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The Impact of the Economy on Online Marketing
Sunday, May 31, 2009
The last quarter of 2008 was a tough one for many in the United States. Entering 2009 was no easier, however with the Obama era beginning, there was a new found sense of hope. Now as we enter June there is news that an American icon will be filing for bankruptcy tomorrow as GM (GOOG: GM)struggles to compete with its Asian competition. Wow, GM declaring bankruptcy, I never would have thought that would happen. According to Reuters, GM's stock fell to 75 cents on Friday, a level last seen during the Great Depression on what is expected to be its last trading day.

We are truly in unprecedented times. With so much information at our fingertips it makes one wonder how a large corporation like GM could ever get itself in so much trouble. The information age bolstered by the online world has made consumers more intelligent. People are more informed, and frankly people are simply tired of being ripped off by big brands. If you have not yet done so, be sure to pick up a copy of The Brand Bubble by John Gerzema and Ed Lebar. It is a tremendous read, with a ton of great examples of how brands need to continue to reinvent themselves if they are to succeed. Maybe this is what GM needs to do.

The online environment has changed marketing. No longer can a brand or business push out the advertising and marketing fluff to the consumer. The consumer is in power. They determine when, where, how and why they make a purchase. They're online researching everything they need to know about every product or service that they are considering. From iPhones, to automobiles. From content management systems to client relationship management software, people are looking to become more informed. The Internet has made this easy to accomplish. That is why online marketing is so important. People are plugged in and will continue to be plugged in as they strive to become more informed.

This is why things such as Twitter have become so popular. Nothing atrracts a crowd like a crowd and people in crowds often find some common ground that they can relate to. For online marketing to work, you have to be a part of this crowd. You have to build relationships with these people, some who may be the exact target audience that you are looking to market to.

Learn about them. Frequent the online environments that they do. Understand their language. Target their language with key phrases that they can relate to. Make yourweb properties speak to them with unique an informative content. Ensure that your websites can be found in the Search results. Work to create a site architecture that is Search Engine friendly. Create a URL structure that can be indexed and place well in the search results. Avoid creating duplicate content or content that the search engines will have a tough time indexing. It does take some work but it can be done.

The impact of the economy on online marketing does not have to be negative. It just means that as marketers and business owners, you have to be smarter with your online strategy and the tactics you deploy. For starters, here is what you need to do to have success in the online world of Search.
  1. Take care of the fundamentals - optimize your site for Search. Whether your an information portal or a large ecommerce site, you need to ensure that you are optimized for Search meaning that you have clean URL structure, fresh, informative unique coding, optimized on-page elements, high quality link inventory and are continuing to revisit these items to address the ever changing of the search engine algorithms. If you want to call this Web 1.0 fine, it still needs to be addressed... and you'd be surprised to see just how many big brands have not addressed the fundamentals.

  2. Learn all you can about your target audience - remember the power is in the hands of the consumer. Knowing anything and everything about them will help you engage with and interecept them in the online world. Knowledege is power and understanding your audience will go a long way in building a relationship with them.

  3. Build Online Relationships - get social. If Twitter is not for you, check out LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube or any of the many social environments where your consumers and competitors are hanging out. Actively participate in these communities and stimulate conversation either by listening and asking questions or through thought leadership.

  4. Be Transparent - the time of keeping everything is secret is dead and gone. Consumers are smart and they're bound to figure it out eventually. The fact is the more transparent you are they more engaged your prospects and target audience will become. Possibly if some of these large brands that are being bailed out and/or filing for bankruptcy had been more transparent someone could have helped them sooner.

  5. Get Informed - understand that there has been a huge shift in traditional marketing practices. Where TV, print and radio advertising might have once worked you now have SEO, PPC and Social Marketing. Do not fear these things. Appreciate them, come to understand them and leverage them to promote your brand and your business.
There is no question that the economy is having an impact on online marketing. Rather than react to, companies need to roll with this impact. If you have not invested in SEO, now is the time. It can be a cost effective way of generating revenue in environments and markets where you may not have otherwise had success.

Perhaps GM was a little late out of the gate or maybe they simply were unable to roll with change and the changing nature of their target audience. As it sits now, the company is in dire need of changes and bankruptcy may be the catalyst to see that these changes are put in effect. GM has been on a slide for quite some time now. It looks like the site is going to need to update their meta data. According to the meta description for their homepage, GM is the #1 Selling Vehicle Manufacturer in the World for 76 Consecutive Years. Well it looks as though this streak is about to end.

Labels: , ,

posted by Jody @ Sunday, May 31, 2009  
  • At 1:43 AM, Anonymous Sixchannels said…

    There are many marketing solutions to promote business & services.. but online marketing is the best solution among them...

  • At 10:21 AM, Blogger Rob said…

    I think part of the problem with some large companies (and perhaps GM Suffered from this too) is their inability to target new channels for marketing. Or, sometimes they get onto the bandwagon too late. IE some of them I'm sure are just now setting up myspace pages, when myspace is falling out of favor with more people. And while they've heard of Facebook and Twitter they are probably still months from even investigating them as marketing channels.

    In my experience they tend to rely too heavily on "older" marketing channels like TV, radio and print however, they don't realize things like many 20 and 30 somethings (at least ones I know) don't watch TV or listen to the radio, they use things like hulu, youtube and online music services. Therefore the budget spent on TV radio and print ads targeting these people is mostly wasted. It's like you said - get to know your target and figure out how to best reach them.

    But that's just my opinion.

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