Who Holds the Power of Web Marketing?
Written by Edwin Thompson
The web has empowered both the buyer and seller. Fundamentally, it changed the tools people use to educate themselves about problems, research possible solutions, and identify options to solve those problems. Although it may seem as though the web has shifted all the power to the buyer, the seller benefits from a certain level of transparency as well – particularly into the buying cycle.
A typical buying cycle looks like this:
1. Awareness: The moment when the potential buyer realizes he could or should be doing something differently, or that something new and potentially better is available.
2. Education: He looks for possible ways to solve that problem.
3. Identification: He identifies a few options that meet the need.
4. Selection: He weighs the costs and makes a selection.
5. Purchase: He purchases (or not).
Hint: As the seller, you probably won’t be there at the moment of awareness, unless you created it. When someone drops a brick on their toe, that’s the ah-ha moment one realizes the need for foot protection or steel toe shoes. You get the idea.
The power of web marketing is the ability to see where someone is in this cycle and then respond appropriately. For example:
1. Awareness: Someone drops a brick on their foot.
2. Education: Search terms aren’t specific - “protective footwear” or “heavy duty boots” or “orthopedic surgeon.”
3. Identification: Search terms include “acme brand boots,” “steel toe boots,” “Kevlar boots” or more specific terms.
4. Selection: Search terms include “Size 10.5 Acme Brand boots” or “Black Steel Toe Boots.”
5. Purchase: The search term might be “Best price on Acme Brand Boots.”
Each stage in the buy cycle should have its own campaigns and be based on someone’s interaction. With each campaign the lead record should be updated to indicate the appropriate buy cycle stage. Content must be crafted based on specific data needs at each stage – whether it’s through email or through a content management system and dynamic content.
Those with long sales cycles need to be able to collect this information, store it, and make it visible to the sales organization. By itself, each interaction has little value unless someone fills out the contact form. By putting together a history, sales can see how a prospective buyer is progressing along the buying cycle.
While this seems simple and you are probably doing some level of this, the challenge with the web is the plethora of vehicles, program types and media options. When you combine that with other marketing initiatives such as events and email, the ability to track the combined set of activities and interactions is vital to getting an accurate picture.
The power of the web is the ability to create a two-way dialogue. While sales have given up control of the information, they gain greater insight into buyer behavior and very targeted web marketing programs designed to support their efforts. Admittedly, most companies have not yet made this sort of commitment to providing visibility into web marketing and buying cycles for their sales teams. For the moment, the power of the web is still in the hands of the buyer.
About the Author: Ed Thompson is Director of Demand Generation for The Pedowitz Group (TPG), a thriving revenue marketing agency. Recognized for balancing creativity with technology, Ed has spent the last 10 years of his career working for B2B technology companies helping them bring new products to market and generate revenue. He has won several Awards including Sales 2.0’s “Best Sales 2.0 Management” and Silverpop’s “Engaged Marketer” both a result of the Marketing Automation infrastructure Ed helped develop while at Brainshark.
His 25-year career began working with Advertising Agencies and publishing companies developing direct marketing solutions for advertisers. During his 10-year career with The Boston Globe, he served as Art Director to create new publishing vehicles, and led the efforts to create one of the first publications to utilize a fully digital pre-press process.
Contact Ed:[email protected] Follow Ed on Twitter: @EdtheWebGuy
Microsoft: Building a secure foundation to drive NASCAR
Microsoft is a key partner of The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) and together they are driving ahead to create an inclusive and immersive new fan experience (FX).
These long-term partners have not only navigated the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic with the use of Microsoft Teams and Microsoft 365, but are now looking to a future packed with virtual events to enhance the FX, well beyond NASCAR’S famous Daytona racetrack.
“Together, we've created a secure environment that's allowed for collaboration, but the future is all about the fans”, said Melinda Cook, General Manager for Microsoft South USA Commercial Business, who cited a culture of transparency, passion, adaptiveness, and a growth mindset as to why this alignment is so successful.”
“We've partnered to create a fluid, immersive experience for the users that is supported by a secure foundation with Microsoft in the background. We are focused on empowering and enabling customers and businesses, like NASCAR, to reach their full potential. We do this with our cloud platform which provides data insights and security.”
“Our cloud environment allows NASCAR to move forward with their digital transformation journey while we are in the background,” said Cook who highlights that Microsoft is helping NASCAR
- Empower employees productivity and collaboration
- Improve fan engagement and experience
- Improve environment security and IT productivity
- Improve racing operations
Microsoft Teams, which is part of the Microsoft 365 suite, enabled employees to work remotely, while staying productive, during the pandemic. “This allowed people to provide the same level of productivity with the use of video conference and instant messaging to collaborate on documents. Increased automation also allows the pit crews, IT, and the business to focus on safety, racing operations, and on the fan experience,” said Cook.
“We have started to innovate to create a more inclusive fanbase, this includes using Xbox to give people the experience of being a virtual racer or even leveraging some of the tools in Microsoft Teams to have a virtual ride along experience.”
“These environments are how we create a more inclusive and immersive experience for the fans. We're working on a virtual fan wall which allows people from new locations to participate in these events,” said Cook, who pointed out Microsoft was also helping bring legacy experiences alive from NASCAR’s archives.
“At Microsoft we can take it one level further by letting fans know what it's like to see the pit crew experience, the data and all the behind-the-scenes action. We will continue to improve automation with machine learning and artificial intelligence, from marketing to IT operations to finance to racing operations,” said Cook.
Christine Stoffel-Moffett, Vice President of Enterprise Technology at NASCAR, said: “Microsoft is one of our key partners. They have been instrumental in helping the NASCAR enterprise technology team re-architect our Microsoft systems to ensure an advanced level of security across our environment, contribute to our business outcomes, and focus on fan experience.”