Online Marketing

This Paper explores Multiple Online Marketing Strategies.
Developing a Comprehensive, Cohesive Online Marketing Strategy
by David A. Wright, MD, MBA, MHSA



Marketing, In General:

A comprehensive, cohesive online marketing strategy requires thought, planning, strategic activities, analysis, review, assessment, and adjustments. It requires a mindset that creates, promotes, and sustains activities and processes that allow a business or organization to move from the status quo to where they would like to go. It requires dedication and follow through. Fundamentally, it entails getting potential online customers to look, turning the looker into a buyer (conversion), and having the buyer praise the company or product, bring in additional lookers and buyers, and return for additional purchases themselves.

Customer Staging:

The Hierarchy, from most desirable to least desirable (in terms of customers, from most desirable to least desirable), is suggested by the following order: (1) Current, satisfied customer (2) Referral by a trusted source [particularly, a current, satisfied customer] (3) Current relationship, although yet to purchase (4) Recognized Expert in the field (5) Internet/Web Search results (6) Cold Calls, Mailers, or random email advertisements. (Stratten, 2012)

Example:

Amazon.com is an organization that has used digital marketing strategies to increase its customer base and revenue. According to a case study by Dave Chaffey, Amazon uses digital marketing across its customer experience by using the RACE framework: (1) Reach (2) Act (3) Convert (4) Engage. (Chaffey, 2014). Chaffey states that Amazon's SEC filings state that its aim is to do the following in terms of its customer communications: (1) Increase customer traffic to our websites (2) Create awareness of our products and services (3) Promote repeat purchases (4) Develop incremental product and service revenue opportunities (5) Strengthen and broaden the Amazon.com brand name. (Chaffey, 2014)

Relationship Building: Spider Webs

What Amazon has done essentially is create a web of relationships online.

Chaffey also states that Amazon augments these customer strategies by using its relationship with customers like Drugstore.com, Living.com, Pets.com, Wineshopper.com, Homegrocer.com, Sothebys.com, and Kozmo.com in order to further strengthen its network with its current consumers and potential customers (Chaffey, 2014). He also states that Amazon uses Data as a means to do all of these things: data and analytics. Chaffey states that “Amazon performs exceptionally efficiently measured against revenue per visitor, which is one of the key measures for any commercial website, whether it's a media site, search engine, social network or a transactional retailer or offers travel or financial services.” (Chaffey, 2014).

According to Chaffey, the way that Amazon does this is by using products and services to further create customer interactions. These include, but are not limited to, the Kindle, the Amazon Fire phone, Fire TV, grocery store delivery, Prime Instant Video, and Amazon Fashion.

Activities that lead a potential buyer back to a website are variables that make it more likely that the individual will be converted into a buyer and a repeat buyer. These activities include social proofing methods, referrals, and other elements that increase the levels of trust and engagement. However, there is a thin line between a level of engagement that seems helpful and thoughtful (showing prior customer feedback and reviews) to a level of engagement that borders of badgering the customer (sending an email when a shopping cart is abandoned or when items are eliminated from the cart). For example, when I am preparing for an upcoming Davenport course, I'll visit Amazon a week or two before the course in order to purchase my textbooks. And, I do that with the intention of potentially purchasing a DVD or two--under the notion that the amount of the purchase will provide free shipping for all of the items. However, If I get to the payment screen and realize that I'm spending more than I intended, then I may delete an item from my cart. If Amazon sends me a single email alerting me that I deleted an item from my cart or that the item that I deleted from the cart is substantially discounted (40% or 50% off or more), then I'll most like appreciate the message. However, if I receive continuous emails from Amazon regarding the discarded item, then I will most likely be turned off by the experience. I think that there is a thin line between a website being helpful and it badgering a potential or actual customer.

Example lessons: Amazon

According to Oxford, other online sellers and marketplaces should take the following lessons from Amazon in regards to a web experience that leads to conversions: (1) The Power of Page Speed (2) Personalize the Shopping Experience for the buyer (3) Make Searching a Breeze (4) Users Need Reviews (5) Recommend Similar Products (6) Test, Test, Test. (Oxford/Say, 2013) According to Oxford, Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos once said “If you double the number of experiments you do per year you’re going to double your inventiveness.” (Oxford/Say, 2013)

Push vs. Pull Marketing Techniques:

That brings us to the concept of Push vs. Pull marketing, since Amazon's marketing strategy involves the use of both strategies. According to the textbook, "Push" marketing is putting a product or service out there and "praying" that customers buy it (Stratten, 2012). In this type of marketing, the processes involved are essentially focused on letting the greatest number of consumers know that your product or service exists. It absolutely makes no attempt to find out what they are interested in or what they like, desire, or expect. It's a one-way communication loop.

In opposition to that, "Pull" marketing is a culmination of attempts to engage the customer. It includes all efforts to gather information from potential customers about their interests. In the example provided in the textbook, customers are asked to share their email addresses for follow-up. Other methods of "Pulls", depending on the source, might include the following: (1) Customer Surveys (2) Email Mailing Lists (3) Discount Offers (4) Forums (5) Question and Answer sessions.

Traditionally, marketing has been more "Push" in nature than "Pull." Traditional marketing practices have revolved around informing consumers about products and services, making them attractive and appealing to consumers, distinguishing products and services from those of competitors, using enticements like bargains, sales, and discounts to encourage an initial purchase, and reminding consumers to return to purchase more. These activities are considered to be "Push" in nature, because they involve providing information or messages to the consumer from the marketer/seller.

However, increasing competition and a vastly more saturated marketplace have led to new trends. This increased competition has been also been associated with increased customer service activities online. Increased customer service activities include the availability of online customer service chats, follow-up email messages, text messages, mobile phone application alerts, and other methods to allow customers to share their voices, find solutions to product and service difficulties, and to have better purchase and post-purchase experiences.

Interestingly enough, some of these post-purchase activities and strategies have now begun to enter the territory of "Pull" marketing practices. For instance, many websites now routinely have features whereby chat alerts pop-up even before a customer has made a purchase. In many instances, the pop-up messages may be specifically tied a product or page that a customer has recently seen or accessed. Some of the messages are even tied to products that a customer may have abandoned in an online cart for one reason or another. These messages represent opportunities to discover more about what the consumer really desires. This week's discussion question is a good one because it helps to elucidate the notion that many strategies that have typically been "Pull" strategies are now being used to initially entice customers to make a purchase—which is a traditional "Push" strategy.

Other strategies that might flow back and forth between the "Push" and "Pull" categories might include invitations via email, pop-up chat windows, or text messages to comment about a product, website, or service prior to an actual purchase.

Objections to Online Marketing Strategies & SEO:

Businesses and marketers have many reasons to avoid initiating a social media marketing strategy. While some of these reasons may seem irrational or unwarranted, many of their reasons are logical. Some reasons why businesses and marketers may avoid a social media marketing strategy may include one or more of the following: (1) Don't have a concept of what social media really is (2) Don't understand how social media can impact their ability to reach and convert consumers (3) Don't want to leave their comfort zone (4) Have established relationships with marketing channels already (5) Feel that they can't afford to do so (6) Fearful that Tech and Web Savvy social media companies will overcharge &/or take advantage of them (7) Unsure of how they will proceed after a social media presence is established (8) Fear that they will no longer be able to control the messaging once it has entered the social media marketplace (9) Fear the ongoing time, energy, resource (personnel), and economic investments that they perceive to be required for a successful social media marketing campaign/strategy (10) Fear that they can't compete with the millions of businesses with an online or social media presence (11) Fear that the tech bubble will burst again (12) Think that it is a waste of time, energy, and resources (13) Have a overarching belief that traditional marketing is the best way to reach customers.

Change, adaptation, and evolution are tricky subjects. Our planet and the society(ies) which inhabit it are in a constant state of change and evolution. None of us can stop that. The question is, how will we respond to those changes? The internet and the World Wide Web have forever changed how we live. Generally speaking, there are 3 options: (1) Be behind the momentum of the change (2) Be a part of or within the normal range of the change (3) Be ahead of the curve of the change. Most businesses and individuals usually fall behind change—although they may make a quick effort to catch up once it is clear that others are doing so. Most businesses and individuals won't be ahead of (or, lead) the change either because they don't have the knowledge, inventiveness, intuition, drive, courage &/or forethought to do so. Leading requires risk. Moreover, most businesses and individuals avoid risk because of the perceived negative outcomes associated with it. That leaves option 2—being a part of the normal range of change. Some individuals and business fit in here because they are, in a sense, "Keeping up with the Jones'"—trying to stay current with the world. This position is perceived as allowing them to not get left behind while avoiding the risks associated with what is considered radical, revolutionary, or evolutionary. It's a safe zone. Most individuals and businesses greatly associate the 3rd position with events like the Tech Bubble Burst—despite the fact that many companies survived that and the fact that many successful companies have been developed since then. Avoidance of the 3rd position is a direct consequence or fear, anxiety, and avoidance. Most people and businesses will reside in either position 1 or position 2 because it "Feels" Safe to them. Interestingly enough, a false sense of safety and security (the opposite of what prevents them from joining the 3rd position) is what allows them to remain in position #1 without a fear of being left behind. It's all about mindset, fear, and logic.

Example: Sears Catalog

I would advocate that both individuals and business at least (at a minimum) adopt the 2nd position, because failure to change in tandem with evolution inevitably leads to extinction—despite the false sense of security associated with maintenance of the status quo. A good example of a marketing strategy that fell behind the curve is the "Sears" Catalog. When other large retailers made the decision to move to a marketing strategy that involved the internet, Sears stuck with their traditional catalog strategy (The New York Times, 2015). We all see how that's worked out. As WestNorth illustrates, although Sears' sales have remained roughly the same from 1978 until 2013, the US GDP has exponentially and algebraically outpaced them (WestNorth, 2014). Many attribute this phenomena to Sears' poor marketing and growth strategies over the last 3 decades. Their late adoption from a "Brick and Mortar" and "Catalog" strategy to an online strategy may be a large part of the reason behind their fall from retail grace. (MarketWatch, 2013) (Business Insider, 2014) (The Robin Report, 2014) Knutson suggests that this has occurred because Sears failed to anticipate consumers' desires (The Washington Times, 2011)

Online Marketing Strategies & SEO:

So, how can we move reluctant businesses forward with an online and/or social media embracing internet marketing strategy. Well, we can starte with providing them with information, insights, and advice to make them feel more secure about embracing it.

Smart Insights suggest the CARE approach in ensuring that what happened to Sears doesn't happen to small business and other retailers. The CARE approach stands for the following: (1) C – Content (2) A – Audience (3) R – Relevance (4) E – Evaluation.

They suggest that these are the pillars for the successful use of social media in B2B activities. The also provide a short guide for avoiding social media pitfalls. This short guide includes the following advice: (1) Don’t leave it to one person to handle (2) Don’t leave it to the wrong person or people (3) Have a plan for content (4) Set some metrics to measure success in social media (5) Select the right platforms (6) Make sure your employees can participate (7) Integrate social media with business goals and objectives (8) Give it time. (Smart Insights, 2015) They also offer a B2B Digital Marketing Ebook.

Vital Design suggests that employing a PPC (Pay-Per-Click) campaign using Google's AdWords is a good strategy for increase the quantity of traffic to a small business website. They also suggest that once traffic has begun to flow, it is imperative that you optimize the strategy by analyzing the data from AdWords. They also suggest that there are readily available metrics for analyzing your AdWords/PPC Strategy. Some of the strategies that they suggest include the following: (1) Discovering and analyzing your CTR [Click-Through-Rate] (2) Discovering and analyzing how many Ad Groups you have (3) Discovering and analyzing your Ad's "Server Percentage." (Vital Design, 2015) They also produce an ebook entitled "5 Ways to Increase Website Leads."

The Weidert Group, a full-service inbound marketing agency, recommends the following strategies on how inbound marketers should use paid advertising. They suggest the following: (1) Keyword Data (2) Target a Specific Audience using demographics like age, gender, location, time of day, device type, marital and parental status, career, and income (3) Provide Traffic for A/B Testing (4) Increase [your] Reach in Social Media. (Weidert Group, 2015)

There are several different methods of determining the effectiveness of a search engine advertising campaign. According to Grimm, the following variables play varying roles in the way in which products and services are suggested on Amazon, and how they will come up based on Google's analytics: (1) Structured vs. Unstructured Data (2) On-Page vs. On-Page + Off-Page (3) Compelling vs. Unique Content (4) Anatomy of the results page (5) Query string parameters [a] field-keywords [b] node [c] field-brandtextbin (6) Ranking Factors [a] performance factors {i} conversion rate & session sharing {ii} images {iii} price [b] relevance factors {i} title {ii} brand {iii} bullets and description {iv} search terms {v} seller name (7) Visibility Systems [a] filter fields [b] reviews [c] sales rank. (Grimm, 2014)

Patel suggests the following methods in increase search rankings through Google analytics: (1) Internal Linking (2) Site Speed (3) Build links (4) Frequent site updates (5) Increase click-through rate by optimizing title tag and meta data description (6) Optimize the site design (7) Increase the quantity of social shares. (Patel, 2014)


References:

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