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.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Why Is The Web Complex - Because We Are

Last night I did what I often do, took a couple of articles from the web that were of interest and put them together in the same post just before going to bed. I also did what Seth Godin says that we do, I scanned, then wrote down some off the top of the head ideas.

This morning I took a second look at the American Express Open Forum post. First off, I should have recognized and acknowledged that the article was by Anita Campbell. Her Small Business Trends blog is one of the main blogs featured by this weblog and has provided a good deal of food for thought. I also did not explore the links she provided. I was able though to independently come up with the same data on there being over 100 million websites through CNN News that that she found with her Metric 2.0 link. The point is not that I am a great researcher but that everybody has quick access to data. She also discusses Affiliate Marketing.

I am interested in how it all links together even if it is not monetized. The web seems to me to have a natural tendency to create links without much effort. This weblog uses web 2.0 tools to track itself, but it has taken minimal effort to expand its reach beyond the avenues of connection that have been discussed in previous posts.

Ms. Campbell was herself part of one of these connections. One of my early posts You Can't Talk Your Way Through A Paradigm Shift dealt with "anti-social responsibility campaigns" which criticized the idea behind one of her posts. This is a minor blog in the blogosphere. I get 17 subscribers Ms. Campbell has over 86,000. Despite that she was able to find my post and write me explaining her position. This means that first the system she used was complex enough to recognize my post, second she was kind enough to take the time to respond, a computerized algorithmic approach and a human response working together.

My review not only lacked depth (which most web-writing does), it does not actually have the same focus. Her focus was on a business enterprises and how to make them better within the web 2.0 environment. This is social commentary from the peanut gallery, but there are a lot of peanuts out there. The web is complex because we are complex. We are more complex together; with the web the crowd can source the crowd. That has be be ultimate complexity. The problem is then with us, too many e-mails, some times too shallow reads and reviews, too much altogether and we get overwhelmed. It is possible though to get through all the noise, to get your message across and find connections.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Withstanding A Groundswell Of Complexity

OPEN Forum Blog from American Express raised the question back in March of this year, "When Did Online Marketing Become So Complex?" Annotated

The online marketing landscape has become so complex that cutting through the “noise” is now one of the biggest problems small businesses face. Sorting out WHERE and HOW to spend our limited time and resources is increasingly the challenge.

Probably when we became able to do niche targeted marketing from Bangalore, India to people in Bangor, Maine. A CNN report last November by Marsha Walton tells us that there are over 100 million websites out there. According to BBC News in December of last year, "A decade on and blog-watching firm Technorati reports it is tracking more than 70 million web logs."

More than the aggregate numbers, it is how we are all connected, one-to-one, one-to-many, many-to-one or many-to-many. This is one area in which my views have changed dramatically. I started off cynical, but the last six months or so have demonstrated the reach of the web. The concept of crowdsourcing is one that to my mind has little meaning outside of the web.

Now the good news is that source of complexity, the web itself, is also the source of understanding that complexity. Here is one recently discovered example. Groundswell Annotated diigo tags: psychology, marketing

Forrester's Social Technographics® classifies consumers into six overlapping levels of participation (see a presentation, 8 slides). Based on our survey data we can see how participation varies among different groups of consumers, globally.

I know that this is too quick and easy an answer to the question that was raised above and I will come back to it, but the tools for working the web are within the web itself.

Coming Up With The Answer(.com) But Still Looking For The Questions

For myself, I like keeping my real life/day job persona separate from my web 2.0 world persona, but since it pays the bills that is not alway possible, at least in terms of getting to this weblog. To be honest, sometimes is not a matter of can't, it is more a matter of not getting my motivation up. So when the causes and conditions all come together to write, I should write.

I still find myself both amazed and perplexed by the web. Recently, I found that this weblog was included within the responses to an inquiry to The question was "What role creativity and innovation play in entrepreneurship?" My post Creative-Destruction, Entrepreneurship And Innovation from February of this year was sixth on the first page. 'What Is Management's Role in Innovation?' from HBS Working Knowledge was on the second page.

While its pretty cool to be on the first page, I know that it is more likely than not because I linked to a number of different reputable articles so that readers got more bang for their buck. Still, as somebody who sees this as a means of self-education, and who often finds HBS Working Knowledge to be a valuable resource in that education, I have to wonder what was the criteria for the ranking.

Update: This post once published moved into the number 2 position under the same page from under web results. Arguably, it takes more than just grabbing the selected words in a group of sentences on a page to glean any real wisdom out of the web. Second Update: This post is off the first page. My original post is still there and the What Is Management's Role in Innovation? — HBS Working Knowledge has moved to 3 positions below it. The only reason I can see for the ranking is that my post offers three resources and is more focused on creative-destruction.

Update 7/11/2008 My post is now no longer listed in the first 10 pages. The HBS article remains on the first page.