Skip to main content

Brian’s guide to online marketing for traditional marketers

By May 6, 20098 Comments5 min read

So you’re sitting at your desk at your traditional ad agency, marketing firm, or public relations agency and you notice that every day there are more and more empty desks around you. Hmmm I wonder why? Well there is a simple way to keep your desk from being the next empty one: adapt.

So before we dive into me teaching you how to adapt, I am going to assume you are smart enough to know that you need to learn about online marketing (u know that lil thing the kids call the “internets” has been around for over a decade now). I am also going to assume you have a background in traditional marketing, PR, or advertising.

So everything you learned in your marketing classes isn’t completely useless, actually, it is still quite useful, it just needs to be adapted. You have to start somewhere though, so lets start with some basic terminology.

Blogs – A self published journal, newsletter, etc. Usually supports visitor comments/feedback, rss, and trackbacks. Do you need one? Only if you have customers whom you want to talk to, and value their opinion (these opinion things, are pretty important these days). If you are writing an email or physical newsletter you send out everymonth, you should be re-publishing this as a blog on your domain/site. Also things you find too minute for newsletter publishing, but are still useful or valuable to your users/customers, should be posted on your corporate or client’s blog.

Microblogging – think blogging or SMS, but limited to 140-160 characters in length. see Twitter.

SEM – Search Engine Marketing – This is the all encompassing term for everything that deals with buying ads alongside search results on web search engines. Think more off-site work than on-site (your website).

SEO – Search Engine Optimization – This is all about on-site work, and turning your site into something the search engines will love, will understand, and then in turn reward you with higher placement in RELEVANT searches. This is can also be tied heavily into link building. The key is to turn all those years of copywriting experience you have, into something a search engine will understand. So basic things include writing clear and concise content, and avoiding hiding your content from searchers (i.e. inside pretty flash files).

PPC – Pay Per Click aka CPC (cost per click)- A form of online advertising whereby you only pay for leads (clicks) to your website. Google popularized this (but did NOT invent it). If you are on a fixed budget, and want to drive an exact amount of hits to your site, this might be your best bet. Important to note, most PPC systems are designed as auctions, with bidders buying up exposure and demand dictating the prices dynamically.

CTR – Click-through rate: The average number of clicks per 100 views of your ad. Think of this as the number of people who responded to your ad as a percentage of the entire audience. These numbers can tell you how your creative, your copy, or your overall ad are performing.

A/B Testing – Sometimes referred to as multi-variate testing, the idea is that you are comparing several similar creatives, or copies, of a single ad, and trying to determine what is most effective in getting conversions or click-throughs. Because its so easy to create a number of different variations, you can in theory analyze and optimize your message on the fly. Think of it as using the web as your global focus group, and your sites/ads/creatives as the product they are testing and voting on (by either clicking or not clicking).

CPM – Cost Per Mil (Thousand): The amount an ad run costs to be shown in front of 1000 hopefully distinct visitors. There are a number of factors that play into the pricing on this (audience, content of site, site reputation, etc.). This was one of the first models popularized in online banner ads.

CPA – Cost Per Action: Think of this as the easiest form of advertising to measure your ROI on. You only pay when someone completes the desired goal (be it filling out a form, purchasing something, whatever). Lots of affiliate marketing campaigns are built around this idea.

SMO – Social Media Optimization: The idea that you can optimize your content for distribution on social media sites. Effectively fancy way of saying writing interesting copy. Be careful with people selling this service, some are legit and trustworthy, others are snake oil salesmen.

Social Media – Content created by people, not by traditional publishers. Often referred to as user generated content or consumer generated media. Really encompasses everything from social networks to individually created content. The idea being that media/content creation is being democratized and no longer exclusively the realm of traditional mass media creators.

Social Network – A site/service whereby people can create and maintain relationships between themselves and other individuals. The most popular in the US at the moment are Facebook and Myspace. If you are creating any type of product with brand affinity of any kind, you’d be well advised to take notice of social networks, which are fast becoming the top traffic destinations on the web.

Twitter – A revolutionary new (to you) form of communication. Often referred to as micro-blogging, it is really a new means of speaking to and listening to your community (you’ve got a community whether you realize it or not). There will be a follow up post in a few weeks on Twitter for non techies.

Affiliate Marketing – This wasn’t in the original list, but I was reminded of its importance. Affiliate marketing is essentially the idea of enlisting independent third parties to promote your products or services in exchange for a sales commission. Amazon was one of the first companies to start this online (not the first though). The idea being that it allows any individual marketer to come in and start selling thousands of products without owning any physical inventory, or handling any transactions, but still making money.

So remember this list is for those of you who have experience working in traditional advertising, and just need a quick glossary of online keywords.