Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
February 20, 2009 8:12 PM

Home Base

If you could name one thing that was really missing from your Digital Marketing strategy, what would it be?

The general sentiment is that most companies feel like they are either totally missing the boat when it comes to Social Media (either that or they feel like they are missing the point) or are struggling to understand how to be more efficient with their Search Engine Marketing. Some fret that they are not building strong enough customer databases and using e-mail marketing as effectively as they should be. Those are all legitimate and real concerns. But, odds are it is something much more rudimentary than that. Odds are your website is not quite where it needs to be.

Is it boring to talk about a corporate website? Isn't it that much more exciting to hear about what a company is doing on Twitter or how successful they have been in producing videos and posting them to YouTube? In the end, we're faced with a very undeniable reality: most websites suck.

Correction: most corporate websites suck.

It turns out that saying most corporate websites suck is not a personal criticism, it's a simple reality of how we - as Marketers - see ourselves and our competency when building and developing these digital marketing strategies. Just today, Marketing Charts ran a fascinating news item titled, Frustrated by Difficulty, Half of Marketers Forego Analytics, and while it's going to get people like Avinash Kaushik, Bryan Eisenberg and the good folks at the Web Analytics Association all hot n' bothered, there was something even more interesting towards the end of this news item:

"Though online investments are the focus of many campaigns, one-fifth of respondents claimed that their website was only 'basic' and not at the core of its marketing activity. With increased investment predicted in online marketing channels, companies need to better understand the importance of the website in effectively underpinning its online presence... 'Marketers must not forget that their own website is the destination that many of their activities drive customers and prospects to, and they need to be extracting the maximum value this cornerstone of any forward-thinking company's marketing activity,' Eldridge added."

It's hard to measure the success and efficacy of your Digital Marketing initiatives if we're feeling like our own home base could use a little renovating and extreme makeover.

The problem is that many people built their online presence with a one-time budget. While they may have factored in ongoing budget for web hosting and occasional updates, this strategy has left them paralyzed. Even if they were running some basic web analytics tools, they simply don't have the budget available to pull the actionable insights out of the data, optimize their website, test some of the theories, learn from them and build.

Basically, we're dumping money into campaigns and new Social Media channels, but not spending the bulk of our time (and money) making sure that the final destination for these potential customers and community members really delivers on what the brand is and stands for.

Why are we doing that?

By Mitch Joel


Comments Comments Feed
  • Posted by Avinash Kaushik
    Mitch Joel

    I say this often in my talks:

    "Never let your campaigns write cheques that your website cannot cash."

    It breaks my heart how often this is true.

    -Avinash.

    Reply
  • Posted by Bryan Eisenberg
    Mitch Joel

    I blame it on our ADD mentality. Campaigns are exciting and change frequently, providing us with our next, new, shiny object fascination. Most people's websites are static and lack the ongoing imagination and efforts required to reap the benefits of continuous improvements.

    Most campaigns would perform better if people only realized how many times a visitor engages with your campaign and then abandons only to search or reach for your "home base" later. This recession will weed out many of those who don't pay attention to this.

    Reply
  • Mitch Joel

    To your question, my experience has been that the distribution of digital "working" (media) and "non-'working" (production) budgets for campaigns are evaluated by brand managers based on their traditional campaign experience. They can't fathom the idea that a production budget could/should be any more than 15-20% of a media budget.
    This is something i struggled with constantly when working with a top US CPG company. More often than not, I found myself explaining to brand managers that they actually did not have any content on their site that spoke to the key message they wanted us to put in their advertising (and on a couple occasions, even content about the specific product). The thought was, "the product was in the stores and that's were we want our customer to go, so we're fine."
    This was a good 3 years ago, so things are definitely not that bad now, but you are right in the fact that investing in the experience over the message is something that companies struggle with. In their head it's, "why would I spend more on the TV commercial than on the media that will air it?"

    Reply
  • Posted by John Eckman
    Mitch Joel

    I think it's not just a question of budget - having failed to budget for upkeep of the site - but also integration.

    Many companies "own" their site, but outsource their digital marketing, and fail to connect the two: strategically, technically, and with respect to measurement. Sometimes the left hand (the site) doesn't even know what the right hand (the broader digital media strategy) is doing!

    I've also seem some clients focus only on "landing" pages - a home page, or a product home page - designed to carry the experience of the digital marketing initiative into the home site - but then these are often only one page deep. Go anywhere else not on the 'optimized' path and the "old" site shows through, like when you visit one of the "hasn't been remodeled since the 1970s" floors of an office building that's otherwise very 2009.

    Ultimately you've got to be able to serve (transact with, support, help, delight) customers not just "acquire" them . . .

    Reply
  • Posted by boler
    boler

    "Though online investments are the focus of many campaigns, one-fifth of respondents claimed that their website was only ‘basic’ and not at the core of its marketing activity. With increased investment predicted in online marketing channels, companies need to better understand the importance of the website in effectively underpinning its online presence…

    Reply
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