Thursday, 6 August 2009

News and Market Updates From The Online Marketing Show ‘09

The majority of the seminars and presentations at this year Online Marketing Show naturally were focused on how to remain competitive in the tough economy. As experts anticipate the effects of the downturn to continue into 2010 and some even into 2011, budgets are tightened and businesses are careful to spend money on marketing. Every penny is counted and resources are spent with the utmost care.

As a result of this corporate belt-tightening, marketing efforts are focused on existing customers to return to the business, rather than on trying to generate new business – the old Pareto principle at work, in other words. Despite this trend, there are plenty of examples of new developments and changes to existing technology and techniques that offer businesses the opportunity to reach new customers and increase revenues at a lower cost than ever before.

As the economic turmoil lowers spending, marketing budgets are changing. An increasingly greater part is ear-marked for online marketing use and less of the marketing spend is allocated to the traditional media. One of the reasons for this shift is that as a marketing channel the internet provides effective measurement and tracking tools many times at little or no cost, putting the business in the driver’s seat. This makes the online marketing channel unique in that businesses can monitor and track any money that is spent online and accurately measure the return on investment – affording normal businesses the information they need to make more informed decisions. On the flip side, as more companies embrace digital marketing, staying ahead of the competition will require a more targeted and comprehensive approach to succeed. Search engine algorithms change and new tools, media, and marketing channels are launched everyday. In order to stay in the battle for online visibility these changes have to be monitored, adopted and implemented as part of an ongoing strategic e-Marketing planning and implementation programme.

Some of the topics that were of particular importance to implementing and maintaining such a comprehensive online marketing programme are search engine optimisation (SEO), pay-per-click (PPC), Social Media and Mobile Marketing, also topics given special attention at the Marketing Show.

During several natural search engine optimisation presentations, it was stressed that staying ahead of the competition can no longer be done by implementing the basic elements of SEO. As more business enter the e-Marketing marketplace, search engines adopt to new search behaviours, a changing marketplace and competitive landscape in order to as closely as possible match the term searched with relevant and high quality results. As such, algorithms change more frequently and increasingly employ the use of blended and semantic search. Search engines now index blogs, online PR site, images, video and the myriad of social media sites in order to place business sites on the organic search engine results pages (SERPS) as effectively as possible. As such, a search engine marketer today has to consider these elements when looking at ways to increase a business’ ranking, in addition to implementing (and keeping up to date) the traditional and more basic SEO activities.

Social Media continues to be a very popular topic. Especially with the proliferation of Facebook, Twitter and the many other social networks, a marketer inevitably has to consider these networks as pillars of their online marketing strategy, if they are to be successful. Consumers have become publishers and now control a business’ brand and reputation to a greater extent than ever before. The ubiquity of technology has shifted the power from the large brands to the people. And consumers talk. Openly, in public online spaces about the businesses they engage with and about their experiences, both positive and negative. Some research has found that up to 90 percent of customers read reviews before making a purchase decision. The implications are astounding and businesses around the globe will have to follow the conversation in order to respond and engage in ways that has never before been possible. Not “listening” or engaging when it is expected can have devastating effects on a company’s online credibility, which today, translates into real-world money. Here the use of social media analytics software tools, which can help a brand monitor these simultaneous brand “conversations” flourish. These tools can help facilitate what has become an almost impenetrable communication jungle to bring the business into a position of influence.

Pay-per-click (PPC) was also high on the agenda. PPC has the power to above average returns (ROI’s) and gives a business the opportunity to track costs and revenues, conversions, and lost business. However, as the number of companies who run PPC campaigns rise, so does the cost-per-click (CPC), making it inherently more difficult for companies to remain at the top. To counteract this trend, one of the suggestions discussed at the Marketing Show, which I personally have good experience with, is to bid on different types of keywords (broad, phrase and exact matches), ensure landing pages are optimised, keep an eye on competitors and vary bidding by parts of the day, seasonality and geographical targeting. These techniques in combination or as part of a strategic e-Marketing plan would yield higher returns if done right.

The last and perhaps hottest topic at the show was mobile marketing. The usage of the iPhone and similar mobile devices have made browsing the web easier and more affordable on-the-go leading to a plethora of new applications, techniques and software arising in the marketplace. Google Android, Google’s mobile operating system, is an example of such an application. Only last year around 17 million people accessed the internet via their mobile device just in the UK. This of course means that they way websites are built, the way we do marketing, and the way we target our customers will have to change over time – as we go from desktop computers, to laptops to mobiles giving access to information wherever, whenever.

Other developments such as the usage of 2D bar codes are increasing. For the uninitiated 2D bar codes differ from the normal 1D bar codes in that they can store much more information (not like your standard 1D bar code that you see on products at your local grocery store). 2D bar codes can store information such as product reviews, ticketing information, booking confirmations, and much, much more. Millions of mobile phones can read 2D bar codes in the UK and this is predicted to rise. The suggested implication is that these types of information transmitters will change the way we understand the concept of wireless mobility and perhaps the long-awaited paperless society.

The mobile area is a rapidly developing area and it is exciting to see these developments have the potential to improve and change many archaic and long-overdue processes.

Velit Dundar


The Online Marketing Show ‘09 took place in the Grand Hall at Olympia on the 30th of June and the 1st of July, 2009. I spent two days at the event and attended several of the seminars and presentations. I hope my summary of the event recaptures the highlights from this event.

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