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    Posted January 29, 2015 by
    Shelby Township, Michigan
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    Tech talk

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    Online Marketing and Social Media No Longer an Amateur’s Game

    A leader in monitoring the digital world, Score reported that holiday dollars spent online in 2014 far exceeded $26.7 billion, a 16 percent increase over the same time period the previous year, and nearly triple of what it was just five years ago. Forrester analyst Sucharita Mulpuru forecasts that in 2015 America’s total ecommerce sales will grow to $279 billion.

    These impressive figures obscure the wider picture – a picture that shows both online and brick and mortars buyers being influenced more than ever before by web and social media marketing. “Brands will continue to increase the cost of media buying, and more savvy digital marketers will lean more and more on the social aspects of online marketing. There will be less separation between online and the real world, and marketing will reflect that,” says Chris Hooley, Co-founder of reKindle Charity.

    “Numerous studies have shown that over 90% of consumers turn to Google or other online sources to find information about products and services before making a purchase,” says internet and social media marketing expert Jeff Johnson, who has educated thousands of businesses about online marketing over the past 11 years. “This is true even for offline or brick and mortar businesses,” he says. According to Google, “50% of consumers who conducted a local search on their smartphone visited a store within a day,” which means at least half of the buyers searching for the best deals online still get into their cars and drive to the local store to make their ultimate purchases.

    That being said, web and social media marketing is not what it used to be. The free lunch is very lean, with no salad or dessert. Facebook and Twitter have become “Pay to Play,” and even relative newcomers like Pinterest are employing promotional pins and ads where they did neither before. The age of innocent adolescence is over. Social media marketing has grown up and become a complex if not convoluted adult, transforming into a mature, sophisticated game of highly-skilled web and social media experts.

    “That’s correct,” says Mr. Johnson. “Social media marketing is so much more than simply setting up a page on Facebook and hoping that fans engage the content. ‘Going Viral’ isn't something that just happens for most companies or brands. Getting the message out requires careful, targeted planning and the use of an ever-changing set of tools and skill sets. Just when they’ve gotten comfortable, most companies can no longer handle those tasks themselves. Content, which must be strategically created, curated, developed and shared, has become the tool of choice for the most successful businesses and marketing campaigns online."

    Major players like Red Bull, GE, and Starbucks are no longer relying on traditional marketing companies and approaches. They have redesigned themselves to become effective players in the media and publishing worlds, employing sophisticated engagement programs. Red Bull now has its own media company and is committing 100% funding to its own, brand-related entertainment, including motion pictures, video and music. Starbucks has long embraced artists with social messages and is rolling out branded music on flat screens installed at thousands of retail outlets.

    And it doesn’t stop with social media. The new brass ring for marketing - loyal email subscribers - is going automated. TowerData reports: “The increasing sophistication of email marketing and its widening role as a revenue generator is reflected in the surging adoption of marketing automation systems. With a strong email marketing program becoming ever more mission-critical, increasing numbers of companies are investing in marketing automation to keep pace with competitors and raise their email marketing game.”

    Indeed, “marketing automation is becoming a business imperative for attracting and keeping customers," says analyst firm Ovum, “and is central to the long-term survival of the modern enterprise.”

    Online marketing and social media no longer run on time, effort and desire alone. The buying public has evolved, and online tools that once seemed so simple to master have transmogrified into a myriad maze of sophisticated marketing weaponry. Survival today means going pro. There seems to be no way around it.
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