I'm not the first to predict an increasingly fragmented online marketing landscape in 2011.
With consumers rapidly jumping between channels -- price-checking on their iPhones, turning to social networks for product information and coupons, and sourcing local information and reviews from a variety of places -- marketers are struggling to keep their message top of mind for the always-on consumer. Such a frenetic marketing landscape is enough make search marketers long for the good old days, when a simple desktop search was the starting point for almost all online purchases.
Today, marketers must deliver content on more platforms (web, mobile, social networks, TV, etc.) and in more formats (text, display, and video ads, mobile and social apps, branded entertainment, etc.) than ever before.
With consumers interacting with your marketing messages across channels, managing online marketing has become increasingly difficult. And, with paid search representing the largest and most complex of these channels, search marketers are required to integrate their tactics multiple marketing channels and disciplines.
Here are a few tips to help tame campaign fragmentation in 2011.
Focus on Communication
Executing an effective cross-channel marketing strategy requires communication across teams. It's typical for branding, search, and social teams to be managed by different functions, or even different agencies.
Everyone is working toward the same goals, but often it's easy to get trapped working within a given silo. While a mandate to work together is important, don't underestimate the value of human interaction.
Managers need to create opportunities for teams to come together socially and professionally, to share information, ideas, and pain points. An offsite involving cross-functional teams, for example, can be a great mechanism for updating everyone on new tactics, upcoming campaigns, and key touchpoints.
Make it Measurable
Paid search is one of the most measurable channels on the web -- marketers should try to extend that measurability to other channels.
With social marketing, for example, it's difficult to place a value on likes, fans, or followers. Instead, consider looking at how many social visitors also search and try to quantify the lift that social engagement has on search-driven purchase behavior.
For display or television advertising, use vanity URLs and keywords to track downstream searches and purchases. While the granularity and accuracy of these methods may not be as good as that of paid search, the discipline of measuring performance will help you to optimize and refine your marketing efforts over time.
Integrate Systems for Data Consistency
The challenge of dealing with consumers across multiple channels and formats is only compounded by using disparate systems for tracking and analyzing results. Vendors will sell you on how easy it is to deploy their system by simply adding another pixel.
Before saying yes, ask yourself if you need yet another tracking system. The answer is typically "no."
Make the effort to unify your analytics by integrating your campaign management systems with your existing measurement platforms. In doing so, you will eliminate data discrepancies that drive your team crazy and reduce attribution errors that apply too much revenue credit to the wrong channels.
While 2011 may be a year of increased marketing chaos, it also holds considerable promise for forward-thinking advertisers. Early adopters of an integrated cross-channel marketing strategy will have the opportunity to acquire customers at a lower total cost than organizations that continue to operate separate and disjointed marketing campaigns.
Long term, the winners will be brands able to coordinate their organizations, measurement tactics, and systems around a common set of processes and goals. Focusing on these high level objectives will make it easier to navigate in an increasingly fragmented marketing world.