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Promotions Are the Same Online or Offline

Although the landscape has shifted radically with the increasing popularity of the Internet, the nature of marketing promotions has remained fundamentally unchanged.

The key to a promotion’s success today and beyond is realizing that the new medium does not replace the old. Although fewer hours are spent watching television as eyeballs turn to computers and the Internet, the reach of traditional media is unarguably powerful.

The best strategy is to marry online and offline media to execute the most effective promotion. The Internet offers the ability to target and interact while traditional media provide reach and frequency through TV, radio, print, outdoor and grass-roots marketing. A strategic blend of available media will lead to a more focused and effective promotion. Marketers have entered a new era, with new tools to build awareness, branding, trial and loyalty.

However, the Internet has dramatically altered how companies can effectively interact with a consumer. Marketers now can talk directly to a consumer with improved speed, accuracy, efficiency and results. Marketers can now deliver better, more relevant promotions, and consumers’ needs and interests can be more closely met.

In traditional offline marketing, the challenge has always been to reach a targeted audience while managing the costs and lead time associated with talking directly to the relevant consumers. Few methods offline, beyond costly targeted direct mail programs, allow companies to communicate their message as effectively and efficiently as desired. Marketers have continually struggled with understanding the success or failure of their promotions, and faced with the high costs of in-depth research and long implementation periods, they have often had to rely on art more than science.

The Internet is opening up the opportunity for companies to better understand the consumer life cycle, as well as the consumer’s lifetime value to a company. Not only can marketers become better educated about what is meaningful to their consumers, but also they can see the results of a promotion immediately. The consumer relationship is enhanced by a company’s ability to speak directly to consumers about promotions that are relevant.

It is perhaps not surprising that the popularity of online promotions like sweepstakes and giveaways is growing. Not only are they proven offline acquisition and retention techniques for numerous Fortune 100 companies, but also entire industries, like the lottery, have been built on them. The “traditional” media world has contributed to this craze. With the introduction of network television shows like “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” and “Survivor,” the concept of contests and winning money is becoming increasingly prevalent in our society.

The advantages of online sweepstakes are numerous. They provide for tremendous scalability in Web site traffic. Unlike rewards programs, sweepstakes are a fixed expenditure. Whether a company has one participant or 1 million participants, the cost is the same.

Sweepstakes also generate considerable free publicity. Winning large-scale prizes is, by definition, newsworthy. With strong public relations efforts, companies can leverage sweepstakes and their payouts into newspaper, television and radio hits. Therefore, companies can rely on sweepstakes and the free “programming” they create to supplement their marketing and branding budgets.

Lastly, sweepstakes allow marketers to gather detailed and accurate information about their users. The sweepstakes registration process is a perfect forum to obtain valuable demographic and psychographic information that might otherwise be difficult to gather. This information can then be used to further deliver targeted messages and targeted advertising to your users.

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