Since I graduated from college in 1999, each of the four companies I’ve worked for has been an online business. At my first job, one of my many duties was working as an assistant to the marketing director. This was still in the relatively early days of the internet, and since neither one of us had much experience with online marketing, I was given free reign to explore search engine optimization while my boss occupied herself with lucrative newspaper ads and glossy promotional folders from NPR.
I could see the traffic that was coming in via natural search listings (alas, we were not exploring paid at the time). Much harder to track, however, were the leads we were getting off radio or print ads. I remember basking in the glory of our newspaper ads, and smiling indulgently as I heard our sponsorship mentioned on public radio. I also remember wondering, what difference is this all making? Are we even getting any new business from these expensive ads? We were just starting to experience an industry trend which would eventually prove that not only did search engine marketing have the lowest cost-per-lead of any other marketing strategy, but it also had the easiest methods of tracking ROI.
What seems most remarkable is that this particular online company had hired a marketing director who focused the majority of her efforts on offline endeavors. Again, this was in 1999, but I’m sure that over half a decade later, most companies and marketing directors now pay due attention to both, as they well should. Of course they do.
Or do they? Have you checked out our study of Fortune 500 companies who are slow to capitalize on SEM?
Slowly but surely, however, the two worlds are converging. As mentioned in the Wall Street Journal, the Fortune 500 behemoths are opening their eyes to the power of online marketing. And what with the rise of services like TiVo and ad-free satellite radio – not to mention the ability to download programs, music, and resources independent of their normal offline mediums – the traditional world of advertising will need to adapt to the internet just as our culture is.
The online marketing world is constantly adapting and evolving as well. We’ve expanded from the essential basics of SEO and SEM to focusing on all marketable areas of a website. Website usability, press releases, online media buys, podcasts, mobile marketing and more – there’s an entire world of internet advertising opportunities to explore. And I for one can’t wait to see what the future holds.