As the US online audience begins to see the last of the unconnected users begin serious uptake, and many formerly light and medium users move to a persistent connection, a full integration of Internet marketing into all marketing becomes increasingly critical. In this edition, Martina Steen from interactive agency Refinery (x) sets down the basics for effectively integrating interactive marketing in support of offline product launches. In forthcoming part two, Martina will cover the quantification of results across channels in greater depth.
There is more to integrated marketing than just repeating the same message in different channels. And, it is not an easy task to get the right balance of in-store promotions, mass advertising and online marketing in one campaign. So how should a brand manager use the online channel as part of the marketing mix when launching a new product?
Based on our experience with consumer goods companies, we have found that there are a few key guidelines that must be kept closely in mind when attempting to use the Internet channel to launch new products.
1. Web sites should be an extension of product packaging. Since your product packaging has limited space for everything you would like to communicate, you should use your web site as an opportunity for consumers to learn more about your product. Consumers expect to find useful product information on your site, such as recipes, nutrition information, tips and tools on usage, store location and contact information. Most consumers are not interested in viewing commercials and advertising as they are not using their monitors as TV screens. Slim-fast is a good example of a site providing relevant content to its target audience, such a recipes, diet plans, weight control tools and exercise advice.
The challenge in effectively making your site an extension of packaging is finding innovative ways to drive consumers to your web site. Campbell Soup Company, for instance, found a way of engaging the consumers with the Chunky brand while entertaining them at the same time. Chunky printed a football trivia question on each can, driving consumers to visit their site for the answer, and then could continue playing the trivia game by choosing different varieties and questions. Driving consumers to the web site provided the opportunity not only to promote all soup varieties, but also to communicate the launch of the new chili products.
2. Web sites should be 'lifestyle' destinations. With today's increased Internet use, this is an effective strategy. A 'lifestyle' site focuses on providing appealing content beyond the traditional brand-related information. The key however is to develop a plan for ongoing maintenance, giving the consumers a good reason to come back and engage with the brand over time.
SoBe Juices and Jones Soda are two companies that have done an excellent job in creating true 'lifestyle' sites ? they are both effectively targeting teens with engaging content. Their sites feature stories, events and downloadable content that are refreshed on a regular basis keeping the sites interesting and continually engaging visitors.
This strategy involves a long-term commitment, which could be difficult for one brand to sustain on its own. As a brand manager, you should consider partnering with other brands within your company that target the same demographic. A good example of this strategy is Procter and Gamble's teen girls' web site. Another way to sustain this strategy is to partner with a 'lifestyle' publisher of content to provide the audience with fresh updates in a magazine-style manner, such as iVillage.
3. Promotions Engage Customers. If your target audience is heavy online media users you should consider creating an online promotion, such as a sweepstakes to break through a crowded market when launching a new product. The promotional site is especially tailored to a promotion with a clear path of actions that the consumer should take. A promotional site is different from a company's corporate site, which can distract the user with links to areas non-related to your campaign. At the point of registration, you could also seize the opportunity to include product related survey questions. Encouraging users to register will help you build a comprehensive consumer database for future direct marketing activities.
4. 2-way communication is essential. In fact, you should solicit feedback and make the consumer feel like 'part of the family' instead of solely focusing on the sell. This is an excellent opportunity to learn about how your target audience perceives the product and learn how it fits into their lives. It could give you great insight on potential product improvements or extensions.
5. Encourage trial with online coupons. When launching a new product, using online coupons as a purchase incentive has been very effective for many CPG companies. Consumers are turning to the Internet as a source for coupons, redeemable both online and off-line. The top web sites for coupons are currently CoolSavings and ValuPage.
6. Encourage Word-of-Mouth. You should provide your site visitors the ability to forward links to their friends either via email or instant messaging. When a product offering is compelling, you'd be surprised how many people will forward to their friends.
7. Plan for channel-appropriate and holistic measurement. It is largely beyond debate that exposing the consumer to your message through a variety of media has a greater impact on your bottom line. Likewise, a successful multi-channel marketing effort uses the best practices of multiple channels, in this case both classic segmentation and media mix, across traditional and Internet channels. The key is to identify all touch points and how the content should differ between the channels make sure you include a measurement strategy inclusive of each.
If your web site goal is to have every site visitor register for the newsletter, then measure this conversion. If you are launching a new product on the market and your goal is to measure purchase intent, then your success metric should not be based on banner click-through, instead it should be measured on the branding impact. The key is to set realistic measurement goals up front, and make provisions for accurate and applicable measurement afterwards.
In part two, we will cover the demystification of online-offline metrics, and demonstrate a process for measuring these results, and closing the data loop back to the advertiser.
Martina Steen is an Account Executive at Philadelphia-based interactive agency, Refinery. She has more than seven years of Internet marketing experience in both B-to-B and B-to-C and is charged with developing Internet marketing strategies for clients including Campbell Soup Company. Prior to Refinery, Martina worked as web project manager for Industri-Matematik (a supplier of supply chain software) and then as e-commerce project manager for Yves Rocher Inc (a leading French supplier of beauty care and cosmetics). Martina holds a B.S. in Marketing with a minor in Spanish from Malardalen University, Sweden.