Before You Finalize the Budget, Address the Final Frontier

Coming off a string of conferences here in October, like DMA and SES, I’m reminded why we attend such conferences and where we may get lost. We get lost in the plethora of tracks and sessions – lost in the real facts vs. opinions and lost in the pure volume of content coming our way that we just can’t absorb all of it at once. Being both the educator when speaking at these shows and the educated in attending, we may have lost our way.

Lost our way because we are letting the buzz and sizzle of new technology and platforms dominate our attention. Lost our way because the fundamentals being preached for a decade still have less than 10 percent using; and finally lost because we are not taking the time to get a handle on what’s important, embrace the need for knowledge (versus yet another campaign), and get stuff done right. And in light of the new “Search and Social Accelerator” event that our mutual friends at ClickZ are putting on at OMS in San Diego, I thought now would be a great time to remind folks, you can’t hit the accelerator until that car has the right engine to get you there. And that starts with fundamental education.

Many of you are planning and budgeting right now, so I say to you “Look and listen to the force,” à la Yoda…and find the conference, event, or education platform that will help you bridge the gap versus just going to the same old event because all your friends did, or worse, because you did last year! Now to add some value to this column, let me pass on some good foundational knowledge I picked up in seeking the force over the past couple weeks in hopes of setting the example.

Learn More vs. Buy Now

So many buttons these days say “Buy Now.” I’ve had numerous conversations with my marketing team about this in our e-mails and landing pages as it relates to our events like the Online Marketing Summit. And I found the answer in the SES E-Commerce Clinic where Rob Snell and Ethan Griffin went into the do’s and don’ts of good e-commerce sites and talked about this “Buy Now” scare factor. The bottom line is, unless it’s a product under $20 or they have already visited a page with all the details and recommendations, be sure to offer a “Learn More” button to engage the user with subtle hints on where and how to buy on the site. Otherwise, like a salesman in a department store, if she says “Buy now” when you ask “Where can I find women’s shoes” you’ll probably walk away.

Good SEO Now Means Trust

Jim Boykin and I had a session called “Link Bait” and man, Jim is super knowledgeable about this. We debated the tactics of getting links vs. attracting links. And after much discussion, I came to the conclusion that you must make a choice. If you want long-term SEO efforts to pay off, you must gain trust with users and sites you’d like to maintain links, and, of course, Google. But if you want to dance the risky dance for the short term for highly trafficked KWPs, then “baiting” someone to link to you is a valid tactic. But be ready for a major roller coaster ride with Google, let alone being able to ask for a second link from that person/site you did not come fully clean with. Bottom line, SEO is not all about links but good trusted relationships and content that allows for and attracts good links!

Social Media Is Not Important

Yep, I said it! Not important. You need to address your website usability, paid search effectiveness, e-mail campaign ethics and experience, and analytics alignment with business goals and marketing automation setup, and then layer on social. Tweets are worthless unless sending to your great content and your great site. A fan page on Facebook will only serve to upset your customers if there is no value beyond just joining and adding a few random posts on your wall…and on it goes. Get the foundation right for social and other traffic and engagement efforts (search, e-mail, etc.), then have social accentuate and support those efforts. Period.

OK, there you have it…recommit to education and take some time to think clearly about what you are doing, then jump into the jungle of online marketing.

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