How Global Retailers Are Using Internet Marketing? Part 2 of 3
Guest Post Series by Ali Aziz (eBay).The last post looked at Internet Marketing innovations within the social media space. Part 2 of the series will bring in the more traditional channels and explore how they play a part in an integrated marketing strategy. This post will delve deeper into other internet marketing channels like SEM (PPC and SEO), Email and Display advertising and innovations within them.
Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
SEM is the all encompassing term that includes 1) paid advertising on search engines (Google Adwords, Microsoft adCenter etc.) also called Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising and 2) website content optimization or Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
Looking first at SEO, it goes without saying that ALL business need real estate on the internet – it is mandatory to have your own website, be present on LinkedIn, have social media presence (page on Facebook, Twitter etc.) – and secondly you need to have frequently updated, high quality content on these online destinations. In the online universe, content is king. Search engines love you if the content you produce is being shared around the internet, is being linked to and is being “Liked” or “+1’ed”. You get ranked higher on search engine result pages (SERPs), you get higher clicks, you get higher engagement and as a result higher conversion for your business goals (sales, subscriptions etc.). SEO services are now widely available in Pakistan and even small investments have high ROI.
PPC advertising is now great for retailers because of the emphasis on “local results” in all search engines. PPC advertising is still the most effective traffic driver to your website. However, in Pakistan the targetable audience size for intent based (search term driven) targeting is still very small (less than 1M) but growing quickly. For interest based targeting, e.g. on Facebook, the audience size is 5M+ people and presents with more opportunities to market your message or drive traffic.
But this doesn’t mean you can’t leverage search engines in other ways. If you look at a Google or Bing SERP now, users are increasingly being shown rich results that show business listings (with contact details), map listings, customer reviews, images, news stories, articles etc. For example, for a simple search on “burgers”, I was shown the closest listed burger joints at the top of the results (based on the “Gulberg III, Lahore” location I have previously set) and the corresponding map as well.
It’s easy to see how relevant this is to most retail businesses. Almost all product and service searches begin in the search engine and ensuring your website or online presence is properly registered with search engines can pay dividends.
Targeted and personalized email marketing can contribute a significant portion of your revenue, especially if you are an online retailer. I don’t pass judgement but buying an email list DOES NOT mean you have your email marketing strategy nailed down. You get what you pay for and spamming users will do two things 1) hurt your brand image and 2) get you banned from sending out future emails by your ISP for sending out spam (if enough people report you).
The only right way of leveraging email marketing is to build out your email list from your customers and prospective customers – offer them a compelling reason (incentives perhaps) to opt in to receiving marketing messages from you. These subscribers may be small in number and their size may grow slowly but they will also be the ones offering the highest lifetime value (LTV) by repeat purchasing from you. Quality is definitely more valuable than quantity here. Once you have the base and are marketing to them and getting them in store, analyse their shopping behaviour (whether they are on your online store on in your brick and mortars store). This data in invaluable for segmenting your customers and then personalizing the marketing message to them. Amazon.com does this incredibly well – they regularly send out merchandized emails with the products you browsed and their alternatives soon after you leave the site without completing a purchase. This highly targeted email marketing contributes around 30% of their revenue.
Display advertising is picking up quickly in Pakistan. News, lifestyle, job search etc. sites (called “publishers”) are seeing traffic increase day by day in Pakistan and they offer prime inventory to show display ads targeted at the Pakistani audience. On most sites, there is a “leaderboard” (horizontally across the top) and/or a skyscraper (vertically on the right and/or left margins of the page) along with other sized placements. An example from Dawn’s e-paper is as follows:
These are a great lever if you have a high quality production and interactivity built into the ad. New innovations allow for expanding units that can drive high levels of engagement. And can feature rich media content like videos. Although they can be expensive, if targeted correctly, they can serve the dual purpose of increasing brand identity and being ROI positive at the same time. There are two main models for buying display ads: 1) either buy directly from the publishers and have exclusive arrangements that can include “home page take overs” (where you brand literally takes over a large amount of real estate on the publishers site) – this can be very expensive and difficult to prove ROI on these activities but can be a powerful branding level or 2) as is more common, buy through an ad network like Google Display Network or an exchange – which is becoming more and more cost effective as real time bidding (RTB) technologies are introduced into the space.
In the ad exchange model, advertisers bid for impressions of their ads on publisher websites depending on who is browsing the page based on cookie data. If you are a user that the advertiser knows (because you previously visited the advertisers site and they placed a cookie in your browser), they can determine you to be a valuable prospect, bid a higher amount than anyone else and show an ad to you. Alternatively, if you are not deemed to be valuable, the advertiser will not bid for that impression, thereby spending the budget efficiently. RTB is not yet common but will become more important for Pakistani advertisers in the near future.
Retargeting is also an innovation that is great at continuing the conversation with a customer and bringing customers back to your website i.e. when they don’t complete a purchase, you can show them the inventory they were looking at through retargeting and they will see those display ads on sites they visit after your website.
In summary, there are many innovations happening in the SEM, Email and Display Ad marketing space. The final post in the series will aim to present an integrated marketing strategy that leverages all the channels we have seen up to now. The objective will be to give you a baseline strategy that you can use to test and learn and evolve into something that effectively and efficiently meets your marketing goals.