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Discover Your Web Market From the Inside Out

For you to see web marketing in a different light I first need to introduce a new picture of the web, and then a different understanding of web marketing can emerge. Following that introduction this article can then talk about what is important about social media, along with beliefs and values, as they pertain to search engines and web marketing.

In the mid 90’s a lot of media pundits were trying to say what the Internet, and more specifically the web, was all about – but no one really knew. Some compared it to television and some compared it to newspapers and others said it was most like the telephone because it behaved like a one-to- one communication media.

It looked like television because of the screen similarity, and it looked like newspapers because of the text content, and it acted like a phone conversation in how it behaved as a one-to- one communication media.

All of these different metaphors missed the primary difference that the web brought into being and that was the search engine. Without a search engine the web would be as useless as a library without index cards. It would be a tangled mess of invisible and unsorted web sites, and the great pool of information would largely be invisible.

Search engines ground the web into a usable reality through the written word when a search is conducted, and then search engines became the eyes of web users for finding their way around in the depths and darkness of billions of web pages.

Search engines give us social media

In the same way that you and I search for information others search for other people and find their groups to belong to. Just as the search engines make finding specific information a reality they also make it possible for groups to form and for people to find the group they have affinity with.

How do people find their groups? How do they search? And why do we need to know how this works in order to develop a web marketing strategy?

Deep Pockets

If your business has deep pockets then you can use contemporary marketing research methods by conducting expensive testing with market research firms. But what if you don’t have deep pockets? And what if your market is anonymous like the web market is? What options do you have?

As you are probably aware, a web market does not provide you with demographic data to help you target a market. Until a visitor to your web site has decided to contact you they remain anonymous and you do not know a thing about them in terms of marketing information. How could you even conduct a proper test if you do not have any boundaries to work within?

Your web market is an intangible, yet very real market. Your web site is simply on a fishing expedition with your keyword signals that you are using for bait. What does your market feed on and what should your keywords be?

Who is your market and where are they?

Are you going to throw your line into the big pond with all your competition and fish with popular keywords for bait? You have to wonder if your market is really in the big pond, especially if you are looking for a niche market. How can you possibly find your market without very deep pockets? And what if you are fishing in the wrong pond with the wrong bait?

I suppose, with enough time and experience, you will find out which pond to fish in and what keywords your market feeds on, but this could take years of gathering information and hours of analysis. And even then you may still be guessing.

Turn the focus inward

So far I have asked external questions and the answers you would get back are not the answers you want to hear. What keywords to use? Where to find your market? Who are they and where are they? The answers are all the same… more testing and keyword research.

What if you turned the questions inward instead? What if you asked questions you already have the answers for? Suppose you asked yourself what you value the most about your business? What is your attitude toward your market? What gives you the greatest sense of reward in running your business?

Answer those questions and you’ve got the beginnings of a marketing strategy to send signals to your market – and let them find you.

On the web, this makes finding your market easier than by using demographics because the search engines do the work for you. For those that have difficulty leaving factual data behind they could use demographic keywords and try to signal income levels, for example, but your business values will cover more ground and work better.

Why do values work on the web?

On the web people find their groups. News Groups were one of the first social networks long before they were called social networks, and people found their groups by the values they shared. The same is true for Facebook, MySpace and YouTube. Add to this list other web connections like blogs and article sources and you see that the web is a unique media for sharing values.

If you prefer to market yourself in true fashion to who you are then you would need to look on the inside of who you are and the values you hold. This sounds easier than it is, and yet it is all about integrity in marketing. In either method you need to play with psychological values, or you need to hire a marketing shrink to sort it out for you.

You can see why most web marketers are sticking to the demographic style of marketing because it feels more tangible even though the web as a medium is anything but tangible.

We’ve discussed briefly why demographic marketing has difficulty dealing with anonymous web users, and why looking inward can provide a marketing strategy to target anonymous market segments.

Developing A New Marketing Communications Plan For Small And Midsized Companies

As you begin, or refine, your marketing and marketing communications planning for the coming year, you’re probably a little uneasy about whether you’re maximizing your strategy, budget, plan, executions and measurement. Whether you’re a B2C, B2B or nonprofit marketer, it might help to know you’re not alone. It’s always a challenge to develop these plans, but especially now.

In fact, 93 percent of Chief Marketing Officers say they’re under more pressure to deliver significant ROI, while only eight percent say they can determine ROI for their social media efforts.

Marketing And Marketing Communications Challenges
Our continued unsettled economic and political landscape and changing demographic patterns, coupled with the explosion of new communications tactics, along with a plain lack of trust between buyers and sellers, has led to the increasing levels of uncertainty that we all feel. In developing new plans and strategies, this translates into a host of considerations:

  • Expenditures for major media (as led by television, yes television) and marketing services (as led by sales promotion) in the U.S. are projected to total an all-time high of $406 billion in 2015. That’s a staggering $1,262 per person (Zenith Optimedia)! Beyond the dollars, that’s a lot of clutter and competition.
  • Conversely, median household income declined 8.7 percent between 1999 and 2013 to $51,939 (Census Bureau Current Population Survey). During this time, most buyers have learned how to spend their hard earned dollars more cautiously.
  • The two largest and most important age cohorts are very different. Millennials are more willing to buy lesser known brands, don’t see ownership per se as an aspiration, and are cash strapped. On the other hand, the brand loyal Boomers will account for about 70 percent of U.S. disposable income in 2017 (Quirk’s Market Research).
  • No one expected the efficiency and simplicity of emails to reach today’s volume, as businesses now spend nearly one-third of their work week managing them (McKeney & Company). Maybe declaring an email holiday is in order.

And, if you’re unsure or apprehensive about next year, perhaps your customers and prospects are too.

Improving Marketing And Marketing Communications ROI
So what can be done to develop a better overall program? I believe there are important steps you should consider for improving ROI.

1. You really need to know what your customers and prospects want and need, how they perceive your product or service, and how your brand stacks up to completion. Avoid corporate myths and mere opinion, and employ market research to focus your planning.

2. Be sure to understand the full demographic scope of your customers and prospects today and how they will change in the future. Consider the continuing dramatic growth of the Asian and Hispanic populations and include them in your planning.

3. Make sure your employees, reps and distributors completely understand, believe and can articulate your brand promise. Encouraging them to be dedicated brand ambassadors can dramatically increase your brand’s awareness and positive reputation.

4. Go out of your way to be media neutral. With so many new tactics to explore, make sure that, when you compare traditional and new media, you know the difference between efficiency and effectiveness. For example, a recent Gallup study among 18,000 consumers reported that 62 percent said social media had “no influence at all on their buying decision”.

5. Sharpen and integrate your messaging across media through a marketing communications audit. Before committing your already stretched revenues, conduct an audit to help determine the strengths and weaknesses of your program as a whole, as well as how each individual communications tactic and message does or does not meet your objectives.

Done properly, these actions will help you develop a more knowledgeable, coordinated, focused and profitable roadmap for next year’s journey. But how do you actually begin that journey?

Marketing Communications Consultants Add Value
No one doubts that smart, dedicated people have been involved in developing your current marketing communications strategy, budget and plan. But, if you’re like most small and midsized companies, your people are probably stretched to the limit, and/or simply may not possess the background to oversee this process in the most knowledgeable way.

Because of this many companies have partnered with established, senior level consultants, to help develop, refine and, if appropriate, implement the program. If you consider this option, make sure the consultant has extensive experiences across disciplines, as well as a variety of industries and brands, so he or she won’t be trapped by the “this is the way we’ve always done it” mentality. You want an apolitical team, with a willingness to “tell it like it is”. Fresh eyes can be a major asset to your profitable growth.

In today’s challenging environment, a focus on upfront planning can go a long way toward improving your marketing communications ROI.

Viral Web Marketing

Viral web marketing has since become a very effective form of online marketing. It is quite effective, because as the name suggest, this form of marketing helps spread the marketing message like a virus. The basics of viral marketing are quite simple and easy to understand and implement. In basic principle, this marketing strategy involves creating a buzz or fuzz on the internet that people will like to spread around. You then attach your marketing message to what you created so that the message spreads as the creation is spread around.

There are several viral internet sites that successfully implement viral marketing strategies. Some of such web sites offer attractive referral programs or utilize website links to reach the desired audience. Successful viral web marketing involves high level of creativity to create an effective strategy.

This guide to viral internet marketing seeks to introduce you to basic techniques that have been successfully implemented by other internet marketers. By going through this list of strategies that have been used to create viral web sites and offers, you can broaden your view of viral marketing and design the strategy that is best for you.

Creating and giving out free software: Everyone loves a useful application that is free. If you cannot create a software or application yourself, you can get a freelance programmer to do one for you. Just be sure that the application is functional and useful to your target audience, and that your marketing message is included in the software.

Free newsletters: Giving quality newsletters that contain useful information in your niche is a very effective way to do viral internet marketing. It helps establish you as an authority in your niche, while also helping to spread you’re your marketing message. Newsletters should be eye catchy, trendy and informative.

Specialized Link Directories: These directories help people access information faster and are so usually enjoy heavy traffic. You can thus create specialized link directories to serve as viral internet sites that will help spread your marketing message faster.

Free Email Accounts: This is one example to effectively spread your corporate image like a virus. Hotmail did it and today they are worth millions. Each new user signed up for free, but after signing up, they became exposed to the marketing message and also helped spread it as they sent emails from their Hotmail accounts. Copying this strategy may not give the same successful result as it gave others in the past, but it remains an effective way to create viral web sites.

Free web space: Providing free web space is a great viral internet marketing strategy that will surely attract people. Offering quality web space service is one way to create viral web sites. A lot of people will certainly be interested in getting some free web space and you can append a marketing message or logo, which will be seen by all the web visitors.

Provide other forms of free services: The point is to create a useful viral web sites service that your target audience will appreciate. The service should be free and something that they can easily share around. Good examples that fall under this form of viral web marketing include giving bonuses, free e-cards, free screensavers, free redirect services, free email training course, free templates, graphics and banners. Depending on the industry you operate in, you can also offer free consultation and use the opportunity to spread your message.