The job of a technology marketer is not easy. With all of the hi-tech products available today, how is a marketer supposed to grab the attention of the consumer above all the hype of the other products and messages in the market? And with the multitude of marketing channels, what is the best way for a marketer to reach its target prospects and customers?
Obviously, marketers need to know their competition and to whom they are trying to communicate in to order to formulate crisp, clean messages that will capture their prospects’ and customers’ attention and differentiate their products from their competitors’ offerings. However, a powerful marketing campaign, with exceptional creative and hard-hitting messages, may not be a success without the message being delivered through the right channels. It is crucial that the right message reach the right person at just the right time.
Marketers have many channel options through which they can deliver their messages. There are the traditional marketing methods, such as print, television or radio advertising; billboards; telemarketing; and direct mail. Then there are the new channels, including banner advertising, sponsorships, interstitials, banner buttons and e-mail. There also are the emerging wireless marketing channels: cell phones, pagers and personal digital assistants. However, most marketing budgets are not limitless, and not every channel will work for every campaign. Therefore, marketers must be selective when determining the channel that will provide the best response for their campaigns.
By using direct marketing methods, marketers can measure results better and feel more confident that their messages are reaching their target prospects and customers and are not being overlooked when the consumer is flipping through a magazine or clicking through television or radio stations. With the right message, the right distribution list and the right media, direct marketing channels can provide marketers with the highest return on their investment.
Direct marketing in the past may have seemed limited, as it was essentially direct mail and telemarketing campaigns, but today, with the advances in technology, direct marketing includes not only offline, traditional methods, but also online marketing channels. With 146.4 million Internet users in the United States in August – more than 50 percent of the country’s population – according to Nielsen//NetRatings, New York, these online delivery channels are vital to the technology marketer.
Today’s online technologies enable marketers to deliver targeted messages to Internet users – the consumers with the highest propensity to purchase hi-tech products and the latest gadgets. New ad-targeting capabilities provide marketers with the ability to post personalized Web banner advertisements to Internet users based on anonymous profiling techniques. Unlike traditional banner advertising methods, which place ads on target Web sites, the new targeted banner advertising technology provides direct marketing options to reach prospects and customers with greater specificity.
When used properly, e-mail marketing is another effective delivery channel that has been extremely successful for many technology marketers. Most purchasers of hi-tech products have e-mail accounts and frequently use this method of communication – daily, if not hourly, and sometimes even more frequently. Therefore, this channel is an excellent way for marketers to reach prospects and customers and to develop cost-efficient, one-to-one communications with their key audiences. However, marketers need to ensure that they follow government and industry privacy regulations to prevent unwanted e-mail from being sent to the consumer.
With the numerous direct marketing channels available, offline and online, which channel is best for the technology marketer?
The key to any successful marketing campaign is integration. A marketer will never reach all of its targets using one channel. However, using a variety of channels to deliver the same message will reach a wider audience and achieve a greater response. Delivering a message via multiple channels provides prospects and customers with a choice of how they wish to receive the message and, more importantly, how they would like to respond.
With more than half the U.S. population using the Internet, some might think that marketers of hi-tech products should focus solely on online direct marketing methods. However, just because a marketer is targeting Internet users, the marketer does not have to reach these users only via online channels. With offline media stimulating 70 percent of all online purchases, marketers need to find the best way to drive prospective online consumers directly to their Web sites. Marketers can develop an effective campaign by integrating multiple channels and using all the various touch points possible.
The campaign development process should begin with a strategic road map of how marketers will communicate with their prospects and customers. The goal should be to move prospects up the value chain to become loyal customers. By implementing an integrated communications plan, marketers are better able to achieve this goal.
For example, a marketer can obtain lists of Internet users and then communicate to those users via other channels, such as direct mail. To take that a step further, a marketer may send a direct mail piece to a potential customer offering an incentive to drive the customer to the company’s Web site and then follow up on the mailing with an e-mail message.
A tightly integrated marketing campaign with unified messages and style across the media will be more cost-effective than creating different campaigns for each delivery channel. With an integrated marketing campaign, marketers can reach a broader audience and target that audience with their key messages from multiple touch points, providing prospects and customers with more options by which to receive and respond to marketing campaigns.
• J.D. de Haseth is vice president of marketing communications at Naviant, Newtown Square, PA. His e-mail address is