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The 7 Deadly Digital Sins
Knowing, and avoiding, the errors that undermine online marketing is a responsibility leaders shouldn’t delegate.
By Simon Lande
The “Rule of Seven” is well known in marketing and advertising as the number of times a person must be exposed to a brand before the message “sticks.” But the rule only works if each touch point gives a consistent, positive impression of the brand. When those impressions happen online, white noise, tactical mistakes and basic operational errors keep you from breaking through to your customers.
Consumers are inundated with more frequent marketing messages across multiple channels. Every chance to create a lasting, positive impression is vital. Every part of the organization is responsible for making the most of those impressions, but particularly the executives who should be leading the effort.
Leaders must implement digital oversight to turn common mistakes into competitive advantage. That’s where a new “Digital Rule of Seven” comes in – seven critical website mistakes (and how to avoid them).
1. Missing the point. The web team is often not at the table when the big corporate decisions are made, so when the new strategy is unveiled, there’s no guidance on how the website should serve it.
Take the website out of its silo. Make the web team part of strategy discussions with all departments and teams, at all levels, from the very beginning.
2. Building on sand. Visitors expect to see consistent, accurate information. In a highly crowded landscape, companies that deliver a great user experience can seize competitive advantage.
To avoid a “wobbly” website, define and account from the very beginning the key “pillars” that form the foundation of a robust website – usability, SEO and accessibility.
3. The phantom standard. Managed effectively, website policies and standards can help you protect your brand, reduce your development and maintenance costs, and ensure an optimized user experience. For policies and standards to succeed, you need an end-to-end plan for defining, implementing and managing them throughout the website lifecycle.
4. “That ain’t my job.” Often, there are far too many cooks in the kitchen. Between web editors, designers, brand guardians, executives and third-party agencies, site management and governance can disintegrate into a sporadic activity. Without individual responsibility, even the best standards will fail to deliver. This responsibility must be clear and explicit.
5. The issue with stone tablets. Markets evolve. Threats and opportunities emerge. Business plans alter focus. Sadly, for many websites, things just go on as normal.
Effective management and governance processes are always evolving but your website is tied to your business objectives. If your objectives change, so must your site (and possibly the standards you use to manage it).
6. The people problem. People are difficult and brilliant, in equal measure. They are inherently creative. They want to improve things. They want to make their mark.
Unfortunately, sometimes they do so at the expense of your website’s effectiveness. Ultimately, getting your website right is not simply about assessing analytics data such as traffic, referrals and conversion rates. It’s far more effective to build a culture of best practice.
7. The Estonian microsite problem. Corporate sites in multiple languages. Local office sites. Campaign-specific microsites! Keeping track of all that information can be a nightmare.
Avoid drowning in content by making data your friend. Ongoing measurement is a must if you are to understand how your site is performing against your key performance indicators (KPIs) and your defined policies and standards. It’s only then that you can determine whether you are on track or need to take some remedial action.
Achieving all the above used to be much easier, but the amount of content that comes in and out of organizations has exploded. We’re producing more content and using many different tools across many different channels. It all affects the brand experience. As a result, maintaining brand consistency has become a very challenging problem.
Only when “digital governance” becomes a priority in the C-Suite will this be effectively addressed. That is, just as upper management provides processes and standards to govern offline communications, they should provide oversight for digital communications, as well. Top-down leadership is needed to set and enforce these vital rules across the organization. That is a responsibility executives simply cannot hand off or ignore.