This is an updated revision of the 2007 version, which was one of the top viewed posts for the entire year. I’ve added quite a few new forms as they’ve emerged or come to maturity over this last year.
If you’d like to translate this, feel free to do, then leave a comment below, I’ll add you to this list, as well as call you out in a separate post.
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Summary and Audience
This document catalogs the many tools and tactics available for corporate web strategy in 2008. Even if your strategy or resource limitations restrict you from entering all spaces, awareness of the changes in our digital landscape are critical. This document is intended for decision makers roles such as CMO/VP/Director of Web and Marketing.
Changes in communication require corporations to adapt and evolve
In North America the web medium 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 are native to the web, and this will only increase over time.
This is not a substitute for a plan or strategy, this is simply an index of tools. This list is not prioritized, nor should it be considered formal analysis, A strategist should first identify objectives, develop a plan only then choosing tools, and in that order.
For many corporations who’re not fully aware of all the tools available, deploying web marketing goes beyond your corporate website and google results.
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
Large to small companies have established a websites around their brand, the content is around marketing products, support, and corporate information. Despite the massive efforts to perfect the corporate website, much of the content is irrelevant as prospects shy away from marketing content and start to use social media.
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 one’s 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.
C) Microsites for Segmentation
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 Microsoft’s 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 isn’t just for communicating to prospects and customers, similar strategies apply to your employees. You can get more information by joining the Intranet User Experience Group, or find other online resources to this specific field..
Used for communications with partners, or customers, extranets are secured websites that companies grant access to. Features could include dashboards, updates, support information, and detailed product information.
In today’s 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 (SEO)
Many web groups at large corporations have a document, a process, or even a dedicated resource who’s goal is to make sure web content is easily found, indexed, managed and correctly served in search results. There’s 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. These ads are contextually displayed based upon the search query. There’s a growing and sometimes controversial industry focused on these techniques.
3) Out Bound and Syndicated Web Marketing
Used to help ideas spread off the corporate website, this list of tools extends reach by direct channels, and as well as ‘pull’ techniques where users opt-in. Be savvy when using these tools to respect the best interests of your customers, otherwise it’s one-click to unsubscribe or spam.
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 you’re ready to deploy read Web Strategy: Understanding Syndicated Feeds for your Corporate Website.
4) Brand Extension
This is not a new concept, it’s simply been applied to web properties. The strategy is simple: where your market is, so should your brand.
A) Web Advertising
I’m sure you’re all familiar with the banner, tile, or skyscraper advertising (IAB) 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). These ads are static and do not change even if the content on the webpage changes.
B) Contextual Advertising
These targeted ads will be served up on the webpage depending on the content that’s on the page. This is a more ‘intelligent’ and therefore more relevant than Web Advertising, which may not be targeted at specific content. This form of advertising can be text, images, media or other form and are common on websites, blogs, and are now appearing on web based emails sites. (Submitted by David Berkowitz: Feb 13th. 2007)
C) Sponsorship and /Cross branding
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.
D) Social Advertisements
Having just appeared this year from Facebook, it uses contextual information from users who have become “Fans” of a brand, then ads are severed to their network, in an endorsement. This has been highly controversial, and the return on investment is not yet known.
E) Widget Advertising
Having just appeared this year from on containers like Facebook, Bebo, LinkedIn, and Friendster, widgets have proliferated at an amazing growth rate. Expect advertising networks to form over the next year, where a brand can purchase space on any number of widgets across different social networks and communities, groups such as: RockYou, Slide, Widgetbox, and Watercooler to start with. See all posts tagged Widget Strategy.
F) Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing programs compensate partners and alliances that bring referrals, leads, or sales. While it overlaps with other forms of web marketing, the goal is to provide the right content or products to the target demographic. Examples of this include placement on comparison shopping sites, loyalty sites, and product review sites.
5) Community Marketing and Social Media Marketing
eMarketer’s 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. Remember this section is less about the tools than it is about the end result: people connecting with other people.
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 reviews 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. Ratings and voting has evolved with popular news voting sites like Digg.
B) Social Networking, Forums, Wikis, Collaboration
I’m 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. I’ve created a list of all White Label Social Networking platforms.
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. I’ve 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 you’ve 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 community marketing campaign are companies that are engaged in this way. This isn’t anything new, I noticed this trend before the term gained popularity, and called it Viral Chicklets, to learn more there’s a growing list of examples on Widgetbox.
G) Online Video and Live Streaming
While Online Video has existed for many years on the web, it’s most notably been gaining traction from the video blog, or video sharing sites of great popularity such as Google Video, or it’s recent acquisition YouTube. I recommend starting with thinking about Video for your Executives and thought leaders. This also includes live streaming where participants can webcast video in real time, often accomplished by chat features, see this full list of live streaming companies.
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
I’ve discussed how tagging can be used to harvest marketing intelligence as well as help your SEO results. See using Delicious for Market Research. Properly tagging content as well as researching how tags are used will help communities find your content.
J) Voting Features
Popularized with the website Digg, members submit news stories and they are voted up by the community. More representative than democratic, there’s criticism that only a few hundred users can control the content that makes it to the front page. This has also been deployed in corporate extranets, such as Dell’s IdeaStorm where customers can vote for future products or features. Expect this feature to appear in other websites over the next year.
These microblogging tools allow users to share bite sized information with their social network or from mobile phones. With the launch of Twitter spring 2007, it started to gain traction, as well as Pownce and Jaiku. Expect this form to be a major form of communication for 2008, as it starts to gain hold. See all posts tagged MicroMedia.
L) 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. User voted news sites are rapidly appearing such as Digg. There’s a whole another category (read all my posts tagged Community Marketing) on the many different forms the above tools create when they’re combined, from Community sites like Microsoft’s Channel 9 to real time Conversation indexes like Techmeme or Technorati’s 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) Virtual Worlds
Tied both to online gaming and social networks, the virtual world emulations have gone from experimental to a haven for some immersive communities.
A) Virtual Worlds
Second Life is being trialled by large companies such as IBM, Microsoft, Sun, Sears and a variety of retailers, although there are many other virtual worlds such as ViOS, ActiveWorlds, Entropia Universe, Utherverse (Redlight Center & more)
B) Online Massive Multi Player Games
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. Opportunities include content cross-over, branded experiences, and external social networks on the internet.
C) Online Games
Gaming networks have started to create mini-flash games such as mini-clips, Yahoo Games, and other networks. Supplemented with advertising or sponsored branding, these can be embedded and spread to other websites.
7) Related Mediums
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 we’ve 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.
8 ) Experimental: To Watch
While not yet here, here are some following forms to watch this coming year.
A) Portability of the Social Graph
Currently, social network members have to add over and over new contacts, and inaccuracy between networks is common. Expect the social graph (the online representation of your network) to be separated from the social networks. Websites will soon have members interacting with each other as the social graph extends to static websites. Read all posts tagged Social Graph.
B) Vendor Relationship Management
Purely conceptual, expect a systems to rely on the intents of prospects or buyers to emerge, which will anonymously signal to vendors to bid for the needs of customers. Learn more from Doc Searls program.
Putting it all Together
Whew, that’s 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.