I read two interesting articles this morning. The first was by Wayne Friedman who reported that online ads will exceed $100 Billion (yes, 11 zeros -- $100,000,000,000) by 2015 and North America alone will be 45% of that ($45 Billion) and that Latin America will "...continue to be the fastest-growing region..." The biggest specific markets, I think to no ones surprise, will be China and Russia. Most of this will be billed through paid search.
The second article, written by Thad Kahlow and posted on Marketing Daily, pointed out the four most important investment considerations when developing your online campaign. In summary,
1. Launch a Robust Search Engine Marketing Campaign
Start with paid search. Find a sophisticated PPC team (three or more) or an agency (with multi-discipline expertise) that will look at your data and -- with a high level of confidence and certainty -- be able to promise you more ... lots more.
If you are managing a campaign in-house right now with only a single dedicated resource, chances are there are inefficiencies, which can be fixed quickly to yield immediate cost savings. Ever hear of exact mirror matching? While PPC is generating search results and ROI, build an internal search team and invest time and human resources toward gaining organic rankings.
SEO is the single largest potential for gain -- I mean CMO-attention-grabbing ROI. It's no longer snake oil and, when done well, it can put up huge numbers: rankings (branding), traffic (market share), conversions (sales). The winners in the online space -- the real winners -- will win first with SEO.
2. Improve the User's Website Experience & Conversions
Give your users what they want, when they want it, and how they want it. Do that well and you will improve your brand equity as well as measure increased business results. Focus on the users first and business goals second ... sit back and count the cash. Well, it's not that easy, but when done well, it feeds a cycle of online success.
According to Nielsen, spending 10% of your development budget on usability should improve your conversion rate by 83%. In most cases, it's far cheaper to use 15% of your development budget than to more than double your advertising budget.
3. Get in the Social Media Game
Start small, be realistic, and understand your first goal should be to listen. Yes, listen. Not market, not push a new message, not convert -- listen. Only after you have listened to your audience (current and potential clients) can you properly engage and begin a real conversation.
Once you build credibility and open a true dialogue, you can begin to reap the benefits of social media -- motivating others, your "mavens" to do it for you. Yes, eventually after you have climbed the mighty hill of social media, you can sit back and guide the boulder downhill. Let your mavens and evangelists do the work for you.
Measure it. Measure it. Measure it. Find out what works, find out what doesn't, and make business decisions based on real data. Don't guess, don't hope, don't anything ... measure it and improve marketing and results.
Much of this we've read before and hopefully many are doing. What I think is really important is when you put both articles into context, how important it is for us all to make a concerted effort to bring cohesive membership awareness, acquisition, engagement, renewal and reinstatement tactics to our membership development efforts. If online is where the ad revenue is going, then that is a HUGE indicator of where people are going. And either we can be in front of that, taking advantage of the 'low hanging fruit,' or way behind scrambling for crumbs.