Online Marketing for Managers: How to 101

This post is for Marketing Manager who want to know what the buzz word “Online Marketing” is about

You (Marketing Manager) often hear that Online marketing works, that the recent campaign runs by your competitor is a complete success, the new feature on FaceBook is so cool, everyone is talking about it etc….
How about Second Life? it seems cool or Blogging? You heard everyone blogs nowadays…
Google visited you last week and talk about the potential to reach out to millions of people at a faction of your normal cost…
Hey don’t forget the Microsoft bid for Yahoo recently…

Online Marketing….It seems interesting, isn’t it? Otherwise Marketers won’t talk about it non stop, right? Everyone is doing it so it must be good…
Well, the fact is that your company has never tried Online marketing before. You always depend on Above The Line (ATL) activities. They seem to work for you locally, your boss is happy with the performance, your position is secure so why bother???

Explaining why Marketing managers should bother about Online Marketing is certainly not within the scope of this post. However, i just like to point out one thing:

  • Does your company have a clearly defined target audience? Will your future targeted audience be any different from your current and past target audience? Are they getting younger or older?
  • Do you know how much time your target audience is spending online? Compared that to the time they spend on newspaper, tv, radio….
  • I hope you see where i am going with these

Hang on a minute, Nope actually you always email your customers about product launch, new promotions and the results are good. You have a third party vendor to do all the Email Marketing for you (EDM). There is actually one lady in your marketing department who is in charge of CRM so your company is using Online Marketing, you just didn’t realize it.

So where should you start?

Step 1: Define your online objectives

Instead of asking your assistants for a few quotation from X, Y or Z vendors because your friends mentioned that they are good….
Hang on a minute, you should start with identifying what your online objectives are if you don’t know them yet.

Believe me: have more sales online is not a good enough online objective.

Or another question: do you have a website?

When was the last time the website updated?

Do you have an in house team to maintain the website or you have no ideas who/which company built up the website for your company? (hey, if you have an in house team and already paying them every month, it might not be a bad idea to understand what exactly what they are doing, whether or not they understand online marketing)

Do you have any visibility on what type of people visiting your site? where are they coming from?

Ok so for now we assume that your company has a website. But what is the purpose of that website? More importantly what are your business objectives and whether those objectives can be achieved online?
(Don’t bother doing any online marketing if you are an airline or a hotel and your booking engine is not working. You are just going to waste your money)

After having your online business objectives, check again if they are SMART enough? like acquiring 250 new customers/month by spending additional $10.0 online whereas you are spending $50,000.00/month on Above the Line activities currently and acquiring only 30 new monthly customers.

So what the Online marketing picture looks like?

That picture looks something like this:

  • Sponsored websites like blog etc…
  • Pop-up and pop-under ads
  • Rich media ads
  • And so on…

With about 8 different “colors” (activities), you can imagine how complex the online picture can be.
Well, in my opinion, if you/your company have never tried Online marketing before, it’s best to engage a consultancy firm, which specializes in Online marketing. That company will help you map out your core online objectives/benchmarks, how to achieve those in shortest period of time, the timeline to prepare, to execute those activities, what kind of benchmarks are realistic for your companies.
Normally your incumbent creative agency help with the Creative or Interactive parts. However, when it comes to digital, or performance based not all agencies have the experience or manpower to do that. Some agencies offer the service but not for SEA region or Asia Pac.

Step 2: Agency Selection

Now is the time to call for quotations or ask your incumbent agency for digital services. (hey, you already pay lots of retainer money for them)
I noted down a few things related to this under “Search Engine Marketing In-house vs Outsource
From my experience, running a test campaign 3-6 month can be a good way to test out a new agency. Any shorter duration simply can not yield reliable data. More importantly 3-6 months are enough to evaluate the level of services provided by the agency.

Step 3: Campaign planning

After reviewing the performance of a pilot campaign, now is the time to do some serious business.
Ask your incumbent agency to come in, together with your digital agency and review your ATL marketing plan for the year together.
I can’t stress enough the important of having an overall, centralized BTL (below the line) or Online marketing plan rather than just running online campaigns when you feel like it Or when you have budget left over and you don’t want to show any leftover to your Management!

Campaign planning is not easy, especially if you plan for 1 year. That’s why you engage professionals and pay them the big bucks… (this sounds like a self serving line 😀 but hey, it’s hard work and it requires some serious thinking).
Online environment is changing constantly, unique to each location, each niche industry within that location etc…

Step 4: Measure campaign performance:

This should be easy now since you already have a set of SMART objectives.
The important thing now is making sure that you can measure the correct data online and translate them into the respective business objectives.

Step 5: Web Analytics

I already wrote an introductory article about this so if you want to read more, please refer to Singapore Web Analytics

Step 6: Review campaign performance and Optimize

Well, the truth is Marketing Managers are not spending as much time as they should on reviewing campaign performance and Take some action to optimize it.
For more information, you can read the white paper “The future of Marketing” written by The Economist Intelligence Unit and Google Or you can refer to my post about “The future of Marketing

Online Marketing is still young so it’s understandable that people don’t spend as much time reviewing and optimizing their online campaigns as they should.
Right now, most companies do not even have a “good” online campaign, not even using Analytics. However, things are changing quickly and we (Online Marketing Professionals) all hope that the growth of this industry for 2008 is what expected 🙂

There can be so much about Reviewing campaign performance and how to optimize an online campaign. However, that would require some serious writing 🙂 and probably take a lot of time….:D

Anyway, this is my first post after Chinese New Year so “Gong Xi Fa Cai”!!!

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