Getting X more people to sign up for your “request a quote” form?
Because marketing online is so measurable, it helps to clearly identify your goals. Use trackable URLs whenever possible and invest in good Web traffic-reporting software to help you understand what is working and what is not. If you don’t know how to do either of these things, get the help of an interactive marketing consultant or Web developer who understands the importance of these items.
Just because new-media marketing can be much cheaper than traditional marketing, there are still costs involved and it’s easy to waste time and money. So the more targeted and focused your campaign is from the beginning, the better your long-term return on investment will be.