As the support departments drift away for Christmas, marketing managers may find themselves running around like headless turkeys if their new, freshly seasoned web pages fail to pull in the punters. But who will be there to help them, asks Mark Simpson, Founder and President of Maxymiser.
With Christmas rapidly approaching, consumer-facing organisations of all kinds will soon be ramping up their marketing campaigns and honing their web content, keen to capitalise on the seasonable peak in spending, borrowing and holiday planning, especially after another miserably sluggish year.
For retailers, banks, travel companies, theatres, restaurants, events companies and a whole host of other organisations, the holiday period is a time when customers have more time and inclination than ever to browse the web, looking for gift ideas, booking train and plane tickets, and party venues, extending their overdraft limits, applying for new credit cards, making plans for the year ahead, and generally scouring the Internet for last-minute Christmas bargains and early new year sales.
For the marketer, this is a time to be particularly sharp and focused, rolling out timely, personalised web content and customised offers to maximise online sale conversions.
Yet, for the internal support functions, as the last calendar pages are torn off, this is a time when things start to wind down.
As party season kicks in, staff start to drift away on early leave and some back-office functions lock down altogether - marketing departments have every reason to worry that their timely promotional efforts may be thwarted by logistical constraints.
The trouble with existing approaches to web conversion optimisation tools and techniques is that most rely heavily on the involvement of internal technical resources to tag and test new pages.
If the required in-house IT specialists are preoccupied with completing time-sensitive projects or running management reports in advance of the Christmas holidays, this poses a significant problem, threatening marketing’s performance at a critical point in the business calendar.
This lack of control is troublesome and frustrating, and potentially very costly. If the necessary resources aren’t available, the marketers’ hands become tied. All they can do now is watch as potential customers slip away to discover competitive sites that have been more tightly honed, are easier to navigate and thereby achieve a higher percentage of sale conversions.
The alternative until now has been to stab in the dark, running promotions that have not been optimised, tweaked and honed, hoping for the best. But this is a huge risk, given that close competitors may be less reliant on technical help, and therefore in a position to capture business that is now coming to them from your direction.
This rather desperate approach – of blindly launching new pages - also wastes the significant investment that the company has made in optimisation tools and techniques. If these can’t be used when they’re needed most, what good are they?
The true cost of Christmas
The answer must be for companies to regain control of the mechanics of their online marketing activities. This is possible using specialist web conversion optimisation and personalisation solution providers that separate tags from testing.
Freeing the marketing department from its dependence on other internal resources also relieves the business from a huge cost-of-ownership burden which is inherent in supposedly cheap or even free web conversion optimisation platforms.
In the US, a major bank has cited costs in excess of $1 million a year associated with the IT element of its marketing-related web optimisation activities.
By contrast, in the UK, organisations such as EasyRoomMate, which brokers flat-share arrangements, have found that using a more intuitive solution, put in the hands of the marketing department itself, add up to an annual web optimisation cost which is substantially cheaper than running activities based on apparently ‘free’ tools.
By engaging a dedicated online conversion and testing vendor, marketers are not only freed from their dependence on already over-stretched internal IT teams, they also have new control over costs, returns, capabilities and speed of turnaround. This enables the business to be more dynamic, responsive and opportunistic in its online activities.
Since a majority of customers have a lot less disposable income this year, businesses can’t afford to let any leads slip away, so they need to be clever with the tools available to them for keeping and converting web customers.
The trouble with e-commerce is that there are no shop assistants to shout after the customer as they slope towards the door. Once the online opportunity has been closed, the chances are the customer won’t come back. They’ll be busy book-marking one of your rivals who has a faster, sexier site…
Santa would never leave Christmas to chance; nor should you.
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