Dec 27 09 | Dave Gibson : President | OverheadAs you considering online marketing paths to take in 2010, I want to provide some options and priorities to consider. My guess is that you held back in 2009 and have now adjusted to the new business climate- which should mean that you’re ready to reinvest your marketing dollars with deeper wisdom in 2010. Its been made quite apparent that a dollar invested in online marketing goes further, can be tracked in analytics, and provide better performance. The best results come from an online marketing plan with a cohesive blend of engagement points.
Website Before you do anything else, make sure your website is performing first. Your website is still the primary tool for conversion. If your site is functioning well from a technical, administrative, and/or search engine optimization perspective, then it’s likely that a simple refresh of the visuals and a honing of your conversion points is all you may need.
Look closely at your analytics and your conversion goals. For ecommerce or lead generation sites, have your team build a tracking funnel in analytics to analyze each step in the process allows you to identify where users drop off or where performance can be improved. Look at competitors and test new combinations to improve your conversion rates. Remember to never stop optimizing!
Also, for those of you with websites on code more than 3 years old, you should plan for a technical upgrade soon. The liability is that your site may not perform as originally designed on newer servers, operating systems and browsers. More significantly, older code is inherently more vulnerable to malicious attacks, and we’ve seen exponential growth in both the frequency and sophistication of cyber attacks recently.
Once your primary conversion engine (website) is tuned, then it makes sense to invest in the marketing to drive more visitors to it – but not before!
Search Engines Nothing beats good search engine placement – whether that is organically driven by investing in search engine optimization (SEO), or paid advertising. Either way, when a user is at a search engine, they’re in the optimal mindset to be converted into a customer, so put your money here first.
SEO is as much about optimizing your site internally as it is about building links back to your site externally. SEO and social/blogging go hand in hand as a result and there are many new methods for building strong backlinks. Internally, your content is king, and should be guided by an SEO site plan and strong keyword research. Hire a professional. Paid search (PPC/PPA) delivers. If it didn’t, you wouldn’t recognize the name Google. While Bing/MSN/Yahoo chase their tails, Google continues to dominate. Put your money there, but just don’t throw your money there. Campaigns are organic with many variables. Continuous honing and segmentation ensures that you pay the least amount per click and gain the best placement. Hire a professional.
Mobile This is the year of mobile. If you don’t have a mobile site, plan for one right now. With iPhone, Droid and hundreds of new web-enabled phones out this year, you will loose these visitors if you expect them to navigate a site designed for a desktop monitor. Mobile users are also… mobile. They’re not in the office, they’re on the road. So, go back to the drawing board and consider the unique profile and needs of the mobile user. Look at your analytics and see where users with small screen resolutions go on your site currently. Use that as the basis of your mobile site information architecture. Then it’s a process of designing for the small screen. Big buttons and less of them. Clear content. Strict usability focus.
Social Media Engagement In social media, “engagement” is the new metric that is getting a lot of attention lately. It may seem vague and serve as one of those elusive investments like “branding” that is difficult to tie into an ROI calculation - but just watch the video below. What doesn’t seem to be in question at all anymore is whether or not there is value here – it’s just how much. In my mind, its just common sense, because there is no marketing more powerful than word-of-mouth, and that is what social is. When a use follows you on Twitter, posts to your Facebook Wall, or shares your YouTube video, they are raising their hand and saying “I dig you so much that I want everyone to know”. Your brand adds value to their personal identity. They’re essentially slapping your bumper sticker on their own butts and marketing your brand for you. Wow.
Now executing social is not something your agency or developer can completely do for you. We can setup the infrastructure and design your YouTube channel, Twitter profile, Facebook page (and custom tabs) – but only you can provide the authentic voice for your brand. This falls between PR and marketing usually, and may become its own position in many organizations. I strongly advise you to invest in your own human resources to fulfill this role now. I’m certain it will be a wise investment.
Great video on social media ROI?
Email Email continues to be a volume game with a proven track record. Spam filter continue to grow stronger and penetration numbers shrink as a result. Needless to say, email should be part of the play, and augmented by the previous list of channels.
My crystal ball tells me that social and mobile will continue to converge in exciting ways in 2010. I think we can expect a new device category to be introduced by Apple this year. Layar on top of that “augmented reality”, which I will save for another post – but trust me here, if you don’t know about this yet, you will soon.