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I spoke at the NMA Live conference recently about how to navigate the credit crunch through online marketing. The first presentation was delivered by Tim Davis of Billetts – a marketing analytics company based in London.
It was of particular interest to me for the actionable insight it provided. There has been many a seminar and blog post on the subject of budget allocation in difficult economic times, but rarely do they give you a comprehensive Twelve Step guide to exactly what you must be thinking about. I’ve fleshed out the 12 steps with some of my own thoughts and examples to try and give you an idea what Tim was getting at.
The credit crunch has meant cheaper prices and more competition in many ways. One way to retain your customer’s patronage is through excellent customer service. Acquiring new customers costs way more than keeping current ones - so make sure you keep the ones you have happy!
Search engine marketing has exacerbated the notion of intent among consumers online. Trying to understand user intent, why they are using the particular keywords they do, can have a dramatic effect on ROI. Tor Crockatt gives some great tips in this post on Keyword Research. My favourite example from her is “iron” – are they looking for a clothes iron, iron maiden, soldering iron, iron man events or iron supplements? Having a better handle on HOW your customers might look for your product or service gives you a head start in connecting them with it more efficiently.
We’ve moved on from traditional media. There’s obviously still a place for advertising on TV, radio and press but the lines between consumers online and offline worlds are starting to blur. Media integration is becoming more and more the norm and you need capture and hold your audience’s attention in more innovative ways. See Nick Drew’s Search and Display Research to see how it pays dividends.
Marketing has to more than just sending out message and telling folks about your product or service. Remember that you have a brand to promote and the best way is to encourage some kind of engagement and interaction. Rich Media display campaigns are proving an excellent way to detain customers for a few moments playing a game or watching a video. In the UK, MSN recently co-branded the Tech and Gadget page with Barclaycard using banner ads and animation to encourage users in to see their TV ad online. Another example from MSN France lets users get the hang of an EA Games title, shooting up the homepage and watching a short video.
Because we’re exposed to so much different media all the time and different sorts of media will inform our purchasing decisions, it’s important to coordinate your media so it’s interwoven into the buying cycle. It’s no use spending £XXXm on a TV commercial if you’re not bidding on your brand name and associate generic terms in search. The chances are many people now watching TV will have a laptop to hand to search for your product or service if it takes their fancy. Ensuring your dots are connected is crucial. You have to be “in it to win it!”
Consumers are getting more and more involved with brands now. Companies are asking customers to sign up to websites and upload videos or giving the public the chance to influence what happens next in an ad. Whether it’s a competition to design a new pair of trainers or an online petition to bring back a 1980’s chocolate bar, using social media to let users build your brand for you and determine the direction of the product is becoming a very powerful tool.
Use the downturn to your advantage. By holding your nerve you’ll not only benefit from potentially cheaper rates for media, but you’ll keep your audience and may well fare better when we start coming out of the current crisis. You’ll be different from the many companies who may well completely pull their budgets because you’ll still be there in front of potential customers. But you may have to adapt your message while the dark times are here. I’ve noticed some retailers suggesting people buy their Christmas presents now in October to spread the cost. What a great and very helpful idea?!
Everyone said this year would be the year for mobile advertising – “not me guv!” – they also said that about last year and the year before that. Well given the circumstances, although it might not exactly explode next year, it makes sense to allocate some budget to experimenting in new and different areas so you have the knowledge, skills and understanding for when the up-turn starts and those channels do become mainstream.
Do I need to say more? After all this is an Analytics Blog!
Not literally, but you do need to do some competitive analysis. Who are your competitors? How are they advertising? Why are they advertising in that channel? What are they doing differently? How can you do it better?
More than ever, your campaigns need to be optimised. As consumers tighten their belts, your marketing needs to have laser-like precision. Folks may take longer to decide on what product to buy so this has to be taken into account. Check on seasonality, geographic considerations, day-parting and demographics in order to get the most bang for your buck.
Try to move beyond traditional budget allocation methodologies. The sheer amount of data that we now get from online means we have more sophisticated ways to prove that different approaches to spending money are effective.
- Potential ability to understand multiple and complex relationships
- Justification of “ad investment vs return”
- Optimisation of best marketing mix
- Ability to use past to predict future
Tim’s last quote was a classic – literally:
“He who does not economise……will have to agonise” – Confucius 551 BC – 449 BC
Do let us know your thoughts on these tips or if you have any to add.
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Great article, although I typically shy away from 12 step programs, this one makes sense. I think the two points that should be taken to heart are retention and optimization. There are no truer words than the customers you have are much cheaper to convert than customers that have never heard of you. Optimization is a great practice to take on in slow times because typically you are less busy, use some of that spare time to make your site as good as possible.
Thanks for the feedback Jesse - I know what you mean about 12 Steps :-) Now is a perfect time to re-assess techniques and test new environments. It doesn't have to be doom and gloom!
Great article, very informative. Thanks for the great stuff.
thanks for your article, as it is very relevant to current times.