If everything is changing because of social and mobile, why do so many keep implementing an old and outdated digital strategy?
It’s like the flat earth of the Internet – where people are experts in one thing like affiliate marketing or social media, but can’t connect the dots to the circular and abundant experience their target customers go through every day.
Try sharing that idea in a Las Vegas ballroom with a group of direct marketers, the affiliate industry, which has been built from the ground up on advertising, arbitrage, search, and conversion.
They are smart, doing deals, and doing them in the same way – it’s risky to change and once someone else defines how to do it, these people will optimize it like nobody’s business. But until that happens, they don’t budge from the old definition of ROI.
(Note: ROI doesn’t go away, the limited definition expands, and you have to know how to qualify traffic from other sources than Google and web sites.)
Part of what I’m sharing is to show that just like everything online is merging, the world of branding and conversion are melding. I call it Brevenue – branding that creates revenue – and here’s 5 minutes on what it means.
Beyond Conversion into Multi-step, Multi-Channel, Multi-media Touch Points – Where Do they Want to Buy, and is it in the Real World?
The obsession with conversion is good in one sense; you want to know why traffic is converting, right? What else matters? Many of the people I asked to come to listen at Affiliate Summit told me that social and mobile are not relevant and not part of their job.
After all, businesses create content so people find it in search or get referred, then they supposedly read it, get bored, and we interrupt them with an ad, a pop, an interruption.
Now visitors online are sharing, liking, uploading pictures, and most of the time still watching, but not getting bored waiting for an interruption. In fact, they are looking for the next great interruption to take their attention away.
Social media by its nature is interruption driven, so an ad interrupting the experience does nothing more than add to the clutter. Getting Attention is paramount, and not just on one piece of content. Branding today means you want to be remembered, recalled, and trusted so they return again and again.
Sure ads can work on Facebook, but any marketer knows that the low clickthrough and low conversion by marketing directly limits scale. Many have predicted the end of Facebook, one guru even quit Facebook to prove a point – that he didn’t understand anything beyond the flat world of Internet marketing, based on PC’s.
Yet Facebook is still around and it doesn’t convert like direct marketing, because branding dollars, the really big dollars, are coming online. Direct marketers think branding is dumb and focus on results, but those results depend on traffic with a high intention to buy.
Where’s the common ground here?
Reminds me of the people who said Alta Vista was it for search engines just before Google took over. It’s not that the old strategies – both direct marketing and social – are over by any means, they are just leveling out.
In their place is a new approach that must integrate these various touch points where people meet, connect, and share. Facebook is a touch point, a smartphone is a touch point, looking up the price online while in a retail store is a touch point – the possibilities are much more than most educated in the world of impression, click, and conversion can stomach.
Converting 10-20% of your overall audience long term is one initial goal, powered by NOT bugging the other 80%, most of who are barely paying attention, but will share what you have with their friends if it’s relevant, interesting, polarizing, or important.
In a world driven by confirmation bias, it’s clear that social and mobile are a layer, not just technologies, and these layers are all connected.
The person who is on a PC, a smartphone, and a tablet is the SAME person doing all of these things. Most of us treat them like each of these is a separate, unique, and disconnected experience; interesting how something that connects us is then marketed to disconnect them from what they are having fun doing…
Marketers are great at testing and replicating, yet as an industry the innovation we so lovingly preach is lacking, not because of interest but because of a lack of understanding of the 3 steps of customer conversion today:
- Attention – getting their attention in social and mobile is key, not just through content which is everywhere, but by designing things for people to do around and with the content. Trying to throw a conversion funnel into this ADD on steroids social behavior is like selling a burger to a vegan.
(Don’t worry, this is just 2-3 step marketing, and the social and mobile worlds are filled with opportunities for those patient enough to build a relationship WHILE qualifying the customer, the subject of my next post).
- Intention – are they there to buy or look, and are they confused? Intention is fairly random outside of search, because as much as we like to say as marketers we help people solve problems, people either don’t know they have a problem or aren’t sure what to do with their problem.
This is the second step, not built into their buying behavior. Qualifying and quality are becoming part of your Key Performance Indicators. You can define intention through contests, surveys, targeted ads around content and retargeting.
At least 20% of an audience might be interested, but marketers are all so interested in the 1-2% conversion – maybe 3-7% in search – that we often ignore the rest.
Any time a person notices an ad AS an ad, it’s not good, it means the ad is not relevant. It bugs people. Even with targeting you can’t take this needle in haystack approach, in fact what’s happening is taking small groups of people and building bigger sources of qualified, high intention traffic through referral, guidance, and prompting through effective use of actionable data – data that can be linked to specific buying behaviors.
It’s not about getting a million visitors, it’s about getting high intention visitors that you guide through the process, tracking key performance indicators that help you measure the top contributions to your conversion.
- Retention – this is the true measure of digital business and one that is becoming more and more common. It’s not enough to get customers, you want those customers to buy more than once, and want to know where they originally come from so you can do more of this…
Surprising to most marketers, many of them do come from social, but unless you are into attribution and retargeting and real hard core testing, you just push those numbers aside.
What matters is that visitors now aren’t just visitors, nor impressions, nor pageviews or even EPC (earnings per click). Many live on Facebook and other social sites; the days of the portal are not likely to make a come back.
They are connecting outside this world of problem solution and clicking/tapping not because they found your content, got interrupted by an ad, and averted their attention from what they were reading or watching…
How can we thrive in a world where the social side says it’s about engagement and the marketing side about conversion?
At best, online marketing will encompass 20% of retail purchases in theU.S.People still go to stores but now they have a computer wherever they go. Before they used to search for content and entertainment, but now it finds them in devices that help them connect and suggest what they might find relevant to others.
Relevancy is not just at the hands of the searchers, relevancy is in the proximity you have to interest groups sharing what you offer.
Relevancy is in taking all the hype and hot air out of Big Data, and finding actionable data, predictive data that defines behavior by what they exhibit, not by what you try to make the audience do.
Think of yourself as an anthropologist entering unexplored territory; do you impose your way of life, or watch the natives and adapt?
Remember the A.I.R. they breathe – Attention leads to Intention, Intention leads to Retention, which leads back to Attention and sharing.
In a connected world, we as business have to start connecting the dots, and beginning with the end in mind; what is the actionable data I can observe and direct, leading to a purchase or repeat visit for those still selling advertising?
Brevenue is not a trendy word, it’s simply makes sense – branding that creates revenue. Sure it’s the book I’ve been writing from experience for the past 4 years, but what it represents is something many of us are seeing, but simply call change.
I don’t care what you call it, I care what you do about it.
What do you think?