Heather is passionate about helping companies deliver marketing that is hyper-relevant to the customer and drives profit for the business. As an experienced strategist with 20 years developing integrated marketing strategies across a range of industries, she advocates a data-driven approach to marketing.

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Is Your Online Presence an Afterthought?

CautionI have many clients that allocate the majority of their budgets towards traditional advertising vehicles and seem surprised when I suggest that online is a critical part of the marketing mix.  Let’s be clear, I’m not advocating abandoning traditional media, what I am advocating is understanding what the right mix of online and traditional media is for your business and optimizing your investment for performance.  With 80% of consumers researching online before buying, it’s more critical than ever that your online and offline presence are integrated.

Let’s walk through a scenario that’s all too common.  What happens when people see a marketing message in traditional media and decide they’re interested in the product or service?  Often, they go online, type in some search terms and attempt to learn more, compare prices, or find out where to buy.  This is the principle discussed in the Zero Moment of Truth, a fantastic eBook put out by Google, and a must-read for every marketer.

Even if you’re savvy and include your website address as part of your traditional media, people will still go to Google and type in your brand name.  Hopefully they end up on your site and have a fantastic experience.  But…

  • What happens if your competitors are bidding on your brand name and have an ad with an enticing offer right above the link to your site?  Will your competitor be able to steal that customer from you?
  • What if your website is really pretty but isn’t indexed by Google because the home page has no content and you didn’t think about optimizing for search engines when you built it?  Will these potential customers be able to find you?
  • What will potential customers see if they search for your brand name and “reviews”?  Will they be impressed by what other customers are saying about you?

What should you do?

Your online presence can’t be an afterthought any longer.  It must be a main focus of your marketing mix as more often than ever, online research is a key component in the buying process.  A few things to make sure you’re doing right:

  • Ensure that your website provides a positive experience to potential customers, whether that means providing online ordering or just product information.
  • Provide a clear method of buying your product, either online ordering or directions to local distributors.
  • Ensure that your website is search engine optimized so that potential customers can find it.
  • If your competitors are bidding on your brand name, you should be too!
  • Bid on key messages from your ads.  Potential customers may remember and search for them rather than your brand name.
  • Encourage happy customers to review your products online.
  • Monitor what people are saying about your brand online and respond accordingly.

Remember, even if you have great traditional marketing campaigns and do everything else right, you can still lose the sale if you don’t ensure that your online presence is in line.

What kind of challenges does your business face with online marketing?  What’s worked well for you?  Let us know in the comments!