Create Customers, Not Click-Throughs

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When online marketing began to take hold, the standard advertising vehicle was the banner ad and the method of measuring Internet advertising and marketing success was the click-through rate.

Today, the rules have changed and successful online marketers demand solutions that go beyond click-through rates. Marketers are getting to the heart of what creates a successful marketing program: customer acquisition and retention.

To effectively reach consumers and create customers, marketers measure beyond the click using methods that do not rely on traditional means of analyzing and maximizing return on investment. Four key methods to achieve customer reach and retention are incorporating non-personally identifiable profiling, direct response and optimization, targeted audience groups and emerging technologies. Are these solutions in your online marketing portfolio?

Non-personally identifiable profiling. Picture this scenario: A person visits a sports site and begins clicking on articles related to golf. Marketers know that if they put an ad for golf clubs on that site, they have a good chance of reaching their target consumer. What marketers may not know is that this consumer also is interested in gardening. Non-personally identifiable profiling provides marketers with information about the consumer by building a profile based on online behavior patterns.

With this information, marketers not only can target their advertising and marketing efforts more effectively based on proven interests, but can take advantage of opportunities they never realized would work to reach their target audiences. So the next time our user logs on, he may go to his favorite sports site and see an ad for golf clubs and gardening tools.

In the process of creating customer profiles, one thing marketers cannot neglect is consumers' desire for privacy. In fact, maintaining and respecting an individual's right to online privacy can create distinct benefits for the marketer. By following guidelines like the Federal Trade Commission's Fair Information Practices, marketers build consumer trust in their products and services. If consumers feel comfortable purchasing online, they will keep coming back online, creating more opportunity for marketers.

Direct response and optimization. Using a combination of zero-based media targeting and behavioral targeting methods can significantly increase customer reach and retention. The concept of zero-based media targeting is first introduced when a campaign is performance tested without any preconceived notions regarding what works and what doesn't for a particular campaign.

This performance test develops a base line that can be used for comparison purposes with a user's behavioral movements. In addition, this base line enables marketers to make sound decisions on the purchase of additional media content or profile-based solutions, depending on the outcome of the results.

Another component essential to optimization is the employment of detailed reporting mechanisms. Advisers will make recommendations about a variety of factors, such as which sites are performing the best and frequency of creative rotation to improve the overall performance of a campaign and successfully create customers.

Targeted audience groups. TAGs help marketers locate key audiences and devise focused online campaigns. The groups are based on demographic profiles developed for online users matched to specific interest categories, such as "adventure sports enthusiasts" or "home owners/buyers." Using TAGs allows marketers to focus media buys in the most popular content sites that match their target interest categories.

TAGs help marketers go beyond the site to target specific individuals rather than simply relying on placing their ads and hoping they reach the correct audiences. Incorporating TAGs in online advertising and marketing reflects a time-tested marketing mandate: Know your prospects as well as you can to increase the chances of turning them into customers and to keep them satisfied as return customers.

Emerging technologies. Emerging technology solutions represent an important component in attracting customers. Technologies such as broadband, streaming media and rich media enable marketers to actively engage the interests of online users more effectively than using static banner ads alone. Marketers are embracing these technologies as powerful new communication tools to acquire and retain customers.

Online marketing campaigns that use these four solutions provide the best means of reaching consumers and creating customers. Moving at the speed of technology, these essential marketing programs augment traditional online banner ads and promotions. Marketers should partner with the online advertising companies that offer the programs outlined above to strategically and successfully extend the reach and response of their marketing campaigns.

Today, online marketers have expanded their efforts beyond the click to measure their success on the creation and retention of customers. Have your marketing tactics shifted to incorporate this new trend?

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