Content builds relationships. Relationship are built on trust. Trust drives revenue.
Online marketing can be very confusing. In part, because cause and effect impact measures are challenging to find (with the noted exception of online sales). But, there are four principles you can use to help guide your decisions in the online communication space.
#1 Focus on Your Brand Promise
Online marketing needs to be consistent with and supportive of offline efforts. It should not be thought of as something distinct and apart. Consequently, it is important your online communication stays true to your brand promise and leverages your strategic equities. With rare exceptions, your online communication should leverage your brand’s core campaign idea. If the campaign idea cannot be effectively leveraged online, you should challenge your Agency to find a campaign idea that can (or avoid online all together). Too often, the online translation of a campaign idea is an after thought. Compromises are made because of the perceived low cost of online media. This is exactly the wrong strategy. If your campaign idea cannot be translated effectively across media, the right strategy is to get a better campaign idea before agreeing to fund deployment.
#2 Ensure Synergy Across Media
I am always surprised when marketers act as though there is no audience overlap between their brand’s offline and online communication. They point to differences in media consumption across demographics. However, they don’t see traditional media in the same way. Ask any marketer if she/he believes there is overlap between radio and television and the answer will be “of course”. In reality there is typically a significant overlap between offline and online media. And the overlap is growing. In order to ensure synergy, executions in all media must focus on communicating your brand’s promise. Online media needs to be part of a holistic effort and not viewed as apart. Don’t hold your online communication to a lower standard.
#3 Leverage Interactivity
Online efforts should be focused on helping visitors decide if your brand can best address their need. Similar to face-to-face selling, online communication offers and opportunity to clarify what the need actually is. Don’t simply blow by this opportunity. Seek to create a meaningful dialogue and gather information that can be used to deliver a more efficient and pleasing experience. But, also be smart. Online visitors are sensitized to the risks of sharing personal information. And quid pro quo you structure must be reasonable and fair. If you want information, offer your visitor something of real value. You need to create trust before you ask for information. In almost every case, that requires more than a single interaction.
#4 Stop Talking To Yourself
The majority of websites I have reviewed suffer from the same problem. The communication is heavy on WHAT is being offered and light on explaining WHY the visitor should care. In earlier posts I have positioned this as communicating features rather than benefits. Remember this simple mantra – “Features tell, benefits sell”. Visitors want to know why they should include your brand in their consideration set. Don’t stop your communication with WHAT, pay it off by explaining WHY it should matter. One of the most effective ways of determining if your communication is heavy on WHAT, is to read each page of your website and answer the question – “Why should I care?”. Surprisingly, this advice is hardly new. Almost every marketer and sales person is exposed to the WIIFM (What’s in it for me?) model. This question is just as relevant to answer in your online communication.
Suggested Next Step
Take a few minutes and look critically at your offline and online communication to see if the above principles are met. Chances are you will identify many opportunities to improve what you are doing. You can complete this exercise in about 30-minutes. If you are the rare exception and find no opportunities for improvement, congratulations. It means you likely have an effective holistic communication effort.