Once a tool has been chosen, a target audience defined, and goals and scope articulated, a marketer’s work is just beginning. The effectiveness of Web 2.0 tools depends in large part on the willingness of companies to capitalize on what works and to refine what doesn’t.
Dean Taylor is the VP of marketing for COMPLETExRM, a provider of CRM solutions for customers such as FranklinCovey and The Boy Scouts of America. The company’s interactive strategies include blogs, RSS feeds, and a YouTube channel, but it’s how the company maximizes the impact of its message that is truly strategic.
"It used to be that our press releases were all about the message and how it was crafted. But with digital media," observes Taylor, "it’s much more about content, and optimizing search engine placement by building keywords into the press releases." The marketing team learned this in October 2007 while preparing a major press release. By reviewing organic search engine results in advance they found a particular search phrase that they wanted to maximize, "enterprise 2.0 CRM." The team designed the press release with that and related terms in its titles and headers, thereby increasing the likelihood that search engines would find and index the content and that industry bloggers would link to it. "We had to design it around the concept of terms that people would search on, and be less concerned about the message itself," Taylor says.
COMPLETExRM’s goal was to have the press release appear as one of the top 20 organic Google search results within 2 months from its run date. But by the third day after the release dropped, 911 URLs were linking to information in the release, and by a week later the company had moved into the second search result for "enterprise 2.0 CRM," with more than 10,000 inbound links to the release. Taylor credits what he calls "the piranha effect" for making search engine optimization work.
"If I throw a piece of meat in the water the piranhas will grab it, no matter how small. It’s the same way with industry bloggers; if they want to maintain thought leadership in the community they can’t afford not to grab it, and because they do grab it, it lends us credibility."
Compendium Blogware is a company that has been established to help corporate clients amplify this linking effect. It provides a web-based blogging platform with built-in enterprise-level editorial control and search engine optimization. Chris Baggott, co-founder and CEO of Compendium says, "Customers want to talk to people, not companies, and blogging is an ideal way for companies to expose their human side." As such, Compendium was founded with the notion that companies could facilitate those direct interactions while simultaneously enhancing search engine placement and improving conversion rates. The tool also addresses a fundamental concern for companies teetering on the edge of the blogging precipice: How do I control what my employees communicate?
Using the Compendium service, a designated administrator permissions a corporate blogger to enter text, video, or other content. "There is also a built-in keyword suggestion tool, which helps companies be sure that employees are using those critical terms when they blog," says Baggott. Once a blog post is completed it goes to an administrator for review before posting, enabling the administrator to send notes back to the blogger to clarify why a specific entry may have been rejected.
Not everyone feels that corporate bloggers require that sort of explicit oversight. In Alacra’s case, Goldstein says, "Our rule of thumb is ‘don’t do anything that would embarrass your mother.’" A strategy between the two extremes might be to document and communicate acceptable corporate blogging guidelines to all employees, both for corporate and external blogs, and to monitor new posts regularly.
The Compendium software also enables what Baggott terms "data driven" blogging, i.e., the ability to "compend" entries from multiple bloggers into topical blogs. "By compending posts around keywords, companies can vastly increase the number of pages and title them with common search terms in your industry."
There are two other aspects of corporate blogging that Baggott says are critical to success. One is the more bloggers, the better. "If the goal is search engine optimization, it’s better to have more content. And it spreads the work around." In Compendium’s case, all 18 employees meet for lunch twice a week with their laptops and eat while they blog communally. "That’s eighteen new paragraphs twice a week," he says, illustrating the point that even very small companies can capitalize on the benefits of keyword-optimized blogging.
The other aspect is the need to include a high profile call to action in any interactive technology. "I don’t care if it’s a white paper download, view a demo, request a call; you still have to include a mechanism to help you convert the client." It seems that some of the traditional rules of marketing, at least, still apply.
The last rule of thumb in the successful application of interactive marketing tools is to embrace experimentation. It’s important to stay in conversation with customers to learn what new platforms and channels they are turning to for information, and to recognize that those channels may change.
The Doritos snack brand made a splash last year when it solicited user-generated videos to run as its Super Bowl advertisement, but by 2008 it had returned to a traditional agency-created ad. Why? Because user-generated advertisements weren’t unique anymore, with Dove and Kraft quickly following in Doritos’ footsteps. Doritos’ target market of teens and young adults want to identify with leading edge trends, so this year the company solicited original music clips to be chosen by voters on the company website. The winner, Kina Grannis, saw her full-length music video air during the big game.
Forrester’s Ramos says, "It is important to balance experimentation with analytic approaches. The emergence of new digital media means marketers must experiment to know if these media will work for their products, services, and audiences. But they have to approach experimentation with clear goals and metrics in mind."
"We’d definitely try something new" based on the success of the AlacraBlog and AlacraWiki, agrees Goldstein. "We like to experiment." Alacra’s newest venture is its ResearchRecap blog, which identifies, highlights, and links to the top research reports issued daily by a wide variety of entities, including industry and financial analysts, professional service firms, and governmental agencies. The goal is to enhance awareness of Alacra’s capabilities by offering a useful compilation of research data to Alacra customers.
The good news is that the risk associated with trying new digital media tools is low, particularly compared to traditional marketing methods. "It is easy to monitor chat rooms where customers are talking about your product and to post a comment, or to shoot a YouTube video and upload it to see if customers respond," Scott points out. "You don’t have to do all that you know is possible," he continues. "Just pick one and do it right."
And if the experiment falls flat, at least you’re not left figuring out where to store cartons of brochures or a trade show booth.
Companies Featured in this Article:Alacra, Inc.www.alacra.comAngel.comwww.angel.comCompendium Blogwarewww.compendiumblogware.comCOMPLETExRMwww.completexrm.comEnquiro Research www.enquiroresearch.comForrester Researchwww.forrester.comMartindale-Hubbellwww.martindale.comSocialtextwww.socialtext.com