express interest in receiving more information and samples of your product.
This is more effective than “street” or mall marketing to a mass market, and it allows you to spend less on mailings of brochures and promotional items.
Another method is affiliate marketing (advertising on other Websites), where you target consumers based on demographics (their location) and psychographics (their beliefs, opinions, and interests). One of the most popular methods of online marketing, however, is viral marketing or word of mouth. It’s like the old commercial: Satisfied customers tell their friends and so on, and so on….
Everything must be consistent online and off4the brand design and message, the performance of the product, and your customer service. A Website is as important a medium today as the telephone, whether it exists as a brochure site to refer customers to your phone line or offices, or as a full-blown e-commerce site. If you don’t have a Website when potential customers are looking for you at, say, 3 a.m. or from halfway around the world, you’re losing your audience4and brand credibility. If someone hears of you, but you don’t have a Website, you will seem, at best, outdated and, at worst, fly-by-night.
“It’s very important to maintain consistency,” says Geiger. “Oprah.com has succeeded in doing this. The Website reflects the same image as the talk show Oprah and O magazine. In turn, these two media [entities] direct their audience to the Website.” This consistency in design and tone makes the brand stronger because the consumer immediately recognizes the image, which engenders emotion and brand loyalty.
Emotions aside, consumers are also savvy and time-conscious, so your brand should work hard (and quickly) to develop a relationship and a level of trust with consumers. The key is to understand your audience: Know what they value about your brand and what they expect from your product. And keep them involved.
Again, Coca-Cola benchmarked this technique through one of its subsidiaries, Sprite, by allowing consumers to visit Sprite.com and enter codes found under Sprite bottle tops. Consumers earned points that could then be converted to prizes. And when Nike had only a month to register runners in a 5K to 10K race in London, the company leveraged the value of its brand on the Internet by targeting its core audience with e-mail cartoons encouraging them to register. Nike had 10,000 runners registered in two weeks.
Games, contests, viral marketing, interactive icons that can be downloaded to your desktop, and product giveaways are other methods that allow customers to interact with a company. Unlike television commercials, which are passive, games and viral marketing techniques allow you to capture the viewer’s interest and allow them to learn more about the product. (For more information on marketing your site, see “Spread the Word,” May 2001).
It is important to understand that branding cannot be done overnight. Like any relationship, it takes years to develop and must be well coordinated to be effective. Cooper points out that online consumers are all looking for the same thing: convenience,