Saturday, May 10, 2008

Still Thinking About Marketing And Web Complexity

I am still thinking about Anita Campbell's article When Did Online Marketing Become So Complex? OPEN Forum Blog from American Express OPEN. This post will address the questions she raised more directly. It has been revised since the weekend.

Below is her chart on how she organizes web 2.0 programs as business tools in terms of their return on investment.

The chart uses concentric circles to outline an online marketing strategy. Here is the chart I've come up with (click image for larger version): Online marketing ROI - click for larger chart
The most important elements of an online marketing strategy appear in the center two circles. Those are the activities you will get the greatest return from, for the time and money you spend on them.

The main objective is to sell some service or product, but to my mind the web doesn't sell anything, it makes connections. People then sell to themselves. The primary focal point of connection is the website (or whatever one uses as their primary platform) and each concentric circle should connect to it in some way to it.

The difference between the inner circle of blogs, e-mail marketing, SEO, Pay-Per-Click and Online Press Releases is that they are more direct and focused than the outer circle of tags, and social-networking. The outer circle is less direct but it is the arena where viral marketing can arise. One could make a MySpace site dedicated especially to a particular business or service. That though should put it into the inner circle. The same could be true of listing like the yellow pages, though that does seem more passive than other components in the inner circle. Overall, it seems to be a matter of achieving authenticity.

Ms Campbell has a number of different web 2.0 programs on the outer circle, but I believe that they could be grouped into broader categories. They could also be divided by demographics, Linked-in for professionals, MySpace for younger kids. Delicious appeals to a different group then does Digg.

Ms Campbell argues against spending too much time on the outer circle which makes sense to me. Having an established and dependable foundation at your center and inner circle allows customers to respond on their own to what you have to offer. This is an essential point in my view. Your customers have to have the option to respond on their own. Your job is to figure out who your customers are.

This weblog is on the other end of the exchange. It is one of the potential consumers. It is more likely to be a secondary marketing platform. According to FeedBurner, Ms Campbell's article has been clicked on 42 times in the last month through my Delicious account, most before I got around to posting about it. How people got to it, I don't know. It is the fifth most popular item clicked on in the last 30 days. Yesterday, it got three clicks. My post from yesterday in which it was featured got one click.

Yet, according to Delicious, her article has only been bookmarked by one other person. I "discovered" it on StumbleUpon. There is also the question of how my connections with others effect this weblog. Over the last week the number of clicks to posts or sites featured on this weblog per day was around 20. Yesterday, it was 60. It is no longer a one-way discourse, even if we are not in direct conversation. It is a cascading flow of information that needs to be studied more.

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