New Media Clinic

By The Drum, Administrator

November 18, 2004 | 24 min read

(l-r) David Mill, MediaCo; Andrew Craig, Realise; Philip Lockwood-Holmes

New Media Questions

Why do I have an ongoing SEO campaign and can PPC be an alternative solution?

Andrew Craig, director, Realise: SEO isn’t our area of expertise but Pay Per Click and paid listings marketing campaigns are recognised as being amongst the most successful methods of driving increased traffic to websites. They can drive better-qualified users to your site and provide more comprehensive user statistics, all without you needing to change the design of your site.

But the thing to remember is that the internet is a constantly evolving entity and your online marketing can evolve just as easily. So if a client came to us with this question we would definitely point them in the direction of a specialist agency, like Amber Green, who could give them the best advice based on their needs.

What's the best way to start collecting mobile phone numbers so that you can run a mobile marketing programme?

John Farmer, Carbon Partners: Keep in mind that the mobile is a distinctly personal means of communication. The best approach to building a long-term dialogue on mobile is to let your customers initiate dialogue. Termed a “pull” campaign, the audience is invited to send a text message, for example in response to a press ad or poster in a shop window. If this is for a specific activity or mechanic, at its completion follow up with a single text message inviting people to opt in for more information.

Driving high response levels is achieved by keeping things simple and quick. This is the very nature, and attractiveness, of mobile communication. Make it easy for people to participate, with simple access instructions and then follow up for further details. For example, ask someone to send a single keyword to sign up for product updates and, in your response to his or her submission, you can ask for further details, for example, demographics.

Give people comfort by being explicit about what’s going to happen and, very importantly, making it as easy to leave a service as it is to join.

Why do my online agencies speak tech while my offline agencies speak marketing?

David Mill, MediaCo: I can only speak for MediaCo and myself. We always endeavour to speak plain English and, whenever possible, avoid both techno-speak and marketese.

Indeed, neither have a useful place when speaking or writing for online, unless you are using terms that are familiar to the individual within earshot or the audience you are addressing.

In my book, Content Is King, Writing and Editing Online (Butterworth Heinemann, January 2005), I write:

When it comes to the Web, promotional writing is significantly less effective than text that is:

ï Objective.

ï Informative.

ï Punchy.

That’s what sells and wins over readers.

And this goes back to credibility and trust. If a reader hesitates to question if a promotional claim is accurate, it slows them down. Their questioning can also damage credibility.

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Really? Am I to believe that? Don’t think so!

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Okay, tell me objectively, honestly and accurately.

Offline direct mail marketing material is often littered with extravagant adverbs and adjectives. “Greatest”, “Best”, “Leading” and so on. Online, it’s the facts you present that require to speak for themselves.

Jargon, as well as unfamiliar acronyms and abbreviations, should also be avoided unless you are writing technical content for a knowledgeable readership.

Technology simply provides the tools of the trade. So when we speak about online marketing we describe the activity in simple terms and focus on what results it’s likely to achieve.

Concerns and questions are increasingly cropping up about our legal responsibilities for making our websites accessible to impaired consumers. If I follow all of the guidelines, won't I be limiting the creative/branding potential and overall effectiveness of my Web presence?

The common solution is to provide two versions of your website – an accessible version and a “creative” version. While this may cover some of your accessibility duties, it also marginalises disabled users.

There are two points to be made here. First, making a site accessible usually means following best practices in terms of usability and Web development – meaning that a side benefit is a site that is easier to use for everyone, more friendly to search engines and better performing technically.

Second, accessibility doesn’t need to be limiting in terms of budget or creativity. Your developer’s standard practices should cover the basic level W3C Web Accessibility Guidelines and should therefore be factored into budgets and design specs. And the idea that accessible websites are dull is a myth. Accessibility guidelines actually place few restrictions on Web design. Text can be whatever size you like (provided it can be re-resized), you can use a multitude of colour schemes (provided you contrast the text from the background and differentiate information by a means other than colour), and you can use as many images as you like, provided an alternative description is provided. You can even make the latest version of Flash accessible.

How can I measure the return on investment from my e-marketing spend?

You can guarantee a healthy ROI by getting the principles right. There are far too many e-businesses that only start to work once a client has told them precisely what they want. The main role for many in our industry appears to be dedicated to making the client’s instructions and desires pretty. “You want a website/e-mail campaign/CD Rom? What do you want it to do?”

If you ever hear these words, run. Marketing ability is key to any sales format, from TV commercials to packaging. An e-business should grill a client, learn about their business and really get under the skin of their business plan and commercial objectives before a mouse is lifted.

Only then can a commercially driven marketing plan be produced, which has initiative, creativity and solid financial objectives. The e-business is simply one of many business tools with which to deliver that plan. If an e-business doesn’t produce a plan, ask it why.

Measuring is relatively simple and, again, isn’t just exclusive to electronic media. What did it cost? What was the return produced? Deduct the cost of sales and analyse the margin achieved.

Every electronic lead should be traceable, accountable and tracked. A report should be issued after every campaign detailing precisely what was made, when and how. The ways in which spend can be tracked are too numerous to mention here, but all aspects can be nailed down precisely.

Why should online advertising be part of a marketing mix and how big a part should it be?

There is a lot of work that needs to be done before you can answer this question or dedicate an appropriate spend. An important question to ask any e-business is: “How many account managers, account planners and people versed in marketing backgrounds work for the company?” Many e-businesses employ only designers and coders and most sub out copywriting to whoever is free.

I’m not sure that this business model equips them to answer a pure marketing question. Online advertising is like any form of advertising and should be viewed in conjunction with the overall marketing budget to ensure that the money dedicated to an online presence is both prudent and effective.

If an e-business only produces e-business, what are they likely to recommend? Once we know who the target audience is, where they live and work, what they do and what we have that would interest them, then a budget can be carved up accordingly. It’s all about getting the most cost-effective cost per thousand of the right audience in the right place at the right time. Like any other form of media.

For some reasons these principles can be abandoned when it comes to e-business. Once this analysis has taken place then the budget for online advertising can be increased, decreased, eliminated altogether or boosted considerably by replacing other formats entirely. Online advertising is key, but only if a sophisticated thought process has been concluded.

Why should online advertising be part of a marketing mix and how big a part should it be?

Lindsay Gray, Family: Media consumption is changing. TV is becoming saturated with around 60 different channels, newspaper circulation is down, more and more people are now online and spending more and more time online, thanks to broadband. The latest IAB reports show that almost 28 million UK adults are online, and last year they spent £15 billion online, 4 per cent of the total consumer spending in the UK.

The internet as an advertising channel has really come back from the brink over the last 18 months and the technology behind online advertising is becoming more and more sophisticated, allowing advertisers to communicate in depth with their target audience.

By using online advertising you can track your consumers right the way through their journey, from their initial viewing to the end point. It is 100 per cent accountable, and incredibly targeted. You can control the frequency and can view your results in real time overall, meaning that you can control your ROI down to the last penny.

The whole creative ability is also no longer a barrier to great interactive meaningful advertising, as technology has now developed to such an extent that you can even show a 2MB video clip through an online ad.

With regards to what portion of your budget should be given to online advertising, it really depends on your target audience and what your objectives are but around 15–20 per cent is a good start.

Can I control the site content without paying a fortune or ending up with a complex piece of software that only people with technical knowledge can use?

Andrew Craig, director, Realise: The simple answer is yes. There are all sorts of different solutions available, with different levels of functionality, and price tags to match, so the key to getting the right one for you is to get your requirements sorted out before you do anything.

How many people will be updating the site? What level of internet knowledge do they have? And how much of the site do you want to be in control of? These are the types of question you should be asking before committing to anything.

In our experience, too many companies are sold solutions that are too expensive, are unusable or contain functionality that’s never used and ties them to the company that sold them it in the first place.

Don’t spend all of your budget on buying and implementing the system: spend some up front and make sure you get the best advice.

Should I use Flash for my website?

Andrew Craig, director, Realise: It all boils down to the brief – whether Flash is the most appropriate technology to achieve the business benefit you want to achieve.

Let’s suppose you want a low-cost site, which is accessible to as many people as possible, to sell organic fruit. Forget Flash for now – it’ll be more time-consuming to develop and won’t sell more beetroots.

Actually, no, it turns out you have a complex engineering product to showcase to investors – you want them wowed enough to part with some serious money. What about an interactive 3D walkthrough demo with a picture-in-picture video of your CEO introducing your wonder widget? This time Flash most definitely is the right choice.

Flash can be absolutely incredible for presenting information in an engaging, graphical and dynamic way. However, there are times when Flash simply won't do the job as well as a plain, old-fashioned HTML site – sometimes the most effective approach is well-written text and images.

The key is to use the sophisticated tools on offer in an appropriate and effective manner. There should be a solid reason behind everything you do in Flash – if you can’t think of one, don’t use it.

Why do my online agencies speak tech, while my offline agencies speak marketing?

Philip Lockwood-Holmes, Whitespace: Back in the mid- to late 90s, anyone who knew more than ten HTML tags (or had a copy of Dreamweaver) was setting up an online agency. This meant an explosion of agencies run by geeks with no marketing experience.

Any good online agency these days should be able to “speak tech” when required (to other technical folk) and also be able to “speak marketing” when required (to an offline agency). But mainly we should be able to speak the same language as our client (plain English, in the case of Whitespace). An agency that hides behind technical or marketing speak probably isn’t getting to the heart of its clients’ business needs.

How can I measure the return on investment from my e-marketing spend?

Philip Lockwood-Holmes, Whitespace: As for any marketing initiative, the method of measuring your results depends on your aims for the campaign. If your campaign is focused on brand-building, for example, short-term ROI should be offset against long-term qualitative gains in customer perception. A key advantage of e-marketing, however, is that it offers many opportunities for accurate quantitative measurement.

Compare a TV ad campaign versus an online banner ad campaign. With the TV campaign, you’ll have a rough idea of the number of potential customers who saw your ads but little idea of the response rate. With the banner campaign, you can know exactly how many unique users viewed your ads, the percentage who clicked through to your website and which pages of the site they then visited.

If the goal of the campaign is to increase online sales, you can see how many visitors finally made a purchase from your website, allowing for an easy ROI calculation. You can even know which of the different websites you advertised on provided better value for money or which banner design worked best.

Why does my website not look the same on different computers?

Philip Lockwood-Holmes, Whitespace: Your website looks different from one computer to another because of differences in a) browser software (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Netscape, Opera); b) operating system (Windows, Mac); and/or c) screen size and resolution. The Windows version of Internet Explorer 5.5 for example displays scalable text as one size larger than in other versions of IE.

A good Web designer and builder can create a site that looks almost identical on all computers and in cases where differences do occur the site will still look good. However, this takes a high level of attention to detail and time – so you may find that some online agencies cater for 95 per cent of the audience and ignore the other 5 per cent.

To ensure that your next website looks good for everyone in your target audience, you should agree a target browser and platform list before the project starts. Before signing off at the end of the project, make sure the site is checked in the more obscure variations – that way, you can be sure your website matches the quality of your brand and no short cuts have been taken. You would rigorously check printed materials against the original designs. Why should your online materials be any different?

Can you provide me with examples of mobile marketing?

John Farmer, Carbon Partners: Mobiles’ reach, personal impact and ease of response provide an opportunity for a variety of mobile marketing mechanics. The key principles to consider for success are keeping the activity relevant to the participant, timely to their current activity and interactive to reflect existing expectations of a mobile dialogue.

Most mobile marketing activity is launched from either on-pack or complementary marketing material, such as television and radio, poster or print. Where mobile fulfils best is by offering an instant and interactive response mechanic.

A leading soft drink brand deployed a sports quiz, on-pack, text-to-win mechanic. Purchasers of the product had access to a unique pin code on the packaging. By texting the pin code to the campaign number, consumers initiated a quiz mechanic. Questions were sent and responded to by text message. Correct answers received an instant win coupon to redeem for mobile content and incorrect answers were invited to play again. The application remembered each time a player entered and scores were tallied for prizes over the three-month campaign. The sports theme and challenging nature of the mobile mechanic was a perfect fit with the client’s brand attributes and their customer profile, ideally taking the brand “mobile”.

With 3G just around the corner, how does this open up new marketing channels for brands?

John Farmer, Carbon Partners: The recent launch of Vodafone’s 3G service kicks off the next stage in our mobile lifestyle, as customers are encouraged to upgrade to the full multimedia experience, with video, images and music accessible at broadband speed.

The opportunity to use mobile as a marketing channel is already in place. Direct response mechanics with SMS are used across multiple sectors, including brands, the public sector, retailers and media organisations. 3G brings an expansion in the creative opportunities that can be deployed within mobile marketing. The multimedia capabilities of 3G phones will facilitate a more dynamic user experience, whilst the evolution of user habits on the phone opens new areas of activity.

Brand awareness and building activity will become more feasible on mobile. There is an increased opportunity for linking mobile activity, in terms of visuals and sound, to activity on other media, such as TV. The explosion of content services opens new opportunities for content and brand association. Good mobile marketing will drive maximum impact through brand association, not just to the content, but also the place and time that content is being accessed. It’s not long till a spirits brand brings you the top five music clips to your phone, conveniently just at 7 p.m. on a Saturday evening before you head out for the night.

Internet advertising has resurfaced over the last two years and has become a legitimate and respected way to build brands and increase sales cost effectively. However, at the same time the use of ad-blocking software by consumers is growing quickly (up to 50 per cent of consumers). Where can I use online advertising and know that users can see it? And what other online advertising mechanisms are effective?

John Farmer, Carbon Partners: Ad-blocking software only affects pop-ups and pop-unders (ads that appear in another window) and studies have shown they are particularly annoying to users (hence the software) so fewer and fewer advertisers are now using them.

Any commercial site, from the large ISPs to the smaller niche sites, accepts online advertising, although their formats may differ. With regards to people seeing it comes down to a) making sure that, if your advertising is in flash, you have a default gif or jpeg version for those without flash and b) the creative making a stand-out and using the right formats in the correct way for the target audience.

New rich media formats, such as those developed by Eyeblaster and Tangozebra, are beginning to expand the boundaries of online advertising by enabling behavioural targeting, user polling, ability to download and request information, video streaming (up to 2MB), all from within an online ad format and not taking the viewer away to the advertiser’s site. Using Eyeblaster results as a case study, effectiveness of rich media advertising has shown that brand awareness can be up to 64 per cent higher, purchase intent up to 53 per cent higher and message association up to 160 per cent higher. (Source: Dynamic Logic MarketNorms Database.)

It was reported that more people are watching digital television than either BBC One or ITV 1. I don’t know where to start – where or how to buy it? Can you explain the marketing opportunities at present?

Lindsay Gray, Family: Although correct on one level it is also a little misleading – BBC and ITV both have digital TV options.

C4 and C5 both have digital gateways as well.

Currently there are around 7 million households that have digital TV in the UK. This means that they can view digital channels like Sky, NTL, Freeview, Telewest and the digital channels run by the more traditional analogue services.

Whilst a lot of people have access to digital channels, there is also a huge range of multichannel switching. The largest viewed channels are still the traditional channels.

Advertising across digital TV channels is simple – any media agency will be able to book slots for you. However, if you want your ad to have red button technology then you will have to book the last-in-slot space, which carries a premium.

The marketing opportunities of digital TV are that you can make a 20-sec TV commercial into a 10-minute interactive experience. Creating a fully interactive TV ad does involve a reasonably lengthy process, depending on the level of interactivity (you will need to get your ad tested by SSSL via SKY, as it will need to use the return path technology – it can be expensive and takes time). The take-up of people choosing to click the “red” button on adverts is still quite low and generally people need an incentive in order to miss “x” number of minutes of their programme.

Everyone seems to use Google these days. Are there any other search engines that are worth trying to get a high ranking on or is Google far and away the most important?

Lindsay Gray, Family: The answer depends on whether we are speaking of natural search rankings (the kind where ranking is not paid nor manipulated by an editor) and paid search listings.

The algorithms that determine natural search rankings do differ slightly from one website to another, but if your website is optimised for Google it has a good chance of being optimised to an equivalent ranking level with other natural search engines. However, what is not equal is the length of time it will take one search engine to index your website vs. another. Google is relatively quick but others may be slower to visit your site or pick up on changes. Still others operate by paid-inclusion, which provides some guarantee that your website will be ranked regularly.

In terms of pay per click (PPC) search advertising, Google is leader but companies such as Espotting and Overture should be considered. They distribute premium search listings to a wide network that includes sites such as Yahoo, MSN and Altavista, and other major content sites.

Finally, depending on your market, marketers can also consider paid listings with “tier two” search engines, which include vertical industry-focused sites such as Business Week Investing, PC Magazine and Yell.com.

With all the talk about e-mail and new ways of filtering e-mail – how do you go about making sure that your e-mail marketing programme gets through to the intended recipients?

David Mill, MediaCo: The best way to ensure successful delivery is for your customers to identify you as a legitimate sender within their e-mail software – that means adding you to their address book or safe list. Sounds laborious, but it can be worth finding a way to convince customers to do it.

List hygiene is another crucial task. Internet service providers are watching for the number of invalid addresses you attempt to reach. Removing dead addresses and providing a mechanism for customers to change their address is vital to he success of long-term programmes.

Also, it’s good practice to invest in maintaining relationships with internet service providers (since they might be the ones blocking you). Such relationships will help monitor delivery, with test accounts across a wide span of ISPs and keep you up to date on changing spam laws.

Your e-mails need to remain recognisable and relevant. Ensure the user knows it’s you by using short, consistent presentation of “from” addresses and subject lines. And, finally, although it may seem obvious, keep your promise about sending valuable messages and the frequency with which you send them. That’s not the whole story, but I hope it helps!

How much will an online marketing campaign cost me? I’ve heard that it’s expensive, so will I get ROI and how will I be able to track its effectiveness?

David Mill, MediaCo: To ask this question suggests the client sees the black arts of e-business as something they should have but they don’t know why. Maybe because everyone else does? The truth is, anything is expensive if it doesn’t work, irrespective of cost.

E-business should not be thought of as an overhead but as an investment. On condition the business ROI has been calculated beforehand, you will know that the investment is X and the planned return is Y. By definition, this means that from day 1 you gear everything towards delivering the ROI required to make this “money” an astute financial investment in growth.

As stated earlier, tracking the ROI is relatively simple. The dedicated budget is somewhat more complicated but should be set according to the potential returns available, like any other form of media. On condition, of course, that the electronic format is the right format to get to the right people in the right place at the right time, cost effectively.

Also, irrespective of returns available, is the client geared up to handle this kind of electronic response painlessly, has their business model changed to enhance the cost savings of an electronic strategy and, ultimately, can they afford it?

You can learn to walk before you run you know!

How much will an online marketing campaign cost me? I’ve heard that it’s expensive. So will I get ROI and how will I be able to track its effectiveness?

David Mill, MediaCo: Online marketing campaigns take many forms and can feature multiple components. For example, one campaign might include all of or any of search engine optimisation, e-mail marketing, in-bound link building, pay-per-click advertising and viral marketing.

Further, most of the elements are scaleable and can be one-off activities or part of an ongoing strategy.

However, compared to other forms of marketing, two things are certain:

1. It is not expensive.

2. The cost per acquisition is lower.

For example, a study from the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) found that offers sent by e-mail (particularly those sent to in-house customer lists) produced the highest overall return-on-investment for marketers focusing on soliciting direct orders, generating leads or building traffic.

And, since most forms of online marketing are intended to lead people to a website and then encourage them to take an action, it is very measurable.

Effectiveness tracking is, in fact, much easier than with offline marketing activities.

If you were running a search engine marketing campaign, for example, items you could track and measure include:

ï Number of website visits from each search engine.

ï Number of sales directly resulting from these visits.

ï Value of these sales (individually and collectively).

ï Cost per sale.

ï Return on investment.

So not only is it comparably less expensive, online marketing is also very measurable.

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