If the last time you thought about online was a few months ago, then its time to take a fresh look. It’s a medium that does anything but than stand still and the reason it remains the fastest growing marketing channel in history is the power of its results. Whether their campaigns are to build brands or generate leads, more and more marketers are using the internet to reach new customers in ever-smarter ways.
The latest explosive growth of the iconic social media brands Facebook and MySpace is just another step in a journey towards a new landscape for marketers. What’s interesting about social media is that it also chimes with the greater need brands have to achieve cut-through in an ever more crowded media world. As consumers switching their trust to friends and their social networks, the web has provided the perfect tool-kits for delivering that promise.
But these are the next generation digital tools, and many brands still need to get the basics right. Here in the UK the internet took 15% of total ad spend in the first half of the year, will top 17% by Christmas, and here at Digital Strategy Consulting we’ve argued it would trump television by Spring 2010. That’s only the advertising; nobody really knows how much is spent on building websites, but it’s easily more than spent in online media.
Brands have switched their budgets to digital because it gives a better return. For sure there’s a point where the growth in ROI levels off, but few firms are close to that. Instead, what you find is that investing in a search campaign generates sales leads, investing in websites creates a conversion process (remember only a tiny part of this is about e-commerce), and investing in email relationships keeps an open dialogue with prospects. Classic marketing channels still play a role, it’s just that it’s a bit smaller than it was before.
At the Digital Training Academy we’ve been coaching senior marketers around the world this year and discovered the same needs: how to navigate this changing media landscape, how upweighting the role of online boosts results, and which tools track the effects. After all, if the internet is the most accountable channel in marketing history, then you’ll be wanting to constantly test, measure, and refine to optimise your spend.
The bombshell normally lands when the ROI for web activity is set alongside the ROI for traditional marketing. Juggle the budgets around and almost every brand discovers that they can not only reach many more customers without spending more, but they also get better cut-through. With the net often now ahead of TV in terms of the time we spend with media, and with most big purchases researched online before going near the store, it’s enough to even get finance directors pushing for a bigger switch to digital marketing.