March 03, 2009

Channel Shift And Online Marketing

These are absolutely delicious times in the world of multiple channels.

Sure, I focus a disproportionate amount of time on catalogers and retailers, because that's what I know. But the most interesting stories are over in the online marketing world.

You know those online marketers. They're the folks that just stare at you when you mention anything that cannot be immediately quantified with a conversion rate metric. They're the folks who organically benefited from all of your offline marketing. They're good people, learning their craft on the fly --- something offline marketers have a much harder time doing.

And in the course of just six months, the world shifted out from under them.

Aaron asks us, "How Much Of Your Pagerank Are You Wasting On Twitter?" Catalogers/Retailers, read this carefully, but as you read the article, make the appropriate substitutions:
  1. When you see the word "Google", put in the word "Catalog", or the word "Retail".
  2. When you see the word "Twitter", put in the word "Internet" or the phrase "Online Marketing".
Aaron speaks about the exact sort of thing that was announced at Get Elastic today. These folks are reducing blogging frequency, and eliminating Friday link-love, instead spending time on Twitter forwarding readers to good articles. Just like that, a brand that utilized a fruitful combination of social media and Google elects to slowly de-tether from the beast, choosing to spend more time on Twitter.

Too much hype was made over Web 2.0. What is happening now, however, doesn't have a label. It is a fusion of online marketing and offline marketing and Web 2.0 and, most importantly, demand creation, that is threatening to anybody in the online marketing camp.

Demand creation is sorely missing from online marketing and Web 2.0. Improving conversion rates and managing search and placing a shopping cart in the upper right hand corner of the screen is all about capturing as much demand as possible --- a good thing. But it is a fundamentally different process than what one goes through to create demand.

Demand creation results in new channels. New channels, as we have learned over and over again, cannibalize old channels. Search, all of a sudden, is an old channel. Old channels go after the money. New channels go after romance --- and are always criticized in the early going for not delivering ROI.

For my loyal catalog and retail readers out there, this is a time of huge opportunity. You can ignore the pap about selling on Twitter. You can ignore the stories about improving conversion rates by 394%. You can, instead, find new and innovative ways to use combinations of micro-channels in ways others haven't envisioned. Test! Try things. The mighty online marketing empire probably peaked last September, and is now being nibbled all around the edges by the very micro-channels it enabled.