Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Should all marketing communications now be online?

Some marketing commentators are suggesting that traditional marketing tools are no longer of value and that trackable and measurable campaigns should now all be online.

Although much evidence points to the company web site as the preferred portal for initial contact with a vendor, what drives visitors to the site in the first place is another matter. This may well be conventional display advertising in a trusted industry sector publication. A recent email received from Industrial Technology quoting from market research they had commissioned, noted that "Despite the growth of on line promotion, advertisements still play a major part in directing traffic to websites and, from our reader research findings, 76% of readers prefer magazines to keep up to date with new products. 66% then visit the chosen manufacturers websites." 

The sudden uptake a year or so ago, of QR codes provides a link from the printed page to a landing page which in theory offers a simple connection without the need to key in a url. There is some scepticism about the take up of these, or whether the novelty value has passed. It still takes time to open an app, scan and view content which has to be pretty good to bother doing this on a regular basis. So if the first experiences are disappointing, the call to action will have to be very compelling to bother.  Interestingly looking at Google Analytics for some clients the move to mobile devices is growing, but at under 12% of site visitors is still a minority, with the top platforms being iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch.

Social media referral currently accounts for just over 1% of their traffic, despite a significant client commitment to engage in this area. Here there is even more scepticism in b-2-b marketing. It seems some people are becoming bored as noted in a recent article reflecting on some market research. "Along with saying that they were bored, the Facebook defectors also used the words “not useful” to describe the experience. Apparently, some users simply aren’t getting the information that they require when they log on to the service. One major issue could be that users aren’t seeing the statuses, photo uploads, and other activities from the people they care about. Even if they want to see what Person X had for breakfast, it might not appear on their News Feed. Facebook has been upfront with the fact that only a small percentage of your friends actually see your posts – somewhere around 12%." A big question is whether advertising is that effective in a social environment. The fall of 30% in Facebook stock since the recent IPO suggests that the financial markets are also having their doubts.

At a more general level over 70% reached the client web sites through search - more searching by brand name than for generic product - 16% via referral and 12% direct. Most likely the referred and direct visitors are more valuable as one third are returning visitors. So getting visitors to the web site is not simply generated by other online actions but in many different ways and that points to a fully integrated marketing campaign both on and off line. The challenge is getting the best mix of offline, online and new tools to create an effective and joined up campaign.

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