Summary and Audience
This document catalogs the many tools and tactics available for corporate web strategy in 2007. Even if your strategy or resource limitations restrict you from entering all spaces, awareness of the changes in our digital landscape are critical. For those seeking a quick read, normal programming will resume in the near future.
Changes in communication require corporations to adapt and evolve
The Web in the number one medium in the workplace and second at home, a significant portion of your resources should be developed around your online programs, research indicates the web medium will continue to grow. We also know that prospects in a variety of stages in the buying stage use the web to make decisions, this is an arena no company can afford to ignore. Most importantly, future generations (digital natives) are barely reachable by other mediums, start planning your Web Strategy now.
For many corporations whore not fully aware of all the tools available, deploying all web resources only to your corporate websites and search engine marketing will not be effective..
The Many Forms of Web Marketing:
1) Corporate Domain
This has been a standard since the late 90s, nearly every company, mom and pop boutique now has a web presence. The primary purpose of this is to provide the public with information about your company, it's products, and anything else they may need. Corporate websites often compose of several features that are listed below.
A) Corporate Site
Little explanation is required here, todays standard requires for every company to have a home on the web. The methods and tools are highly discussed in a variety of locations, books and conferences, but do remember that some tools are creating an impact on their relevance and marketing in general.
B) Portal Strategy
Widely popular in the late 90s this strategy was intended to serve up all user information on one page, and keep users on ones domain. A few well known portals now exist such as MyYahoo which is a form of a feedreader. Most modern marketers realize that content is now distributed.
Typically deployed around new product launches or campaign focuses, or specific market segments, these often short term websites are used for calling specific attraction. They typically have a unique URL and are tied to an integrate campaign. See Microsofts Origami microsite. Caution: some companies overly deploy these microsites and end up with a distributed and unfocused web strategy.
D) Interactive Web Marketing
The web is more than a 'read only' medium, unlike other mediums, companies can make the website interactive, encouraging a new dynamic of engagement. Of course, one can only go far where the limitation is that it is still a 'user to computer' interaction. A few examples include Subservient Chicken experience, What kind of M&M are you, and Geicos Caveman Crib.
The web isnt just for communicating to prospects and employees, simliar strategies apply to both your employees, resellers, partners and suppliers. You can get more information by joining the Intranet User Experience Group, or find other online resources to this specific field..
In todays global web, websites are translated, reformatted and segmented by region, culture, class. Be sure to focus on France, China, Japan as fast emerging languages. Also see report on internet usage in third world countries.
2) Search Marketing
Ever heard of Google? Many prospects use google in the 'hunt' phase for a product. By paying a third party or a search engine directly you can obtain a strategy to get your website listed in search results. I've heard a variety of stats demonstrating success of natural vs paid results, however the ROI is usually positive. It's likely your competitor is also present on the Search results page. View my few posts on Search Strategy or contact Andy Beal, David Berkowitz or Brian Keith.
A) Search Engine Optimization (SEM)
Many web groups at large corporations have a document, a process, or even a dedicated resource whos goal is to make sure web content is easily found, indexed, managed and correctly served in search results. Theres been some recent discussion the state of the SEO industry.
B) Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
Frequently, companies will hire a specialized search company to purchase keywords that will help drive contextual links in search results and contextual ads displayed on websites. Theres a growing and sometimes controversial industry focused on these techniques.
3) Out Bound and Syndicated Web Marketing
A) Email Marketing
While certainly not completely native to the web, they certainly are tied. Modern email campaigns (sometimes even direct marketing) involves barely personal emails blasted out to indviduals on a mailing list. These modern versions typically have the option to be HTML based, and have hyperlinks brining users back to the corporate site or Microsite. I hear the conversion rate for these are 2-5%, and typically deploy a positive ROI. Having spoken with many Web directors and Marketers, this is a task best suited for an outsourced vendor. Be sure to read the research on the growth for this industry in 2007.
B) Invasive Marketing
Pop-ups, and Pop-Unders, trojan and tracking software are both disruptive methods to obtain the attention and data of users. Research indicates this form of marketing is diminishing, use with caution, or not at all (ask your Ad Agency if they are doing this without your knowledge) remember the market can associate your brand with the way you reach them, and users are now in charge.
C) Syndicated Content and RSS
I lump Syndication into this category as I see it as being an evolution as marketing shifts from Push to Pull. RSS is quickly becoming a method where users can opt-in for additional content. For more information start with Six RSS Resources for the Internet Professional or Web Strategist, when youre ready to deploy read Web Strategy: Understanding Syndicated Feeds for your Corporate Website.
4) Brand Extension
This is not a new concept, its simply been applied to web properties. The concept is simple, where your audience is, your brand should be also.
A) Web Advertising
I'm sure you're all familiar with the banner, tile, or skyscraper advertising model on websites. This age old strategy simply suggests that if there are eyeballs your brand should 'impress' upon the users. Click through rates are typically in the 1% or lower rate, sometimes success is measured by brand impressions, (visitation by traffic)
B) Sponsorship and /Cross branding/Affiliate
This is a method of promoting your brand with the right audience in which the property is rewarded for integrating your brand. This can occur on content sites, shows, media properties, blogs, podcasts, and just about everything else. This is expected to increase in 2007.
5) Community Marketing and Social Media Marketing
eMarketers research indicates that this is the fastest growing area of growth for Web Advertising and Marketing is in the Social Media space. In my experience, the awareness rate is around 30% and deployment 10-20% for most corporations. Some of the tools listed below are not new, while some become critical in how prospects find information about products. For a high level overview please read 10 Social Media Strategies for the Fortune 1000 Corporations.
A) eCommerce/Rating Sites
For most consumer products and a majority of enterprise products, there's a variety of websites that rate products both by expert (sometimes called analyst) or peer review. The most popular site that has done this in the text industry is Cnet.com which deploys both editorial reviews, video demos, and user ratings and opinions. Content can be both positive and negative about your company as well as your competitors.
B) Social Networking, Forums, Wikis
Im tying these two together as both features are starting to merge in many modern versions. While founded from early usenet days, forums allow for communities to form around similar ideas and collaborate. Approximately 33% of companies deploy forums. Wikis have also been used to tie industries together as well as. Savvy marketers are starting to also realize the power of social networking sites in every flavor of focus, including image sharing sites like flickr for marketing.
C) Syndicated Marketing
See section 3C above.
D) Podcast Marketing
Many corporations are reaching their community though on demand content on mobile devices, the key to this medium is certainly in the pull strategy. Ive listed out my recommendations in a recent post called Corporate Podcasting Strategies for 2007.
I estimate about 30% or less of businesses are considering blogs (web logs) as forms of business communication. The subject has been talked about quite extensively, I recommend reading Naked Conversations, the Weblog Handbook, and the Corporate Blogging Book. To learn about all the forms of businesses blog. If youve not yet deployed a Corporate Blogging program, I reccomend learning from my experience as a corporate blog evangelist.
F) Widget Marketing
Widgets are light weight web applications that are being embedded in websites, blogs, forums, and social sites. Flickr badges, Mybloglog, and in ways even the Firefox marketing campaign are companies that are engaged in this way. This isnt anything new, I noticed this trend before the term gained popularity, and called it Viral Chicklets, to learn more theres a growing list of examples on Widgetbox.
G) Online Video
While Online Video has existed for many years on the web, its most notably been gaining traction from the video blog, or video sharing sites of great popularity such as Google Video, or its recent acquisition YouTube. In addition to third party video sites, colleague Robert Scoble is well known for being the Video Guy at Microsoft, while he took behind the scenes footage and shared on a Community networking site. Other companies have seen the success in this and have also launched online video sites such as General Motors. I recommend starting with thinking about Video for your Executives and thought leaders.
H) Instant Messaging, Presence:
Clever marketers are figuring out how to involve real time conversational media using Instant Messaging tools, presence, and status tools, such as Twitter. These tools tie to online and mobile devices. My experience with Generation Y is that they are using IM as their primary way to communicate over all other mediums.
I) Tagging, Collective Tools:
Ive discussed how tagging can be used to harvest marketing intelligence as well as help your SEO results. See using Delicious for Market Research.
J) Infinite Other Flavors:
The list of potential applications can go on and on, from Toolbar plugins such as Delicious plugin, Alexa Plugin Attention recorder, etc, to web based mobile applications. Theres a whole another category (read all my posts tagged Community Marketing) on the many different forms the above tools create when theyre combined, from Community sites like Microsofts Channel 9 to real time Conversation indexes like Techmeme or Technoratis WTF, new ways to find, sort and harness information will emerge over the year. The notable attributes include a community or viral and conversational tone to them.
6) Emerging Mediums tie with the Internet
The web will be a platform and will extend to other mediums as well as create new ones.
A) Internet TV (IPTV)
While still emerging, the web will marry the TV and content, communication will evolve to a new form of media weve not yet seen yet. I doubt it will be as simple as TV content online or Reading websites in the living room. Something new will appear, and it will impact your web team. See all my thoughts on IPTV.
B) Mobile Content
Websites are already being viewed on mobile devices, either full browsers, or fast load browsers. Many executives, decision makers, road warriors and techies are accessing the web using mobile devices, so a strategy to deliver correctly to this medium is necessary. See all my thoughts on Mobile Technology.
C) Online Massive Multi Player Games, Console Games
If youre not heard yet, Second Life is being trialed by large companies such as IBM, Microsoft, Sun, Sears and a variety of retailers. Also popular are Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPG for short) are appearing online such as World of Warcraft (WoW), and Club Penguin a growing online game for kids, teens, and some adults. XBox 360 has IPTV capabilities and most console games have online components, so there are multiple experiences to tap into.
7) Real World and Virtual World are Tied
What happens in real life echos online. Were seeing that more and more as politicians, CEOs and organizationinvolve bloggers, podcasters, and other influentials to real life events. The role of Online/Offline Community Relations is becoming more and more important. Ive dissected how Microsoft hosts blogger dinners. Train your orginsiation to tie both strategies together. Read my post on Web Strategy: Overlaying Social Media for your Corporate Events
Putting it all Together
Whew, thats the major families, but remember for many corporations, these elements will not be successful in a vacuum, the opportunity for momentum happens when they are combined and used strategically. At least one person or group should have full knowledge of how your brand is being used online and in other mediums.
About this Document
Web Strategy (How companies use the web to connect with customers) is my passion. As the Director of Corporate Media Strategy at PodTech network, Im a Social Media resource for our clients. I use this blog to answer clients questions, and to share my knowledge with the web network. You can learn more about me on my profile page.
Id like to thank Christopher Coulter to helping me brainstorm this post, as well as David Berkowitz for asking for follow-up content from a previous discussion.
I will update this post based upon feedback from the community, both in comments and other blog posts.