Companies are just starting to understand the value of integrated marketing. It doesn’t matter whether you have a product or service to sell, taking a multi-channel approach will dramatically improve the outreach to your target audience. It will bring you more new customers and help you keep the customers you already have.
How does your website fit into your overall marketing plan? For some companies, Internet marketing is separate from offline marketing. Advertising, public relations, telemarketing, direct marketing and sales promotions are all considered separate from the Internet. If that is the case at your company, it’s time to take another look at the goals of your marketing plan and put together an integrated marketing plan.
One of the most common problems for small business owners is that they do not look at their website as part of their marketing plan; they think it “is” the marketing plan. Because they have a website, they assume business will come to them. They also believe that all they need is the right search engine optimization to get high rankings with Google and the website will be a success. Unfortunately, that is not the case.
Internet traffic continues to grow daily and millions of websites are all competing for top ranking with Google. In April 2006, the U.S. had over 315 million active home Internet users looking for websites. How is your site going to get some of that traffic? How are people going to know your site even exists?
The sad truth is that business owners can not rely on search engine optimization to bring in the traffic they need. The Internet has just gotten too big. That’s why integrated marketing is the key to bringing in more business.
Use Offline Marketing for Online Customers
The secret to increased website traffic is creating an offline marketing campaign that drives traffic to your website. For example, create an integrated marketing plan using a combination of e-mail, postcards, and telephone follow-up. According to the Direct Marketing Association’s 2005 Response Rate Report, telephone follow-up increased the response rate to direct mail; but e-mail increased the response to both direct mail and the telephone.
Create Multi-Channel Relationships
Look at what some of the bigger companies are doing with integrated marketing and you’ll have a better idea of what to do. Best Buy successfully creates multi-channel relationships with its customers. Offline mailers encourage customers to register on its website for special offers and savings. The website, in turn, guides them to nearby stores for local pickup of online purchases. Then Best Buy follows up with promotional e-mails to continue cross-selling.
Small business owners may not have the money or manpower to create big marketing campaigns like Best Buy, but they can follow the leaders and learn from their successes. Pick out some of the techniques you think would work for your business and start implementing them.
Start simple, like giving people a reason to visit your site. Did you know that visitors often come four to five times to a website before they make a purchase? Each time they come to a site, they are looking for change; something to hold their interest. If you site never changes, why would people come back?
Use an integrated marketing approach to motivate people to come to your site and encourage them to keep coming back. Here are some ideas for offline and online marketing integration:
*On the homepage, have a box set aside for information that is constantly changing and would be of interest to your target audience.
*Create a special discount for online shoppers.
*Create a short/fun online quiz on the homepage.
*Create a short, online opinion poll survey on a hot topic in your industry.
*Send out a postcard with a website address that takes them to a special landing page to enter into a contest.
*Send out a postcard to encourage people to sign-up online for your newsletter.
*Send out a series of e-mail follow-up autoresponders every time you sell a product.
*Through a postcard or e-mail, offer a free PDF download on your site, of a white paper or report that would be valuable to your target audience.
*Follow-up an online purchase with a phone call.
Nothing I’ve mentioned is beyond the reach of the small business owner. Take a look at your marketing efforts and see what you can do now to change over to an integrated marketing approach. Discover how easy it is to improve website performance without search engine optimization.