Four things marketers dont need to know
As a digital marketing consultant I frequently get called into meetings with more traditional marketers to help brainstorm ideas for meeting business objectives online. Having sat through many such meetings it has become apparent to me that while there are a multitude of things marketers need to know about the digital space, there are so many they really don’t.
What’s most frightening is the regularity with which the ‘don’ts’ are repeated with utter conviction while the ‘need to knows’ are often overlooked.
With that in mind, here are the four most important things I believe marketers dont need to know about technology!
1. The ‘Industry Standard’
Arguably my favourite request from clients and marketing departments is ‘we want our campaign/website to be industry standard’. This is because, in an area where the industry undergoes seismic shifts on a weekly basis, there is no such thing. The most successful web projects set their own standards then benchmark their progress against them.
Take Google as an example. At a time when search engines were trying to become ‘information hubs’ they bucked the trend and just focused on delivering great search. By concentrating on what they saw as most important – their own internal standards – they created an industry benchmark which others have found impossible to emulate. Of course this doesn’t mean you ignore your competition, you just get on with iterating your own project steadily and effectively while observing what they are doing. Pay more attention to your own users and how you can make their lives better, rather than some perceived ‘industry standard’ which doesn’t exist.
2. That page views are the only KPI
OK first, I’m not saying page views are unimportant, but I’m amazed at how they seem to persist as the main data analytic marketers use for evaluating the success of a campaign. Yes, they give a broad view of how many people took 5 seconds to glance at your efforts, but do they track interactions? Effectiveness? Coherence of message? Conversions? The most important thing is to understand what success will look like from the beginning and measure the campaign against those agreed KPIs. If page views are one of them, great, but if not ignore them and look at what’s important. With some fantastic (often free) analytics and online media buzz-tracking software available (Google Analytics and Techrigy’s SM2 being personal favourites) there are great tools available for giving a really detailed picture of an online campaign’s success.
3. The 6-Month Marketing Plan
Having a marketing plan is great and a coherent strategy always important, however, in the digital space you need to be evolving this plan almost on a weekly basis. A while ago we worked with a client who was having horrific problems with fulfilment, which was causing massive losses both in terms of lost sales and customer service. Their marketing plan was based entirely around dealing with this negative feedback. We sat with them and worked through the fulfilment issues, which once resolved transformed the marketing plan completely. Suddenly it was about promoting their brilliant new service, and the old marketing plan was in the bin!
In short, the best strategy is often to have a loose idea of general goals and targets, then iterate and reiterate to move ever closer to achieving them. Understand the biggest challenge of the digital space (it’s rapidly changing nature) can also become your biggest asset.
4. Its limitations
Probably the thing I get asked most by non-technical marketers is ‘can we do x’. Well, guess what, the answer’s always yes. Of course, the real question is ‘do we have the time/money to do x’. Or even better, ‘will doing x help me to actually achieve my business goals’. I saw a great example recently in an (unnamed) online shop selling bags and accessories. They had clearly spent a small fortune developing the most complex ‘flashtastic’ webshop I’ve ever seen. Money and time didn’t appear to be concerns. That said, people’s bandwidth clearly was, as within weeks a ‘lite’ version of the site appeared in good old html. A bit more probing and clear thinking could have saved a lot of time and investment, not to mention lost revenue from frustrated customers.
Ultimately, if there was more emphasis on isolating business objectives and delivering the most efficient route from A to B, rather than concentrating on the perceived limitations (or possibilities) of the medium, far more online marketing campaigns would better achieve their goals.