The 5 (or 6) Legs of online

[This article originally appeared in PBW News]

I recently watched a talk by Martin Sorell, chairman of WPP, the world’s largest advertising/ marketing group. He spoke about the 5 legs of digital media; search, display advertising, video, social and mobile. Personally I would add in email to this.

The reason that I thought this was worth mentioning is that a lot of people with small independent businesses think (or are told) things like ‘why not do something online?’, ‘you should be on facebook’ or something similar. I would agree that most shops and companies should be online and should probably have a facebook group… but there are many things that you can do online and in my view you are better to do one of these well, than do lots of them badly. I thought that it would be worthwhile to do an introduction to each:

Search. This is about getting yourself found in search engines like google. This can be through paid ads (like google adwords, where you bid on keywords and pay each time your link gets clicked) or natural search (the search engine’s normal results where you don’t pay when your link gets clicked). When it comes to search personally I think that the most important thing for stores in locality. For example you can get your store to show up in a map search when someone searches for a pet store, or you can get ads for the product to show on google just to people who live near your shop. This way you are focussing on people that are near your store. These are the people who are most likely to come in and buy from you.

Display advertising. These are the ads that are displayed on websites. A lot of money can be wasted on display advertising, but it can be useful. If you run a local store and you know that there are websites, such as local community sites that your potential customers would visit regularly then it may be worth advertising on them. However, as a rule of thumb I would avoid display advertising, unless the website is very targeted at people you want to be your customers AND you give them a good reason to click on your ad.

Video. Video, especially Youtube, is possibly the most underrated and underused marketing platform. This is probably because it is so hard to get it right. Making videos that don’t get many views is easy, making videos that people want to watch and will send to their friends is hard. If you get video right, you can be seen as an expert in your field. This means that people will travel further to see you and will pay more for your products and services. IF you get it right!

Social. This is the big one of the moment. This includes well-known sites like Facebook and Twitter and lesser-known ones that are growing in popularity like Instagram and Pinterest. Pinterest has a lot of potential for pet stores as it allows you to very easily show what products you have in store, and split them into categories. Pinterest can also give you inspiration for new products to stock. For social media in general I have a few basic rules. 1) Go where your potential customers are; if they are likely to be on facebook, but not on twitter then there is no point putting all your energy into twitter. 2) Give people a reason to like/ follow/join you; other wise you are wasting your time. 3) Give people a reason to stay with you and interact with you; social media is a two way street.

Mobile. Mobile is touted as the future of everything that is online and social. It is full of opportunities for stores. At the moment there are relatively easy things to set up, like giving people discounts when they ‘check-in’ to your shop. Once someone has checked in you can get them to follow you on facebook, twitter etc and you will be able to market to them for free (as long as you give them enough of a reason to stay in your group). Mobile is also the future of coupons; no longer will people cut coupons from magazines, all coupons will downloaded to people’s phones, then scanned in store.

Email. Everyone hates getting spam emails, but if you get it right email is a fantastic way to communicate with your customers. There are some very easy to use methods of sending email, such as Dotmailer and Mail Chimp. Just like with social media and any other form of marketing you should think about what your customers want to read, not just what you want to tell them. If you want to see how we do our emails go to www.poochandmutt.com and click on ‘mailing list’.