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Event held between first week of November 2007 in Le Meridien Dubai, and I was invited to be a speaker in this conference, sharing a session with my colleague Mohammad Itani, Head of Media.

The topic we were assigned was: Effective Integration of Digital Marketing Into Your Marketing Mix

Divided into:

  • Mastering search engine optimization and search marketing strategies to gain greater market share
  • Effectively measuring reach and exposure to drive return on investment
  • Effective email marketing campaigns: creating emails that consumers want to open

I covered the SEO, and Effective Email Marketing parts.

We integrated our presentations into one (since the main theme is about integration), and took turns in delivery.

The presentation was visually driven and based on real life campaigns and scenarios, rather than theories and bullets – hence why people could relate to it and liked it, however I cannot do that here, so I will approach it from the rather boring side.

SEO

Tackled Search Engine Optimization first; apparently most people are aware of SEO now, however without real understanding of what it is or how it works.

I started by simplying the definition:

“An attempt to appear on top ranks on search engine search result pages”

Established relevance to people’s businesses:

Simply, If you are in cd jewel case manufacturing in Dubai, and someone searched for jewel case industry Dubai and your name did not show up on the list, then you are losing business / money.

What if it does but on the 11th page? then you need to try and make it appear on top, since research tells us that 80% of the users do not go beyond page 1, and only 14% proceed after page two of the result pages.

So how is it applied?

Basically, the most important thing to emphasize is that it’s an ongoing process, not a one timer type of delivery / product / service.

The process of optimization has to managed in three main disciplines:

1. Text

Which is the actual copy of the website. This is not technical at all, all needed is a copy that makes sense and fairly refers to what each page is about; making sure each page has a relevent title to its content, and the content of the page reflect a fair amount of information with the right amount of keywords and language.

This helps getting pages better understood by search engine spiders, and hence lead to higher ranks in search results.

2. Links

What is meant by links is how the pages of the site link to eachother (structure), and the actual page link format. A site should have a clear structure, having its pages grouped in proper sections / categories in a healthy hierarchy. The format of the page address should be clear and understandable:

Good example:
www.yoursite.com/sectionname/page-title.html
www.yoursite.com/aboutus/

Bad examples:
www.yoursite.com/id?=223467
www.yoursite.com/cgi-big/3456Yerflt584=349jfle5.aspx

Having a sitemap on the site as well helps a lot giving both users and search engines a clear idea about your site structure and where to find what they are looking for.

3. Popularity

A site popularity is determined by how many sites link back to it, keeping in mind the ranking of those sites.

Having my blog (especially now after it went offline for 4 months) and my friend’s company site linking back to yours, will not have the same effect as if amazon.com and microsoft.com link back to it.

This is how engines see it: If a popular, high profile site likes you, it would link back to you, and if it does then it means you must be popular and your profile should become higher, which results in you being moved up in the rankings.

Those are the three main disciplines, lots of other basic ones are involved as well, such as your code structure and validation status, and should be looked at even before starting the process.

So now you should be able to see why it needs to be an ongoing process; you always need to revise your content and update it, you need to make sure your site retains its structure as it grows and new content is added, and you need to work on establishing high profile business partners.

You might make it to the top, but you will not stay there unless you invest enough time and resources to maintain it, search engine algorithms keep changing and you need to keep yourself up to date.

Email Marketing

Moving on to Email Marketing, lets inspect it’s formal definition and analyze its parts:
“A Form of direct marketing which uses electronic mail as a means of communicating messages to an audience”

Meaning it has three essential parts: electronic mail, message, audience.

Each one should be tackled properly to increase success chances.

Electronic Mail

Being the vehicle, one needs to keep up to date with latest technologies and best practices. Spammers are becoming professionals and smart, and it’s become hard to differentiate and easily identify like it used to be, which made it more likely for lots of engines to label spam messages as safe and safe messages as spam. Natural result was making the rules more strict.

HTML format (ensuring email can be viewed in most browsers and clients), message content and attachments (ensuring proper text format, sliced images, and no attachments), size and dimensions (Weight: aim for 60KB weight and don’t exceed 100K, width: do not exceed 450px), all should be taken into consideration. The subject line plays a big role as well, it should be concise and intuitive.

Message

Being the essence of the mailer, the message should be brief, precise, and contain a clear call to action. I have encountered lots of emails that intrigued my interest but without a call to action to take me to the next step, and others with lots of calls to action that i lost interest – same applies for lengthy messages that I do not have time to read.

Timing of the dispatch is equally important, messages sent on the last working day of the week are not taken seriously, and messages sent first working day of the week are often stacked for later read at best, and deleted in most of the cases. Best timing to dispatch a mailer is mid week, closer to weekend if necessary.

I mean think about it yourself , Sunday Morning (first working day of the week in Dubai), you make it to the office with one eye open, already depressed that the week has started, and crossing your fingers that not more than half of of your inbox is flagged with high importance, how would you deal with a sales message or a marketing offer then?

Of after the long week, it is Thursday, and it is post lunch, you’re only focused on the fact that it is the weekend, and it is party time, who cares about a marketing email message? Just show me the beer! :D

Audience

To me, this is the most important component and driver for campaign success, having a great offer that is pointed to the wrong audience, will do you as good as having a weak offer addressed to the right audience – bad publicity.

You should spend time and resources setting and identifying who your real target is; it will save you costs of circulation, administration trouble, and bad publicity – especially when you send to external publisher’s databases and not yours.

If you have your own, filter them and keep them clean and up to date, your databases are your vital assets for all sorts of online marketing.

Email marketing should be taken seriously; else, Garbage In Garbage Out.

It required correct preparation, proper brief, and adequate investment.

The Usual Conclusion

To sum up, as I always say, your web agency should be the fifth wheel in your marketing mix, and should be involved right from the start in every project, and not thrown the breadcrumbs at the end, if you want it to work for you, you should work for it as well.




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