Questions To Ask When Evaluating Online Media

With companies allocating more of their marketing budgets to online media, it's important to know what to look for and ask about when working with new-media companies.

Alignment with your goals, audience, reach: these criteria apply across all media buys. However, other issues are specific to the online world: online metrics, conversion accountability, reputation of Web sites and more.

Below is a list of questions to ask when evaluating online media.

Is the media opportunity aligned with your marketing objectives?
It might seem obvious, but it's worth answering. Is your objective to generate leads? Promote your brand in new markets? Position your company in a leadership role? We know, it's all of the above. But some online media are better suited to gaining and raising brand exposure, others for lead generation. The best offer a combination of each.

What audience will you reach?
Before committing to any online media, ask for a profile of the audience you will reach. For example, with general search engines, the audience is the entire world, because everyone uses them, so funneling out only your specific niche becomes a challenge that you need take into account. On the other hand, there are many effective online media options that focus only on specific industries or target audiences.

If you're advertising on a Web site, ask for information about its site traffic, demographic data, the number of visitors per month as well as if they have a third-party audit statement of qualified traffic. Look for growth trends on those sites where you are considering promoting your business.

Which metrics matter?
One of the great advantages of online media (other than the fact that your customers and prospects are online) is its reporting capabilities. Page views, impressions, opens, clicks, click-through rates, conversions -- there are many metrics. In the end, it's the conversions that equal leads, and the impressions that equal brand exposure.

How is lead capture performed?
Online media that offers comprehensive marketing programs and delivers leads to you with full contact information is what you want. If you are using keyword search ads or e-newsletter ads, you're likely driving prospects to a landing page on your Web site where you should have lead-capture mechanisms, such as white paper or Webinar offers.

More important than who's responsible for lead capture is to make sure that you have a way to convert visitors and viewers into leads. Plan for this in any online media campaign. If your media program offers a lead conversion capability, you won't have to devote as many resources to landing pages and other lead-capture mechanisms.

How, when and for how long will your message be delivered to your audience?
How your message will be delivered depends more on the type of marketing program you choose, such as e-newsletters, banner ads, online catalogs, and e-mail campaigns.

Push marketing, where you proactively reach out to prospects, is done, for example, through e-newsletter sponsorships. You can also get a high frequency rate if the e-newsletters are issued on a regular basis, keeping you in front of your target audience on a consistent basis.

Pull marketing opportunities are when you can connect with customers and prospects when they are actively searching for solutions like yours. A searchable online catalog or presence in an industrial directory online provides presence 24/7.

Ensure that your online marketing program provides a customized fit for your needs. Ask about the ability to choose your target audience, review online metrics, details about conversion accountability, possible campaign timing options, as well as the flexibility to adjust your program options and messaging when necessary.

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2 comments about "Questions To Ask When Evaluating Online Media".
  1. Sue Burton from Hydranetwork , May 29, 2009 at 2:41 p.m.

    The number one metric as you mentioned is obviously ROI. I would recommend a portion of your budget be put towards Cost Per Action Marketing. It's guaranteed ROI when you only pay for the ads that get you your desired action.

  2. Chris Chariton from GlobalSpec , June 5, 2009 at 5:52 p.m.

    Yes, cost-per-action marketing is a viable means to achieve ROI. How the advertiser defines “actions,” defines strategies to generate them, and then does the necessary follow-up marketing has a big role to play in the campaign’s ROI.

    One of the great advantages of online marketing is the ability to measure campaign performance. This advantage applies to all types of campaign goals: from lead generation and sales conversion to the harder to measure aspects of brand building.