In the early days of ecommerce you could build a website, slap some products on, ensure it looks ok for the search engines with a bit of SEO and hey presto, you would have yourself a business. Rinse and repeat.
The Formula Is Broken
Now that same old tried and tested formula doesn’t work anymore. Why? Because things have evolved, those companies with marketeers that actually know what they are doing are kicking ass. It used to be that the guy in charge of online marketing was basically the technical guy who can use a computer and put 2 and 2 together. This led to an emphasis on building a pretty website, slapping some stock photos and some clever corporate sounding text on – because that’s what the folks in marketing do, right? Monkey see, monkey do.
Ignorance Is Bliss
Now I can’t speak for all marketers, but learning on my course I have realised that the people online claiming to be Internet marketing experts (I myself am one of these people, I’ll admit – but I’ve opened my eyes and I’m making an effort to improve for the sake of the people I help) have largely no idea about marketing. Yes they can do SEO, yes they can make a website that converts well, but as for in depth marketing strategy, integrating marketing, segmenting customers effectively and all that malarkey, they (we/me) fall a bit short.
I’ve been studying my course with the IDM and I cannot tell you how much my eyes have been opened – marketing knowledge and techniques has been built up over the past 100 years (or more). Every single time I begin to study a new topic I find better ways of doing things, new ideas and often a sudden “aha!” moment. I really can’t tell you how amazed I am at the stuff I’m being taught.
Things You Can Learn From Direct Marketing
Anyways, although online is a different animal altogether, here are some of the things I think we could take from direct marketing and apply a bit better online:
1. A Marketing Plan
Let’s face it, you can’t make a half decent website without some kind of spec, and guess what? The same applies to running a business, not only do you need a business plan, but an indepth marketing plan is essential, some of the benefits include:
- 1. It forces “big picture” thinking
- 2. Ensures a thorough analysis of your existing customers
- 3. Creates internal collaboration
- 4. Generates enthusiasm and creativity
- 5. Allocates your resources which will maximise profit
- 6. Allows you to connect with your customers creating an “outside-in” focus
- 7. Enables faster front line decisions on a day to day basis
- 8. Saves time and stress
2. Realise you are paying to acquire a customer – not to sell one product
You can only afford 50 pence a click to sell a pair of jeans I hear you say? Well what if that customer buys more clothes over the next 3 years? What if during this time he tells a few friends and they do the same? This is the kind of thing you need to know to value your customers, so you can justify that stupidly large CPC budget the highstreet shop gone Internet at number 1 is bidding. Guess what, these companies with big budgets, they realised a long time ago that they will most likely have to wait longer than a year to recoup the cost of acquiring each customer.
3. Concentrate on developing existing customers – not attracting new ones
According to some scientific study done god knows when, it is 5 times more expensive to acquire a customer than it is to retain one. How many big customers do you let slip through your finger tips due to poor service?
4. Not all customers are equal
You’ve probably got the same landing page set for all types of customers. Does the buyer from Top Shop have the same needs as my sister? No. Is someone looking to insure a fleet of cars the same as me wanting to insure my 2000 Ford Focus? No. What if that fleet of cars is for a big company or organisation, like the police! How many times more is that worth? 100 times? 1000 times? I’d say more like 100,000 times or more! The Pareto Principle has been applied many times over and it normally works out the same, 80% of your company’s profits come from 20% of your customers – don’t treat them the same as your bottom 10% (that probably lose you money).
5. Use more than one method of promotion
There is a thing known as the media multiplier effect, this means that you gain synergy from using different media to promote your business. For example you may get a response rate of 0.1% with Direct Mail and a response rate of 1% with AdWords separately, but if you run them both together you may get something like a 0.15% response rate with Direct Mail and a 1.5% response rate with AdWords – so you get a boost just for using them at the same time.
That’s all I can think of off the top of my head (I’m still learning) – I’m hoping to cement some of this knowledge when I do my assignment I’ve just been issued. I’m also going to be practicing on friends and family (when I’ve got time!) over the coming months.
I may be wrong in what I’ve said above, perhaps lots of people are doing this stuff, I know the big boys are, but I’m not so sure about the companies focused on SEO and Search Marketing PPC.
I hope this sparks something in someone somewhere, if it does, please comment below. If it infuriates you, comment anyway 🙂