Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Web traffic: Opinion piece I wrote for Brand Republic

I wrote this for Brand Republic ages ago and had forgotten about it, it just appeared today. In case you can't log in to BR (Ithink you need to be a subscriber, not sure?) I've re posted it here.
As an aside, i think i've been sub-edited as I'm fairly certain that the liberal sprinkling of the c-word (consumer)was not my doing. I've amended it for republication here.

"How to generate traffic to your website:

Conventional marketing usually involves investing a lot of time, effort and money trying to interrupt people who are busy doing something else and probably don't care about your products or services -- and it's usually through advertising.

About 5 years ago I could expect to encounter around 1,000 marketing messages per day as I go about my business. Today with more fragmented media channels, it's closer to 5,000.

The bad news for brands is that I am now better equipped for ignoring their messages than ever before.

The good news for brands is that they have assets to affect this that are massively underused and undervalued, which come in the form of the customers they already have.

More importantly, there's the core group of those customers who are strong brand ambassadors.

Brands need to work out who these people are, get their permission, build a relationship and dialogue, and then ask!

The big question is, can brands handle the fact that no-one actually cares much about them?

People care about their own passions and the groups and communities that they are part of -- even those that are extremely brand loyal only care because their chosen brands make it easy for them to do what they want to do (not vice versa).

We need to give consumers the tools to make their brand experience personal and relevant.

Build the affiliations -- syndicate the content using RSS and embed codes.

Attract visitors by sending them away -- link out to the individuals and groups that are talking about the same stuff.

The nature of the web is not as a communication channel, it's a connection channel.
Amazon.com is of course the great example of this empowerment of the customer: A friend of mine produces a podcast on Buddhism. He has a core community of around 200,000 listeners via his blog and i-tunes. Amazon's affiliate shops allow him to create his own "shop" within Amazon via a widget embedded in the blog where listeners can easily purchase further reading material to aid their practice.

Brands need to think about their site: "Is the content compelling? Is it worth talking about? Have I set in place the mechanisms to allow my best customers to personalise their experience, adapt and share the message? Does my site serve the needs and desires of my customers, not just the brand message? Do I have the systems in place to be able to listen and quickly respond -- with a human voice -- to comments and queries?"

And finally, brands need to ensure that their products, services and customer service is so good, actually forget good, so great that their core group of influential fans have something to shout about."

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