Me and On-line Marketing
En pointe; On Point. My first Career was in the performing arts. I spent 15 years in theater productions; the ballet, musical comedy, drama and even opera. I also spent two years doing anything that needed doing at the Canadian Broadcasting Company, CBC, as singer, extra, and studio assistant.
I launched my next career when I got my engineering degree in 1986 and was picked up by Prodigy Services Co in 1987, also tagged Prodigy, A First-to-Market On-line Consumer Service. In my five years at Prodigy I was the chief systems integrator (read: tester and automation developer, product manager) for shopping, banking and financial services. It was the beginnings of eCommerce and it was the most exciting time in my engineering life, until I landed in on-line marketing last year.
Taking Point. In the years between that ecommerce start-up and launching into on-line marketing, I have stayed on the cutting edge, putting business on-line. Starting with GTE TSI in 1994, I replaced expensive client server front ends and private networks with web portals, saving millions of dollars in the process. I also integrated data centers with web applications in several sectors (telecommunication, banking, and insurance), again saving millions.
As you will see from my resume, I am an eclectic “Jack of all Web Trades”– from agile development to system integration and automated testing; from administration to release management; from building user experience and quality content to mining Google analytics data. My baseline common threads are automation, usability and quality . . . whether I’m writing the program and process or writing about it.
Case in point. I have always written about and spoken about what I was doing, from the early days of “how to” articles for magazines like MSDN, TechNet, Pente Press, and others, to authoring Best Practices in Testing and Administration, Product Reviews, and strategies to thwart hackers. I have published numerous white papers and two books on software testing. I also developed courseware and served as a trainer for two Microsoft product rollouts; IE4 and .NET, as well as courses for software testing/quality assurance certification programs.
What I find so exciting about on-line marketing in 2012 is that it’s finally coming into its own. It’s no longer just traditional shotgun approach to advertizing repurposed for the computer screen. No more value -less pages crammed with keywords. Goodby to those landing pages that demand the user’s email address before continuing on to the “sticky” stuff that they were promised when they clicked.
The Points are:
- Content quality is evaluated, measured, and rewarded. Poor quality, link-bait crooked offerings, low IQ (information quotient) on-line displays are being penalized out of existence. At the same time, analytics are improving and expanding, delivering on all those promises of individualized profiling, data mining and talking one-on-one. Now we have multiple channels to explore and learn from, not just SEO. Google analytics are not the only way to understand what is working and what is not. Besides A/B testing, there are loads of analytics startups delivering predictive information — what your customers like and don’t like; what each visitor does on your site and for how long; where they come from and where they are going. And best of all, we learn who they are, and what each one is interested in, to customize content, reach them through retargeting and offer context-based content.
- Social Media is changing everything. Users are tweeting, posting videos, swapping bookmarks and experience, and sharing everything. Increasingly, Facebook (and reddit, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon, Pinterest, digg, Slashdot, BuzzFeed, Meetup, etc.) users ask other Facebook etc. users how good a product is, not the maker. They believe and trust other members of their digital social tribes, not advertisers.
- Mobile is surpassing all other means of information distribution. What does your marketing look like on an IPad or Android? The trend trackers say that, in the USA, 89% of potential customers who find your company, 74% of might-be customers researching your products, and 64% of online purchases are from mobile devices.
- The way we interact with customers and leads is changing. The way we interact with customers and potential customers is changing to a type of romance, not a crude demand for marketable information. Give them something valuable, and stop shouting from rotating ads, chasing trade show targets down like hunting trophies with scanners, blocking a new visitor’s path with qualifying forms, required sign-ups and perpetual data entry. And we can’t expect the bright white smiles of generic positive testimonials and reviews to build trust. Contrary to all sales and marketing desires, some brands gain far more trust by exposing a weakness or customer problem that is resolved in public on social media. (Examples: Angry Moms v. The Baby Products Company; a Classic Car Group v. A Big Three Auto Company.)
- We can now identify quality leads by tracking pixels and social media affiliations. Retargeting is allowing companies to identify interested visitors, follow them and advertise directly to them. The world is too big to get your brand in front of everyone, which is a throwback, anyway, to the old mass media and mass marketing model. What is really important is getting it in front of the pre-qualified people who are interested. Once you have identified them, spend time with them and make it worth their while. Build a relationship. You know, romance them first.
- Online marketing is now more about using social media to find the key players, target audiences and interest groups and nurture them with useful offerings. Cold calling and banner ads produce pitifully little compared to the helpful engaging approach, especially when it comes to mobile. It’s time for the entertainers among us to lighten things up, surprise and delight the audience with video ads showing memorable and valuable messages. Be creative, surprise and delight them.Each one of these bullets represents a new evolving frontier in online marketing. There is so much to learn, so many opportunities!
Get the quality right, and the rest will follow