Archive for August, 2011
The mounting importance of online marketing to the UK economy has been noted by no less august a body than the Houses of Parliament, which this week announced plans to compile a framework of all agencies involved with the online marketing sector.
Officials for the Houses of Parliament said that an online tender process will take place to gather the necessary information on the digital agencies, who will include experts in digital strategy, online designers, companies concerned with mobile applications, database designers, e-commerce companies – and online marketing experts in such fields as search engine optimisation, advertising on social networking, tracking and analytics.
The officials explained that the eProcurement will guide the creation of the framework, and several digital agencies are expected to receive government appointments at the end of the process.
Such a move on the part of the UK government really underlines the vital contribution that internet marketing is making to keeping British business vibrant and connected to the rest of the world – as well as its unparalleled effectiveness in driving up business itself.
In the last 18 months there has been a huge surge in both the popularity and reach of social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter and now Google+. So how do businesses go about marketing a commercial website when everyone is spending all their time on social sites? Some businesses have taken themselves lock, stock and barrel over to Facebook in order to ride this social media wave.
But while social media channels are a perfect source of web traffic because they allow a high level of targeted marketing, a good business website is still an essential part of online marketing. A customer that finds you on Twitter, Facebook and suchlike will invariably expect to find a smart-looking website showcasing your products and services in all their pixelated glory.
SEO is NOT dead, inbound links are still crucial, and on-page SEO can’t be overlooked just because you signed up to every social channel available! Abandoning your website for a social platform may seem savvy in the present social media surge, but remember that ‘your’ Facebook real estate is still owned by someone else.
The key to a successful online marketing campaign is to treat your website as your core online presence, and use social media to promote, sell and communicate with customers. It’s your website and you own it – don’t be afraid to shout it from the heady heights of Twitter Towers and Castle Facebook.
Online Media Direct opened a London office this week to help deal with the increased volume of business it is attracting from across the UK.
Complementing its headquarters in Rossendale, Lancashire, OMD’s London office is based in the Hatton Garden area of the city, just south of Clerkenwell – a district that has been synonymous with the jewellery trade since the Middle Ages, and was a centre for the capital’s Jewish community working in the diamond trade. Nowadays the area is fast becoming associated with a diverse range of media and creative businesses who have spotted its potential as a great gateway to business in the capital.
Hatton Garden still hosts hundreds of businesses associated with the jewellery industry, and OMD is confident that its new office represents a jewel in its own crown and signifies extra value for the future of its business and the online marketing sector in the UK.
The resilience and cost-effectiveness of online marketing was made even clearer recently when new studies showed that spending predictions for internet advertising and marketing were up – even as the rest of the sector shrinks.
Despite global budgets for advertising being cut, in line with the global economic downturn, markets information provider Warc said that there will be a 14.6 per cent increase in funds for online marketing by the end of the year.
The figures support research previously published by Econsultancy, which found that a whopping 72 per cent of companies are going to increase their online marketing budgets in 2011, by an average of 35 per cent.
Nevertheless, conditions still remain challenging even for the internet marketing sector, warned Warc, which pointed out in its report that global spending on digital advertising will increase by some 4.4 per cent, lower than the 5.1 per cent increase that was predicted back in April.
Although direct mail marketing has long been a trusted part of the marketing professional’s armoury, one expert this week has said that it makes most sense when employed alongside the “most effective” method – an internet marketing campaign.
So-called “marketing magician” Stefan Drew said that online marketing is highly cost-effective, with websites giving brands an unparalleled opportunity to reach the audience and convert interest into sales.
Mr Drew pointed out that once a site is paid for, much online marketing is free – and many sites can be obtained for “just literally a few pounds a month.”
He said that websites were in operation around the clock, all year long, allowing internet advertising to generate fresh leads and sales even when marketing staff were away, or busy elsewhere.
Another online marketing expert, Luigi Cappel, made a similar suggestion last week in an interview with Tech Day magazine. Mr Cappel said that marketing professionals embarking on direct mail campaigns should look for ways to add online elements to the campaign – we would suggest perhaps the use of a redeemable “voucher” to use on a website, as one example.
Software company Hydra revealed this week that more than half of all businesses involved in online marketing believe they are staying up to date with keywords.
A poll carried out by the company found that only 42 per cent of internet marketing respondents thought they were “on trend” when it came to keywords, as opposed to 55 per cent who felt they were lagging behind.
The problem for many is that they are failing in their keyword research – the practice of finding out which words and expressions are being widely used among their target demographic. Effective keyword research leads to effective online marketing, as only the keywords most likely to drive traffic and sales are invested in.
There are difficulties for many internet marketing teams because their limited resources prevent them from carrying out comprehensive and ongoing research. The best way forward is to initially find out which search terms lead customers to their sector and then use keyword-page mapping to uncover the relationships between certain words and the products and services being offered.
Online marketing professionals should take note of recent guidance on how to optimise a business’s on-site search and navigation to drive up sales and increase customer satisfaction – pointing out that there are various ways that retailers can improve this.
Fact-Finder head of UK operations Mathias Duda said that improved search and navigation on websites “can drive sales through personalised merchandising, increase a user’s experience of a brand and help retailers get a better understanding of their customers and how they behave on their website” – adding that too many retailers neglect site optimisation as part of their online marketing strategy.
One major improvement that can be made is changing the search function so that it understands misspellings and synonyms – up to 40 per cent of queries are spelt differently to actual product names, so this would clearly increase sales.
A general point also worth considering is that improved knowledge of what customers are seeking on a site will in turn improve online marketing by improving the efficiency of AdWords and SEO choices.