Boston Pubcon, the online marketing conference, got off to a great start on April 18. It is held twice a year to discuss latest online marketing strategies and trends. Divided over multiple sessions in four tracks, these tracks cover almost the entire gamut of the online marketing arena ranging from search engine marketing to affiliate marketing. (www.pubcon.com)
The conference took off with a keynote address by Malcolm Gladwell, author of ‘The Tipping Point’ and ‘Blink’. Gladwell talked about changes and the carriers of changes that transform societies, industries and nations. He primarily stressed on three aspects:
1. It takes a short time to bring about a change. We need to decouple the notion that a huge cause is required to produce a huge change. In fact, the smallest of events can trigger of large and cataclysmic changes.
2. For anything to reach the tipping point, one needs to reframe the original positioning of the thought behind it. In other words, it has to be presented to people in a different light. Once the application perspective of people is changed, it is only then that they view it differently and mass adoption follows.
3. Social power is the instrument of big change (as opposed to financial prowess or political authority). The tipping point is often reached because of a social change and these social changes are carried through people who he calls ‘connectors’. Connectors are those who yield social power and are connected to at least 14-15 disparate social groups. They are linked through a web of networks and when they act as messengers, the message gets percolated very well.
The relevance of this to the online marketing world is that consumers, to navigate information-rich environments, bank on relationships. They need counsel and trust. So, for online marketing to reach its tipping point, companies will need to act as connectors and bring with them a huge investment in relationships with customers.
Once that is effectively done the penetration and presence of online marketing will be a force whose time would have come, Gladwell argued.
Of all the other sessions at Pubcon, the most interesting one was about local marketing, which, within the framework of online marketing, is a service that might be reaching its tipping point. This service is primarily meant for businesses which have a bricks and mortar outlet and want to promote their services in their local area. The web, by its definition, is a medium which takes you global. So, to retain focus on delivering local advertising is a challenge that marketers have to face.
Some of the best ways to deliver local advertising are: Search Engines – Google Local (Google Maps, Google Earth and Google Local); Yahoo Local Classified ads/Yellow pages; Craiglist; Super Pages; Switchboard; DEX.
Another thing that works very well for local advertising are localised keywords on regular PPC campaigns. In fact, the local keywords are typically 200 per cent more expensive than global keywords. Almost 43 per cent of total searches (implied local access as well) on search engines are local searches. The CTR (click through rate) on these searches are also far higher (almost in the range of 20-25 per cent).
In fact, the top local search on search engines is for restaurants though, ironically, it does not work very well.
Local searches bring great ROI for some categories of businesses and not so great results for some others. Some of the categories where local searches work well are: service providers, golf courses, B2B service providers. Some of the categories it does not work well are: restaurants, grocery stores, gas stations.
Local marketing is slated to be a $2.44 billion industry by 2008 comprising almost 14 per cent of online spends.
Watch out, as this space is hotting up and nearing its tipping point!
(The author is Chief Business Consultant, Media Estate, and Founder Director of Mosaic Services, a leading Online promotions and search marketing company.)