This post is a guest post by Liz Krause
The term internet marketing is still fairly new. It has been around for over a decade, but adoption of the concept for many in the business world has been slow going.
Internet marketing in general terms is the ability to market and promote your business product, service or brand online. Examples most businesses are familiar with are banner ads, blogs, forums, article distribution, social media and email marketing.
Even though many forms of marketing are available, the most common and frequently least expensive form of online marketing is email marketing. As more and more businesses begin to take advantage of these avenues the importance of strategy becomes increasingly important. These strategies and campaigns are now shifting to include a hybrid of both online and offline marketing.
The Original Benefits of Email Marketing
Initially email marketing proved a wonderful alternative to the once popular, but intrusive telemarketing which prompted the use of Do Not Call lists. Email marketing also provided a low cost alternative to snail mail marketing which had over time begun to flood homeowner’s mail boxes and soon found their way into the trash before even getting a second glance. Email seemed to be the perfect replacement for phone and print advertising.
The Problems with Email Marketing
Email marketing was a new practical and powerful way to reach the masses. However, over time even email marketing took its toll on the level of patience the public was willing to offer. Where at one time people were interested in reading new offers, they have since become wary of clicking on any unknown link or email – afraid of initiating a destructive computer virus.
Today, users freely use their delete buttons just as they used the trash bin to toss the postcards and credit card offers received through the mail. If they didn’t ask for it – they didn’t want it.
Using a hybrid of marketing techniques, rather than focusing on the latest new buzz format of the season is becoming the new norm. Practically coming full circle, businesses must begin to create a new format of marketing which uses a mix of existing methods, from phone calling to social media to print advertising.
Here are a few tips to help your business perform strategic and successful hybrid marketing:
Start to Diversify
In the past, a business could rely on email marketing or on telemarketers making phone calls. However with the growth of social media, businesses are missing a number of opportunities to reach their potential customers or prospects.
Using a mix of internet marketing tools such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other popular avenues coupled with a mix of print marketing in the form of advertisements and mailers, you are able to maximize your chances of building brand awareness and creating a better overall ROI.
For example, if you had a cold calling list you gathered of potential clients, all of which you had no contact with before, how would you approach them? Cold calling does not in general generate immediate results, and in many cases, no results at all.
However, by targeting your list with a variety of well-timed marketing such as personal letters, promotional postcards, and even emails, by the time you call, your target list should have either heard of your business or seen your business.
Creating this type of overall brand awareness may not turn your cold lead into a hot lead, but it will help in your approach.
Understand your Niche
A big mistake many companies make is releasing a promotion or marketing campaign of a product when they don’t fully understanding the niche to which they should be marketing.
To better explain, if a company were to create custom picture framing software for the framing retailers, they would need to know their market very well. Using this example, custom picture framing is a very vertical industry with less than 16,000 retailers in the United States alone. If a company were to target retailers, they would need to know the most popular magazines in the industry, the types of retailers from big box stores such as Michaels Art & Craft Stores, all the way to the small mom and pop retailer on the corner of Main St.
Is this niche technically savvy – such as a telecom industry? Even though selling software like the custom framing software is an online business, it does not mean your customers are technically savvy. Therefore, more emphasis should be placed on print media, without leaving out all the other channels such as email marketing and social media tools.
You may know what your niche is, but do you truly understand “who” is in that niche? If you know your “who” then you can better determine how to position your marketing.
Break Down your Lists
To make hybrid-marketing effective, it is important to learn how to segment your master list of contacts into smaller targeted lists.
For example, if you have a list of all your prospects from the last 18 months, it would be a good idea to break that list down into segments. The segments you use are up to you depending on your overall campaign.
Segment by date of contact
If you were to sort by initial date of contact, you could use special marketing targeted to prospects over a year old. Using slogans such as, “Haven’t heard from you in a while” for your older prospects to, “You’re Trial is about to End” for newer prospects. By segmenting into time frames, you can also become more fluid in your phone presentation and delivery for each segment, constantly focusing on the needs of your clients which fit in that group.
Segment by product or service
Another example is segmenting by product. If you sell multiple services, you can segment your list by product. For example, if you are in telecommunications, you might have a list for residential customers who are interested in using your internet phone service along with a list of clients who are businesses looking for the best sip provider for business quality VoIP. It’s up to you to convince them, and all though the products are similar in nature, they are different enough that your promotional campaigns would not be applicable for both segments, and therefore must be treated as separate products.
By segmenting each list, you and your marketing team can then create a targeted campaign designed specifically for those products. Examples could be special promotions and discounts which are different for each product.
Drill down into your segments
Just as in the previous example for time frames, you can take each product list and break it down further into time segmentations, thus creating even more targeted campaigns. The more targeted your reach, the better you can construct the most effective and powerful sales and marketing strategy.
Internet marketing is and will be the most popular form of marketing for quite some time, but businesses which rely on just one kind of marketing format is forfeiting a number of potential opportunities they could be capitalizing on. Using a hybrid mix of internet and non-internet marketing along with a concrete strategic plan is a sure way to reach your target audience with the right message you want to convey.