As Internet marketing continues to get more sophisticated, marketers need to find the most effective ways to get the right offer to the right customer in the right context at the right time.
Every company that has a product wants to target to its ideal customer, but are the traditional means of Internet advertising working as well as they could? For the most part, the answer is no. The quick life span of anything associated with the Internet dictates that new advertising mediums need to be constantly refined.
Traditional Internet advertising (banners, links, affiliates) is decreasing in click-throughs every quarter. Sure, some new flashy banners might increase click-throughs by a percentage or two, but does it really make sense to re-work these? There are many new advertising methods that provide more targeted customers and much higher order conversion rates, including in-process marketing, affiliate marketing, keyword search and e-mail marketing.
A twist on affiliate programs is a new marketing concept sometimes called in-process marketing. Basically, this is when your product is partnered with another site’s ordering or registration process.
Take, for example, a Web site dedicated to online auctions. Most of these sites require a registration process to auction or bid. If your product or service does not conflict with the auction site’s business model, offer your product as an add-on to the registration page where customer information is already being fulfilled. The auction site processes the customer information and sends you the correct product information while keeping the whole transaction on its site. If you have a multitude of products, partner with sites that might fit each product’s niche using the in-process model.
While in-process marketing could be thought of as an affiliate program on steroids, there are several ways to increase your existing affiliate programs’ success through increased targeting. Though affiliate marketing is an excellent way to drive traffic to your site, it is crucial to provide affiliates with the tools to convert those visits to orders. Provide targeted banners, text links and even storefronts with direct targeted offers while giving the audience fun, creative content. Multiple product links on one creative image means more selections for visitors with less work for them.
Be sure to work with a third-party supplier or inhouse technology that can provide affiliates with auto-merchandiser links that automatically update content so affiliate sites constantly maintain a fresh, new look. Also, comprehensive reporting tools allow affiliates to drill down to keep track of daily performance.
Search engine portals are excellent ways to provide a targeted offer to a large traffic base. Keyword search takes advantage of the search capabilities on a partner site so you can present your product or offer to a potential customer who is looking for something related to your product at the exact time they are looking for it. Your offer is featured prominently on the search results page, though not as part of the standard results listing, which is based on metatags alone.
It is best to have your offer featured as closely as possible to the actual search word typed in. For example, an engine might return a sentence that reads: “Your search for ‘auto’ returned the following pages.” You want your offer to be the first thing the searcher sees, before scanning down the listing. Another good placement and introduction to your offer is tying your offer together with the engine’s brand name. For example, when returning a search for the word “auto,” the search engine on “searchengine.com” might have that search engine’s logo with a tag line that states “searchengine.com” recommends *your offer here.*
Finally, don’t forget about one of the more established advertising mediums: e-mail marketing. Not only marketing your own site’s e-mail list, but using other e-mail newsletters to gain more customers. Using e-mail agencies or list rentals are one way to target your offers to demographic-specific e-mails.
Whatever avenue you choose to target your offer, it is important to rotate in new and enticing offers and ensure you have dedicated staff to analyze and optimize results. Though it’s true the Internet is still a highly impulsive medium, targeted Internet marketing tools offer high value to consumers while generating cost-effective, qualified prospects based on your own target customer profiles.
• Tim Choate is chairman/CEO of online direct marketing network FreeShop.com Inc., Seattle. Reach him at [email protected]