As an online-media professional, i will publicly admit the following only under duress (such as waterboarding) — traditional broadcast media still work. Shhh, don’t tell anyone. Of course tv and radio don’t work as well as they used to. Consumers are increasingly less attentive and those media are too cluttered. But, yes, they still work as marketing vehicles. Given their broad reach, they can effectively promote visitations to Web sites.
With just a few commercials, you can quickly reach millions. However, this is expensive. Hey, someone has to pay for the upkeep on Rupert Murdoch’s beach houses. Small Web sites cannot afford campaigns that do not generate traffic. For them, there is no such thing as branding. Instead they must pick the low-hanging fruit and return immediate investment. Every ad must pull its own weight.
When buying airtime, monitor your Web traffic in relation to the log times. Every tv ad runs at a specific time. Work with your media partners to obtain this data. Compare those exact airtimes with your site’s traffic. Within a set time frame, each ad should lift traffic. When certain programs or time periods work better than others, adjust your schedule. Buy airtime with an escape clause. Bad deals, those that do not deliver traffic, must be pushed aside. Therefore, overpaying slightly in order to gain flexibility is worth it.
In terms of the actual commercials, use the .com appellation! The Web as we know it is .com centric. It is second nature for people to type the com suffix into their browsers even when they are directed to a .net Web site. In my experience, a dot-com is better than even the best dot-tv addresses. It is far better to have a less catchy name that uses dot-com than a flashier name ending with one of the lesser suffixes. I dare say that even if your business uses a dot-net address you would be better served promoting an alternate dot-com address and simply redirecting consumers to the main site.
In broadcast commercials do not bother saying “www.” Verbalizing “Double You, Double You, Double You,” is unnecessary and a waste of precious ad time. Instead say your brand name with .com minus the “www.” Example.com is far less cumbersome than www.example.com. Each second of your ad is precious — don’t waste it!
Do not count on everyone to come through the front door. People are more likely to find your site through a search engine than directly typing it in the browser, even when they already know your site’s name. Moreover, spell check and Google have helped people become ever worse spellers. You can count on consumers to misspell even the simplest names. Black hat villains routinely buy these misspellings in an attempt to hijack your brand. They will redirect the traffic to other pages, thereby confusing your audience. Therefore, buy misspellings of your url too. Don’t wait until your competition usurps you. When registering your domain name, buy common variations on your business name at the same time.
I am not typically a fan of traditional name-and-claim billboards. Stations include these static images accompanied by a voiceover as added value. Yes, they are added; no, they are not valuable. Certainly they can’t hurt in building awareness, but in my experience they will not drive Web traffic. Especially for new sites, people need a specific call to action. Unless you can build in a contest or limited-time offer, I would not expect much from tv billboards.
Direct marketers effectively use vanity 800 phone numbers. Vanity urls are equally effective for marketing Web sites. Example.com/123 can help you determine if a specific radio station is sending you traffic. This is by no means a foolproof solution, but it does provide directional help. Some marketers sneer at using these, but really this is no different than using tracking pixels online.
Marketing a Web site is a fascinating blend of brand awareness and direct response. There is a blind logic to it. Clicks supersede branding. Of course awareness is part of the consideration chain, but without traffic to pay the bills, all the brand awareness in the world won’t get you on the subway. Online, every click and conversion can be tracked. This is harder to do offline, but not impossible. Whatever you do, please do not make me admit any of this in public.