Stepping into Traffic

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So I was thinking (which is a way of saying I was scenario-planning) the other day about the far-end of the social media marketing spectrum:

What if you didn’t have a website at all

Instead devote all of the hours you might spend developing it, dealing with the developers etc and just spent that time on social media sites being a good citizen.

You know, answering questions and asking questions and leaving good comments and all that. Just skip the website altogether and devote all the resources (design time/money, development time/money, strategery time/money, hosting time/money all of it) towards being present in social media: networking sites like Facebook/LinkedIn/Beebo/whatever, blogosphere commenting, Twitter and so forth.

This might be a good time to mention that this strategy might be best employed by lead-generation kinds of businesses (i.e. someone emails you and you make a sale from there). If you have a product to sell you’ll definitely need the “advanced stuff” (see below and give yourself a free pass but skip to the distributed-marketing part).

Breaking down your workout

So you weigh ongoing costs (your time to manage these items and your money to pay for them) for the drag of operating a website:

  • hosting
  • maintenance
  • support
  • design tweaks
  • design changes
  • content generation
  • advertising creative development
  • advertising spends that generate traffic
  • advertising development

And instead put that momentum towards the following ongoing activities:

  • identifying blogs/social-networks/traditional-media-sites/etc that your audience frequent
  • reading relevant blogs
  • providing insightful comments
  • participating in relevant social networks
  • instigating great discussions
  • reading relevant “traditional” media websites
  • providing insightful comments

The problem of measurement

And here is the rub for me, the analyst. How do we measure the return on investment on this sort of thing?

  • How do we work with the funnel?
  • How do we value the pipeline?
  • How do we take action to make our pipeline more efficient?

Want answers? I don’t have them… yet. I’ll find them by: participating in communities devoted to traffic analysis or else working directly with analysis vendors because we all know that web 3.0 is about measuring (web 2.0 was about socializing). note: we can measure these things now–gd

Advanced stuff

Alright you’re rocking the social media. But you want more. Here’s more crazy-wild-eyed speculative hooh-hah.

If you don’t have a LinkedIn, Beebo, Facebook, Myspace, [Industry-specific-social-networking-site] account then you are not ready to act on anything in this section. I’ll also assume you understand some basic data-driven marketing concepts for the webified world.

If you want to get-rich-quick and don’t want to spend time comprehending or understanding then… sorry. Here’s a ball, perhaps you’d like to bounce it.

Distributed presence

Every social media site in which you participate grants you a profile. Every profile you have is a landing page. Google your bad-self (or your company’s bad-self) and see how that looks. Do you have a conversion tool? Do you represent yourself in the best light? Do you have a call-to-action?

Distributed marketing

Here’s where it gets thick and where the e-commerce folks who want to employ this strategy should join us. We have, within our first scenario (“What if you didn’t have a website”?), another scenario (“We want to convert online without a website.”).

So a few caveats up front:

  • I don’t know how we track ROI on this… yet.
  • Outside of actual sales we can’t track any part of the AIDA pipeline.
  • Upfront costs for creative exits.
  • Upfront time or cost for code development exists.
  • Ongoing costs for ad spends exists.
  • I hope you can help me identify solutions to the above issues.

Ignoring those white skeleton/elephants:

  • What if all your advertising is conversion-centric?
  • What if you could generate conversions directly from your ads?
  • What if people viewing your ad on a website could convert without leaving the page containing the content they actually want to consume?

I’m talking about Rich Internet Advertising where “rich” doesn’t refer to video or some other media-specific technology but instead to appropriate-media/technology plus conversion tools. Conversion tools=rich.

You might use the following technologies to achieve this: [note: sure is fun to read this list now, many years later–gd]

It really doesn’t matter. Just use the tech that meshes with your business capability or your vendor capability or your own time to design/develop/implement.

An Examples:

Thanks much to Dave Winslow for turning me on to Modernista. They are already doing this to some degree: completely operating using existing online tools.

“Stepping into traffic” is maybe more about actively marketing. Modernista is operating and using good passive tools (print portfolio on Flickr, television reel on YouTube, web portfolio on de.licio.us).

They don’t appear to be starting many conversations using the comment tools available nor participating significantly in the chatter. This could be because the sites they are using aren’t necessarily the sites their own clients use (brand managers are large companies). It is clever though that Modernista is present in the places where their clients’ customers might be present.

Also, the product Modernista is delivering (branded websites) is not entirely “stepping into traffic” either.

Conclusion

Focus ruthlessly on moving your business goals (i.e. something you can measure) forward by being a participant in the communities that your audience frequents. Sounds like old school don’t it? Hmmm…

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