Social Media? Digital Marketing? EDMs? SEO? Knowing what to spend money on for marketing an online retail venture is like traversing a minefield of buzzwords and acronyms – let us break it down for you.
When someone talks about marketing, they could be referring to any number of concepts and techniques used to raise awareness of a brand, a product or a business. Unfortunately, with the evolution and profligate nature of ‘new media’ online, marketing is now an even more knotty, tangled industry than it ever has been.
In simple terms, marketing applies to online retail in the same way that a sign post applies to a tourist attraction. If there are no signs to direct people to the location, or to attract them in the first place, then for all intents and purposes it is as if the attraction doesn’t exist.
Not very long ago, marketing was a simple case of putting as many signs in front of the target audience as possible – now, things are beginning to change.
“For many years marketers have performed ‘Push Marketing,’” explains Chris Hogan, e-Commerce Evangelist at MeMedia. “This entails pushing – often shouting – a message at people and having a strong call to action with a limited time frame for the consumer to take up the offer.”
Unfortunately, this traditional method really only works if you have the resources to broadcast the message frequently enough for the audience to take notice.
With the advent of the internet, marketing has evolved to be more targeted and more inclusive, meaning an online retail store can reach its target audience efficiently without necessarily being intrusive. Of course, these methods are often couched in the jargon of the ‘New Web’ buzzwords and confusing acronyms, which can make them difficult to comprehend.
“Being careful is too risky when it comes to utilising Web 2.0 technologies. The new, buzzy and flashy concepts or ideas need to be embraced, used and analysed,” says Hogan. “If we choose to wait for others to embrace ‘Social Media’ or ‘Electronic Newsletters’ (EDMs), by the time we embrace them ourselves we’ve missed the crest of the wave.”
Among all these confusing terms and concepts, some companies can lose sight of the purpose: communicating effectively with the customer. Whatever technology and strategy you choose, the end goal is always to reach, impress and satisfy whoever it is that is transacting on your webstore.
Zane McIntyre, Director of Commission Factory, on Modern Marketing:
“Marketing nowadays is a question of engagement and getting customers to interact with you. It’s also a matter of remaining front and centre with your target audience always, especially online. Not being seen online and not being present means to your customer base that you don’t exist.
“With most companies we deal with we’re seeing a clear divide between the offline marketers and the online marketers. Both disciplines, whilst moving toward the same goal, are literally and laterally executed in very different ways. In fact if you studied marketing prior to the turn of the century, chances are your college textbooks would appear very different to the ones you see today.”
Digital Marketing at a Glance:
There are several options to consider when planning a marketing budget, and these relate to the various tools available to brands that can help increase their exposure.
Understanding what these tools are, and how you can best utilize them in order to reach your target audience, will greatly enhance the amount of traffic coming to your site while significantly boosting conversion potential.
The content displayed on a website is crucial to marketing on two levels. Firstly, that content represents the company’s brand in a customer-facing sense. This is what your customers will interact with most, so it is crucial to provide a great experience. Secondly, this content (particularly all written content) can be scanned by Google and other search engines, and so it is important for the way your website appears in search engines.
“SEO is the activity you will do by automatically writing excellent, engaging copy on your website and telling your social community about what you’ve just written,” explains Hogan. “SEO is therefore not an activity that really requires a dedicated resource; it is the consistent content writing and distribution of the content that requires the resource.”
Search engine marketing differs from SEO, because it incurs a cost to the retailer with a definitive return-on-investment (ROI). Most SEM models are based on Pay Per Click – that is to say, the retailer is charged a certain amount every time a user clicks onto their advertisement or link. These SEM and PPC campaigns can be found on various search engines and social media sites.
Email marketing is not dissimilar to the traditional styles of ‘push marketing’. As an example, brochures and flyers are still, to this day, dropped in thousands of letterboxes on a daily basis.
Unlike print marketing drops, email marketing is viewed more favourably, as it doesn’t waste paper, but also because retailers have greater control over who receives the specific marketing. More and more brands are segmenting their audience using data collected via their website so that tailored emails can be sent to customers. This ensures engagement, relevance and instills a sense of value with the customer.
“Social media has re-inforced that ‘Pull Marketing’ has greater potential to build a community,” says Hogan. “If we wish to truly engage with like-minded people – our target audience – we must tell them an adjacent story that they can relate to. This helps to build a community who feel you understand them and they will ‘like’ you for saying the things that either they don’t have the time or courage to say themselves.”
“While the concept of affiliate marketing may seem new to a lot of online retailers, the fact is it has been around for a very long time,” McIntyre says. “It can be likened to that of a word-of-mouth referral, whereby you reward those that acquire sales for you and/or new customers.”
“As a matter of fact,” says Mark Freidin, Head of GuerillaTactics.com.au, “any online business that directs traffic to an online retailer and takes a commission for generating a sale is an affiliate. This is often made up of the merchant, network, public and customer.”
Seeking more information on how to get an online retail venture off to a flying start? See our complete A-Z guide, Power Up: The Online Retail Entrepreneur’s Guide.