The Human Factor

I recently attended an Interactive Marketing Blowout; a day-long series of seminars featuring some of the industry’s best and brightest as presenters / speakers. Much of the focus was on technology and how it is transforming the marketing world. There was very little mention of the human factor.

Overheard during a break in the action, “One of my clients wanted a Pay-Per-Click campaign. If you’re using the right software, it’s no big deal. It only took me five minutes to set the whole thing up.”

One small step for the Adman, one giant loss for his client!

True, software programs facilitate building a keyword list, evaluating Advertiser competition, estimating search volume, and predicting Page Ranking while considering Cost-Per-Click. More data is available, but generally, that’s as far as it goes.

Here’s why The Human Factor matters.

In preparation for an upcoming PPC Campaign, my firm spent five days, not five minutes, performing due diligence. We spent the first 60 minutes with the software tools (Google; Yahoo! Search), and the rest conducting our own searches – word-by-word, site-by-site, link-by-link – on the web. We knew that there was keyword competition, but not who those competitors were. If we had stopped after an hour, we would not have discovered the following:

1) The names of our client’s competitors who were using PPC, what words or terms they were buying, and where. Valuable competitive intelligence.

2) An additional 60 high-performing, product-specific keywords being used on the web, which we used to build out our target list.

3) Bids on some of the most desirable, highly-contested Keywords had not been placed by our client’s competitors, but by vertical-specific associations, directories, and so forth. This insight was leveraged to beef up our Link Back Strategy.

4) Six (previously unknown) new competitors and one that had ceased operations.

5) Several online “Malls” offering competitors’ products and not our client’s. Obviously, this creates additional strategic / tactical opportunities.

6)One competitor is using our client’s brand as a Keyword. Very smart, and an actionable insight, which suggests tactical moves to remedy this.

7) Two Vertical Search opportunities – alternative engines with superior Keyword search volumes and no competition – promising in terms of driving traffic at a reduced CPC.

8) Two vertical-specific Forums, each with more than 15,000 active members, which allowed us to present our client with several more options: pursue Link Back; participate as a knowledge leader; advertise; or, all three?

I could go on and on (I usually do). Of course, we gathered a great deal more data, and we’ll use all of it going forward. Bottom line, we would not have such information if we had ignored The Human Factor in a technology-dominated equation.

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