Stop acting like a loner, ‘cause web marketing optimization is a team sport!

I have to say, I am growing increasingly annoyed with the silo’d nature of the discussion that seems to still be dominating our web analytics industry.

We have been so silo’d that, for example, even something as adjacent to web analytics as audience measurement and its vendors (i.e. the comScore, Hitwise, Compete of the world) seem to appear more like second class citizens in our discussions. Meanwhile, 90% of the chatter among web analytics vendors, consultants, and bloggers seems to focus only on core web analytics topics and vendors.

A symptom that should give us pause is that most of our guru authors and bloggers – who are such rock stars to us web analytics people – are utterly unknown outside our little niche. Forget offline marketers, not even other online marketers know them!

Surely that isn’t because “the others” are all stupid and don’t understand performance optimization.

Honestly, I don’t know exactly why we seem to be such a silo’d breed. It is probably just a function of specialization in the workplace. Web analysts handle web analytics tools, multivariate testing, voice of customer, and maybe participate in behavioral targeting. But

  • Who owns audience measurement / competitive intelligence? Probably a shared function with marketing/PR?
  • Who owns social media monitoring? More often the “social media manager” or PR rather than the web analyst?
  • Who owns search optimization tools? SEO and PPC teams, of course. (And they too can be separated from each other in larger organizations)
  • Who owns email marketing? The direct or customer marketing functions.
  • Who owns ad servers and behavioral targeting networks? The online marketing or media team
  • Who owns site performance? IT
  • Who owns the replay stuff? Web developers?

If there is any way out of this strange situation it is probably to be found in embracing the different aspects of web marketing in a more balanced fashion instead of losing ourselves in increasingly nuanced web analytics details that seem esoteric and boring to people outside our niche.

Might we find bigger gains in 2010 by looking more for a breadth-first approach vs. continuing our deep dive?

Take search marketing as an example

The diagram below shows the search marketing funnel starting from potential visitors, i.e. users of the search engines (or their content networks). The search marketer aims to acquire them on site and then lure them deeper into the funnel to engage, persuade, and convert.


The diagram then lists the different categories of marketing tactics and technologies that are involved in moving prospects through the funnel. Let’s take a deeper look at each category.

1. Audience measurement and influence

This category includes more items than one might think at first glance, namely the following.

Tool Example of how it helps with search marketing
Keyword research tools Which keywords are being used in general?
Audience measurement or competitive intelligence tools Which keywords work for your competitors and what is your share of those keywords
Social media monitoring tools Which keywords are being used by your audience? If your search clicks are up/down is that because there is a spike of positive/negative buzz about you?
Advertising, online and offline With improved awareness and perception of your brand, your audience is more likely to click on your search listings


2. Search marketing

This category includes the most obvious items associated with search marketing optimization:

Tool Example of how it helps with search marketing
Search bid management tools or agencies Reduce manual efforts and increase returns from your paid search budget
SEO tools or agencies Help monitor your success vs. competition for ranking better on critical keywords


3. Landing page management, and 4. site management

These categories include similar items that I shall list together here. But it makes sense to keep them as two categories because the vendors/tools for landing page management are sometimes not the same ones as those used for managing content on the rest of the site.

Tool Example of how it helps with search marketing
(Landing) page design and deployment To make split testing of landing pages for reducing bounce rates feasible it needs to be easy to create and deploy alternative test candidates
Multivariate testing Multivariate testing can evaluate even more permutations of test elements on a single page.
Voice of customer The numbers don’t tell the whole story of why visitors searching for XYZ do or don’t buy. So you need to ask them.
Personalization or behavioral targeting Going beyond testing, dynamic content that is targeted to individuals based on their past and ral time behavior has the promise of increasing conversion rates further
Lead management For businesses where the sales cycle continues offline it helps for improving offline conversion rates to tap into the prospects web behavior. For example the salesforce automation system can be updated with past and ongoing web searches that the prospect does.


Not to even mention product recommendations, product reviews, etc.

Is that all?

No, there is much more that is critical. Search visitors will often not convert on their first visit. So re-marketing is essential.


More importantly, maybe, the customer life cycle doesn’t end with the first purchase. That is in fact when the work of the customer marketer only begins and the life cycle continues with on-boarding, growing lifetime value, attrition risk detection, and win back. Some additional tactics and technologies that are involved on the online channels include the following:

5. Interactive Marketing

Tool Example of how it helps with search marketing
Email marketing The lead is nurtured with content that keeps their interest alive and brings them back to the site until they convert (again).
Re-marketing ad networks The lead is reached on other (publishers’) sites with ad banners that are relevant to their past searches
Interactive Marketing (or next-generation campaign management or event-triggered marketing) By building all interactions on each individuals’ past and current behavior on the web channel (and beyond), the marketer aims to keep their messages (both timing and content) aligned with the individuals’ interests.


Do we really need all of that … stuff … to optimize search marketing?

If your goal is merely to improve search marketing, e.g. PPC, you need nothing more than a Google AdWords account while paying attention to the built-in couple of metrics. But if you are after optimization, then the above are truly all part of the funnel or chain. Each of these pieces are truly needed and will pay for themselves.

And we are supposed to integrate that with web analytics?

As a supporting function and nerve center, web analytics has the potential to glue most of these elements together. When done right this could make your web analytics people some of the best known employees across all of these teams.

But you would be forgiven if you are thinking that integrating all of these functions with web analytics could be too big of an effort and cost. That is precisely why vendors such as Omniture and Unica are building out online marketing suites.

Today, not all of the above are available (and integrated) within one vendor’s suite. But that day will come because there is a real need by marketers.

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