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Old hand’s new online marketing spin

MALCOLM Auld is either very brave or a visionary but, whatever opinion you hold, his view of the future of online marketing has upset a lot of advertising agencies in Australia.

Mr Auld sees it very simply – online advertising on websites is a flawed concept that will never make money.

All those banner ads and star bursts simply take up valuable space on the screen that consumers would rather see filled with information relating to the subject under interrogation, he says.

Mr Auld has worked in the direct marketing industry for almost three decades, both on the client side and in major advertising agencies.

The Internet plays an important role in the purchase of fast moving consumer goods, he says, but it’s a research role rather than an online shopping centre model.

Mr Auld has just published a book entitled Email Marketing Made Easy. It’s a simple guide to maximising email as a marketing vehicle, rather than wasting money on web advertising or the scatter-gun approach of mass media.

“The premise of my book is that people should be minimising their website rather than maximising it,” Mr Auld said,

By this he means companies should simplify access to their website or provide services that directly link consumers to ordering systems or information, rather than asking them to visit the website.

It’s a more service-oriented approach to marketing via the Internet, however it also relates to building sophisticated data banks or information on current clients.

“What companies should be doing is using their website to capture information about consumers and then take the website to them via email,” Mr Auld said.

Email was a fast and cost effective direct mail medium but marketers needed to be aware there was a lot of junk mail out there too.

An irrelevant direct marketing email could do untold damage to a company’s brand so, again, research was the key.

“There is a lot of junk email out there but the companies with the right relationship with consumers will get through,” Mr Auld said.

“Nothing has changed. On a marketing basis, if a customer wants to receive emails, if the information is relevant, they will open it.

“Companies need to minimise website visits and understand that once the email relationship starts they are in there for the long term.”

An email relationship was very different to any other sort of direct mail dialogue because of the personal nature of the interaction.

“It’s not like waiting on an on-hold queue on a telephone, if you (the company) don’t have the resources to manage that it can be damaging to your company,” Mr Auld said.

“That’s why outsourcing this part of the business is the best idea.”

He said that, in many companies, the rise of email marketing had created a wrestling match between the IT department and the marketing staff.

The IT staff were looking to develop the best IT solution but it was not necessarily the best outcome from a marketing or service perspective.

Online ordering has delivered companies amazing client databases, where the clients are volunteering the information and inputting the data by filling in online forms.

Organisations needed to ask clients quest-ions at this point and determine what further information they were seeking, so as to build a profile for further email marketing, Mr Auld said.

A lot of this sounds very simple but, as re-tailers and organisations become more comfortable with new technologies, a very old technology – good service – is still winning more deals than all the other bells and whistles.

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