We’ve all heard the gag about the most common lie on the Internet. The joke has become so clichéd that I’m loathe to repeat it here. Let’s just say, for the benefit of the one person who doesn’t know what I’m talking about, it involves terms and conditions. With all the memes, pie charts and online campaigns about the Internet’s biggest lie, it’s interesting that there’s less interest in the Internet’s greatest myth.
The idea that everything on the Internet should be free has grown organically. Nobody decided that the World Wide Web should be a free for all. There was no meeting, we didn’t miss a memo. It’s just an unspoken idea that developed over time. The Internet started out before people knew how to charge for it, by the time we figured that one out everyone had decided it should be free anyway. This poses a problem for digital marketing strategy.
Generating ROI When Nobody Wants to Pay
The ultimate goal of all marketing is sales. Unless you’re generating leads and those leads are converting, your marketing strategy is not succeeding. The same goes for digital marketing strategy. Unless you can find ways to generate real ROI online, what’s the point?
Of course, some industries have developed direct online sales revenues. Retail being the most successful of these. As an online community we have accepted the need to pay for things that need to be delivered. But what about online content? What about knowledge resources, audio and video content and data?
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People still expect downloadable content to be free. When you identify a piece of music, or an application or video you want, you try to download it. If you’re asked to sign in, or credit card details, you go elsewhere. You assume you can find the same file through another site. Or if you’re really determined to get it for free, you might try peer-to-peer downloads or torrents.
Most of us are so loath to pay for digital content that we are willing to pursue, or at least try, legally questionable methods to get it for free. Because our natural instinct is to expect it for free.
This attitude is killing media outlets at the moment. We want to get news and quality journalistic content online, but we won’t pay for it. We’ll just go elsewhere. It’s a problem for businesses built on content delivery, but it’s an advantage for digital marketing strategy.
Becoming a Free Online Resource
The best way to market a brand online is to offer free online content. If you can create content that people want and give it away free of charge, you meet their expectations. Better than that, you can ask them for something far more valuable. If you offer free downloadable content in exchange for contact details, you have lead to track and follow up. Of course, the same attitude that dissuades people from paying for content may discourage them from sharing contact details. Which is why the use of social media details, instead of traditional contact details is on the rise.
Even the users that don’t complete a download offer value. All traffic to your site provides you with data. You can track each user’s activity and identify the content that’s generating value and the content that isn’t. That data allows you to build and tailor your digital marketing strategy to suit your market.
The irony here is that nothing on the Internet is free. Every click and every download can offer real value to brands. It’s important to remember that and to leverage that knowledge in your digital marketing strategy. Just don’t turn it into a meme.
Developing a marketing strategy is vital for any business. Without one, your efforts to attract customers are likely to be haphazard and inefficient. Download our online marketing strategies tips for your business.