Digital marketing. New media marketing. Social media marketing. Web 2.0 marketing. These are all interchangeable terms which have at their core the crafting of a marketing strategy that combines social media such as blogs, podcasts, webinars, videos and social networking sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Bebo, Facebook, Flickr, Ning, etc. to cost-effectively and directly connect with your current and future consumers.
Why are so many brands switching from traditional media to social media or, at the very least, combining the two? Simply put, because that’s where consumers are spending their time — over 570 million of them a year and growing. In addition, social media is cost effective, completely measurable and targeted.
Just what are some of the social media tools available to you and why consider using them? The rest of the article will examine that topic in depth.
Here are 10 reasons why it might be a good idea for you to consider a comprehensive digital marketing plan for 2009:
1. Over 570 million people worldwide use some type of social networking site —not just the Internet, but, specifically, a social networking site such as those shown above. Facebook has the highest adoption rate worldwide at this time with over 52 million users alone. This means it is highly likely that at least some of your potential consumers can be reached this way and Facebook for Business is but one of many very powerful, free applications available to you to do so.
2. General Internet usage by consumers is exploding: According to Nielsen/Net Ratings, there are over 1,463,632,361 people using the Internet as of June 2008. Yes, 1.4+ BILLION. This is approximately one-sixth of the entire world population and represents a worldwide usage growth rate of 305.5 percent from 2000 until 2008. North America alone has had a 129.6 percent increase in usage between the year 2000-2008, but that pales in comparison to the Middle East and Latin America at 1,176.8 percent and 669.3 percent respectively.
3. Social networking sites are free for you to use. There is no cost. They are generally supported through ads or through premium levels of subscription services. Facebook for Business is free and supported by ads, LinkedIn is supported through premium subscriptions. Twitter is free. Flickr is free. YouTube is free.
4. By careful use of social media and social networking platforms, you can find out in real time what your customers want, what they are thinking and how you can serve them more effectively.
5. Setting up digital marketing strategies does not require you to spend additional money. It requires you to migrate part of your traditional marketing and advertising expense into new media platforms.
Once the strategy has been implemented, the cost is free with the exception of online community moderation. This cost, while real, means that you or someone you hire is actively talking with your potential consumers every second of the day through online conversations. You can’t get much closer to the pulse of the consumer than that nor show them a better level of customer service. Active community management through engagement and conversation will be a key differentiator for smart retailers in 2009 and beyond.
6. Mobile phone text messaging usage is increasing: The official Google blog writes:
There are currently about 3.2 billion mobile subscribers in the world, and that number is expected to grow by at least a billion in the next few years. Today, mobile phones are more prevalent than cars (about 800 million registered vehicles in the world) and credit cards (only 1.4 billion of those). While it took 100 years for landline phones to spread to more than 80 percent of the countries in the world, their wireless descendants did it in 16.
By utilizing new media tools, you will be able to connect with your potential customers as they are driving around on a Saturday afternoon. You will be able to invite them all in for a special event or give them a discount for the next two hours only.
7. Every time your company engages in an online media strategy, your company name and your company’s keywords are indexed and search engine optimized. Why is this important? Because if a potential customer types in to Google’s browser the words “traditional sofas Portland Oregon” and you don’t show up, then you are invisible to that consumer. If that consumer lives out of state and is moving to your area, you have just lost your opportunity for them to know you exist.
Points 8, 9 and 10 are the same:
Social media and social networking marketing initiatives are directly measurable. You can see exactly which initiatives and sites are sending traffic to your website, how many visitors are coming, what time of day, what pages they are landing on, how long they stay on the page, what they click through to from one page to the next, and many more data points.
I leave you with this:
When was the last time you had to spend no money to drive traffic to your website and into your store? When was the last time paid advertising and marketing were directly measurable on an hourly basis?
That’s why so many consumer durables companies are setting up a presence within the social networking and social media communities.
IKEA, NestLiving, HomeReserve, Landfair Furniture+Design, many interior designers (wouldn’t you like to connect with interior designers in your market for free?) are all adopting new media tools as a key component of their 2009 marketing and sales strategy. Within the greater consumer durables world, Proctor and Gamble, Ford, Constant Contact, Dunkin’ Donuts, Sears, Kmart and Comcast, to name a few, are all developing a personal connection with their customers in the social networking world.
It’s easy, it’s simple, it’s free except for upfront strategy development and ongoing monitoring costs.
Digital marketing using social networking and social media tools will cut your marketing budgets by two-thirds, give you the ability to listen and learn from your potential customers, prospect extremely fast and develop a reputation amongst your customers and on consumer online opinion sites as being connected, engaged and caring. What could be better than that?
Sales. More. Larger. Faster because your customers know you are listening and engaging them where they are in the online communities they have chosen to participate in.
To survive and thrive in 2009 and beyond, I think it’s time for all retailers, manufacturers suppliers and designers to be there, too.
What do you think?
Please email me with your comments or questions at email@example.com or call me at (713) 705-2482. Your opinion is the one that really matters to me.
The Kaleidoscope Partnership is a new media consulting firm specializing in providing retailers, manufacturers and suppliers in the home industries with the tools they need to execute social networking, online reputation management, e-conversion and analytics sales and marketing strategies. For more information, please see Leslie’s profile on www.linkedin.com/in/lesliecarothers, visit her company page on Facebook at The Kaleidoscope Partnership, follow her on Twitter at tkpleslie or visit her website at www.tkpartnership.com.