Monday, 15 July 2013

Is The AIDA Framework Still Relevant For Online Marketing?

The acronym AIDA is used to describe an age old marketing framework, developed in the late 19th century and pioneered by several experts in the early 20th century. The acronym itself first appeared in 1921 and has since been used to describe this traditional method of promotion and advertising.

The framework developed throughout the first half of the 20th century although marketing companies and consultants largely stuck to the four point process. The most significant development was the development of the funnel diagram, used to illustrate that there become fewer potential customers each step along through the framework.

For those new to marketing, AIDA describes how a promotion or advertisement should:

Grab the Attention of the potential customer

Raise Interest in the potential customer by demonstrating the product or services benefits

Persuade the potential customer that they Desire the product or service

Inform and lead the customer towards taking Action and purchasing the product or service.

Whilst the framework is traditional and in no way pioneering, many online marketing companies still practise the Attention, Interest, Desire and Action process. On the other hand, there are a number of newer frameworks (such as REAN, developed by a digital marketing agency in 2006) that focus far more on developing customer relationships; something AIDA simply does not do.

Is AIDA still relevant? Can this century old framework be applied to online marketing?

1. Attention

Grabbing the attention of potential clients has never been as challenging, particularly as we are bombarded with advertisements and promotions online every day. Some experts believe we actually encounter over 500 adverts every single day, many of which are online, meaning there is incredible competition.

Online, tools such as search engine optimisation (SEO) and social media marketing can help attract potential client attention although it is certainly no easy task.

2. Interest

We live in a world where many people believe themselves immune to advertising. Fortunately for those in the marketing business, the majority of these people are misguided. Whilst it is true that it is becoming far harder to persuade potential clients that a product or service will truly benefit them, there are always new, ingenious ways company marketing experts drum up to do so.

In the online world this is often done through social media by engaging customers and potential customers in real debate. Websites must be carefully designed to direct potential customers to exactly the right page, providing exactly the right amount of information to keep them hooked on your product or service.

3. Desire

There are a number of tools companies use online to encourage potential clients into desiring a product or service. Blogging, customer interaction and social media debate can offer potential clients the information they require to be convinced that a product will benefit them. Moreover, companies encourage happy clients to share their experiences on social media sites such as Facebook or Pinterest, encouraging desire amongst their social networks.

4. Action

Websites must be informative, attractive but also very simple to navigate through. An easy to use website is instrumental in the success of any online company and is the focal point of the final step in the AIDA framework.

A potential client is far more likely to purchase from your company if the website leads them efficiently towards the checkout page without bombarding them with unnecessary questions and adverts.

So to conclude, it appears that whilst dated, the AIDA framework can (and does) still have its uses in the online marketing world. Whilst newer frameworks focus on important marketing strategies such as retaining and developing customer relationships, AIDA provides the foundations upon which a company can build a successful online operation.

Friday, 5 July 2013

How Content Marketing Can Work For You

Savvy marketers now understand that traditional forms of advertising are no longer enough to reach out to today’s consumer. Content marketing is the method of creating and distributing relevant material to your customer base in order to drive profitable consumer action. Rather than directly selling, what you are doing is keeping the lines of communication open and the Internet is the perfect medium for doing this. But is content marketing just the latest in a long line of marketing buzz words, or is it something that can have real benefits. In short, is it worth the effort?

The answer is yes. And you don’t need to take our word for it: most of the major brands such as P&G and Microsoft are using content marketing techniques today. As just one example of where it has paid off, look at L’Oréal’s recent campaign. In 2012 it collaborated with Rolling Stone Magazine on its ‘Women Who Rock’ annual issue. This invited consumers to get involved by voting to decide which female emerging musician would be on the flip cover of the issue.

According to Debora Koyama, AVP Marketing at L’Oréal USA, “We are very satisfied with the program having much stronger results this year achieving or surpassing our targets and benchmarks from a number of page and video views, earned impressions to brand health tracking metrics.”

If you want to get the best results from content marketing then there are three key areas you have to cover.

These are:

Images: Highly visual content such as images or infographics can be much easier for your audience to absorb and if done well it can make a big impact. It’s a good way to share tips or information on your latest products and this kind of content is also very easy to share so it has the potential to go viral quickly. Make sure you add your company’s name and web address somewhere within the graphics.

Blog posts and articles:
As an expert in your sector you will no doubt have valuable advice and tips to share with your customers. A relevant and regularly updated blog is a great way to keep visitors flowing in to your website. You can also think about spreading the net further by posting articles on relevant blogging sites. It will showcase your knowledge and help you connect with clients, presenting an image of you as a reliable and competent supplier.

These days it is relatively quick and easy to put together a professional looking video – you don’t necessarily need much special knowledge and expertise. Once you have your video then it’s a valuable tool to connect with your audience over platforms such as YouTube. Be imaginative and come up with something really unique that people will want to share.

But remember that whatever you post, your content marketing strategy should always be coherent. Have the same themes and brand message running through everything and this way you will create a strong identity for your company. And keep plugging away! You are unlikely to see results straight away but this does not mean it will not pay off in the end.

Monday, 1 July 2013

A Devolution Of Power From Big Business In The Marketing World?

Traditionally, most companies employing more than thirty or so staff would have their own in-house marketing department, dedicated to market research and running marketing campaigns. In a post credit crunch world however, the face of in-house marketing is changing as departments have their budgets slashed and workloads increased. Exactly how this is affecting UK companies is an interesting tale.

In the past, SMEs were the main clients for a typical marketing company. Whilst larger companies outsourced to some of the more global players in marketing, traditionally marketing campaigns were run in house by specific marketing departments. Since the economic downturn, however, marketing departments have shrunk whilst workloads have increased meaning marketing companies are suddenly seeing an increase in business from medium and larger companies.

A report published this year by Charterhouse, the market services company, surveyed 200 marketing professionals in the UK and Western Europe. The results were music to the ears of marketing companies although rather unwelcome news to some marketing departments.

The results of the survey largely suggested that marketing departments in medium to larger sized firms are struggling to cope and, as a result, outsourcing more and more work to their respective marketing company. As a result, personnel in marketing departments have become more like administrators than marketers, coordinating the relationship between the department and the marketing firm.

On the other hand, the report is fantastic news for the UK’s marketing companies with 52% of UK respondents stating their departments were now dependent in some capacity on marketing companies. Over a third of respondents said their companies were entirely dependent on third party marketing firms for creativity in their marketing campaigns, with over half saying they had outsourced creativity in some form or another. One might argue that this devolution in power from some of the larger companies is no bad thing and in line with the governments call to SMEs to prop up the UK’s flat-lining economy.

Moreover, the report signals good news for the marketing industry on the whole, with 67% of respondents agreeing their companies or departments were doing more work. Social media was at least partly responsible for this increase in work, with 61% of respondents agreeing that this relatively new marketing tool had contributed to their increase in workloads.

In conclusion, the report’s findings polarise opinions within the marketing world. Whilst large companies with sizeable marketing departments have to outsource more work as their current staff levels cannot cope, smaller businesses and third party marketing companies are benefiting as a result. For the marketing industry on the whole, however, the news seems positive with more work and jobs in small businesses as a result.