A-Z of Increasing Your Online Marketing ROI
Merchant products are promoted on 3rd party (affiliate) websites. When visitors click through from the affiliate site to the merchant site and make a purchase then an agreed fee is paid to the affiliate.
If you advertise your products online, affiliate marketing is an efficient way to generate additional business. It is a cost effective form of advertising for merchants, and a simple way for affiliates to earn revenue from their website.
B – Banner Advertising
Banner advertising generally has a low response rate, often yielding about 2 visitors per thousand banner impressions. Despite the relatively poor value of banners for driving traffic, banner advertising can be particular useful in certain circumstances such as raising brand awareness.
C – Categorise
Structuring your site well can be worth its weight in gold, not just to
users of your site, but also to search engines. A well structured site
in terms of infrastructure (i.e. directory structure, page naming
convention) will not only tell your visitor what the page is about
quickly, but also provide the search engines with an idea of what the
page is about before it is indexed.
D – Differentiation
A unique Marketing Campaign that allows a company and/or its products and services to stand out from its competitors. Having a niche product or service makes the job of marketing your product or service much easier. If your service is not unique, it is often possible to identify a ‘unique selling point’ of your product or service.
Focus on your unique selling points, those products or services that differentiate you from your competitors, and ensure you portray these to your potential customers.
There are many aspects that can make you similar to your competitors, so ensure your unique selling point is clear to your customers. This can make a significant difference between success and failure.
E – E-Mail Marketing
Using e-mail as a means of communicating commercial messages to an audience (Direct Marketing) can be a profitable addition to your marketing strategy.
This could take many forms:
- Targeting your existing client base with additional services or products.
- Targeting your existing client base with the purpose of enhancing the relationship of a client with its current or old customers and to encourage customer loyalty and repeat business.
- Targeting your existing client base with the purpose of selling 3rd party products for a fee.
- Purchasing a list of client email addresses for the purpose of marketing your products to a new client audience.
- Adding your advertisements to e-mails sent by other companies to their client base and marketing your products to a new audience.
Direct marketing is popular with companies online as it is:
LOW COST : Compared to direct mailing or printed newsletters the costs are negligible. The advertiser does not need to pay for production, paper, printing or postage.
IMMEDIATE : It is instant, as opposed to a mailed advertisement, an e-mail arrives in a few seconds or minutes.
TRACKABLE : It is easy to track. An advertiser can track hits, conversions and rise in sales. Real-time.
FAR REACHING: Direct marketing can reach substantial numbers of e-mail subscribers who have opted-in (consented) to receive e-mail communications on subjects of interest to them.
F – Focus
Keep it relevant! There is no point spending hundreds or thousands of pounds on advertising on your site, and then sending a potential customer to a non-related “landing page”. There are two scenarios as regards online marketing where this is especially true, namely
- PPC advertising – Send your customers through to a targeted page. Many companies send clients through to the homepage, or worse, a non related page to what the term is. By sending potential customers through to a relevant page, you reduce the number of clicks required to find the product, at the same time reducing the number of exit points, which have the effect of making the money spent on sending the client to the site redundant.
- Affiliate Marketing – These days may clients are using companies such as Tradedoubler and Miva to drive traffic to their site. However, the number of times I have seen companies use the extra functionality such as product feeds that these Affiliate Marketing companies provide, and then under utilise them is staggering. By again targeting the users directly to the product/service they are searching for you are reducing the chances of the customer leaving the site before he/she has even viewed your product.
G – Gift Vouchers
Gift vouchers can be a good way of influencing users to your site to buy a product/service. Gift vouchers can be a very good way of building up customer loyalty to both your products and your brand, ensuring long term those customers keep coming back to your site and purchasing your products/services
H – High earners vs Low returners
Differentiating what products/services offer the highest return on
investment is often one of the best ways of increasing your bottom line, and as a result your return on investment (ROI). This may sound like common sense, however many companies overlook this, and continue offering products or services that never make any positive ROI.
The same applies to search engine marketing as a whole. For example, If you have a pay-per-click campaign, and are using very generic terms, you may find by tweaking the terms, and making these more specific, you decrease the amount you are spending on your PPC campaign, and increase your ROI as a result.
I – Informative
Having a site that is informative, interesting and unique is one of the
best ways of keeping visitors coming back to your site, whether they be human or robots. Visitor loyalty is invaluable. This can be achieved via a number of ways whether it be a niche product, well written technical articles, your companies own PR or even just something that is just unique, funny or controversial.
J – Just keep it simple
Over complicating the conversion process is often the biggest barrier to obtaining a successful sale. Many companies place barriers in the way, giving customers more reasons to pull out of a sale before completion, whether it is up-selling, over zealous data capture, or an inaccessible website.
A recent client’s buying process involved 10 clicks from site entry to sale completion. By reducing the number of clicks required to complete the sale from 10 to 6, sales increased by 400%. This involved streamlining the buying process, ensuring that the customer completed in as little time as possible.
In the modern era, time is money. Therefore time can be expensive so keep the time required to make a purchase to a minimum.
K – Keywords
Research thoroughly the keywords that your website can realistically be ranked for. If you have a new website in a highly competitive market then ranking naturally for the major terms will be close to impossible, so consider less competitive and more targeted terms.
Higher levels of visitors do not necessarily mean an increase in sales. A more focused set of keywords may mean lower traffic but the quality of the traffic can lead to a better ROI.
L – Landing Pages
This is another asset of search engine marketers that is either
over-optimised for search engines or under-utilised for visitors. Both can
have a detrimental effect on sales conversions and ultimately your ROI.
If you are using landing pages for any of your online
advertising/marketing, it is highly advisable to keep these landing
pages tailored to their requirement. You will find that by sending
potential customers directly to the area/product they are looking for,
you will significantly increase your sales as a result, and ultimately
M – Mod Rewrite
A Mod Rewrite engine is a piece of web server software used to modify URLs, for the purpose of making your dynamic URLs more user friendly to customers and search engines.
A rewritten URL is easier to use if it is short but descriptive. The URL should have some text describing the content, but should not be too long.
N – Navigation
Good navigation structure is an essential ingredient for any successful web site. If visitors find your navigation confusing or overly complicated then they will simply give up and look for another website offering the same products or service. E-Gain New Media work on the basis of a three click rule. In other words, try to keep any customer focussed page within three clicks of your homepage.
Navigation on a page should be clear, concise and relevant. Many a potential client has been put off a sale by entering a page and then exiting the site completely once they find out the page is not relevant to what they are looking for.
O – Online Marketing
Online marketing is a term that encompasses several methods to raise awareness of your web site and increase sales. These methods can include either, or a combination of banner advertising, e-mail marketing, search engine optimisation or Pay-Per-Click. These technologies used together or alone, can, if thoroughly researched and implemented signicantly increase relevant traffic, customers and ROI.
P – Press Releases
Press Releases as a medium for generating new traffic and customers are
often overlooked in favour of other aspects of search engine marketing
such as SEO and Affiliate Marketing. However press releases are an
excellent way of building up an online brand, whilst at the same time
generating both significant traffic, linkage and custom to your
Developing your press releases should be the first step, ensuring that your content is clear, concise and unique. Branding your article is nearly as important as the content, make sure you get your sales message across in the article, and use the various sources of syndication available on the web (such as PRWeb, Newsisfree, http://www.press-release-writing.com) to target your article to the applicable sources.
Q – Questionnaire
Questionnaires can be a good way of gauging customer perception.
Customers are often the biggest critics and the best testers. Involve
Customer’s views of your website, and harness both
suggestions and criticisms of the site. Integration of the best of
these into your website, can be a good way of evolving your website,
into a user friendly and ultimately profitable website. One of the best
examples of this is Amazon, once known as the biggest online retailer
to not make a profit, and now turning over millions of pounds profit as
well as being one of the brand leaders in e-tailing.
R – Customer Retention
Many companies overlook the value of customer loyalty when selling on
the Internet, focusing on new customer acquisition instead, and trying
to extract every last cent from that client. This however can be
detrimental to a business long term, as the cost of acquiring a new
customer is often much higher than keeping an existing customer.
There is a saying – “It is seven times harder to get a new customer
than it is to retain a current customer”. This is especially true when it
comes to E-Commerce/E-Services, when many avenues of customer
acquisition such as PPC, Affiliate Marketing and the like may involve
significant effort and funding in order to generate new customers.
This is not to say that new customer acquisition should be ignored, just
that by focusing on what you already have, you can increase your profits
S – Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
A set of marketing methods aimed at increasing the visibility of a website in search engine results pages (SERPs). The three main methods are:
- Search engine optimization – Improving rankings for relevant keywords in search results by changing the website structure, and content so that the website can be better understood by the search engines.
- Search engine advertising – Paying the search engines for a guaranteed high ranking or for an advert to be displayed prominently beside the natural results (commonly known as pay per click advertising).
- Paid inclusion – Paying the search engines for a guarantee that the website is included in their natural search index.
Search engine marketing companies are experts who explore the weaknesses and strengths in the methods and individual products to find the best way to promote a particular website on the search engines.
T – Targeting
A set of methods such as content matching or profiling aimed at delivering a marketing campaign that targets the individual interests of a specific user base. By targeting your campaign you can increase the quality of leads and increase your return on investment.
This is particular useful when planning your affiliate marketing, pay-per-click strategies or email marketing campaigns, as knowing your demographics means you are more likely to convert a higher percentage of your targeted audience.
U – User tracking
Do you know where customers drop out during the conversion process? You would be surprised at how many companies are not aware of exactly where they are losing customers, and therefore they do not fix a problem that is potentially the difference between success and failure. Knowledge is Power, no decision can be made without sound knowledge, and as such the more knowledge you have of your customers and their behaviour, the better armed you are to ensure that these customers convert to sales.
There are various log analysis software packages available such as Clicktracks and Google Analytics that will perform these functions. Use the tools at your disposal, and ensure that the path from entry to conversion is a quick, sleek and ultimately easy process for your customer to make.
V – Value for Money
You don’t have to have the lowest prices or the next ‘must have’ item, however, providing there is a reasonable compromise between the two, then you have a potentially saleable product. Generally customers purchasing products will pay a premium for that little extra service such as better, quicker delivery arrangements or extended product guarantees.
It is therefore possible to tip the balance towards your product, by including these types of ‘value-adds’ as part of your product. If visitors think they are getting a better priced deal in comparison with your competitors, then they are more likely to buy.
At the end of the day, everyone likes a bargain. If a customer feels like they are getting a good quality product at a good price, then they are more likely to choose you over your competitors and thus increase your return on investment as a direct result.
W – Word of Mouth
Propagation of a brand, through human interaction. This can include personal emails, forums, blogs and personal web pages. Referrals from a third party are often far more likely to convert than referrals from any other type of referral.
In terms of Online Marketing, conversions from ‘online word of mouth sources’ are invaluable, due to the limited effort and cost required in order to generate new business.
X – XML Feeds
If you sell products online then XML Feeds are a must. By creating an XML feed of your products you can market your goods using services such as Froogle, Google Base, Yahoo shopping, Shopzilla and more. Other feed marketing services such as RSS and podcasting are becoming more and more popular, and these markets are expected to grow significantly over the next couple of years as the use of RSS as a medium for advertising increases.
Y – Yes, Yes, Yes
Imagine going to a holiday site and seeing the description
‘Surrounded by golden white beaches’ or ‘set in an acre of dense forest woodland’. Straight away your customer can imagine themself there.
By putting a positive focus on the products or services you sell, you
can create a positive impression.. By portraying a positive impression of your wares, you are already creating a favourable impression with your customers, and as a result, you may find a significant increase in conversions.
Z – Zine or E-Zine
A part-promotional, part-informational newsletter or magazine distributed over the Internet via E-mail, or a web site that contains regularly updated articles, advertising and other components of a magazine.
Peter Young – Online Marketing Consultant with E-Gain New Media [http://www.e-gain.co.uk] offering website design [http://www.e-gain.co.uk/web-development/website_development/web-site-design/], search engine optimisation – SEO [http://www.e-gain.co.uk/online_marketing/business_solutions/search-engine-optimisation/], PPC management and online marketing consultancy.