Posted June 25, 2009 3:15 pm by with 6 comments

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By Al Scillitani

You can excel in all marketing channels individually, yet never achieve overall optimal marketing health. Right now you are only feeding each marketing channel breads and grains, but they all need their fruits and vegetables too. Take your next online promotion to the next level.

I see a lot of articles on improving paid search, SEO, email, or social media, but not many on how these channels must all work together to improve overall conversions of a promotion. Everyone needs to understand that online promotions should work in sync with each other, not independently. By aligning all your promotional efforts in all channels, you are increasing your chances of marketing success. When I write “all,” I mean all: social media, email, paid search, affiliates, and any other channels you are using. Imagine increasing your conversion rates by .5 percent to two percent, or possibly more, in each marketing channel.

Ever notice when you have a successful email promotion, you get a slight bump in traffic and sales from all other channels? Can you take further advantage of this extra traffic and sales to boost sales even further? The answer is yes, with a holistic online marketing approach.

Many companies use a non-holistic approach, and if you step back and look at a very high level, you can see how this approach can never achieve the same success as a holistic approach.

An example of a Non-Holistic Approach “Food” Pyramid

Non Holistic Marketing Approach

Merchandising is in charge of the promotion and overall responsibility of website product placement, wording, and message. Your design team may have designed an image for your homepage with the email promotion.

Social media efforts include an informational blurb about a new product that has nothing to do with the promotion. The affiliate team is focusing their efforts on obtaining new affiliates and reviewing reports.

Your paid search person, whether they are in-house or outsourced, is pretty much out of the loop of each promotion. Your organic search person is evaluating ranking reports and trying to come up with ideas for articles and other ways to get backlinks.

I see the above scenario over and over. It doesn’t seem like everyone is on the same page. Merchandising is not working with marketing, marketing is not working with design, design has no idea what the actual marketing theme and message of the promotion is. How is this supposed to work? Does this look like the best way to promote your business, your products or your services? I see this as a problem, but I also see this as a huge opportunity.

The Holistic Approach

The goal of the holistic approach is to understand that all online marketing channels must work together for maximum results. When a great promotion launches, it starts chatter, online and off. People will mention it on deal sites, coupon sites, blogs, and forums. All of this chatter can be used to further increase your conversions. Also, keep in mind your customers will get an email, yet still type your URL directly into their browser, search in their favorite engine, etc. instead of clicking on the email link. This is why all traffic to your site seems to increase with a great email promotion.

Holistic Marketing Approach

There are several differences between approaches that go on behind the scenes.

1. With the holistic approach, you should meet as a team to discuss the overall theme and marketing message of the promotion. Who is invited? Merchandising, Catalog, Email, Paid Search, SEO Person, Social Media Person, Affiliate, and anyone else that is involved in your online marketing efforts.
2. Even though this is a team approach, for accountability reasons, one person should lead the meeting and be responsible for the overall success of the promotion. It appears most promotions are based around an email. If this is the case, and your email manager is in the marketing department, this person may be the Email Manager. If not, the lead should still be part of the marketing department (not merchandising, finance, IT). Once merchandising states what the product/service promotion is, the team should give input as to the actual theme and marketing message. This brainstorming does a lot, not just for a complete understanding of the promotion and getting some great ideas, but everyone becomes owners of the promotion and wants the promotion to succeed.

Accountability is very important in the Holistic Approach. Before, if the promotion did not do well, no one took responsibility or ownership. While the team brainstorms and decides on the actual theme and wording, the person responsible for the promotion, the marketing lead, is the person who has final say. With one person now accountable, and everyone’s input taken into consideration, they feel as if they are part owners in the success of the promotion. I know there are many factors involved in the actual success of a promotion, such as inventory and prices. If the promotion didn’t do as expected, or did much better than expected, you will start to see everyone investigate why the promotion did not do well or why it succeeded. Keep in mind that as long as you learn from the poor performing promotion, it was not a failure.

Now that paid search knows what the promotion is, they have time to create enticing ads such as “Free Shipping This Week Only,” “$20 Off Coupon,” or “Father’s Day Closeouts.” Include promotional text on the landing page. If it can’t, try changing the landing page to the home page so customers see the promotion and then can link to the product or service. The best scenario, of course, is to test landing page concepts to see which converts the best.

Social Media can start the promotion buzz. Organic search can create articles, reviews, landing page text, and more to increase conversions. The affiliate manager can notify the affiliates and coupon sites of the promotion

One of the largest contributors in the success of the promotion is your design team. If your design team understands the theme and message of the promotion, they can help in many ways:

1. Create banners and modules to use on the website and used for affiliates websites that don’t just look great, but are designed with the proper message in mind.
2. Work with paid search and SEO to add banners to the landing page of the products or to the top of every page. How many times have you opened a promotional email, clicked on the link, and have been taken to an interior page with no promotion in sight? This will also happen with paid search. Many of your paid search landing pages go directly to the product or service that is getting promoted. The customer bypasses the homepage with all the details. The customer can easily feel the promotion must have expired and ends up leaving the site.
3. Set goals for each metric, email open rates, click thru rates, conversion rates, and revenue.
4. Meet after promotion is over to review metrics. Where did you exceed your goals, where did you not reach your goals? Why?

Even though many do not place design under marketing, your design team knows their designs have an impact on sales. Their involvement in the results of the campaign will most likely result in increased sales.

To summarize the Holistic Online Marketing Approach:

1. Get the search team involved in the promotional theme and message.
2. Involve Design Team in marketing meetings
3. Assign accountability, goals, and strive for others to take ownership.
4. Make sure the promotion is in sync with all marketing channels.

This is an entry to Marketing Pilgrim’s 4th Annual SEM Scholarship contest.

  • Nathania Johnson

    Al’s right. While it’s tempting to place search on a pedestal due to its measurement methods, it’s true glory is found as part of a multi-channel marketing effort. On the flip side, non-search marketing professionals need to give search a place at the strategy table. Of course, making all of this happen can be tough, so posts such as these provide a roadmap to integration.

  • Rick Ferguson

    Al – this is a great overview of a holistic approach to marketing. I specifically commend your comments related to number 3 and 4 in the summary. Setting goals, demanding accountability, and implementing a systemic method of measurement is critical in any form of marketing, and this is so frequently overlooked by business large and small. In the same way, I consistently see an incongruity within departments as related to promotion, as well as other aspects of marketing. By clearly defining the steps, expected outcome, accountable individuals and assessing results, a business can eliminate a significant portion of error, miscommunication and overlooked data.

  • hey, those pyramids helped me understand so much more, thank you for all your info, it helps.

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  • Awesome approach to push online business. Waiting for your next thought. You are internet marketing minter.

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