Most businesses realize that to be successful in today’s market, building brand awareness online is essential. Through online advertising, many companies have become unmitigated success stories. In other cases, a failure to engage with the Internet as an advertising medium has doomed some companies to obscurity. By following a few simple guidelines, you can take your brand to a new level with a great online advertising campaign.
Too many companies try to draw consumers to their own websites online but are unwilling to meet them where they are. Simply, these companies want consumers to visit their site, but fail to market themselves in the places their audience already is. A good example of this is local retailers’ websites. If you have a network of local dealers that sell your product, it makes sense to start your online advertising campaign there. Studies show that consumers who plan to purchase goods locally still research the product online first. If your dealer has done their marketing well, the potential customers will be finding their websites first in these local searches and looking there for information on which products to buy. Therefore, marketing directly through these websites is the fastest and most effective way to engage with an audience that is highly motivated and likely to convert to offline sales. Think of your audience as being split between active and passive consumers. The passive consumers are those that aren’t necessarily looking for a product like yours, or even in the market to purchase anything at all. Active consumers, though, are those that are seeking to buy products similar to yours, and are actively researching which products they ought to buy, and where they should buy them. While marketing to the passive consumers can help you increase your market share too, it’s going after the active consumers that is going to give you the most bang for your buck.
Besides simply driving sales, one goal of a great online advertising campaign should be building your brand in the mind of consumers. Branding is the touchstone consumers use to identify with a product. It can build or destroy a sense of loyalty in the customer depending on how it’s handled. Because the Internet is such an engaging medium, it has an uncanny power that can be harnessed to do more for your branding than other, less interactive forms of media. Unlike television or radio, advertising online allows you to get creative in engaging your audience, by using techniques that elicit some sort of active response on the part of viewers. The recent explosion of “deal-of-the-day” marketing by companies like Groupon has proven that customers who play an active role in the marketing process by responding to an offer are much more likely to remain loyal to a brand than those that are simply passive receivers of your message. Therefore, it pays to focus on captivating your consumers with even the most simple of engagement techniques. In this way, you can create a sense of involvement with your target audience that will have lasting benefits beyond your first campaign.
A big mistake many companies make when mounting an online advertising campaign is failing to understand exactly who their competition is. While promoting general brand awareness is great, you need to ask yourself if it’s the most effective use of your marketing budget. Some brands that are new to Internet advertising will pursue global rankings on search engines, or simply place their advertisements on sites that are frequented by a demographic they think will be receptive to their message. This is not necessarily a bad strategy, but in terms of sheer effectiveness, it pays to think locally. Where you do your marketing online has a way of determining who your competition is. Some of your local markets are stiffer grounds for competition due to a wider variety of products on the market, while some markets are more sparsely populated. If you focus your efforts on competing only in the national realm, you’re wasting resources that might be more effective if allocated to smaller markets. If you’re a brand that sells locally through independent dealers, your goal is to convert online viewers into offline buyers. Therefore, the benefits of marketing directly to those seeking to buy products like yours are obvious. Again, by advertising directly on your local dealers’ websites, you can target an audience that is not only primed to receive your message, but also prepared to act upon it. Consumers are drawn to local dealers’ websites not only for product information, but because they want a physical location where they can make a purchase once they’ve made a decision. By placing yourself prominently on these sites, you’re building brand awareness while at the same time offering a call to action that is much more likely to be acted upon than a generalized campaign.
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