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 unpresented growth. One of the main reasons online marketing has always been at an advantage to other forms of marketing is because of its ability to drive acquisition, in such a transparent and accounting 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 should not even stop there, but should really continue into the realms of adding value to the accepted customers to ensure repeat business where applicable, and / or referrals.
How to achieve acquisition through online marketing
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 is not 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 which are not particularly interested in what you have to offer and so leave immediately once they get there, can not 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 legally 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'.
Short AND long-term benefits
There is 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, it is important to 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, you can begin to alleviate them – by offering them extra information, assurance or testimonials along the conversion funnel. Ideally, you want to dispel any concerns they have before they have even manifested.
Working with this mindset, you will be able to take marketing forms such as pay-per-click advertising, and make them work even more efficiently than they are already.
Keeping your customers happy
When people have had a good experience with a customer or product, they simply can not 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" optimization techniques – and moved into using more and more "offsite" factors when determining a site's importance – an increasing number of long-term benefits from arise from SEO work as well – including link building, content optimization and strategic partnerships – all of which can yield results for many years to come.
The significance of measurability
The real key to acquisition marketing is measurability, and this is something specifically 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 it is possible to prove, without doubt, that you are gaining the right kinds of results, 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 through the recession.