Quizzing The Online Tech Marketers

The annual gathering of big tech marketing tribes is upon us. Even after the massive changes in the B2B technology marketing business, some of the same questions still haunt us. We thought we’d pick off some of the more compelling questions, and put them to you, our audience. We want to see if you’d like to comment or add to the list of questions?

Snake Oil Sellers and Gorilla Marketers: Often used to describe some of the voodoo associated with the marvels of online marketing, may not have been insulting after all.  Chinese water snakes have lots of omega 3 fatty acids in their oil, meaning such snake oil might actually cure aches and pains. Image: ©KIN CHEUNG/REUTERS

Here is the first in this series, from a vendor, with comments and thoughts from industry folks in this long discussion to follow:

Which media perform best for branding?

1. Online banners/display ads

Con: “If you’re a technology marketer, looking for eyeballs that matter, banners and electronic ads that are not tied to any call to action are worth little. No demographics, no ROI. You have an opportunity to laser focus your branding, rather than air brush the Internet with stuff no one understands. If you’ve got an offer you can push out on such a venue and get folks to click on and then fill out a form, you’re the nuts. And if you’ve got some subliminal message you can hide in the code that sucks people into clicking on it and giving up all their vitals, you are insane.”

Pro: “I have to disagree. Big league tech companies don’t need to have a call to action in their messaging. If anything, companies like Dell, HP, MS, Intel have the luxury to use ads that re-direct to a YouTube channel , a video, a page without a call to action.”

Pro: “Online banners/display ads – The direct ROI for online ads will never be as good as with guarantee program, but they are there to raise awareness, using them alongside other tools is almost a must do.”

Pro: “no good IT branding campaign should be without it, yet if you’re searching for clicks this might not be the place.”

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Anyone want to share their POV on this topic and what you see for classic banner and display ads that we have become accustomed to seeing on our favorite IT and technology web portals. Maybe the real question ought to begin with, “What sort of display ads would IT leaders be inclined to click on?” How can we design compelling offers, hitting the appropriate markets, at the right time.

2. Paid search engine marketing

Con: Snake oil would be a better way to sell that, if one were to try to sell it to a wide audience. If you’re the best of breed, you must pay your search engine tax, or your ego-surfing ways will be over. But if you’re fighting for sales and market share, you want to be sure what you’re doing. This is not for amateurs and you can spend a lot of money quickly.

Pro: “if someone is looking for a specific item, investing in getting your product/service at the top – this is the way to go.”

Pro: “Paid search engine marketing – great for driving traffic.”

Con: “If you’re competing with major brands for competitive search terms, there will be little appeal from branding perspective. Best of breed is the default for most products and search budgets.

Con: “On the topic of paid search, I’m not sure how you equate that to branding, since most people who are searching are already focused, but I suppose there is a secondary flash there. “

3. Direct mail (branding potential for big tech).

Con: “I would say the only value nowadays for direct mail is the draw of nostalgia. But even nostalgia ain’t what it used to be. However, the tactile world is still with us and a creative package can still make a major impact.”

Pro(sort of): “great for fans and folks a little further down the pipeline.” I wonder if he is referring to Bonzai?

Pro (also sort of): “Yes, mostly for retention.”

4. Online content syndication

Pro: “One of the better branding efforts we’ve been seeing are some of the CPC campaigns. You get good value there. Pay $6 a click for 1000 clicks and end up getting 2 million impressions. Content syndication can have similar statistics. You get the benefit of having your asset on a large network in some cases.
“I guess for me, there isn’t a correct answer to the question. All of it works (although I have no idea how paid search would ever be branding) if it’s done right and none of it works if any of it is done wrong. Online Communities would probably perform best for branding but most of those aren’t controlled environments. That’s when branding can go both ways.“
Pro, pro, and more pros … Apparently the only folks who don’t feel proper syndication of their content is important are those folks without any significant content to syndicate. This is a huge topic and many levels so we will continue this discussion later.

5. Print (Magazines, journals, trades)

Con: “In our world, this sort of branding is more about chest puffing than it is about a compelling message to reach your audience. So much of this content is old and has been re-packaged, you really have to understand how to make these deals. Value added is a moving target as media jockey for longer term commitments.“
Pro: “I don’t think it will ever go away completely, having something in hand is better than a digital version – just depends if one likes old school.”
Pro: “That isn’t really branding, but institutional advertising, selling your stock, but interesting to see that people are still trying.“

6. Online social communities
The answer is the community of course. Technology buyers, of the CIO, CSO and CTO variety, if those are your targets, aren’t impressed with four color decks for detailing their enterprise middleware or securing wireless apps. They want to hear from the IT community; they want to be convinced by technical experts. Getting the right answers from the folks in the bushes, and then making sure that content is syndicated properly is where the juice is and is also the place where your low hanging fruit is found.
Now the challenge is to manage the social channel as it emerges way from obscure crackpots to controlled environments where the key metric is the quality of the dialog. We will continue this discussion in a few days with our next question. Please share your thoughts, experiences or problems.

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