Internet marketing lessons: Select, don’t accumulate
Ian Lurie Aug 10 2011
There’s one concept in Atlas Shrugged that’s always stuck with me: Select, don’t accumulate. Ayn Rand was referring to stuff, of course: Everything from throw rugs to chairs to books. I love the idea in ‘real life.’ But it works awfully well in internet marketing, too.
Accumulation marketing: We all do it
Accumulation marketing is very, very hard to resist: It’s the old principle of ‘eyeballs at any price.’ When you buy impression-based advertising on a major site because you know how many millions of visitors they get, you’re buying into accumulation marketing, just a little bit. If you rent an e-mail list, you’re raising your hands in the Church of Accumulation and shouting “I AM SAVED.”
When we slash someone’s PPC budget, and their site traffic plunges, their palms sweat. So do mine. As long as the sales keep coming, it’s OK. But we’ve had to turn the traffic back up, in spite of solid sales, more than once. It’s just too scary to watch all those visits go away. Accumulation = addictive.
Accumulation marketing isn’t always bad! It helps you find new niches, new customers and new audiences. But if you completely rely on it, things can go really wrong. Microsoft’s recent social media gaffe is an extreme example. They threw a message out there, trolling for attention. They got it. Just not the kind they wanted.
Selection marketing: Happier customers, better efficiency
Selection marketing is harder to do. It requires a carefully-targeted message, and a lot of attention to detail. It means you have to spend $20 on Google Adwords, instead of $2000, and watch what happens, one customer at a time.
But, selection marketing brings you customers right when they’re ready to buy from you. You get there by:
- Researching, choosing and testing long-tail terms in Adwords;
- Working your tail off on conversion rate optimization;
- Analyzing site performance one page at a time;
- Answering customer questions on sites like Twitter and Quora.
Selection marketing is more sustainable, more efficient, and turns every customer you get into a new salesperson.
Sanity break: Find a balance
Every business needs a balance: Some select, some accumulate, blended together. That lets you build audience with people who aren’t yet prospective customers (accumulate) while bringing in the folks who are ready to buy right now (select). The trick is tuning the dial just right.
A bit of history
Many, many years ago, I wrote about marketing and selection versus accumulation. You can read it here.
OK, done rambling for tonight.
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Ian Lurie is CEO and founder of Portent Inc. He's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Forbes.com and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, SIC and ad:Tech. Follow him on Twitter at portentint. He also just published a book about strategy for services businesses: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle. Read More