How Middle Market Firms Can Strategize in a Vortex of Variables
To say the web marketing world is changing rapidly is an understatement. Over the last year or so, we've seen a number of really significant developments that are reshaping the entire landscape. Below are the biggest ones that come to mind, but I've left any out, please leave a comment.
Google's so-called "Panda Update" was a change in its algorithm that has the effect of penalizing spam content and rewarding quality content. For effective SEO (search engine optimization), many companies must completely rethink their content strategy.
Google+ is Google's latest attempt to do two very significant things: compete with Facebook and expand its role from search engine to a full-service Internet destination. Google+ will change the relationship between SEO and social marketing and may have profound impact on where and how people spend time online.
Sweeping Facebook Changes
Partly in response to Google+, and partly to fulfill its own vision of a totally personalized online experience, Facebook is rolling out substantial changes to its platform. Besides bringing to a head the battle between privacy and personalization, Facebook's upgrades will force companies to rethink advertising and social strategies and investments on the platform.
Google SSL Search
Very recently Google announced that it will now hide search data from individuals when they are logged into Google. Although this is advertised to affect only 10% of all search data, one wonders how quickly that figure will grow as Google continues to entice people to log in, via Google+ or some other application. SEO strategies will be sorely challenged to find new approaches to analytics to retain precision and drive continuous improvement.
Explosion of New Devices
Welcome to the mobile Internet: buyers are researching and purchasing products and services from their phones. Are most companies ready for this? Not by a longshot. In 2012, my guess is marketing strategies will fall further behind because of tablets and readers - the next battlefield for digital advertising, social community building and organic search.
A New Apple
With the tragic passing of Steve Jobs, the future of Apple is up for grabs, particularly in the area of new product development. While nobody can predict the outcome, my guess is the uncertainty will lead to more R&D and fiercer competition among the rivals. We may well end up with better iPhones, better Androids, better PCs, and who knows what else. Whatever the outcome, rapid hardware innovation will make online behaviors even more difficult to predict ... and market to.
How Can Companies Plan Effectively?
- Reach out. This is going to sound self serving, and I guess it is, but I don't see how any middle market firm can keep up with all this without the assistance of an agency. Strategic missteps are easy to make, and costly. In-house personnel will be challenged to keep up with changes in best practices.
- Tighten timetables. In the mid-2000's, it was fairly routine to hammer out a 12-month marketing plan. These days, a 90-day plan followed by intense review wouldn't be overdoing it, especially for firms in competitive online environments.
- Expect imperfection. Firms with rigid cultures that discourage experimentation and have difficulty operating when things aren't precisely buttoned down will have major headaches on the marketing front. Conversely, firms that embrace uncertainty and try different marketing approaches will gain a substantial and long lasting advantage over less agile competitors.
- Start now. Cobbling out a new marketing strategy is a lot of work, and easily gets thrown on the back burner. If you haven't reviewed your program in the last few months, it could be woefully out of date already. And as the speed of change accelerates, it becomes ever harder to catch up. Like they say, there's no time like the present.
OVER TO YOU
How are you keeping up with the rapid pace of change?