Stick to the plan to ensure effective online marketing

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Question: With click-through rates for banners continuing to drop, is interactive marketing really effective?

Answer: If you measure success using only click-through rates (CTRs), then it may appear that interactive marketing isn't working. However, given the numerous options and rich analytic reporting now available, that type of thinking and analysis is dated.

Overall, interactive marketing can be extremely effective if you "DIAGRAM" your approach:

Define interactive strategies that support and tie into your marketing and business objectives. Without a destination, you can't expect to get valuable insight once an interactive campaign is over. It won't exist.

Integrate customer insight into your recommendations. With interactive advertising, you are engaged with your customer in an active environment, not a passive one such as a magazine or direct mail piece. In this active environment, customers' preference and consumption profiles are just as important as their demographic and channel profiles.

Architect the solution as completely as possible. Consider everything from user scenarios to how a Web site or database should be integrated into the solution. Remember, when online, users expect immediate access to the information or tools they need to be successful. If you aren't connected to the appropriate resources, the risk of losing a sale to a competitor because you didn't meet a user's expectations is very real.

Generate a content calendar that maps out your messages and the locations where content will appear. Messages must be consistent no matter where your customer sees them.

Rich media is a proven solution whose time has come. The options to support awareness, build preference, capture information and implement retention and loyalty initiatives are robust and extremely effective. However, take a page from direct marketing and test, test, test.

Avoid value-added online placement from offline publications. Inventory typically is remnant space with limited creative options, and the results will be disappointing.

Monitor and measure everything. You cannot manage what you don't measure.

Remember, you get what you pay for. If you don't invest the time to make your interactive marketing effective, it won't be.

Geoff Pickering is director of interactive communications services for Nicholson Kovac (, an integrated marketing communications agency based in Kansas City, Mo.

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