Who's Watching the "Store" ?
The following article appeared in Performance Magazine October 2007.
Most successful business owners and CEO’s have gotten to a place where running their business is an exact “science”. You probably know how many units will move, how quickly, in which markets, making “this much” profit, etc. You can project forward, set budgets and, when necessary, make adjustments that have (relatively) predictable outcomes.
Do you run your website and internet marketing strategies with such precision, scrutiny, and expertise? Statistically speaking, probably not. Too many business leaders rely on their “web people” too heavily for this. The problem is that web people are too often, in-over-their-heads when it comes to marketing strategy. These folks may be wonderfully qualified to program websites, make beautiful graphics, and keep your email running, - but that
is NOT marketing. Many CEO’s have identified this problem and have also hired SEO (search engine optimization) experts to get their websites ranked at the top of Google’s listings. But again, search engine ranking is NOT internet marketing any more than standing in the middle of Times Square holding your product above your head, is traditional marketing.
Over 90% of all companies do not have comprehensive Internet Marketing Strategy.
Am I Doing This Right?
As a successful business leader, I’m sure you have participated in many discussions about your company’s website, search engine ranking, keywords, website traffic, conversion rates, data capture, newsletters, blogs, etc. Ideas have been discussed, a plan has been drawn-up, work has been done, and new approaches have been deployed to reach a “goal” – at some point. But this is NOT a strategy.
A strategy sets timelines and milestones. A strategy has planned change and revision built-in. True Internet Marketing Strategy entails meaningful statistical scrutiny of strategy effectiveness and compares multiple approaches with an understanding of how to respond and react. There are systematic ways to measure progress and test success. If your plan does not include specific steps for side-by-side (A/B) testing of slightly different approaches which will
then drive additional changes with more testing – you do not have a strategy. Deploying an online “solution” without a specific plan for measurement and revision - is not a strategy. It is a hope or a prayer.
Did Someone Mention Budget?
Of course, budgets need to be set to support each of your initiatives. While it is not possible to provide specific pricing guidelines here, I strongly encourage you to seek out multiple sources and price quotes. Even if you have an in-house department for internet marketing, you may find outside companies who specialize in this area can work so efficiently and effectively, that you can save money and improve your results dramatically.
Change Your Thinking
In the past 18 months we’ve seen a disturbing shift in our discussions with CEO’s. We’re being told how to do our job – too often. By this I mean that someone has gotten into the CEO’s head that things like RSS feeds, blogs, social networking platforms, AJAX, etc – must be used. We are now building websites around specific technologies instead of developing strategies then deploying appropriate technology to support the strategy. It
is like building a beautiful custom house around a sofa that you like. Instead, let’s find the perfect piece of property in the right location, design the entire house to maximize the opportunities (the views), develop a floor plan that works with your lifestyle THEN we’ll worry about the furniture.
Focus on the important “big picture” items first. After these have been established, your web folks and internet marketing strategists will “drill down” to make decisions about the proper technologies to deploy which will support the individual pieces of the big vision.
Am I Missing Something?
If you have not developed a comprehensive 18 month Internet Marketing Strategy with timelines, milestones, and budgets (as described above) – what you are missing may be more than you think! There are millions (billions) of dollars being spent on the web, how much of it are you getting?
Sam Natello – Internet Marketing Strategist
In addition to earning a graduate degree in Informational Systems, Sam has nearly a dozen web-related certifications including: Certified Web Developer, Certified Web Designer, Certified Cold Fusion Developer, and Certified E-Commerce Consultant. Sam has earned many accolades for his work including “2007 Website of the Year” and “2005 WDA – Best Retail Product Website”