Friday, August 1, 2008

A Brave New Online Marketing World

Remember the mid-90’s when the internet was in its infancy? We were mesmerized with this nascent in spite of the fact that we were only viewing a few relatively static chat rooms and limited sites. But the possibility was there and the ambitious soon began to flood the market with ways to exploit this new undiscovered country. Some early ideas worked and others, such as CRM, were great ideas in theory but horrible in practice.

Well thanks to the ASP, SaaS, and Cloud Computing the once clunky software implementations that weighed the original CRM offerings in infamy we now have very feasible options that are even accessible to the average Joe Smith operating a small business on 123 Anywhere Street. Take a product tour from Marketo, Infusionsoft, Netsuite, Omniture, or Exact Target and you will be equally impressed. What was once a vague and brilliant idea has now become a hard and fast reality.

Alright, this stuff is great. You get the point.

Let’s discuss who should be concerned with such applications. It is really quite simple. Anyone who is looking to create a more visible and measurable relationship with its market or audience will greatly benefit from things like web analytics, online marketing, or marketing automation. Let me give you a few quick examples:

- The owner of a Dental Practice who has two primary customer bases (those who just need cheap, basic services and those requiring the more expensive activities like cosmetic dentistry) and wants to create separate messages to those audiences.

- The partner of Business Consultancy that is dealing with a longer sales cycle and wants something to help him nurture his leads.

- The mid-sized consumer product company that wants to more closely communicate with its top customers through something like a blog.

- Any Small, Medium, or Large company that wants to keep tabs on its competition by getting constant updates every time one of them is mentioned in the press.

I could keep listing plausible scenarios. The fact that we now have technology that can provide scalable results to the myriad of data points that surround each customer interaction should be music to the ears of anyone with a desire to grow their business. Gone are the days when 90% of the time was spent querying a database trying to obtain data; now the bulk of the effort can be spent creating actionable intelligence that can drive business strategy and grow revenue.

Take advantage of these programs. Evaluate some of these technologies. If you don’t have the budget to fully implement and run one of these applications then find an outsourced partner that can do that for you. Your business will thrive and your customer relationships will be as rich as a double fudge brownie sans milk.