Digital revolution repels recession fears

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When the economy’s down and out, the last thing on a company’s to-do list is trying to boost its digital presence. Well, that was before – today, web-based services play a pivotal part in helping to achieve success for many businesses.

The clear advantage is that digital services can be benchmarked.  They can be monitored and reported on, enabling success to be measured against expenditure.

Clients can be more selective about who they choose to carry out these services.  As a result, pricing needs to be sharper and digital agencies must go the extra mile to ensure they win new business.

A recent poll on TopRank placed SEO as the number one web marketing technique. Quite simply, it’s a relatively cheap form of advertising (if you find the right agency!) and the results can have a direct impact on your bottom line.  Also, all results can be tracked and every bit of traffic can be followed through to conversion.  We’ve certainly seen an increase in the number of clients requesting an SEO campaign over the past month.

For this reason, I’m convinced that Google Adsense will become increasingly popular compared to other web marketing strategies, such as affiliate marketing.  Pay-per-click campaigns can be immediately adjusted and near real-time reporting allows for instantaneous ROI data.

Blogging also emerged high up on TopRank’s poll.  This is a great way for a company to interact directly with its clients and other businesses.  It’s also an integral part of an SEO campaign.  A successful blog will drive traffic to a company website and should result in improved organic listings. Setting up a company blog is also relatively cheap.  Most blogging platforms are free and easy to set up – the challenge is ensuring your staff buy into its importance and recognise the potential ROI.

Online PR is another service directly associated with search engine optimisation.  All well-rounded website promotion campaigns should include an element of this, especially when the competition for top spots in result pages is so fierce.  A company website should no longer be seen as the only place where the public can find out about the latest news from an organisation. Directories and news feeds should also be utilised to create an online buzz around a company. Again, this will have a direct impact on the number of visitors going to your site and hopefully result in an increase in sales or enquiries.

What the current economic climate should do is bring about the death of banner ad campaigns.  The scourge of internet web browsing is an expensive form of advertising that many users find extremely irritating. Unfortunately I can’t see global brands, such as Nike, cutting back on this form of advertising.
On the other hand, email marketing should fare well against other digital advertising services in the economic downturn.  When compared to offline direct marketing campaigns, email marketing is cheaper and offers better reporting.  Businesses can track ‘open’ and ‘click-through’ rates and see a direct response to their campaign.

Social networking can also be a great way for companies to generate new ideas internally, engage with customers directly and act as a forum for people with similar interests.  In this climate, expect to see smaller companies continue to take advantage of the free services offered by Facebook and Bebo.  I was really interested to read Julaine’s blog post yesterday about how Orange has developed its own in-house social networking solution. I agree that if the budget is there, this is a great way for a company to allow its staff to interact with one another within a controlled corporate environment.

The door is now wide open for digital services to make their mark – it’s just whether people decide to walk through it!