|Product marketing is a critical challenge for early stage Indian companies. As the area of focus expands from technology to the business (customers and revenue), companies recognise that marketing is as important as innovation.
The Internet has emerged as a powerful medium with a fundamental impact on the two core functions:
- Innovation: We are at the threshold of product innovation being delivered over the Internet (e.g., Software as a Service)
- Marketing: Using the Internet, companies can reach their target audience worldwide with relatively low budgets, flexible spending and measurable marketing metrics
The online marketing mix for demand generation
| Marketing elements and their primary goals
I Must Have Online Marketing Elements
1) Company website
2) Landing pages (calls to action for website visitors like “Download a free trial now” or “Buy now” etc.)
- A content rich website for the self-education of visitors/prospects
- To drive organic search engine traffic
3) Company blog
- To convert the nameless website visitor into a lead by collecting specific contact information
- Integrate landing pages with online CRM systems like Salesforce.com for tracking rich lead information
4) Interactions (forums, industry bloggers and LinkedIn communities)
- Drive organic search traffic
- Cultivate the blog as a rich source of content for prospect education
- Voice of the company and could provide a 'human touch' to the prospect experience
- Encourage readers to engage, interact and share thoughts/comments
II Good To Have Marketing Elements
- To understand the prospect’s pain points, and provide responses to professionals looking for solutions that you could provide
- Interact with leading bloggers covering your technology
1) Online articles
- Demonstrate the company’s vision and technology leadership
- Create rich content to pique the interest of the readers
- Diffuse promotional offers and establish a viral marketing channel
III Evaluate In Your Specific Context
2) E-mail campaigns
- Reach a particular target segment; also a good avenue for product demonstrations and prospect interactions
- A recorded webinar can also be used for other online marketing campaigns & co-marketing with partners
3) Google Ads
- Broad outreach to an entire database of contacts
- Prospect nurturing
- Search engine marketing and targeted outreach
The box above captures the key online marketing elements along with each of their primary goals. Content, i.e., text, videos, along with its continual updating, is critical for success in each of the following marketing elements featured in the table below – hence the cliché, “Content is king on the Internet”
The benefits of online product marketing
Product marketing over the Internet offers several key benefits:
- Rich set of analytics: Marketing over the Internet can be rigorously tracked. For example, the company website can reveal the sources of traffic, the number of new visitors, bounce rates, etc. Rich analytics can be associated with every online marketing element, not just the company website. The use of analytics ensures that the ROI on marketing efforts is more easily measurable.
- Marketing 24x7: Marketing efforts on the Internet are ‘always on’, i.e., prospects can continuously reach your online content and learn about your product and offerings.
- Pull vs push marketing: The Internet provides the ability to change the basic marketing paradigm – prospects now search for specific information on the Internet and then find your product to meet their requirements. Contrast this with the earlier paradigm of a ‘blanket push’ of information to a whole set of users irrespective of whether or not they were ‘in the market’ for a product that you offer.
- Retain better control: The online marketing elements can be controlled more easily by marketers -- for example, the message can be updated and is instantaneously available to every new visitor.
- Keeping a close tab on your competition: Since the Internet is a public forum, it is easier for you to keep a close tab on your direct and in-direct competitors (e.g., via news alerts, what people are saying about the competing product, etc).
So is marketing over the Internet a bed of roses?
The Internet can be a rewarding marketing channel, but there are some points to bear in mind as you adopt it:
Srihari Palangala is the director of Product Marketing at VMLogix. He actively blogs at http://blog.vmlogix.com
- ‘Click fraud’ and online advertising: It is possible for your online advertising campaign to be quickly made ineffective through click fraud. An example of this is when random visitors consistently click on your advertisement without even a remote interest in the product.
- Not all conversations about your product may be good: Remember that not all conversations about your product in blogs and other publicly-viewed online forums are likely to be complimentary. Respond as appropriate and treat the criticism as important feedback for the organisation. Let the conversations flow freely and learn from them!
- The Internet cannot entirely substitute in-person meetings: The Internet can serve as your marketing vehicle, to a large extent; however, it cannot replace face-to-face interactions entirely, atleast not yet. You should schedule the occasional in-person connections with those who make up your target market (at key conferences or industry events).