Using digital marketing to connect with customers Featured

8:01pm EDT November 30, 2011
Using digital marketing to connect with customers

Online, mobile, digital — everyone’s talking about digital marketing. But is your business or organization using it?

“Marketers have more opportunities than ever to access prospects and customers,” says Wes Phillips, agency principal at Orange Label Art + Advertising. But until you understand how these tools specifically work for your company, don’t run and put all of your advertising budget into digital. You need to take the time to learn how the digital channel of communication is going to work for your business — how it’s going to fit into your existing marketing strategy.”

“Digital should be viewed as part of an integrated plan. Do your research first and have an appropriate strategic approach,” adds Rochelle Reiter, also an agency principal with Orange Label Art + Advertising. “You need to understand your customers’ mindset — how they are accessing information. Then you can adjust your messaging and develop distinct campaigns for both online and mobile platforms.”

Smart Business asked Phillips and Reiter how businesses can be sure they’re taking the right approach when moving forward with digital marketing.

What recent advancements and/or tools in online marketing and advertising should businesses be aware of?

Today, in addition to traditional websites viewed on desktops, consumers are seeking information about businesses via mobile devices (smart phones and tablets). Both desktop and mobile bring new opportunities to marketers through the use of social media, apps, and online video — just a few of the many vehicles available to help businesses connect with customers and prospects. The advertising models have also evolved with digital and mobile to include the Pay-Per-Click (PPC) method (versus impression) so that you are paying only for the people who are seeking out what you offer. This has proven to be very effective for direct response advertisers. Also, there are measurability tools, such as Google Analytics, so an advertiser can understand which strategies are working and which ones aren’t.

How is the increase in mobile devices affecting marketing and advertising?

Approximately 60 percent of mobile phones today are smart phones. Mobile isn’t replacing the desktop, it’s providing another way to connect to prospects and customers. By the end of 2011, 25 percent of all searches will be mobile. When someone reaches out for information on their mobile device, they should be able to access information easily and find the most pertinent information about your business. This holds particular importance with local businesses such as restaurants, and is extremely effective for retail advertisers. Having a powerful mobile strategy entails ensuring that your website is mobile friendly, that your messaging is tailored to the mobile device and that you have specific ad campaigns targeted at the mobile user.

How can a business determine what digital marketing strategies are right for them?

It all begins with understanding your customers and how they access information. There is no one-size-fits-all approach. When you understand your customers’ behavior patterns, it will lead you to the answers. Do research to a) know who your prospects and customers are, b) find out how they intellectually and emotionally perceive your product or service and c) make sure that you’re using the appropriate media vehicles to connect with them. A simple way to gather this information is to take a sample group of prospects and customers and ask them these questions, along with inquiring about how they would like to receive your information. Then, an integrated plan can be developed with a customer-centric focus.

Who handles the actual work involved with digital?

It is very easy to get sucked into do-it-yourself digital. Every business owner is bright enough to do their own income tax return; the same holds true with digital. Yet, the more prudent approach would be to have someone experienced on staff to manage the initiative or to hire a freelancer or another outside resource with expertise in both digital marketing and marketing strategy.

When you are unfamiliar with all the terminologies and how the media channels can be used, it’s easy to be swayed. Just because someone understands the technology doesn’t mean he or she will understand your marketing objectives and how your prospects are persuaded, motivated and moved to action — and how to combine all of that to create messages that will produce results in the digital realm.

What special considerations should a business take into account?

From a digital perspective, you have an audience’s attention far longer than with other forms of media. When online, the prospect or customer is already searching, so transparency is critical. Make sure all of your digital information is current, accurate and relevant.

For many businesses, the ongoing investment in the website component can be quantified as the expense of an additional full-time, low-cost employee. For about $10 an hour, this ‘digital employee’ will work for you every day, every hour. And if you care for it through SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and back end support and ensure the website is relevant (regular updates and enhancements) it will perform not like an entry level employee, but as a 24/7 VP of marketing to a) attract more prospects and b) generate sales at higher margins. It’s a modest investment that will pay a big return.

WES PHILLIPS and ROCHELLE REITER are the agency principals of Orange Label Art + Advertising. Reach them at (949) 631-9900 or wphillips@orangelabeladvertising.com or rreiter@orangelabeladvertising.com.