by Chris Remington
Here are 12 things to think about as you take your interactive marketing to the next level in 2010:
Have a plan - Yes, there are many tentacles to the interactive marketing beast, but with a well-crafted strategic plan it can be tamed. Start small if you must, but the important thing is to have a plan, execute it, and refine it over time.
Analytics are your friend - WebTrends, Omniture or Google Analytics; no matter which one you use (you do have analytics on your site, don't you?!) take time to mine for the nuggets of information they offer about your site, your customers and how they consume your interactive content. Use this to power your plan (see H above).
Pretend you are your customer - You are too close to your product(s) and your industry. Think like your customer would think. Knowing what they would call your product(s), how they would search for it on a search engine, and where they gather online to converse about it, will help you massage and finesse your web content so it speaks to them in their language.
Performance indicators are key - What are the top two or three goals of your website and interactive marketing strategy? Customer engagement? Brand awareness? eCommerce transactions? Lead generation? Pick your goals, ensure you can monitor and track them, tailor content to achieve them, and track the effectiveness of your actions.
You can do it - While others would argue the fact, interactive marketing is not rocket science. It is still about the 4 P's from Marketing 101 - product, place, price and promotion. Smart online marketing is no different than smart offline marketing. Research, plan, execute, monitor, refine. Repeat. Know the limitations and aspirations of your internal team as they relate to your interactive marketing efforts. Empower them. Empower yourself. You and your team know your strategy best. Go for it. Hire outside help when (if) needed.
Not doing anything still has a cost - Yes, the website you built and paid for in 2003 still functions, but does it still work? A website with old or static content and a tired look sends a message that you are complacent, not innovative, and don't care to engage your customers. Can you really afford to NOT spend money on your interactive strategy?
Embrace change - See N above. Research to see if your customers (and your internal team) have an appetite for consuming your web content in video form, on mobile devices or via Social Media. Don't change for change sake, but if your customers and industry are 'going there' you should too. With a plan, of course (see H above).
Web-enable content - See E above. Your website can likely streamline workflows and improve customer service with only minor enhancements. Would product installation videos on your site reduce customer service calls? Would a password protected media room enable your customers, dealers or distributors to download their own sell sheets, logos or ad templates? If so, web-enable this content and free up your marketing support team to pursue more important projects.
YouTube? Twitter? Facebook? - Social Media is all the rage. Make sure you are ready to embrace it. If a goal of your Social Media presence is to drive traffic to your website, ensure the site is rock-solid first. If the answers are yes when you ask yourself if your website content is compelling, if it is up-to-date, if it is user-friendly, and if there is no doubt about the site's call(s) to action, they you are ready to develop a Social Media strategy. Think of your website as the bull's-eye of a target - only when the bull's-eye is rock-solid should you venture to the next ring of Social Media.
Engage your audience - Your customers are talking about you online. How good of a job does your site do to encourage and facilitate that conversation? Do you know where else these conversations are occurring online? If not, learn. If so, what value are you bringing? Recognize and thank those who talk positively about you. Reach out to the naysayers and turn their lemons into lemonade. You will be viewed as someone who cares and 'gets' the new transparent world where your customers, not you, are in control of your brand.
Authority, Relevance, Popularity - These are three things that search engines consider when ranking your site. Look at your website content and interactive strategy through these lenses and if what you are doing shows search engines (and the consumers who use them) that you are an authority, your content is on the mark and others find it useful, you are on your way to better rankings and more traffic. If your interactive marketing efforts aren't enhancing your authority, relevant, or positioning you as a popular player in your space, don't do them.
ROI - The great thing about interactive marketing is it is quantifiable and measureable. Return on investment is easy to analyze. Assign action items to your interactive marketing strategy like obtaining more leads, increasing eCommerce transactions or reducing customer service calls. Measure, adjust and measure again. Repeat. The important thing is to have a plan, make the investment (see N above) and monitor the effectiveness.
Chris Remington is an account executive for Trivera Interactive. Trivera specializes on Online Brand Management for companies and organization that understand and appreciate the power of the Internet and Social Media to re-inforce their brand. In addition to helping Trivera clients, Chris also speaks at local business events, and teaches at the University of Phoenix.