Wednesday 11 July 2012

Adwords, Promote Your Posts and the real value of the Digital MarketingAdviser

Posted by Cosmos Star Consultant on 06:49 with 4 comments
The race to grab the lion’s share of those elusive eyeballs has been heating up in recent years. The two dominant players in the game have been upping the ante, firing salvo after salvo at each other. Both Facebook (the world’s most popular social media platform) and Google (the undisputed king of all things search) have been locked in this high intensity battle.

The Rankings Game:

For years, savvy marketers have been deploying Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tactics in a bid to stay ahead of the competition. Every brand worth their reputation is engaged in a never ending game of rankings where the higher one goes, the better are the revenues. With, Social Marketing has been creating all the right buzz around the digital world and everyone has been keen to get their share of the pie, it was only a matter of time before the battle shifted here.

Advertising and the art of revenue generation:

Since the beginning, Facebook has been hard pressed to prove its worth as a revenue generating advertising platform. As it continues to grow in popularity and the world starts to revolve round likes and follows, dissent has been springing from the shadows. Just recently, the top automobile manufacturer – General Motors announced that it was pulling the plug on its advertising spends on Facebook. This came as grave news for the social media giant as it put a severe dent in its assault on Google’s hugely successful Adwords program.

Promote Your Post:

Seeking ways to stem the hemorrhaging, Facebook recently announced the launch of the ‘Promote Your Post (PYP)’ feature. Leveraging its advantage of being the gatekeeper to the vast amount of personally identifiable information of its billion plus members, the giant has chosen an interesting path. As per the information available, Promote Your Post functions around the fact that a promoted post wont just reach the followers of the promoter, but also the friends of their followers. This ‘revolutionary’ feature is said to offer a highly viral way of improving the reach of the brand under promotion, thereby giving maximum bang for the buck.

Standing Tall (Google Adwords):

The verdict is still out on the real-world effectiveness of this new feature. Especially considering that it appears to be a social take on the Google Adwords program. Such approaches and announcements are becoming rather common with each passing day. It is leading to what is being called as a marketing information overload. As brands grapple to understand which side they should play on, they are losing valuable time and money during the convoluted decision process. Priceless resources that’d be better off being deployed towards adding to the revenue bottom line.

Advisor, Friend and Guide:

It is where the value of a quality advisory partner is coming to the fore. Digital marketing advisors are perched at a perfect vantage point, to take stock of the situation. Through their years of experience and talented army of trained personnel, they are poised to perfection in their role as an advisor and guide through the marketing quagmire.

So the next time someone boasts that they don’t need the services of a dedicated marketing advisor smile politely and walk away. It is no point arguing with a fool, for they will only pull you down to their level and then beat you at it!

Click! Click!

Wednesday 4 July 2012

Banks and the Digital Marketing Conundrum

Posted by Cosmos Star Consultant on 06:25 with 2 comments
Let’s admit it, one of the first thoughts that come to mind when thinking of advertising by banks and other financial institutions like credit societies, is that of suit and tie bankers exhorting everyone to become their customer. Even as the world has been going digital and with the institutions too following through, somehow, they have limited themselves to the technical aspects of things. Marketing, especially in the digital domain has been restricted on a major part to promotional containers that are otherwise known as banner ads. This has been the case for all but the big guns in the industry, which have had the resources necessary for a full blown digital marketing blitz at their disposal.

All things D:

For many out there, the digital initiatives have not expanded beyond their core website. However digital today encompasses multiple platforms that exist in the online world together with the various handheld device categories. From acquiring new customers to retaining the already existing ones, any marketing activity carried out in the digital domain falls under this. And this is usually the point where savvy marketers start to realize that digital marketing is in reality a sub-section of the whole promotional paradigm. Just as conventional marketing aims revolve round the building up of excitement, engagement and loyalty from customers, so do the digital aims. Those on the lookout for differentiating factors would be well served to look in the direction of the technological role and its influence over the execution of marketing initiatives.

Tech Strides:

The past decade has seen an entire generation of people being tagged as early adopters of all things tech. As the numbers start to swell, so do the expectations that their brands similarly embrace the technological advances as quickly as they do. It therefore makes for a prudent judgement to get onto the tech highway rather than risk losing out and get left behind in the dirt of obsolescence.

Error Correction:

The thing about errors is that everyone makes them; even the most successful firms out there have made their share of mistakes over time. Marketing and especially the digital domain is no different. Retail giants, production majors, banks and the lot, they all have their share of ‘experience’ it their kitty. But just because they can’t be fully eliminated doesn’t mean that one sits back and does nothing to prevent them from occurring. Especially because a great majority of these errors are avoidable in the first place!

Silo-Free Zone:

It saddens us to no end when we come across artificial silos being created among the marketing division at many firms. Marketing, whether in the conventional or the digital iteration, can be most effective when there is a seamless exchange of information and ideas. Putting up barriers to appease the misplaced notions of divisional hierarchy and protocols actually ends up preventing organizations from realizing their true marketing potential.

Lining up the Sights:

It could be that game of darts or a session of target practice, what matters is getting it closer to the bull’s-eye. Every business worth their binaries has a website these days. Many put up a reasonably good effort but then let it go downhill from there. The website is soon neglected, like a castaway that is of no real value. The truth couldn’t be further away from that.

Corporate websites are the digital outposts of businesses and indeed, the first lookout for information searches are made on them. While Facebook posts and tweets are great, the first property to be updated must ALWAYS be the company website. Unfortunately, those in the financial sectors either relegate their websites to the bottom of the updates hierarchy or end up creating an informational nightmare. Bestowing the title of an investment on a website and restoring it to its rightful pride of place is the best way to stem this rot.

Collection, Measurement & Analysis Cycle:

The verdict may yet be out on the pros and cons of Google’s free analytics program over the other enterprise options available in the market. But what successful firms vouch for, is the rich data being generated by visitors to the website. However, one can accumulate data by the terabytes and yet be clueless about its significance. This is commonly found in businesses who do not know the ‘what and whys’ of data collection in the first place. Thankfully, they can mount their own rescue ops by identifying the Key Performance Indicators or KPI’s. While the website performance indicators for each business would be different, there are a few key ones that need to be mapped across all sites. These include:

  • Percentage of New vs. Repeat visitors

  • Number of pages viewed in total by each visitor at every instance

  • Pages viewed by new visitors and the time spent on each one of them

  • Pages from where visitors tend to quit the website

  • Total number of instances where visitors leave after visiting a single page (Bounce Rate)

  • Pages featuring details about the products and services on the site and the amount of time spent on them by new visitors

Besides these, from a financial services point-of-view, it is important to track the percentage number of pure visitors to the inquiries generated from the site. The branch locator page too is another parameter that should be looked into.

The ‘Click’ Factor:

When people talk about getting onto the social media ad campaign bandwagon, it is imperative to check if they’ve leveraged the most powerful ad network out there – Google. Its AdWords program is indeed the leading product in the market and by a huge margin at that. While others are struggling to play catch, it is still some time before anyone is going to get close to this behemoth. The paid search platform offers a highly effective way to get the message across to the right type of audience. These ads can be tailored to target on the basis of an extremely detailed set of parameters ranging from demographics to geo-political preferences and pretty much everything in between. To top it off, the costs involved in leveraging this highly potent tool can start from a couple of cents per click and go up to a few dollars, depending upon the bidding. But do ensure that the budget’s in place for the campaign. One of the worst things that could happen would be to run out of funds, just as the clicks start to pour in.

Parting Shots:

At the end of it all, there is no single approach to marketing supremacy. We are all part of the learning curve, albeit, for some it appears steep, while some find it to be smooth runnings. That said, a watertight website and a finely tuned paid search campaign are sure to go a long way in ironing out the bumps. The choice though, is yours to be made!