Internet Marketing Motors Ahead In Driving Brand Engagement

Stats and studies are sprouting all over the place to support the case for online marketing. A study which could offer the most valuable insight would be one where its subjects are ‘non-techie’ and non web savvy. After all, its these people who need to be interacting with blogs and websites if engagement is really going to be the marketing dynamo that everybody seems to believe. The UK’s Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB), in collusion with Carat Insight, have released such a study.

Mothers and middle aged women are a demographic marketers love to seduce because of their control over the household purse strings. The IAB study analysed five marketing campaigns for super-mini cars (such as Renault Clio, Toyota Ayo, Nissan Micra etc) directed at a female audience.

The aim of the study was to assess the impact of the different advertising mediums on its targets buying decisions. The significance of its female subjects is that they are not normally associated with uploading clips onto YouTube or updating their MySpace profiles.

Predictably, the IAB were delighted with the findings, which further reinforced the common perception that online marketing now has more of an impact than any other medium. Online was deemed to account for 40% of the advertising effect, ahead of print (36.7%) and TV (17.6%).

The internet also proved its effectiveness as an indirect influencer. It has the advantage of enabling people to ‘pull’ information by visiting websites, reading reviews, checking prices etc. Subsequently, the online medium was calculated as indirectly contributing 27.5% to the decision making process. This now puts it ahead in significance of the old traditional influencers: magazine reviews, car dealership and watching Top Gear.

“This important cross-media study in the car market shows how online drives brand engagement more than any other medium – not just through rich media advertising, but because consumers go on to seek product and information and reviews, too. This study will go a long way to help brand marketers understand how well online performs in the media mix.” – Guy Phillipson, IAB CEO

People now have greater access to information than ever before. When they go to buy a car they now know what mileage, price and air freshener they want before they even step on the forecourt. The pushy, fast talking salesmen might become a dying breed in this world of ‘pull’ access to information. Consumers can no longer be duped into buying substandard products and services. They are becoming better educated and informed all the time.

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The IAB report further adds weight to the notion that people from all groups and demographics are now using the internet for product and service information. This doesn’t just mean looking at a pretty brochure style website and reaching a decision.

Many people now track other people’s comments, blogs and reviews before they even think about picking up the phone.

The advantage of this is that when you do receive their call you know that they will be further down the sales funnel. Just make sure you don’t then ruin a potential sale by assailing them with the marketing claptrap and sales spiel they have gone to so much effort to avoid.

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Interestingly, I gave an Internet marketing presentation to a group of small business owners last night.

While my larger business clients seem almost hostile to the idea of engagement marketing, these small business owners immediately grasped the potential.

They like the idea of building loyalty through connection – and locking up a share of the market despite their larger competitors’ best efforts.

Small businesses definitely have the opportunity to gain an advantage on their monolithic competitors. Engagement marketing still seems to go against the philosophy of a lot of traditional marketers in large organisations.

Smaller enterprises perhaps rely on networking and developing personal relationships a lot more so blogging and engaging is a lot closer to their business’ philosophy.

There are already some great examples of small businesses who have grown their businesses considerably through greater engagement – I expect to see a lot more in the months and years to come.

Every big business always start from a small one. It all happens…. I guess many businesses nowadays had experience that one. It’s one great challenge.

One of the most attractive things for small business is that blogging is less expensive than PR, hence their tendency to embrace it, and the owner would anticipate quite close control over content. Larger businesses might wonder what their people are going to say exactly, and are also unsure if there are any dark corners of their business that could be uncovered. There was a book with the phrase “if you’re going to be naked, you’d better be buff” – remarking upon a new era of openess of course.

Matt – smaller businesses definitely have the advantage over their larger competitors when it comes to internet marketing. They can gain a lot of exposure at relatively low cost, and they aren’t constrained by the chains of control of corporations.

In a low trust world, small business owners have a great opportunity to engage with disenchanted consumers who are no longer enamoured with bug business’ shallow branding exercises.

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