The Search Marketing Insider Newsletter recently published a piece that I wrote titled: “Should Social Media Really Be a Top Priority?” Obviously, in that context, a more complete statement of the question would be: Should social media really be a top marketing priority? If the question intrigues you then, please read the story and let me know if you think my conclusions are right (or wrong).
I don’t want to give the ending away, but I should point out that I’m a big believer in getting the basics right. Social media clearly has great B2C marketing potential, but a lot of social media marketing still relies on a website to get monetized. In other words the social media campaign drives traffic to a website for conversion, which raises an important question: Is that website optimized for conversion?
For example, retailers need to be sure that the basic elements which constitute the purchase flow on the website have been tested and tuned. You don’t want to spend money on social media marketing that brings your site a lot of traffic that: a. bounces right out, b. frequently abandons the shopping cart (or registration form, or subscription process, or whatever the conversion event happens to be).
Social media marketing today seems to have something in common with search marketing, mobile marketing, affiliate marketing, and email marketing. They all appear to be more popular with marketers than conversion rate optimization. Why is this? One is tempted to say it’s because they are, or have recently been, the shiny new thing. We all know that shiny new things can draw time, attention and budget away from the basics, like testing content in order to maximize conversion. But scratch the shiny surface and you find that what these things really have in common is this: they are easier for marketing to deploy and manage than testing.
Unfortunately, the testing of website content has been, historically speaking, a real chore. There are some concrete reasons for this. I delivered my first eCommerce seminar in 1996, back when it was called Internet commerce. The subject of my seminar was website security and I would argue that operating a commercial website today is no less risky than it was back then. The arms race between the good guys and the bad guys rolls on. The folks in IT who run high traffic eCommerce websites have their hands full with the CIA (not the spy agency but the 3 pillars of information system security: Confidentiality, Integrity, and Availability). Let’s face it, nobody wants to be the next T.J.Maxx, or pay PCI fines, or suffer through an FTC investigation.
So, when Marketing comes to IT and asks to change up some website content because that might increase the conversion rate, it can be a hard sell. The IT department does not want to break the site. The IT folks are likely to have a very stringent process for vetting site changes before placing them in production, which takes time and resources, both of which are usually in short supply.
That’s why Monetate developed technology which can inject changes to website content between the eCommerce web server and the web browser (for example, injecting a “tax-free” notice to a visitor from a state where an online retailer does not collect sales tax).
That’s how Monetate puts Marketing in charge of the content changes needed for website testing while at the same time saving IT a whole lot of work and worry. The way that Monetate is built, or architected in IT terminology, means nothing bad can happen even if your site is using Monetate and Monetate’s systems go down. Your web pages still load, everything still works.
Of course, Monetate is architected in such a way that the probability of a system failure is extremely small. All of which means that Marketing finally has a technically sound and highly practical option when it comes to executing tests of content, tests that can be performed on Marketing’s schedule, without going to IT. With that option in place, Marketing can optimize the site’s conversion capabilities and direct social media traffic to the site without worrying that some of the conversion potential may be lost.
I totally get that Marketing enjoys the power and freedom it now has to pursue campaigns in social media, search, mobile, display, affiliate, and email. It’s no wonder these opportunities get the buzz and the resources. But only when Marketing can put in place a quick and easy means of testing the site and changing up content will it achieve the best possible results for each and every campaign that looks to the website for conversion.