The Perfect Pair1 Dec, 2008 By: Bridget McCrea Response
Brands and DRTV companies continue to maximize the Internet as a selling channel
Toeing the Line
Where in the past companies were able to create and activate Web sites without having to worry much about whether their online homes "matched" their direct response campaigns, today's consumers are demanding a more recognizable advertising strategy that integrates the Web with all other media.
"McDonald's has its golden arches for a reason," says Nancy Michaels, president of GrowYourBusinessNetwork.com in Concord, Mass. "Those arches are immediately recognizable, regardless of whether you see them in front of a restaurant, on a menu, in an ad or online." Michaels says both brands and pure-play DRTV marketers can borrow a page from the fast food behemoth's advertising strategy by striving for "consistency and repetition" across all media.
By the Numbers
Take color, for example. Because the Web is highly visual in nature, graphics and color can often make or break a company's goal of achieving an integrated marketing approach. A brand marketer that sells women's clothing, for instance, and whose storefront is painted light pink and feminine in nature, should strive to replicate that color and feel online.
"If the store's Web site colors are dark blue and not as feminine," says Amanda Vega, CEO at full-service, interactive ad agency Amanda Vega Consulting in Phoenix, "then the chances of someone passing it by online — or automatically assuming that she is on the wrong Web site — are high."
What Consumers Want
According to online research firm eMarketer, online consumers want more from the online shopping experience. They expect retail Web sites to provide powerful search and navigation, quality product information, simple checkout and cross-channel shopping options — at a minimum.
After the 2007 holiday season, for example, two-thirds of shoppers said due to improving technology, increased advertising, widespread broadband adoption and examples set by online innovators such as Google and Facebook, their online shopping expectations had increased during the past year.
When asked to choose their favorite features (excluding price), preferences fell into three areas: product information, Web site usability and operational effectiveness. The leading site feature chosen by 49 percent of respondents was clear, easy-to-access product information.
Sometimes, DRTV agencies striving to create the best possible online presence wind up going head-to-head with the brands' internal advertising divisions. Osborn says his firm is currently dealing with that dilemma with a large brand's internal division that is "larger than our entire company." And while the team appreciates the ideas and ingenuity that a boutique agency brings to the table, Osborn says competing with those internal capabilities is always a challenge.
Getting brand clients to break with tradition and the norm is another hurdle, says Osborn, who seven years ago contends he developed the model of streaming video and the upsell as a way to allow consumers to order online without using a shopping cart. "Programmers looked at me like I had two heads," recalls Osborn.
The fact that 50 percent of the TV viewing audience is still using dial-up Internet connections can also put a kink in a marketer's online plans. "You can build the most elaborate site, but know that a big chunk of the audience is not going to be able to see it," says Osborn. To avoid that challenge, he says Liquid Focus strives to build sites in the "lightest way" possible.