An IMC plan that emphasizes brand quality should maintain the same theme on the website. Also, a website should reinforce the integrated communications theme that is presented in other media when this is accomplished, the Internet becomes a valuable tool in the development of the brand.
Creating an effective brand presence online requires more than a website with an e-commerce capability. Cyber branding involves integrating online and offline branding tactics that reinforce each other and that speaks with one voice. The most common method of building an online brand presence is through offline technique called Brand Spiraling.
Brand Spiraling is the practice of using traditional media to promote and attract consumers to an online website. From television, radio, newspapers, magazines and billboards to simple shopping bags, consumers are encouraged to visit the firm’s website. One goal of each advertising campaign should be to encourage traffic to the site and enhance brand recognition.
The incentive nature of the Internet makes it possible for a firm to learn more about each customer. This information can then be used to target more specific messages. A company would for instance, place a magazine advertisement to encourage traffic to its website. Once the customer visits the website; he/she can be requested for some information in an effort to learn more about them and their particular needs.
Adobe, a desktop publishing software company, uses billboard, Internet and print ads to drive traffic to its website. Adobe uses print ads in magazines such as Details, Spin, Wallpaper and Wired to target young 20 to 25 years old professionals who do not have strong back grounds in graphic arts but, for some reasons, have jumped into desktop publishing. Once at the site, a person can test and try different versions of Adobe’s products.
Internet business firms use different techniques to advertise their websites. According to a study; the most common and effective method is displaying the website address on all printed and promotional materials. Next is placing ads promoting the Web address in various trade publications.
Over 70% of the companies register keywords with search engines; because business buyers often look for a specific product. The odds of making a sale increase substantially when a firm’s website is cited after a keyword is typed into the search engine. The least used method is placing banners on other sites. Seldom do business customers go to a site when they are at another site. The primary effect of placing banners on other sites is to develop brand awareness and brand knowledge rather than to attract customers.
Companies with strong offline brands benefit from what is called a Halo Effect. A well received brand leads more customers to try new products and services that are being offered by the company on the Internet. These same customers are also more willing to provide information that can be used for greater personalization of messages. This halo effect results from the credibility of the firm’s brand being transferred to an individual’s evaluation of the website. Barnes & Noble and Toys R Us were late entrants into e-commerce. Still, both companies built successful Internet business because of the strong brand names transferred to their website program.
A company such as Amazon.com, which was an Internet start up, is likely to use traditional advertising media to help develop a brand name. Brand name power cannot be created solely through advertising on the Internet. To achieve a strong brand name, Amazon.com invested a half billion dollars in traditional media. The Internet must be one component of the total IMC program if a strong brand name is to emerge.