The Marketing Stack: Infrastructure

Ian Lurie Jun 1 2015

In part 1, I talked about the marketing stack as a whole. In this post, I’ll walk through the base of the stack: Infrastructure.

Part 1: The digital marketing stack
Part 2: Infrastructure ← You are here
Part 3: Analytics
Part 4: Content
Part 5: The channels – paid, earned and owned

Infrastructure drives internet marketing. It's the base of the stack.

Infrastructure drives digital marketing. It's the base of the stack.

Infrastructure delivers content to channels and powers the tools you use to analyze the results.

The better your infrastructure, the more effective your marketing. You don’t have to be the head of IT to check on the following:

Stability

Does your website work 99.9999% of the time? If not, you’ve got stability problems. Assume that the first time your site fails is the last time a customer uses it. Your goal should be 100% stability. To get there, think about:

  • Hardware. The cloud is a solid option here. If you use a decent provider.
  • Software. Build for stability first, features second. No use having a 3-tiered discount system or a custom comments toolset if it breaks your whole site.

Also, monitor! Make sure you know if when something breaks.

Speed

I will harp on this until the day I hang up my nerd pants. A faster site is the single best investment you can make. Think about:

  • Image compression. Friends don’t let friends upload uncompressed images.
  • Content distribution. Use. A. CDN. That’s Content Distribution Network. It delivers ‘static’ content like javascript, images and CSS in compact format over super-speedy networks.
  • Caching. Simple rule of server caching: Never deliver the same thing twice to the same browser. Ever.
  • Rendering time. Download time isn’t the only factor. Organize HTML code so browsers can quickly sift through your page and display it.

Those are the starting point. Get them done, then learn the crap out of site speed optimization. Read our posts about the basics and the geektacular techniques for squeezing a little more speed out of your site.

And don’t forget third-party platforms. You can compress images for Facebook and Twitter too, you know.

Scalability

What happens if you go from 200 to 200,000 transactions? That may feel far-fetched, but it’s easy to prepare for that kind of scale and the upside is worth it.

Think about scalability of day-to-day management, too: Moderation, customer service and content management have to grow as you do.

Be reasonable. If your budget is $5,000, you can’t build a publishing platform that can handle 20 million visitors per day. Still, you can build for scalability within any budget by building smart.

Security

No explanation necessary. Don’t even try to do this yourself. Hire an expert.

Configuration

All servers should respond with

“Yes ma’am! No ma’am!”

when a web browser arrives. Most respond with

“yesh pershon how help may I youze hic burp…”

Make sure:

  • Your site employs the correct response codes
  • Messages get to the right people. Sounds oh-so-simple, but double-check that those support requests don’t go to trash
  • You’re logging errors
  • You’re logging full traffic data in server log files, no matter what fancy-shmancy web analytics toolset you use

People

People are part of your infrastructure. Ask yourself this: Do you have the right people in the right places? Can they run things and improve them?

This is the subject of many a self-help book, and I’ve made far too many mistakes to present myself as anything other than an example of what not to do. One of my favorite, simple books on the subject is Lead with Respect. Give it a shot.

Infrastructure. It’s not just for bridges any more

If you’re looking for a place to improve online revenue, conversion rates or overall experience, start with infrastructure. It’s position at the bottom of the stack means changes here have the broadest possible payoff.

Note: Read a bit more about infrastructure and compare it to other parts of the stack in our Marketing Stack Explainer.

Part 1: The digital marketing stack
Part 2: Infrastructure ← You are here
Part 3: Analytics
Part 4: Content
Part 5: The channels – paid, earned and owned