The Performance Funnel- Why Combine eDM, Search, Social and Affiliate Marketing?

Written by Matt McDougall
Friday, 16 October 2009 14:25 - Last Updated Saturday, 17 October 2009 08:43


Research data from SinoTech Group , comScore , GroupM and M80 indicates online searchers are also more likely to keep a brand in mind if they have seen a combination of paid search ads and social media.

The research by these companies should not be a surprise for those working in the digital
marketing industry but when reflecting on this I wanted to know if we could get even a better outcome if then combining with other digital channels such as eDM and Affiliate marketing. Also, I wanted to know if there was there a more optimal time when to engage the use of these various channels within a campaign cycle. For example, lets say my marketing objective is: To increase online sales of a new model of a phone. Could we influence the potential consumer within the buying cycle more effectively by including Social, eDM and Search with targeted affiliate programs? It seemed logical but is there a point where the effectiveness drop's off? I am of the opinion after doing many performance based campaigns that using more performance channels
does improve the conversion goals.

I know many of my digital marketing compatriots in media agencies would go to a branding
campaign and get their buying team to start reserving inventory (for banner buys) within
contextually relevant sections of the leading portals and verticals... "book the sections that match our 'ideal' audience/demographic". But I want to put an alternative strategy forward. The use of digital performance marketing options; eDM, Search, Affiliate and Social Media. Certainly within China, we are seeing more Agencies add Search to a campaign plan but in the most part the media buying and performance marketing solutions are not integrated. So here is where I think a lot of digital marketers miss an opportunity. Maybe they don't full understand or appreciate the positive impact the combination of multiple digital performance channels have within a campaign. But it is more than just using search. Digital Marketers need to embrace the various other performance channels as an extension of their overall campaign objective. Leverage eDM, social and affiliate marketing along with the Search keyword buying. Further, each performance channel has it's own set of strengths and weaknesses- this knowledge should be understood when developing a performance based multi-channel campaign. How else will you know when to use each channel to get the best ROI effect? Think about the purchasing/buying process that a consumer goes through. This buying process is the path that leads to a decision to buy. So whenever people make a buying decision, that decision represents the culmination of a process. It may take place almost instantaneously or stretch out over a long period of time – but it’s a process, not an event. Therefore, understanding the digital marketing options open to us is absolutely critical. No matter how long the process takes, the buying decision always begins when people become aware of a need. Once they have identified that need, they begin to search for and explore possible avenues for meeting it. While gathering information, they refine and evaluate all the buying criteria that will affect the decision to purchase and narrow the field of choice to the “best few” alternatives. Once they reach a decision and choose, they take action by making a purchase. The final step in the process involves a reevaluation of the decision and its results (remember this last phase can lead to a lot of positive or negative online visibility via BBS and SNS sites).

The steps of the buying decision process are:

- Identify
- Search
- Evaluate
- Decide
- Purchase
- Reevaluate

So in our context of increasing sales of a phone, our potential consumer's needs and the decision-making process is simple, all we need to do is make our visitors aware of our product, build confidence, differentiate our products, demonstrate value and guide them through a very simple shopping and buying process. So when understanding the buying process and combining it with a performance marketing approach we could consider using eDM as a catalyst for reaching a large audience for them to become aware of our product. Social media marketing is a good way to build relationships online and develop discourse with consumers (and potential consumers)... Search is critical to provide the buyer with information and help develop their ideas on your positioning/strenghts/weaknesses etc. And finally incorporating integrated affiliate marketing assists in the actual conversion process. Rather than treating each performance channel as separate elements, combine the tools. For example, using social media and paid search are both great way's to seed products and brand information. You maybe surprised to know that the online social networking sites (renren, Kaixin, MOP or even Facebook in the West) are having huge impacts on buying decisions as consumers network and reach out to others seeking information about a potential product/services. Research from eMarketer said, users were almost three times as likely to search after seeing influenced social media plus paid search, compared with paid search ads alone. So good luck with your performance marketing campaigns and don't just take a one dimensional approach.

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