Mar 11, 2011

The Future of Digital Marketing--Part 2

So, what will work best for your company? How can you build your own private database so companies like Google, Amazon, and your competitors don’t hoard all the data-mining fun?

Simple. Start with your website! Perfect your information architecture, navigation and search capabilities. Test landing pages so they convert better.

Enact a long-term plan to update your corporate communication style. This must permeate your Web presence, social media presence, corporate culture, and public relations approach. Moreover, you must simply communicate more.

Invest more in paid search. Companies who do this show a long-term pattern of winning big. Possibly the biggest badge of honor in e-commerce is getting to a point where your paid search budget has grown 30 to 50 times over a three to five year period. If it grows that much, it’s probably because it’s working predictably.

Install a widely-used Web analytics platform and use relevant, actionable reports. Don’t allow ponderous “Web analytics practices” to stifle marketing efforts.

Don’t do half a job. There is plenty of temptation to cut corners by placing too much faith in the proverbial out-of-the-box silver bullets. From the client data I've seen, no company manager or owner, with the help of one IT jack-of-all-trades who works down the hall, can undergo a complete website architecture overhaul, test pages for improved conversion, build, test, analyze, and improve a 5,000 keyword campaign. Professional help isn’t cheap, but the good news is, serious investment in building an enterprise-class digital marketing plan and implementation process is significantly cheaper than throwing a million dollars at ego-driven brand-recall style media. Companies that make the right moves will emerge much stronger than those that invest in outdated media channels.

Amazingly, considering all the advertising abuse they’ve taken online as well as off, consumers haven’t fled all commercial messages. In particular, they’ve embraced those served with search results. And in cases where consumers seem wishy-washy, search engines behave in a proactive, ameliorative fashion – they typically replace low-CTR ads with higher-CTR ones. They’re even willing to show white space against many search queries, just to maintain user loyalty to the medium.

Traditional ad agencies and old-media-inspired ad networks have done a poor job of helping companies navigate this sea change. Little wonder: it isn’t in their DNA. Companies like Google, Facebook, Omniture, Acquisio, Trade Desk, and Clickable are at the forefront of the new order; so are e-commerce advertisers, from giants like Zappos to start-up hopefuls like Greeno Bambino. In order to exploit the Internet’s phenomenal capacity for targeting and optimizing messages in ads and on websites, advertisers will have to invest vast resources in information infrastructure – hardware, software, and flesh-and-bloodware.