Internet Marketing 2.0 Best Practice #1

Internet Marketing 2.0 (aka Marketing 2.0) starts with defining your audience’s needs through research. Are you meeting the needs of your online audience?

As an Internet Marketing Consultant, I seem to spend a lot of time researching Internet marketing questions that, at first, I have no clue how to answer. Often my research leads to even more questions about what exactly my clients’ users are doing online and how we can help them find us and like us. Sometimes it feels like marketing in 2007 is mostly research – and maybe it is.

I am considered an expert on Internet marketing by the top executives in the publishing industry. I have written and published several books Internet marketing. My partner Kim Mateus and I chaired the two Internet marketing seminar tracks for the Specialized Information Publishers Association‘s 31st International Conference in June. I’ll lead more than a dozen Internet marketing seminars this fall, including our own 4th Annual Mequoda Summit. My consulting clients include some of North America and Europe’s most successful special-interest publishers.

User Activities are Changing Everyday

So, if I’m an expert on Internet marketing, why do I spend so much time doing research? Shouldn’t I have all the answers and a perfect Internet marketing strategy etched in stone? Well, no, not exactly. Let me explain…

With Internet Marketing 2.0, you must know with certainty what your users are doing online. Assumptions are only helpful as a starting point. You must KNOW what they’re doing now:

  • Why do they go online?
  • What websites do they visit and how often?
  • Which search engines do they use?
  • What are the exact terms and phrases they search for?
  • How do they behave when purchasing?
  • How do their online activities impact their offline behavior?

The Users Run Internet Marketing 2.0 – Not the Publishers or the Retailers

Easy-to-find information, available 24/7/365, is changing marketing forever. Just like highways changed commerce in the early 20th century, the Information Super Highway is connecting users to publishers and retailers on a global scale. The result is a level playing field where best is defined by price, brand and user generated content. Location is dead. Testimonials, user comments, ratings, blogs, RSS, forums and social networks are the new currency for online commerce.

Internet Marketing 2.0 Best Practice #1: Know the Needs of Your Target Audience

Ask yourself, which of these five statements best describes how well your organization knows the real-time needs of your audience as you read this post:

  1. We clearly understand our audience and its information needs based on regular research and reader feedback that is widely disseminated inside our organization
  2. We think we understand our target audience and its information needs based on past research and reader feedback
  3. We understand our print audience but there has been no significant research about the information needs of our online audience
  4. We have basic demographic information about our audience and some anecdotal information about its information needs
  5. We have no clue about our audience and its information needs

Consider this advice from Chris Kimball, the man behind America’s Test Kitchen:

“Everything we do is heavily influenced by surveys and focus groups,” Kimball explains.

America’s Test Kitchen conducts a substantial amount of research—like surveys and focus groups—to determine exactly what its audience wants.

“We don’t believe in simply giving them things that we think they should have, as so many other editors do, ” Kimball says. “If people don’t want all-beef meatloaf, I’m not going to force it down their throat!”

Research, Research, Research Will Set You Free

Maybe it’s the time I spent as a journalist that makes me love Marketing 2.0 – marketing where users, content and truth are the central themes. Marketing is democratic. It caters to the most esoteric and non-centric needs and points of view. Marketing is the art of discovering what your customers want and giving it to them in the most efficient means possible, and thus, creating the most value for the customer.

So it’s 10PM, who’s your customer and what are they searching for right now?

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