Saturday, May 19, 2018

Is your digital presence failing? It’s probably not a technology problem


A few years ago, I wrote a post where I lamented the fact that analytics fails are often blamed on technology when, in fact, the technology is not the problem and changing it solves nothing.

One of the main causes for failure I noted there was faulty data resulting not from a technology issue; but from poor governance rendering the analytics untrustworthy – and thus nearly useless. In other words, it’s a content problem, not a packaging issue.

As a follow-up to that post, I want to discuss an analogous issue that I see in digital marketing.
Lately, I have been implementing analytics on the digital properties for organizations that do not have much experience with digital marketing. These clients launch their websites and social presence with high expectations that they will generate interest and high levels of engagement with their intended audiences.

Often, I can report that they do… at first.

And then it all falls off. Sometimes very quickly. Traffic starts to wither and the visitors that do come no longer engage as well.

Storytelling is no fun when the data tells a sad story.

The reactions to this tend to follow a pattern: The technology must be to blame. First they question the accuracy of the data. Once I assure them nothing has changed and the analytics are working properly, attention is turned to the website design and the branding elements on the social platforms. What often follows is some modest experimentation with design changes that yields little or no improvement.

Soon, there is talk of an entire website redesign. It’s around this time that I suggest that maybe the technology platforms are not the problem. Perhaps the content that worked well at launch has become stale and needs regular updates to remain relevant and compelling.

Once that reality sets in, the idea of experimenting with fresh content in the form of messages, photos, video, etc. starts to look better than a time consuming, and likely expensive site redesign.
At this point, the problem becomes that the staffing plan does not include having people dedicated to developing new content on an ongoing basis. This, in turn, creates resistance. A one-time design change is easier to pay for.

The only way I know to counter this flawed thinking is with a focused effort, even if it is temporary, to release new content, and monitor the impact.

Results will vary, but fresh content nearly always results in a positive spike in all the important metrics. This improvement, however, can only be sustained with an ongoing effort and dedicated resources, along with an incremental design optimization program to maximize the impact of your content.

That is - people and process will matter more than technology in the long run.

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