We’re quite proud of our efforts this year making the big transformation from print to digital. While we’re still slightly embarrassed about the awkward navigation of our existing site and the occasional unexpected glitch, we’ve neverthless undergone significant online growth over the past 10 months.
In this respect, it’s been a good year.
Neilsen Online Ratings now places Anthill Online among the Top 50 Business & Finance websites in Australia (ranked according to unique daily users from Australia only) and the Audit Bureaux of Australia ranks Anthill among Australia’s Top 20 Media websites, according to similar measures. (Not a bad result for an organisation that barely had a web presence this time last year, eh?)
We attribute this growth to the close application of three simple rules – our own neat formula for online marketing.
The first and possibly most important of these rules (and, therefore, the subject of this post) we define as ‘sharable’.
Sharable: The first rule of online marketing
We all now realise that it’s not what you say about your product or company that matters. It’s what your customers say. Marketers and business owners can no longer control their message by sheer volume of advertising.
We also now understand that a quality idea, concept, tool, product or service can receive unprecedented exposure, at little or no marketing cost, if its owners understand the value of making it possible for others to share it.
This is the underlying strength of most social media channels.
It is also a concept that traditionalists continue to struggle with.
It’s counter-intuitive. It’s the opposite of the business model currently being proposed by Rupert Murdoch and his contemporaries with respect to the future of News Ltd. It’s often confused with ‘theft’. And it has been accused of undermining a range of services and products once sold at a premium.
But it it can no longer be denied that an intelligent blog post, an engaging twitter feed or a clever viral video can launch a new product or service to new heights faster than you can say, “Hey Singo. How much money do you need to make me famous?”
Measurable: The second rule of online marketing
We discovered this the intelligent way. By measuring different strategies.
Our second golden rule is ‘measurable’, which I’d be happy to talk about in more detail in a future post. But to summarise, if you don’t have measurable goals, how do you know whether your strategy is working? (Then, it’s all about putting the tools and reporting processes in place to actually monitor your activities… something easier said than done.)
When Anthill Magazine was indeed just that – a print magazine – we offered 12-month subscriptions for $39.95 as banner advertisements throughout our website ad nauseum. One day, we decided to test an alternative strategy and use these pieces of digital real-estate to promote our free email newsletter.
We then created a trigger email to offer specific subscription deals at key dates, worded to reflect the duration of our relationship with the email subscriber (i.e. “Happy one month anniversary! Subscribe today and score a free DVD” etc).
This early form of sharable media (an email newsletter) quickly became our first introduction to the effectiveness of viral marketing – as emails were forwarded from recipient to colleague, prompting new subscriptions and, over time, additional magazine subscriptions.
In fact, over three months, we increased our online subscription sales almost ten fold!
While the initial decision to stop promoting subscriptions aggressively on our website raised some eyebrows among our team (and some fairly vocal opposition), the proof was in the subscriptions – we had created a ‘sharable’ strategy with ‘measurable’ outcomes.
And what’s the third rule?
Today, I received a free eBook from everyone’s favourite crome-domed digital marketing maven, Seth Godin. I did not receive it direct from the source but in an email newsletter from Philip Bateman’s entrepreneurial advisory outfit Bravo Charlie.
The eBook is promoted as free, making it legally sharable. It’s full of wisdom and wit, making it socially sharable. (I not only lose no friends from passing it on, I might in fact win some!) And it is provided as a digital tool, making it logistically sharable.
In fact, here it is…
Or you can download it here.
The end goal for Godin is to sell a few more units of his new hard-copy book Linchpin through Amazon this holiday season (which, we’re sure, will be the inevitable and measurable outcome). This is why Seth Godin is a master marketer and why many organisations still struggle to make their online strategies actually deliver.
So, what’s Anthill’s third golden rule of online marketing? For now, that’s the cliff-hanger, until my next post on the topic (perhaps a strategy in its own right). 😉