Message in a New Medium

The online marketplace–search engines and shopping sites in particular—can provide new opportunities for acquiring qualified, demand-driven potential customers. But to succeed online, you must stay “on message.” The following three tips will help you do this.

1) Your online marketing message needs to reflect what your customer knows you for and what has made your traditional business successful. Seems obvious, but many companies fall flat in translating their print catalog message online. So if you sell value, make your message one of price-consciousness. If you sell exclusivity, your online message should reflect that.

2) When targeting Web shoppers, be sure you are selling what the customer is looking for. You may offer a full line of women’s apparel, but don’t send a shopper seeking a cardigan to a home page featuring swimsuits. More often than not you will sell neither. Effectively use your ad copy on the landing page to promote the product category that online shoppers are looking for.

3) When it comes to search engine marketing (SEM), play to your product and image strengths. In a print catalog, you have room to carry products that may stray at times outside of your core model. In search, your competition is much more direct. Only a few advertisers will appear in meaningful positions for any given search term, and the bid-based nature of the medium means that you need to be able to perform on their level to maintain your position.

So how do you market these ancillary products? Use the design and layout of your pages to your advantage to feature related, but potentially “off message” products alongside the featured product descriptions on your landing pages. Top content-driven sites, such as CNN.com, manage space effectively, maximizing ad delivery without obscuring the central message. Take a cue from them and effectively monetize your own space with internal advertising.

Keep these three basics in mind when testing the waters of online advertising, and you should success.

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