Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Integrating the Internet for Maximum Marketing Impact

Can you believe it? We are still trying to understand the role the Internet plays as part of integrated marketing processes and systems. In spite of significant experimentation and investment, we haven’t yet truly internalized the power we hold in our hands. But we do have a number of hypotheses to consider.

1. User experience ruthlessly drives perception, acceptance, adoption,commerce and usage. If it isn’t easy to use or requires too many stepscustomers bail out. Traffic is a gift that must be cherished, nurturedand converted. What people do and see on your site is the most important thing.

2. E-commerce is a multi-dimensional, multi-channel game. Buildingsustainable retail businesses is about coordinating messages,merchandising and technology at many points along the awareness-consideration-purchase spectrum. Winners leverage the best capabilities of each channel (ads, web, phone, mail, store) into acoherent, sequential strategy.

3. Simple intuitive navigation and shopping requires sophisticatedbackend technology and sophisticated metrics and analytics to optimize activity, nimbly adjust to your customers and maximize conversion. The measurement investment is equally as important as the technology.

4. Measured business objectives must drive technology deployment. If the new toys don’t drive traffic, close sales or eliminate costs, they are simply extra costs. Just because you can cook it up, doesn’tmean anyone wants it or can use it profitably. Beware of software salesman.

5. The Internet has not changed customer psychology or intuitive andingrained behavior. The web fits into existing patterns of behavior, habits and expectations. Java and gifs don’t change how people think about, talk about, anticipate or undertake shopping. As a result the new ideas and new technology must serve consumer patterns. The mountain will not come to Mohammed.

6. Change is very hard to sell. Most consumers and businesses are anxious about technology. The burden of translating the vision for those locked into convention thinking lies with visionaries and marketers. If in doubt, assume that your target audience cannot or will not do the math for you. Assume that they won’t get it unless it is very simple, plain to follow, written at an 8th grade level and in their faces.

7. Multichannel brand integration is critical. The Web facilitates 24/7/265 availability for a brand and a platform to align brand values and brand voices on a global, immediate and dynamic basis. Many firms have successfully integrated the look, feel, tone and manner of their brands across advertising, POS, the web, mail, phones, stores and sales force.Many have presented consistent merchandise, product catalogs, and return or credit policies across platforms and geographies to serve customers better and optimize investments. The web offers us the next, best chance for brands to speak with one voice across markets and across the globe. But getting there, especially in large matrixed organizations can be a nightmare.

8. Data aggregation is a necessity. he Web is clearly a competitive tool for aggregating data from multiple sources and for extracting data from legacy systems to optimize business decision-making. The web expedites a firm’s ability to economically organize, filter and display data in ways that yield real-time competitive advantages.

9. Integrated marketing and communications are basic table stakes.The Web facilitates message management, targeting, tracking, automation and measurement. Integrating channels allows you to leverage investments in sight, sound, imagery, photography and copy. Synchronizing messages and allocating budgets to target distinct segments using specific media yield improved ROI and reduce the cost of contact, sale, acquisition and usage stimulation.

10. The Web is a sales platform. The Web is a transactional tool with the ability to store transactional histories and serve up appropriate repeat, replenishment, up sell or cross-sell offers. The next challenge is to understand the dynamics between online and offline commerce and leverage strategy and technology to maximize returns and conversion. The best players are experimenting with mix-and-match combinations of media and messages to identify the number and the channel of customer contacts necessary to yield cost efficient conversions.


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