Some of you will remember the School House Rock videos from the 1970s and 1980s that helped students to better understand topics including grammar and government. One Public Service Announcement from that series was Conjunction Junction included the lines:
Hooking up two boxcars and making ‘em run right…
Milk and honey, bread and butter, peas and rice.
In 2012 this has become a perfect analogy for what needs to happen with many disjointed digital marketing ecosystems across large organizations – they need to find the “And, Or, and But” which aren’t everything but will “get you pretty far.” In short, integration is the single most important consideration for digital marketers, and the message is coming from all directions.
Probably the most important conjunction for digital marketing organizational alignment is the “And.” Rosetta Partner Jason Tabeling recently shared some great “ands” to consider between paid and owned media, as he defined 3 Ways to Begin Aligning Your PPC & SEO Strategies for Search Engine Watch. He describes perfectly the peanut butter and “chocolaty” relationship between SEO and PPC – either is great on their own to many, but the combination forms a bond that now may even rival bread and butter as well as peas and rice.
In order to make the “and” happen, you have to proactively seek testing opportunities, and get buy-in from all parties – especially executive sponsorship.
The “ Or”
Successful integration of digital marketing tactics also requires understanding when the “Or” comes into play. You can’t force integration! Sometimes it has to come down to simply “this or that.” Analytics –specifically geared towards conversion and qualified lead metrics – should be the primary influencer in identification of “Or” situations. Also, tests with using “Or” instead of “And” should always be monitored and validated as often as possible.
For example, Rosetta has tested lowering PPC spend on a particular luxury product, since we had strong natural search rankings and an overall low online conversion rate for this often store-bought item. In the short term it turned out to be a brilliant plan since the overall online conversions for the product set actually increased, and PPC money was freed up for other categories. However after 18 months we tested if there was a loss of branding value higher in the conversion funnel as a result of having less overall exposure on the search page, and the data suggested we get back to targeting dual exposure for the specific product.
The message is coming from everywhere that integration is the way of the successful future. At the recent Search Engine Strategies conference held in San Francisco, many speakers addressed the value of dedicating time towards process integration across all forms of Paid, Owned and Earned Media (POEM). From the opening to the closing keynote, there were passionate pleas for digital marketers to work together. Google evangelist and analytics industry leader Avinash Kaushik, who is an extremely entertaining speaker as well as a powerfully though-provoking writer, spent time describing the importance of what I would paraphrase as, “getting rid of the ‘buts’.” These “Buts” continue to be the primary impediment to progress, and often center around stubborn individuals in project or channel leadership roles.
In Kaushik’s long blog post, which covers a few topics, he describes his experience in the way that organizational structure needs to be aligned in order to properly integrate efforts:
In mature organizations a centralized-decentralized model works best. The central team is responsible for analytics frameworks, centralized contracts (tools, consultants), for aggregated company level analysis, complex project execution (experimentation, media mix models etc) and for setting standards. The decentralized teams understand the difference between reporting and analysis, and simply focus on fast, hyper-relevant analysis!
Embracing the “Ands,” considering the “Ors,” and circumventing the “Buts” is the coal, electricity, and steam that can move the marketing train to the digital integration station. Organizations that continue to be siloed will fall further and further behind those that holistically manage POEM.