I-Marketing Interview: Cisco Systems – Part 2

In Part 2 of this interview, Cisco Systems vice president of worldwide marketing communications Jere King continues her discussion with the E-Commerce Times about how Internet advertising fits in with Cisco’s overall marketing strategy.

Click here to return to Part 1.

ECT: Have the new, larger ad sizes had an impact onyour advertising campaigns?

King: On some of our recent campaigns we used the newskyscraper-sized units, and they outperformed allother executions. They give enough real estate to thead so people pay attention. And you can add some goodcontent to it.

We had one that allowed people tocalculate ROI statistics for a particular networkpurchase. Beyond the simplistic few words on a bannerad, this gives us an opportunity to sell a message oroffer a tool or service, and customers appreciate that.

ECT: What are some successful strategies for onlineadvertising?

King: Ensure you are doing an integrated campaign.Think through the program, from building initialawareness to creating relevance and preference tothe final purchase. At the end of the day,those are the most effective marketing campaigns.Those campaigns are more complex and multifaceted, sothink it through well in advance, and think it throughrelative to the purchase cycle.

Offer tools, services and activities that will make acustomer continue to work with you and give you morepermission to send information that is most targetedand relevant to them. If you just blanket the worldwith a message without a good follow-through program,that usually disappoints the customer.

Net Not All

ECT: What pitfalls should an online advertiser try toavoid?

King: Do not assume the online world is just likeprint or broadcast, but optimize your program for themedium. Understand its immediacy, global reach andhighly interactive nature. But do not assume that theInternet will replace everything else you do. A largecomponent of how we market is “high touch” — personalinteractions, face-to-face meetings, demonstrations,seminars. Assume that the Internet is there toenhance, to help you do things more cost-effectively,but understand its place in the marketing mix.

Also, many people think that if you build an onlinepresence, they will come, and that is not necessarilytrue. You have to be consistent, provide customerswith services and tools, and make it worth their whileto interact with you in an online environment. If youdo, it pays off tremendously in customer loyalty andretention.

If there are too many abandoned shopping carts, if younever refresh your Web site, or if you do not have areliable network that ensures your site is always upand online advertising is always viewable, thosethings will turn a customer off.

ECT: Are there products or services that are notsuited for promotion through online advertising?

King: For more sophisticated, large-investmentpurchases, there will be limitations on what you cando online. If you are purchasing a jet engine, it isvery different from purchasing a book. The marketerhas to get a feel for what its customers are willingto do online, and at what point it needs to goback into the hands of a salesperson or call center.

Most things cannot be done 100 percent online. This iswhere you need to do testing. Find out how far you cango online, what type of interaction customers preferto see online and how you can establish a goodrelationship, not simply a communication link.

Staying on Track

ECT: How do you measure the effectiveness of yourInternet marketing campaign? What factors come into play?

King: We use many metrics. We look at how many peopleresponded, new visitors versus repeat visitors, whattheir interest areas were and which media producedthe highest clickthrough rate for a particular cost. We alsolook at how much time they spend on the site, which isan interesting indicator of interest and the validity ofinformation. And the ultimate metric is: What did itcost you, and did you get any benefits out of it?

If it is a very specific promotion — like upgradingyour Catalyst 5000 switch to a Catalyst 4000 — you cantrack resultant sales very easily. But most campaignsresult in multifaceted network installations, and inthat case, a multitude of programs and touch pointsbuilt up to that final sale.

Also, given sales results for a quarter, we can”reverse engineer” the results. If company X had anetwork purchase this quarter, we can look at all themarketing programs in which it participated.

ECT: Based on your experience with Web marketing so far, what does the future hold for online advertising in terms of both strategy and technology trends?

King: The Internet has been viewed as a serious mediumfor only seven years or so. In the next five years, itwill be an expected element of every marketing mix.From a technology standpoint, there are so manyexciting things happening quickly. Most exciting formarketers will be the comfort factor of customersusing the technologies. I can now push my message outto the customer’s mobile device — a cell phone,BlackBerry or personal device.

As marketers, we ultimately want to send the rightmessage to the right person at the right time.Internet technology presents that opportunity muchmore than other media, as the technology is beginningto deliver on an immediate, personalized basis.

Act Now

ECT: What advice do you have for a company starting toplan a new online advertising campaign?

King: Seek best practices and benchmark with othercompanies if you are not familiar with the medium,just to get some baseline experience and familiarity.Do not be afraid. Get out there and try it. Test somemedia sources. Analyze your results, and you willconstantly optimize your programs and get better atit. Sometimes you do not know what will be mosteffective for your program until you get out there andtest it.

Make sure you have the appropriate networkinfrastructure that ensures you will have a successfulonline marketing experience with your customers. Makesure they can always reach you, that your network isavailable. Make sure the response time and performanceare good.

Make sure that you can offer new and exciting ways ofcommunicating with customers, going beyond HTML text –such as streaming video, online surveys or tools thecustomers can use to make themselves more successful.

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