Know Thy Market: Beyond The Click-Through

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In marketing, with few exceptions, there’s no umbrella or blanket model that can be applied. Even if Coca-Cola’s omnipresent branding has worked over the decades because soft drinks are for everybody, most products are intended for select groups of buyers, target markets, with different motivations.

Know Thy Market: Beyond The Click-Through
Know Thy Market: Beyond The Click-Through

So, when we talk about concepts like "presence," especially for online campaigns and search marketing, knowing where your presence is requested, even appreciated, is the fundamental first step.

Though that seems obvious, especially to those in the offline marketing biz, squeak about like a mouse at any search marketing discussion forum, and the concept of branding, or presence, is one that, when talked about at all, dissenting voices quaver with dismissal, asking in unison, "where’s the ROI?"

Click click click, what is clicked, how many times, and how often it results in a sale. That’s all they want to know. And yes, the bottom line is always important. But there are other things to consider if you want to be in this game a long time.

1.    Word’s gotten out. This online business thing is the real deal, paying real money. The tenuous pussyfooters, spooked by dotcom bubbles and skeptical about online business have noticed, just as suddenly as they realized their cousins and coworkers were serious about Internet romance, the shiny new cars sitting outside their too-young-to-have-that-much-money neighbor’s house. Competition is mounting online, swelling into a wave larger than any physical world could contain. And you have to set yourself apart.

2.    Therefore, do not go gently into that good night. You must know the market to whom you are selling, why they buy, when they buy, and especially, where they live and hangout. But when I say "do not go gently," it is without a connotation of bombardment – this isn’t about harassing the customer – it’s about being there throughout their buying journey, like a friendly billboard.

The journey begins with a spark of interest that can be ignited almost anywhere, from any source (the best source is a buddy), but no matter where the interest originates, it’s your responsibility as a marketer to be present along all paths during the research phase, where interest is fostered and encouraged. It goes without saying your product must be better than the swelling competition’s, and if you’ve done your job with "the sales pyramid," fostering interest with ubiquity, accessibility, and highlighting why your product is better, then closing should be a cinch. But whatever happens, you must be better than the competition, and everybody has to be believe it.

3.    Search marketers seem prone to focus on the closing, the click-through, and not so much on the relationship with the customer. Think of it this way: in the cartoons of old, two characters are stranded on a small desert island. It doesn’t take long until one sees the other as a pork chop, and the pork chop doesn’t appreciate it one bit. If customers become dollar signs in your hungry approach to them, they’ll sense it, and avoid you the best they can. It’s important to eat, everyone knows, and click-throughs and bottom lines are what make the whole endeavor worth it. But there’s an art to seduction, and if achieved, loyalty results – closing one sale one time has little bearing on long-term success. Success, ultimately, takes closing many sales many times over.

So, with all that high-minded philosophical motivational stuff in mind, let’s consider this idea of presence as it exists online. Branding is presence. Michelob spends a lot of money making sure its brand is in bars and other places where people buy beer. Online, it’s the same idea. Where is the target market? Take your message there. This goes beyond search and tedious keyword lists. This is presence on the right blogs, the right publications, on MySpace, on Wikipedia, on Digg.com, on YouTube. You must be known, and you must be known in the correct places.

In a recent report on lead generation released by Rain Today, two very key tips emerged:

 ·  Brand matters: 65% of well known companies report being good or excellent at lead generation whereas only 44% of not well known companies report being good or excellent. If you are well known whatever lead generation tactics you employ are likely to work better.

·  Know your target market: Targeting and segmentation are the first steps to any lead generation or marketing effort. Of those companies that rated themselves as excellent at lead generation, 51% know the actual names of the decision makers there are trying to reach (compared to meek 13% of companies that rated themselves as poor at lead generation).        

LeeAnn Prescott‘s analysis of the marketing approaches of Microsoft and Apple, and then I’ll let you go.

Apple didn’t spend much on the initial promotion of iPhone. Steve Jobs showed it at a conference, bloggers took over, the viral effect took hold just like it’s supposed to. Searches for iPhone took off like a deadbeat dad, rising to number 55 on Search’s most wanted list. Jobs knows his market: young, Internet savvy early adopters.

Microsoft, on the contrary, spent a ton of money to promote Vista, online and off. This is because the market was older, more inclined to stick with what they know already, reluctant to learn new things, and needed a lot of encouragement to upgrade. Vista didn’t have the type of viral, swollen hysteria iPhone did, but searches rose significantly nonetheless, because the right people were interested.

"Both companies understand their audience and their challenges," writes Prescott. "Apple inspires a cult-like following, while Microsoft gets little love, despite its OS market dominance. The gulf between the appropriate tactics to reach these different audiences is ever widening, and thus reinforces the importance of understanding who your customers are and how they seek out and consume information."




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Know Thy Market: Beyond The Click-Through
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  • Anonymous

    your bears hat made me read your article.

  • Anonymous

    There is a lot of good advice in this article. I will mention, however, that it is important to have a good developer.

    I had a recent situation in which an old client came to me because a page was 6th on Google, but returned a 404. It was an old page I made, not the new developer.

    All the markup I write is semantic, and all content is separated from presentation. My pages are light as feathers, but content rich and conform to standards.

    It doesn’t do any good to have great advertising when someone can’t find the site whilst searching for it.

    It also doesn’t do any good to have a site that takes forever to load, and is either too complicated to use, or just isn’t user friendly.

    Ajax is a wonderful thing, but it, too is being over used, and does not always play well with others, especially if the user is a fast typist (like me).

    Just a few words of caution….

  • Anonymous

    I recently wrote a small post on my Utah Valley PR blog about online reputation management. It is important to understand that some of my clients may not be talked about in traditional media, but in the social media circle, there might be a whole conversation that a company is missing out on simply because they don’t know it is there. I found a useful tool that searches many social networking sites for phrases and terms, which helps me keep tabs on my clients’ reputation in the SM world. The truth of the niche market is something that rings true. And I believe this article spelled that out quite nicely.

  • Anonymous


  • Anonymous

    For marketers, the internet almost bits its nose to spite its face. Just because click throughs are immediately measurable, if marketers don’t see that great ROI, they feel their campaigns may have failed. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    At Soapdom.com (http://www.soapdom.com) our demo is women 18-54 with a predominance in the 21-34 range. Pretty prime target market. We’ve surveyed our members and visitors on a number of occasions and here’s what we found out.

    Of our respondents who do click on ads, only 3% immediately purchase or sign up for the offer.

    Over 25% of our total respondents (46,860) notice online ads and remember the products when shopping in the store.

    And over 16% purchased a product in the store thanks to seeing a banner or button ad for it online at Soapdom.com first.

    Bottom line:
    Marketers who only base the effectiveness and validity of a campign on it’s immediate internet click through rate are missing the boat. Branding online equates to sales off line.

    Linda Marshall-Smith
    CEO, Soapdom, Inc.

  • Anonymous

    Yiles! Get tot eh point…WAY TOOO much unneccessary FLUFF. Got bored after first paragraph

  • Anonymous

    After about10 years as an affiliate marketer, I am thouroughly convinced that the lions share of ineffective click-through commerce is directly attributable to the countless “poor” design and conceptual links that are provided.
    Merchants need to develop a sense for what traffic is clicking on a non-discript, barely readable graphic link. So often I have scanned the available links, only to settle on the most genaric and easiest to read when often the merchant’s name is almost non-discript. What are they thinking? I know damn well that the epc would be far greater if the client would find the product or service that they anticipated. I would rather not publish a link that looks amature, and face it, many are.

  • Anonymous

    Jason, I do not plan to die soon, and I will not accept your incipid analogy. Do not lecture me on how I must die in order to inspire me how to live.

    But thanks for a good try,

    Moonbeam malls

    • Mike McDonald

      Technically speaking,  it’s ‘insipid’  with an ‘s’.  beyond that, I honestly have no idea what you’re talking about.


      Michael McDonald Managing Editor iEntry, Inc.

  • Anonymous


    Loved your article on “Beyond the clickthough”! I am pressed for time, but I had to send you a comment. Please excuse the lack of spellcheck Avail…tony cox

    You hit the bullseye! “Cult-like following” is a phenomenon of the new marketing paradigm.

    “Traditional Advertising” (including banners, keywords, link exchange,etc)have all moved to the back burner. Niche Marketing is on fire!

    Mass Marketing… TV/Radio Broadcasting,Print & door-door campaigns are high priced, and they continue to provide fewer leads/sales per advertising dollar spent.

    I use both traditional advertising and Interactive Marketing to brand my website. (www.arrested.com)

    Time and time again, Interactive beats traditional.

    Not only is it less expensive, INteractive delivers intant focused results.

    Selling “Icecubes to Eskimos” is the sign of a great salesman. But why go through all that “bull”? You’ll get more sales with less effort when you simply notifiy people who live in a desert that your buisiness delivers icecubes through the mail!

    Sales are more of a by-product from knowing how to get your products or services in front of a focused interest. Make sure your message is current and time sensitive. It must be “Active”. Passive advertising is dead wrong! You must have a call to action which relates to the situation.

    Last week my site: www.arrested.com covered a news story about a Sacramento King’s NBA basketball player Ron Artest. He was arrested for domestic violence. We were abe to post his mugshot first.

    After posting the Artest mugshot, I googled “artest arrest”. I found a forum that was full of “rants and raves” about the News. I added the Arrested.Com link along with a short (non-promotional) comment.

    Craigslist, SportsFan.com and many other targeted forums, websites and blogs picked up on the link and instantly my traffic exploded exponentially!

    Two northern California radio stations saw the postings and credited my site as the source of the story live on air!

    My site’s time spent visiting, and the depth of clickthroughs also increased.

    The People who read the postings, or heard the broadcast over the radio were at that instant looking for what I had to offer them on my site. They are “very motivated” consumers.

    I rank top 5 in the “artest arrested” keywords search in google. But it took hours before it was reflected in the search engines. The “Active” marketing delivered instant results.

    When you have something to say or promote consider a narrow-cast, not a broadcast model.

    There are countless numbers of people (potential customers) right now looking for what you have to offer online… GO FIND THEM!

  • Anonymous

    I liked this article,


  • Anonymous

    We got the chance to interview Martin Wesley, President and Founder of Blackfoot, Inc, which has developed a new data management system. We’ve just posted Part IV, in which he talks about “going beyond the click,” so it may of interest to you. The follow-up to this clip will be posted on Friday, March 16.

  • Anonymous

    Digital Axle, an interactive agency based in San Francisco, recently got the chance to interview Martin Wesley, President and Founder of Blackfoot, Inc, which has developed a new data management system.

    We’ve just posted Part IV on our blog at http://blog.digitalaxle.com, in which he talks about “going beyond the click,” so it may of interest to you. The follow-up to this clip will be posted on Friday, March 16.

  • Anonymous

    Excellent article by Jason Lee Miller!

    Ditto! I have practiced this very “I offer you PRESENCE, not ROI” approach whenever I sell advertising spots on my authority/niche websites for medical coding and billing, and medical assistant students and professionals on the Web.

    I offer extremely limited advertising opportunities, that are related to:

    a.) Educational/Vocational Programs
    b.) Career/Job Offers
    c.) and Professional Certifications

    pertaining to medical coders and billers, and medical assistants; that’s it!

    When advertisers that come to me are more interested in their bottom line, the ROI, than cornering the market through presence, I politely explain, that my goal is to offer them means that help them spark my visitor’s interest in their product, like a friendly billboard (this was very well put in the article) that’s always there.

    My website’s track record and results have proven the author’s point, that this very approach does work for everybody. It’s a win-win-win approach for the advertiser, the site visitors, and me, the site owner, and manager!

    Danni R.
    Advanced Medical Assistant Custom Web Design, LLC

  • Scott Sutton

    I appreciate your thoughts on taking the appropriate amount of time to know the specific market niche we can best contribute with people on similar journeys.


    Tired of “business as usual” in Internet Marketing?

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