Explore the Strategy of Cloud Marketing
It is impossible to underestimate how much the Internet has changed the world. The ways we learn, play, interact and shop have all been drastically changed by online environments. One of the reasons that the Internet has expanded as rapidly as it has is because of the incredible development of e-commerce. Vast new opportunities for buying and selling appeared almost overnight. People now shop for everything from socks to trucks on the internet. In order to tap into this exploding market, businesses have shifted more and more of their efforts online.(See also E-Commerce Marketing)
The term cloud marketing encompasses all of a company's online marketing efforts. Online portals give companies new ways to present products, engage with customers, and push brand messages. Traditionally, advertising has been confined to print, television and radio and linked to brick and mortar stores. (See also Traditional Marketing) The Internet has opened up huge new commercial avenues that allow businesses to connect with their customers more intimately, from online stores to Twitter feeds.
Think of a major online retailer like Amazon.com that sells tens of thousands of different products but has no physical stores. Customers receive notices about sales through their email instead of their post office box. Shoppers can get more information about a product than a whole army of sales staff could offer. Amazon provides all of these services at a fraction of the operating cost most retailers face. The entire business model is based on cloud marketing; using the tools of the internet to connect with customers.
Another component of cloud marketing is online applications which help marketing departments operate more effectively. It is now possible to run faster, more efficiently, and at reduced costs while accomplishing all of the same goals. For example, market research harvested from customer profiles can be used to support broader marketing goals. Gathering market research used to be a tedious and labor intensive process. Now it can be done almost instantaneously and at a fraction of the cost.
Communication between marketers has also improved. Online tools make it easy for colleagues to access, share and distribute information amongst each other. Using new applications, marketing duties can be outsourced for huge cost savings. For example, rather than hiring an in-house graphic designer, marketers can find a low cost freelancer online. The internet is both a place to do marketing and a tool for doing marketing.
There are two different kinds of online applications that are used for marketing purposes: media and tools. Media allows you to present a message to the public. Tools take common marketing tasks and make them faster and easier. Here are some examples of both:
It is imperative for any business, regardless of industry, to connect with their customers online. Most businesses at least have a website and it is becoming standard for them to have social media pages as well. Cheap online hosting and simple web design tools make it possible for even the smallest businesses to develop an online presence. (See also Web Designer)
The function of many traditional marketing departments has shifted to include a huge emphasis on cloud marketing. Ad campaigns in older mediums like print and television are now integrated with online campaigns. Well-known companies like Google make large parts of their profits from cloud marketing efforts. Google sells advertising space and analytical tools to companies that want to tap into the world's most popular search engine. They make money by supporting the cloud marketing efforts of others.
Cloud marketing will only become more common as we begin to use the internet in more and more areas of our lives. Whether it is a major retailer or a small mechanics shop, all businesses will need to expand and sharpen their online presence if they want to remain relevant to their customers.
One of the most difficult aspects of cloud marketing is coordinating marketing efforts across multiple platforms. It used to be sufficient to come up with a tag line and make a TV commercial. Now advertisers must present a cohesive marketing message that translates across Facebook, Twitter and Youtube. Having a comprehensive marketing plan is the best way to keep the variety of marketing mediums working towards a common goal.
The first step will be to establish the goals of the project. A company might want to establish a brand identity for a new product, reach out to a new demographic, or reassure customers after a public scandal. The goal will need to be clearly defined to ensure that the project is not carried out haphazardly.
Next, a creative team will develop advertising copy, create graphics, and produce flexible multimedia material. Once the aesthetic of the campaign is established, web developers and other technology experts will find ways to move the content online. The key to any successful cloud marketing campaign is to have it look good and work well. Broken links, barren websites, and confusing applications are easy ways to unnecessarily frustrate customers.
Once a campaign has gone online it will require continuous upkeep. This means that cloud marketing campaigns are never static. Unlike a TV ad which can run for months without being changed, cloud marketing efforts take daily maintenance. Dedicated members of the marketing department have to be responsible for moderating discussions boards, sending Tweets, updating Facebook pages and keeping the company website current.
Throughout the campaign it will be important to evaluate whether a marketing message is working and to tweak it when necessary. Any marketing plan should establish baselines for success and lay out a system for evaluating the success or failure of a project. One of the great strengths of cloud marketing is that it is flexible and fast. If an ad campaign needs to be changed, it can be done without much cost or time.
SEO stands for search engine optimization. It is a strategy for getting web pages, images, songs etc to show up higher in the list of search results from sites like Google or Bing. SEO specialists are professionals who have been trained to get better search results. Almost any company with a website will invest time, money and energy in SEO.
Most SEO specialists have traditional degrees in marketing although this is not always necessary. Others enter the field after getting degrees in Statistics or English. What is most important is having experience and flexibility. Employers will want to see a proven record of success. They want SEO specialists that can adapt to all the fast moving changes of the internet.
Web developers maintain the technical side of a company's online presence. They do not create marketing material; they create the tools for presenting that marketing material. Their duties will vary depending on the type of company they work for. They might create the layout of a web site, program an online game, or build a database. Whatever web tools a company needs, the web developer will create.
Typically, a web developer will have a degree in some area of computer science. It is possible for students to get degrees specializing in web development. Formal education in marketing is not necessary, but is helpful. Web developers have to understand how to connect businesses and their customers using technology. Many people have taught themselves aspects of web development in their spare time, but companies will want to see that new employees have received a formal education.
Marketing technologists work at the intersection of marketing and technology. Traditionally, marketing was a fairly low-tech field and marketing and IT departments were kept strictly separate. But as commerce has moved online, it has become crucial for marketing departments to have technology professionals on their staff. The duties of a marketing technologist vary depending on the project, but they will be responsible for crafting a marketing message and then using all the technological tools at their disposal to present that message.
Marketing technologists will need to have training in both marketing and technology. Usually, experience in technology will be most important. The principles of marketing are the same as they have always been. What is changing is the technology. Companies want to hire people who know how to use new online tools to reach out to customers. At present, there are not specific degrees in marketing technology, but they are likely to begin appearing in the near future.
The goal of cloud marketing is the same as any marketing initiative; convincing people to buy products. However, the tools used to attract customers are new and always changing. Earning a formal education in marketing is the best way to learn about these tools, like Search Engine Optimization, web analytics, and design. Most major colleges and universities offer degrees in marketing that will train students to design successful advertising campaigns. (See also Cross-Media Marketing)
Marketing departments are investing more money than ever in cloud marketing and are eager to hire employees that have the skills and experience necessary to advertise online. People with traditional marketing backgrounds have sometimes struggled to adapt to the speed and scope of the changes the Internet has created.
Some schools are beginning to offer marketing degrees focused on the intricacies of developing a success cloud-based marketing campaign. Coursework in Internet Marketing and E-commerce will help train future professionals to navigate challenges in cloud marketing, lead creative teams, and analyze results from completed campaigns. (See also Internet Marketer)
The most important skill for the cloud marketer is being technologically savvy. Marketers who don’t understand the tools available to them tend to use them in shallow ways and receive weak results.
The only way to market effectively on the web is to understand the tools at your disposal.
Cloud marketers must also be forward thinking. The web changes very quickly and it can be easy to get left behind. Constantly scouting for new tools, technologies and opportunities is the only way to stay ahead of the curve. Once a new web technology is adopted, marketers must continually evaluate how effective it is and what the best practices for using it are. It can be easy to get comfortable with a marketing strategy, but cloud marketers have to constantly experiment with new opportunities.
Having a personal web presence is one of the most common attributes of the cloud marketer. Maintaining a blog, cultivating a social media presence, creating videos, and possibly even a personal website demonstrate that you can connect with people online. Engaging with online tools on a personal level makes marketers better prepared to use those same tools at the professional level.
Finally, marketers who use the web have to be ready to engage with their customers directly. This connection has brought the expectation that companies will respond to customer's concerns, ideas and input. Marketers have to be able to react to this voice in an open and thoughtful way. The most successful cloud marketers make their customers feel like team members in the brand.
A 2010 survey asked over 1,100 marketing professionals how they planned to change their budgets in the upcoming years. The top five areas where they planned to spend more money all pertained to cloud marketing. Check out their responses below: