A Conversation Marketing Refresher

Ian Lurie

I’m prepping for my talk tonight at the SDMA (the Seattle Direct Marketing Association) and realized it’s been a long time since I revisited the fundamentals of Conversation Marketing.

The rules are simple:

Know Your Goals

If you don’t know what ‘success’ is, it’s hard to achieve it. Make sure you know what action(s) you want your online audience to take: A purchase, a download, a registration, or maybe just a minimum number of page views. Having this goal clear in your mind makes the rest of the job easier.

Know the Room

Know who your audience is, and what they want. If you can write down 2-3 questions that, if you answer them, will close the deal with your audience, you’re set.

Dress Appropriately

That’s appropriately, not ‘cool’. Given your goals and the room, how should your web site look? The key here is to avoid designing for your tastes, and instead design for your audience.

Sound Smart

From how your site’s built to the text, images and other media, make sure what you say will make sense.

Make a Connection

Give your audience a way to keep in touch. That could mean an e-mail newsletter, RSS, or a ‘my homepage’ personalization feature. It could mean something totally different. Just make sure they have an incentive and the means to say ‘Yes, please contact me later.’

Brag Modestly

Get other people to brag for you. Search engines, blogging, well-considered paid ads and e-mail can all do the job.

Observe and Adjust

Web analytics let you see and interpret user behavior on your web site. The most basic traffic report can give you great insight. Don’t do without!

The Point of it All

What I really lose track of, though, is the forest all these trees make. The point isn’t each individual step – it’s about the linkages. You can’t assess your audience without a clear goal in mind. You can’t create a good design if you don’t assess your audience. And you can’t sound smart if you ignore your audience and goals, or have a lousy design, because the conversation won’t progress that far.

You can’t carry out successful search engine optimization (brag modestly) if your site is improperly coded (sound smart). And you’ll lose customers who might otherwise register or sign up for a newsletter (make a connection) if they can’t find those features (dress appropriately) or they get incomprehensible error messages (sound smart).

Any ad campaign you execute will be a flop, or at best an unknown, if you don’t collect any data (observe and adjust). And those ad campaigns will fail if the site you send folks to doesn’t meet their needs (know the room).

And, finally, you can’t assess your progress and come around again, sounding smarter and dressing more appropriately, if you have no idea what’s working and what’s not (observe and adjust).

‘Internet Marketing’ includes everything from the first time you think about your web site to the ad campaigns you launch. You can’t separate them and be as successful.

OK, back to my Powerpoint….

Ian Lurie

Ian Lurie is the founder of Portent. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (that's more than 25 years, if you're counting). Ian's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Ian is now an independent consultant and continues to work with the Portent team, training the agency group on all things digital. You can find him at www.ianlurie.com

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