Online Marketing needs to grow up and learn how to walk…

26 Nov

The day job has got me more and more thinking about web 2.0, and perhaps more significantly the need for it; and I’m not just talking about from a corporate point of view, where we get into site stickiness and page views and stuff, while important it is something I will come back to.

First I want to touch on why the Internet needed to evolve and how Marketers rightly need to start thinking one step further than the banner.

In the early days of the internet, by that I mean the mid 90’s. The web was forced into 3 business models: print publishing business model;  e-commerce (loosely translated as a shop that everyone was too afraid to buy from) or finally a pretty shit library (the kind of one where if you cracked open a coffee and sat on the floor, you’d be politely asked to leave…well almost).

Luckily, clever people through whatever motivation – boredom, I suspect – saw that not only, did you need to make sites full of worthwhile free content but you also had to make it engaging.

Right, I’ve said it, engaging! This is the only word you need to remember in this entire post. Web 2.0 is based around engagement. This will range from contribution via commenting or on a more progressive site users will generate a large if not total proportion of content. Providing the site has content that users find valuable to trade in their time for, you can be sure that better interactivity will ensure the site is more engaging, which will build loyalty, which in return builds, traffic.

Some of the best social media sites, techcrunch, mashable, digg and revison3, to name but a few are awesome at engaging with the community they serve. These communities are as diverse as world cities, but they all habour one dream, to engage with the people that visit and start a conversation with them, be that heated debate or sharing ‘coolness’.

While the Internet has made its evolution from the web 1.0, to web 2.0, advertisers are still one step behind. At this point I would like to congratulate those that have made it at least to the web, those that haven’t, don’t worry recession is here, time to spend a little less for a lot more. Getting back to my ultimate point, advertising online is still surprisingly traditional, even ad formats haven’t changed, pick up a Newspaper and see the leaderboard, skyscraper and variations on other ad formats… I’m not saying these aren’t here to stay, because they are, and they work (kind of). When they do, they suck you through to a screaming and pushy sales landing page, buy me, BUY ME NOW!!!. This is where the online marketing is missing a trick. As it is this page, that should be engaging, asking visitors their opinions, getting them involve, creating an environment that deserves time being spent.

To be engaging is the next step for online marketing; to create a community from communities, to drive traffic to a site that wants to listen, wants to allow you to interact, wants to get people you respect and admire involved, so together you and your brand can do something ‘wonderful’.

This is the Conversational Marketing approach…and luckly for us all there are companies pinoeering this method and examples and debate will be opened in the next post.

(PS – Conversational Marketing won’t be around forever, but it is the next logical step, until web 3.0 touches down and fills our space – if anyone knows what that looks like, give me a heads ups)

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