SEO, SEM, and PPC. What’s that got to do with IT?
HTML, JS, and CSS are more like it. But what does that have to do with marketing?
Therein lies the problem. We’re all familiar with users not understanding technology. (And users are familiar with geeks not understanding what they really meant.)
When it comes to online marketing, the problem gets worse. Creative types meet technical people. Left brain meets right brain. Or rather crash together in an almighty mess.
So what if we call it “Digital Marketing”? That sounds much more technical. Right up IT’s street.
Logic dictates we ask what digital marketing is. Well, it’s just a different name for online marketing (but it sounds trendier).
Programmers will note the recursive loop. Hardware engineers will recognise the feedback loop. Marketing people will just probably come up with a different name for it.
Online marketing is using the internet to promote a product, business or service.
The internet means that it includes HTTP, email, etc. IT people understand that different protocols are involved. Don’t even try to explain that to most marketing people. Just accept that everything is “online”, as though it’s all the same thing.
Many people still regard their website, and anything vaguely related to it, as “IT”. After all, it’s on a computer, a phone or a tablet.
Does this mean people should log a helpdesk call when they have a problem with Kandy Krush? Of course not, and that’s the point. The means of delivery shouldn’t be confused with the thing itself.
There are certain things associated with websites that require technical IT support; both hardware and software. Most of the rest has nothing to do with IT.
Once this has been understood, it makes everyone’s lives easier. This is particularly true when it comes to online marketing.
If we limit discussions to just web traffic, then all you have to worry about is www versus non-www, different web server setups, and secure versus non. At a minimum.
But you can handle that, if you are left to get on with it. The problems start when you are not involved at the right stage, and you are landed with supporting a conflicting set of “solutions”.
Certainly not IT.
They should create content. That is words, photos, pictures, diagrams, videos, etc.
But that is not online marketing, or even digital marketing. Look back at the definition above. The implicit presumption is that it is SUCCESSFUL promotion of a product, business or service, such that it GENERATES MORE BUSINESS.
Much online marketing is throwing mud at a wall. It doesn’t work. The solution has been to call it “Content marketing”. It is something completely different, apart from being the same as what they’ve always done. With the same results.
Meanwhile, IT is probably being asked to jump through hoops, install things, and generally run around at the behest of the beautiful people.
If not, you are so lucky.
If so, what can you do about it?
As always, the answer lies in “education”. Show your boss this post. Show your MD. Do you dare show it to your marketing department?
Obviously, to engage Initiative2. But prior to that, let’s analyse what is actually required to be done. You might well be able to sort it out amongst yourselves.
Search Engine Optimisation is the traditional method of online marketing. It revolves around the use of relevant “keywords”, and “optimising” each page on your website to match.
This requires technical and analytical skills, which is why IT might be landed with it. However, these are not traditional IT skills.
SEO has been abused, and received a bad press. Few websites were successful using this, for lots of reasons.
It is still very important, but not necessarily the first thing that a business should rely on today.
It is not “cheap”. It takes time and effort to achieve results. If indeed you do. And it is always possible to make things worse!
Second, for many searches, a map often appears above the main “organic” results. This pushes the “number one” listing down the page.
Very often, there are adverts across the top. This pushes your listing even further down.
Finally, there are so many variations on words and phrases, that it can be difficult to appear for them all.
That is why I now regard SEO as a secondary, consolidation exercise, when it comes to successfully generating more business.
Google AdWords is the market leader here. You will be familiar with the little adverts that used to appear down the right-hand side of the search results. Now they appear only at the top of the page, pushing the main results down, forcing you to scroll to find them.
This is how Google makes money. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Bing, and lots of others offer similar options.
It can be an incredibly powerful and successful tool; one that we have helped clients generate serious business through. For most people, it is a very efficient way of spending money for no return.
Why is this so? It’s a complex beast. While there should be some creative input, it is more of a technical role. Not necessarily IT, but someone with that type of mind-set could be a good fit.
The Cinderella of online marketing.
As with everything, if done right, it can be very effective. Getting it right is the tricky bit.
From IT’s perspective, once the email system is set up, then it should be containable. However, integrating 3rd-party solutions will always be a challenge.
The solution to all your problems.
Most online marketing now revolves around sharing, liking and following. Few are willing to disagree with the accepted fact that this is what you have to do.
The day that a “like” buys something, I’ll get enthusiastic about trying to get more likes.
Recent studies have suggested that few “shares” are ever read. (So when I suggested above that you share this, you might be better off printing it, and handing it to them.)
Finally, Facebook and the rest are in business. Only a small fraction of your connections will even be shown your lovingly crafted, at great expense, posts.
If we ignore the spectacular success that “someone” has had using traditional social media techniques, then your only option is to use pay-per-click.
So far we’ve only dealt with what’s currently out there. Who knows what tomorrow will bring?
Your options will probably remain the same.
A few will succeed, almost by luck.
Most will expend lots of time and money, following the herd.
The only reasonably guaranteed way of achieving your business goal, is to invest in pay-per-click. Once that is working, SEO would be appropriate, along with “me-to” social media efforts.
As commercial reality comes to the fore, and the knee-jerk “let’s try this” approach loses credibility, then there should be a period of stability.
More activity will be off-site. This means that there won’t be so many changes made to the website, if that is currently your task.
As pay-per-click becomes prevalent, then there may be opportunities for detailed, analytical thinkers.
A more mature market should realise that online marketing and IT are 2 distinct and separate disciplines. They may have to collaborate, but they shouldn’t try and do one another’s jobs.
The above is based on my personal experience. It benefits from seeing how much time and money can be wasted, when things are not done properly.
My background is in IT Project Management; everything from modest exercises through to 7-figure projects.
I evolved into “the internet” almost by accident. However, I quickly established that there was an important void that was ignored by the creative forces in that arena. It suited my (IT) strengths.
Online marketing must have crucial analytical and technical skills. Everything from liaising with IT, through analysing visitor logs for reporting to management, as well as the rationalisation of code, and the pedantic use of PPC.
It should always be about successfully generating more business.
If you disagree with my observations, then I am happy for you having been one of the lucky few.
If the above rings a bell, get in touch, and see how we might help.
This article was written by Kenneth Mackay of Initiative2
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