Thursday, April 24, 2008

Business Owners - You need BOTH a Website Team AND an Internet Marketing Team

Many businesses hire consultants, engineers or website design companies to deliver projects, capabilities and subject-matter expertise regarding Enterprise Content Management, including the entire lifecycle of digital content/asset management. This includes delivery of Portal and Search capabilities, website content management and process capabilities, and back-end data management and storage architectures. The business goals are ultimately about efficient, effective and secure management of information in support of delivery of business products and processes. From a business perspective, however, how do you really know these technical engineering efforts were actually well-executed and ultimately successful?

Most likely the website engineering efforts are measured in terms of contract compliance, adherence and mapping to specific requirements, and satisfaction with delivery and communication on the part of the customer (i.e. your business). In other words, performance is measured only from the perspective of the “Business-to-Business” (i.e. B2B) relationship (i.e. between you and your web design/build team), and from the perspective of your own internal B2B relationships (i.e. cost and process efficiencies gained within your own company). Can your web consultant demonstrate gains or actively improve your business performance from the perspective of your own Business-to-Customer relationships?

Consider this website project scenario. You buy services to develop a great new externally-facing website or portal, with a robust content management capability to support it. It includes very efficient and secure data management architecture, including a secure, SOA-based integration architecture for delivery of messages between the sub-systems and external systems. You also get extensive portal usability features and website statistic reporting functions. The capabilities are implemented in a manner that maps successfully to your Enterprise Architecture (or at least best practice standards), from an IT investment perspective. Then the consultant company either continues to run the website, or it's turned over to another Maintenance team. It's a total success, and a great system. But you may have completely overlooked the competition, and failed to manage your external digital assets.

The competition has evidently also upgraded their website. Additionally, they’ve invoked an extensive Internet Marketing campaign to make sure their customers and partners can quickly and easily find all of the information and products they have to offer, and find it before they find any information you have to offer. Steps they’ve taken, that you didn't:

• Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques were used across the site, to make sure that it ranks exceedingly well for all target keywords/phrases used in search engines

• Search Engine Marketing (SEM) techniques were used in coordination with all other marketing and advertising, including keyword-optimized backlinks, copy, advertising, articles, whitepapers and press releases being deployed and managed among all relevant third-party sites, directories, news outlets and online industry destinations. This marketing included multi-media (i.e. photos, videos, audio), and both organic (i.e. “free”) and paid (i.e. multiple “pay-per-click” and other paid advertising) channels.

• Social Media Optimization (SMO) techniques were used to help generate additional, on-site, relevant and search-engine friendly content for the website, leveraging Web 2.0 features – this included Blog-style content, feedback/commenting capabilities, participatory forums, consumption and publishing via RSS format, demographic targeting/referrals to feed mashups, etc.

• Social Media Marketing (SMM) techniques were used to encourage additional, off-site content and information that linked to the website and its information, and to encourage positive reputation-building among target demographics and communities on target channels - these techniques yielded even more great search results and collateral press.

These Internet Marketing steps yielded very rapid results. Your site experienced an expected “bump” in traffic, and steady increase in conversions, though some apparent “anomalies” in decreased traffic for particular segments you didn’t focus too much on.

Their site experienced overwhelming “flash traffic” from many online and offline sources, was picked up by media outlets, clobbered you in the search engine rankings (SERPS) for hundreds of keywords and keyphrases, and resulted in a dramatic increases in both their customer awareness and actual market penetration/share.

How could this have been avoided? You need to make sure there's synergy and integration between the provider of your INTERNAL Content Management, Search and Website/Portal capabilities (i.e. B2B), and the provider of your EXTERNAL Content Management, Distribution and Search requirements (i.e. B2C and C2C). A Website Design/Engineering Team AND and Internet Marketing Team. These providers may well be different companies, but make sure you consider utilizing both of these perspectives and types of providers at the same time.



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