In part 1 of this series I summarized the crossroads at which digital marketing has arrived in 2010. Then part 2 explored the surprising advances that turned database marketing into a digital marketing discipline.
Now it is time to look at online marketers.
Back in 2006, my colleagues and I at Unica were still joking about our web analytics competitors’ understanding of multichannel marketing. Back then it seemed much like a scene in the movie Blues Brothers where they would go into a bar to be told by the bar owner that he was interested in all kinds of music:
“Country and Western”
Similarly web marketing back then was multichannel only in a sense similar to:
“Google and Yahoo”.
The old web marketing
In the growth years of Internet usage, web marketers’ focus was centered on their own website and biased towards acquiring visits to the website through advertising.
Rocket science algorithms would optimize advertising spend automatically, e.g. with automated search bid management. Rocket science testing solutions would generate and evaluate thousands of multivariate versions of the same web page to test which one is best at persuading visitors.
But any thought of focusing on the customer was deprioritized.
For example, I recently called my iPhone carrier to say that I was thinking about cancelling the service since reception at my home was unusable. Yet, when I logged into my online account afterwards the website made no attempt to retain me or win me back.
Instead, it was still busy cross-selling me stuff.
Web marketing in 2010: Focus on individual level data for targeting and accurate ROI calculations
It wasn’t due to learning from more tenured marketing colleagues that web marketers changed. After all, in 2010 the web vs. other marketing teams still remain frustratingly silo’d.
But the addition of new online channels has thrust greatness on the online marketer:
Mobile is an inherently personal device. So, web marketers aren’t just treating it as a second website but looking into opportunities for more personalized dialog.
For example, San Francisco based GoodGuide’s iPhone application allows users to scan barcodes in the store to get information on a product’s environmental and social acceptability, as well as healthiness. But users can also set lists of favored and “avoid these” products in their GoodGuide account on the fixed Internet website. When you login to your account from the iPhone your favoreds and avoids become available to you.
It is hard to think of a more crunchy-granola (i.e. socially responsible) business than GoodGuide’s. And yet they have integrated individual level data across channels!
Not as an evil scheme, but as a service to their customers! And with opt-in, of course.
That is very promising!
Behavioral Advertising and Email
While ads and email were mass marketing channels, they are now increasingly becoming an extension of a company’s website.
- The ads that you see when visiting e.g. a newspaper’s site can be targeted to you based on your prior behavior on the advertiser’s website. Many ad networks exist that, for example, help re-market to individuals based on products they abandoned or segments for which they were profiled.
- The emails that you receive can show personalized content and promotional offers (e.g. coupons) that were dynamically selected for you based on your click behavior on the website. For example, one Unica client in Europe is sending more than 1 million unique email variations per month.
It is most unexpected, but another push to go from the aggregate to the individual level comes from advertisers.
As more marketing funds are shifting online, accountability is king. Media buyers want to take credit for influencing individuals that were exposed to ads even if they didn’t click on them. That requires integrating web and ad serving analytics at the level of individual ad viewers and website visitors.
Several analytics vendors, including Unica, make that possible now.
Finally, social media pushed web marketers over the edge in their appreciation for multichannel integration with an eye towards individual level interactions.
- Marketers are keen to learn which customers have interacted with their Facebook application even if there wasn’t a direct click-through to the website.
- The Facebook API provides information on an individual’s social graph, i.e. their connection to other Facebook users.
- Websites equipped with Facebook Connect can draw on Facebook authentication outside the Facebook.com domain. That means they can also draw on other Facebook API information in the visiting individual and include that in their analytics and behavioral targeting.
- Advertising networks have become available that target ads to individuals based on their social graph, i.e. assuming that you are more likely to care about XYZ if your direct friend connections purchased XYZ.
- Social CRM has become a buzzword and refers to various online interactions with individual customers. For example web marketers are keen to see that disgruntled Twitterers receive a direct response to turn them around. Meanwhile fans should get encouraged to keep spreading the word.
There is still a missing link for integrating CRM with Social CRM in terms of mapping individuals’ identities. However, vendors are already working on closing that gap.
- Social media monitoring tools such as Radian6 list together each individual’s blog vs. Twitter vs. Facebook identities if they can detect them.
- Vendors such as RapLeaf have begun offering social data append services for CRM databases.
- Bottom-line, the web marketing world is in the midst of an onsite-offsite integration era.
- That has required web marketers to move beyond aggregate level data and think about data at the level of individuals.
- With that, they now share with direct marketers an appetite for individual level click data for the purposes of analyzing and behavioral targeting.
- This happened at a time when technology has become increasingly integrated between analytics, email marketing, and behavioral targeting.
- Online-offline integration is not main-stream yet. But never before have web and direct marketers been so parallel in their multichannel goals and thinking.
I am excited for 2010.