Online marketing can no longer be considered as an afterthought when developing a marketing strategy. In 2008, Ofcom reported that online marketing represented a fifth of total UK revenues from advertising – and we believe it’s still got a long way to go.
There are good reasons for its unprecedented growth. One of the main reasons online marketing has always been at an advantage compared to other forms of marketing is its ability to drive acquisition in such a transparent and accountable way. More often than not, it is ‘acquisition marketing’ that clients are looking for – marketing with the end goal of acquiring new business. A well thought out acquisition marketing strategy shouldn’t even stop there, but should really continue into the realms of adding value to the acquired customers to create repeat business and referrals.
In order to achieve effective acquisition marketing, there needs to be a clear and cohesive pathway for the customer to follow, right from the first click through to the point of conversion. This starts with a clear understanding of what you want the customer to do. If this isn’t clear in your mind, then it’s going to be very hard for the customer to figure out.
A marketing campaign which successfully brings thousands of people through to your site, all of whom are not particularly interested in what you have to offer and so leave immediately once they get there, cannot be called acquisition marketing. Traffic is simply a means to an end, and as such – can become a time consuming red herring.
A campaign which brings in thousands of people who are interested in your products or services, only for them to be bamboozled with such labyrinthine navigation or off-putting messages or design that they give up and go elsewhere before converting, is also not acquisition marketing.
A successful acquisition campaign must keep the visitor engaged at every single point along their journey towards becoming one of your valued customers.
This can only result from a genuinely integrated approach to online marketing, working on all areas of a campaign simultaneously, with the sole aim of leading visitors through seamlessly to the point of purchase or conversion. Implementing funnel / drop-off tracking is also key in this process, as often there is more to learn from the ‘non-converters’ than the ‘converters’.
Despite our strong belief in acquisition marketing, there is clearly still a place for brand building exercises which will not only change or enforce your consumers’ perceptions of you over time, but also deliver better recall, referral and brand equity.
But with acquisition marketing, we look for measurable ways to increase levels of sales and conversions in a much shorter space of time. Part of the trick here is to not only make the process easy for customers, but also to spend time understanding their mindset, needs and concerns. By understanding these, we can begin to alleviate them – by offering them extra information, assurance or testimonials along the conversion funnel. Ideally, we want to dispel any concerns they have before they have even manifested.
Working with this mindset, we are able to take marketing forms such as pay-per-click advertising, and make them work even more efficiently than they are already.
At atom42, we get most of our business through referrals. When people have had a good experience with a customer or product, they simply can’t spread the word fast enough. Looking after your customers in the same way is one reason why acquisition marketing is also of long-term. Happy customers do two things: return and refer.
Increasingly, as natural SEO has evolved from being focused on “onsite” optimisation techniques – and moved into using more and more “offsite” factors when determining a site’s importance – we see an increasing number of long-term benefits from our SEO work as well – including link building, content optimisation and strategic partnerships – all of which can yield results for many years to come.
The real key to acquisition marketing is measurability, and this is something uniquely suited to online marketing.
For those in the business of online marketing, there are now an almost infinite number of tools at our disposal for diagnosing precisely what kind of results our efforts are generating with our online marketing techniques.
This means that we can prove without doubt that we are gaining the right kinds of results for our clients, with an extraordinary amount of precision. It’s no wonder that, according to the European Online Advertising Through 2013 report, online ad spend is predicted to carry on growing throughout the recession.