The smartphone explosion has created a number of ways for digital marketers to reach out to potential customers. And while email marketing was once an effective—and cutting-edge—way for marketers to deliver their messages, things are rapidly changing. The rapid shift of mobile users away from email to other communications platforms calls for digital marketers to use new avenues in order to stay in front of their audiences.
To that end, here are 6 alternatives to email that organizations can use to make their marketing campaigns more relevant and effective.
1. Pay Per Click (PPC) – Simply stated, PPC advertising allows your business to buy listings in the search results of Google, Yahoo, and Bing. These listings are sold auction-style, so advertisers must bid how much they are willing to pay for a click on the ad. In theory, the highest bidder could rank number one in the sponsored results, but that’s not always the case as Google has a “quality score” system for ads that can affect rankings. The paid listings show up as ads next to the natural, non-paid search results, and when a potential customer clicks on the PPC listing they arrive on the marketer’s website. At that point the marketer is charged the click amount that they bid.
The upside of PPC advertising is that it can generate traffic quickly and can be fairly inexpensive if done right. This makes it ideal for online retailers and direct-response marketers. Plus, unlike other marketing options, PPC advertising allows marketers to respond to changing audience behaviors within hours or days instead of weeks or months. The downside of PPC is that it must be constantly monitored; otherwise bid-inflation and the possibility of falling into a “bidding war” mentality can cause marketers to overspend. In addition, PPC advertising is not scalable, which means that costs will increase as traffic increases.
2. Banner Advertising – Unlike PPC, online advertising is where marketers advertise on other companys’ websites by buying banner space. Revenues are then paid to the website hosting the ad based on the number of clicks or the number of impressions that the ad receives. For optimal success, online ads must be creative and well-designed. The challenge for marketers lies in making sure that the right advertisement ends up in the right place at the right time.
3. Affiliate Marketing – Similar in concept to online advertising, affiliate marketing ups the ante by compensating the website hosting the ad, but only when a sale occurs. As a result, affiliate marketing pays ad hosts considerably more than PPC advertising, which gives them a built-in incentive to increase sales by promoting the ad more aggressively. Since they are paying more to the ad hosts, marketers must make sure that they are getting the best possible promotion to stay within budget while reaping the highest margins.
Before adopting an affiliate marketing strategy, however, you need to consider both your how your industry operates and how your consumers make their buying decisions. For some industries, millions of dollars in revenue are made every year through their affiliates. These are the top five industries who’ve adopted affiliate marketing in 2014:
– Computers and Electronics (34%)
– Clothing/Apparel (33%)
– Business (28%)
– Health and Wellness (28%)
– Online Services (25%)
4. Social Media – Social media marketing isn’t so much about campaigns as it is about developing and managing a respected brand image through multiple social channels. It’s about connecting with current and prospective customers in meaningful ways via the social platforms that they prefer using, such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or LinkedIn. Strong social media marketing is all about delivering relevant, quality content that people will be glad to receive.
It should be noted that as far as advertising results are concerned, all social sites are not alike. You should always focus your efforts on the social channels your target demographic uses most. When deciding which channels to focus on, ask yourself these three questions:
– Is your brand voice professional, or personal?
– How do you want to connect with current or prospective customers?
– Do you have internal resources for a two-way conversation with your consumers, or will your strategy focus primarily on broadcasting?
5. Text Messaging – With the mobile explosion, greater numbers of people in desirable demographics are keeping their smartphones with them all the time to make sure that they stay informed and connected. On average, customers check their phones 150 times per day. In addition to that increase in usage, texting is becoming the preferred means of smartphone communication. This has created a “perfect storm” for text message advertisers, provided they do it right.
Text messaging allows marketers to target niche audiences and engage with them on a more personal level. We know that the target audience will see the ad because statistically 98% of all messages are opened. Since text messaging is considered a “push strategy,” the challenge for marketers is to create text ads that customers won’t perceive as being too “spammy.” Otherwise, you’ll actually end up damaging your reputation.
6. Viral Marketing – Orchestrating a successful viral marketing campaign is a major challenge for marketers. However, the benefits to be had when an ad “goes viral” make it well worth pursuing as a marketing strategy. While there is no magic formula for success, a good campaign combines various marketing elements to ensure that the message is disseminated across multiple channels. One of those elements is the act of producing serious results is video content.
According to ReelSeo.com, online ad revenues in the first part of 2014 hit an all time high of $23.1 billion, and digital video played a major role. In fact, video advertising revenue in the first half of 2014 increased 13 percent over 2013 to $11.7 billion. With mobile and mobile search (which includes mobile video advertising) rapidly gaining ground, mobile—including video—is becoming a very desirable format for advertisers.
Email marketing strategies aren’t going away anytime soon. However, as the number of mobile users continues to rise, the above alternatives to email marketing will become even more powerful tools for marketers.