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Ellen Corrigan of iCrossing on the basics of Internet marketing

I thought I’d do an interview with Ellen Corrigan of iCrossing to get some tips on where Internet marketing is going, and she talked about that, but the most important advice she gave is that the more things change, the more the stay the same. “Do the basics right,” she said, instead of getting too tied up in the new stuff that your forget what’s important. See what else she had to say.


Ellen’s title is Senior Account Director & Strategist at iCrossing, a global digital marketing company, so she is perfectly positioned to advise us Internet marketers on what we should be paying attention to. She was happy to answer a number of questions for us in an e-mail interview.
Me: What’s your background? How did you end up in the job you have now?
EC: I started managing Internet marketing on the client side and loved it. I knew I wanted to learn more about the space, especially paid search, so I researched Interactive Agencies that had the best reputation. I joined NewGate Internet and worked with an amazing team of media managers, strategists and developers. I moved to iCrossing with its acquisition of NewGate. While my main focus is paid and organic search and feeds, I work on other interrelated services such as Web design and social media. iCrossing has the philosophy that all Web behavior is rooted in Search. I really believe that is true, and so my background plays very well into all of our services.
Me: For those who don’t know, can you explain what business iCrossing is in? What companies do you work with and what do you do for them?
EC: iCrossing is a digital marketing agency that helps connect customers with the brands that we serve. iCrossing was founded as a search agency and we are the only company that applies that DNA in search to other areas of digital marketing such as Web development, display, analytics, social media, and mobile.
iCrossing works in many verticals—e.g., Retail, Travel, Entertainment, Auto, Consumer Package Goods, and Telecommunications. Our clients include major brands such as Coca-Cola, Toyota and Travelocity. One of our key differentiators is our ability to integrate our multiple services into a single digital strategy. We currently have 620 employees in 15 offices in the U.S. and Europe.
Me: How does iCrossing help customers understand all the choices they have for Internet marketing these days?
EC: We customize a plan for each client and make recommendations based on our experience. We have worked in this industry for a long time, and we know what tactics and networks work for each vertical. As new products and strategies come online, we test and retest. For example, when Google initially launched content advertising, we kept refining our campaigns and worked directly with Google to identify tools that would help us optimize and grow these campaigns. We also built technology to help us collect and manage data. We now have many effective strategies that work in content based on the vertical.
Me: With so many options for how marketers spend their advertising dollars, how does someone decide how to allocate their budget?
EC: Our job is to help our clients make these hard decisions. There definitely are some tactics that work for every company, like organic search. It should be a staple in every company’s marketing mix.
Defining a company’s objectives is key. We have some clients that are interested in driving revenue online and some that are interested in increasing brand exposure. Some major brands don’t necessarily have an online conversion factor, so it is our job to define metrics that justify each tactic. For example, what is the value of paid search impressions for a major brand? We live and die by numbers and for everything we do, we have to figure out a way to measure it, report the results to our clients and use this intelligence to drive the marketing mix.
Me: What’s the biggest challenge you see for marketers as their advertising choices become more and more dizzying?
EC: There is no guesswork in advertising anymore. All of our clients want to see extensive metrics around each campaign that we manage. With digital marketing we can provide the data and the answers, but sometimes the amount of data that we are crunching and how it relates to other on and offline data becomes incredibly complicated.
The biggest challenge is figuring out how to measure all the efforts and how they fit together. We’ve developed a rather advanced marketing dashboard that is currently in use by clients that pulls, and analyzes in data from different online and offline sources, and presents that information in a single view. This visual approach definitely helps identifying trends and opportunities.
Me: How do customers decide between search marketing, display ads, and other choices?
EC: We generally start with the basics and stabilize the main campaign. The basics include paid and organic search, feeds, banners, emails and affiliates. Once the main campaign is stabilized and we understand the metrics, we start testing other networks and strategies and see how they compare against the main campaign.
Me: Can you explain to people what behavioral targeting is and why marketers ought to pay attention?
EC: Behavioral targeting is looking at consumers’ behavior online and serving advertisements based on their areas of interest. Marketers ought to pay attention because it works and is incredibly powerful. The networks are still refining their delivery capabilities around these ads, but where we have tested, we have seen very promising results.
Me: Do you have any tips to give marketers who might be struggling to keep up with all the changes that happen each year in Internet marketing?
EC: Do the basics right. If you start trying to get too complicated or launch every new service, you can waste your resources&mdas;not necessarily financial resources, but your online marketing team’s ability to optimize and maximize your core business. When it comes down to it, the core strategies will provide the best return. Other strategies offer incremental value. As the newer strategies mature, they will provide more and more value, but if you aren’t managing your basic marketing efforts well, you will lose profitability.
Me: Do you have any predictions for where Internet marketing is going?
EC: We are moving towards more relevancy. With the focus on demographic, behavioral, remarketing efforts and consumer-generated content, the goal is to provide relevant experiences and information to the millions of personalities that are searching online. The goal is to help everyone find what they are looking for as quickly as possible. Whether it’s buying a specific product or researching in-depth, online marketing will have to cover all the bases and be in all forums with the appropriate voice. In social spaces, people are searching for honest opinions outside a company’s marketing speak. Companies will have to develop and launch strategies to reach consumers in an appropriate and respectful way in all online forums and networks to be successful.
Me: Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions for my readers.

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in internet marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, a leading digital media marketing consultancy based in New York City. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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  1. Avatar Naruto

    Nice article and nice way of answering these questions.They are really helpful for us
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    Naruto Ninja

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