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Insights for Online Marketers Using Lessons from the Barack Obama Presidential Campaign
Thursday, March 19, 2009
I attended a Webinar entitled: "Exclusive Insights for Online Marketers Using Lessons from the Barack Obama Presidential Campaign". For those of you who did not know, the 44th President of the United States is a very wired president. Barack Obama's online team has received praise for the effectiveness of their online efforts from last fall and throughout his entire campaign.

The presentation featured Jeff Gottesman the Director of Sales, National Accounts Pontiflex. He started discussing about how online advertising is changing and how online advertising strategies are changing. (The bulk of the presentation discussed Cost Per Lead advertising.)

How online advertising is changing
  • More advertisers are looking for a performance based model of advertising
  • Increasing keyword costs
  • Lack of transparency with CPC - how do the search algorithms work?
  • Ability to monitor ROI - there is a tenuous link between clicks and the resulting conversion or sale. Its difficult to assign a sale to a click.
  • During the last economic slowdown CPC grew, in this recession, money is shifting to cost per lead model (CPL)
Advantages of CPL
  • Pay only for qualified leads - no wasted clicks or impressions. According to Jeff, ROI is 3 to 8 times more than Search.
  • Transparent - allows for better optimizing of campaigns
  • Greater ROI Measurability - you can map the life time value of the lead
How online advertising stratagies are changing
  • Branding is no longer about broadcasting.
  • It's all about engagement and building a one to one relationship with the consumer. You can use direct mail lists, social networks (Twitter) etc.
Three Stages of the 2009 Branding Campaign
  1. Acquire the Consumer - tips for this include only asking for basic information )name, email and postal code). Ensure complete transparency, be contextually relevant. Start with low hanging fruit. Collect additional information over time.
  2. Engage them through email - build lifetime value with great content, special offers and the like. An Epsilon survey suggested that 56% of recipients of permission based email from companies (retail) said they were more likely to make a purchase. There is a great branding opportunity with this type of engagement with the user.
  3. Brand in Relevant Areas- select where you can build the one on one relationship. Facebook, smart phone apps, widgets etc. Reach out for more information. Use this information to drive the user to a variety of venues (social site or environments) that is relevant to them. Brand throughout and help build the relationship. Work to understand your consumer so that you can earn their trust.
How Obama used CPL advertising as part of his online strategy:
  • Understood that he was a brand not just a candidate - Hope & Change
  • Realize the need to drive guaranteed returns - they needed a defined number of leads in a set time period. In an election, a little is too late.
  • Identified Goals - to increase voter registrations, increase donations, build a database to engage voters all in a cost efficient manner.
  • The Obama team was open minded to spot new trends, look towards new channels and adopt new approaches
  • Used a high ROI vehicles (It was noted that Obama's team spent more on CPC/CPL in six weeks than on Washingtopost.com for the entire year)
  • Used high ROI tactics such as CPL display banners where user information was captured within the banner. It was interesting to see that they did not use a dedicated landing page.
  • Used co-registration ad creative
  • Collected only the basic fields top reduce drop off
  • Kept the campaign management simple by automating simple tasks allowing them to focus on adding value
  • Engaged with email - they communicated with database through regular email updates
  • Looked beyond the PC or laptop by leveraging mobile, text messagesd and created an iPhone app.
  • Continued to engage voters after the election with items such as change.gov.
  • Used email to direct users to a variety of venues such as Twitter (twitter.com/BarackObama), YouTube (www.youtube.com/user/BarackObamadotcom), Facebook (www.facebook.com/barackobama), MySpace (www.myspace.com/barackobama), Flickr (www.flickr.com/photos/barackobamadotcom), LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com/in/barackobama), iPhone app (my.barackobama.com/page/content/iphone), iTunes page (http://my.barackobama.com/page/content/podcast) etc.
Jeff's take on "Smart Marketing" was this:
  • Begin with CPM
  • CPL is the next generation
  • Engage
  • Brand Relevantly - Embed in the social lifestyle
Jeff did mention a couple of times the importance of good content. We couldn't agree more. It is much easier to engage your audience with content that speaks to them. Marketers need to speak the language of their targeted audience. In order to build that relationship, you need to actively participate in the environments that your audience frequent and when possible provide them with the content they seek at the right time, in the right place and at the right time.

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posted by Jody @ Thursday, March 19, 2009  
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