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Countdown to digital marketing success

“T-minus 9 minutes and holding…” I watched the final launch of Space Shuttle Atlantis recently with a bittersweet mixture of delight, sadness and surprise. The delight, because, dude… Spaceflight! The sadness, because I was witnessing the end of an historic chapter in space travel. And the surprise because, even after 134 prior launches for the program and 31 for Atlantis, the flight team and ground crew still followed a detailed checklist. They worked from a script throughout the countdown, making sure all the right switches were flipped and all the right steps were followed. Which, when you think about it, seems like a good idea. After all, it’s designed to ensure success in launching 4 human beings plus a couple hundred-thousand pounds of shuttle (give or take), into orbit. And it made me wonder, why is it so few marketers work this way?

“T-minus 5 minutes and counting…”
Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Marketing is all about passion, creativity. We can’t follow checklists or processes to do what we do!”

Right. And designing a multi-billion dollar launch vehicle and orbiter that puts people in space–and brings them home safely–requires no creativity at all.

Have you ever watched the film Apollo 13? Those folks prized their mission, cared about their colleagues and were as creative as David Ogilvy and Hugh MacLeod combined. But they recognized the value of a repeatable process. Great improvisational musicians like Wynton Marsalis and Eric Clapton rely on muscle memory built up through hours of repetitive practice to free their minds and fingers to explore during performance without fear of hitting a sour note. And of knowing how to react if they do. Working from a prepared “script” or checklist allows you room to experiment. What happens if we change the sequence of our campaign launch? Can we drive additional revenue if we…?

The best thing is, you can start with a simple process and add to it as you go. For example, try working from a simple checklist to start:

  • Have we set our campaign goals?
  • Did we choose a customer segment to target?
  • Have we aligned our channels, segments and goals?
  • Did we choose keywords our customer segments will search?

And so on.

Process isn’t the enemy. It’s a structure that gives you support when you want to try something new.

“T-minus 1 minute and counting…”
Marketing will always depend on passion and creativity. But the best marketers examine everything they do to find processes that work. What’s your ROI? Can you test a headline, frame a message or create a call-to-action to increase engagement, clicks or conversions? Do you know how much you’re bidding on terms relative to last week, last month, last year? Do you know what you’ve done that’s decreased that cost? If not, could you? What’s stopping you?

“1:00 minute into flight, 10 miles up, 25 miles downrange…”

Launching a campaign is nowhere near as complex as launching a space shuttle. But that’s no reason not to have your procedures down, your checklists ready. Give yourself some tools that will make launching your campaigns faster, cheaper, better. Update the process as you learn from every launch. And remember, don’t make it harder than it needs to be. After all, this isn’t rocket science.

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Tim Peter

Tim Peter built his first website in 1995 and loves that he still gets to do that every day. Tim has spent almost two decades figuring out where customers are, how they interact with brands online, and delivering those customers to his clients’ front door. These efforts have generated billions of dollars in revenue and reduced costs.

Tim works with client organizations to build effective teams focused on converting browsers to buyers and building their brand and business. He helps those companies discover how marketing, technology, and analytics tie together to drive business results. He doesn't get excited because of the toys or tech. He gets excited because of what it all means for the bottom line.

An expert in e-commerce and digital marketing strategy, web development, search marketing, and analytics, Tim focuses on the growth of the social, local, mobile web and its impact on both consumer behavior and business results. He is a member of the Search Engine Marketers Professional Organization (SEMPO), HSMAI, and the Digital Analytics Association.

Tim currently serves as Senior Advisor at SoloSegment, a marketing technology company that uses machine learning and natural language processing to improve engagement and conversion for large enterprise, B2B companies.

Tim Peter’s recent client work covers a wide range of digital marketing activities including developing digital and mobile marketing strategies, creating digital product roadmaps, assessing organizational capabilities, and conducting vendor evaluations for diverse clients including major hospitality companies, real estate brands, SaaS providers, and marketing agencies.

Prior to launching Tim Peter & Associates, LLC, a full-service e-commerce and internet marketing consulting firm in early 2011, he worked with the world’s largest hotel franchisor, the world’s premier independent luxury hotel representation firm, and a major financial services firm, developing various award-winning products and services for his customers. Tim can be reached at or by phone at 201-305-0055.

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