“Don’t Be Stupid!”–Words Of Advice From Avinash Kaushik

Among the standing room only crowd at the SES conference in Toronto last week, Avinash Kaushik, the Google Marketing Evangelist spoke about the things that annoy users and keep businesses from maximizing their online results.

There were two points that really stood out. “The obsession businesses have with ranking is stupid,” he said. The primary goal of your marketing campaign should not be to get the highest ranking on a search engine results page. The key to success lies in making sure that consumer’s queries are answered, that they are directed to relevant content and that it is easy for them to conduct business transactions.

This may seem like a marketing truism, but he pointed to many examples of businesses online who put their business priorities ahead of the needs of consumers. This is done sometimes by making consumers go to the homepage of a business’ website rather than a landing page focused on the customer’s objective. It pays, he says, to give the user exactly what they want.

“All actions have value”. The second major point he made was to focus on what drives business success. Think beyond just accumulating clicks. Conversions may take an average of 15 days depending on the category. One click does not tell the whole story. In order to understand the path to purchase, marketers have to look at the entire accumulation of steps that the consumer took in order to understand how to influence consumers appropriately. He said “Giving credit to first click in multichannel attribution is like giving credit to my first girlfriend for marrying my wife”.

There is an interconnectivity among multiple channels that helps focus the marketing message and using multiple channels ensures that a business will be found everywhere a consumer searches. The web is the ultimate expression of nurturing a consumer relationship so that businesses can respond to the specific user needs and are able to provide the most appropriate product to purchase. These words of advice are not new. They are the same messages that we talk to clients about all the time, but it is nice to hear that the much lauded Google Evangelist preaches these things too.

Avinash’s top insights include:

1. The web is about creating happiness for the users. Three things are supremely important online when it comes to users– acquisition, experience and loyalty. It is obvious that without targeting and acquiring the right user, no business results are possible. This is not generally done through one click but through a process where a relationship develops with your company or brand.

Consumer experience is also important. Without the right experience, the consumer may leave your business altogether or not have a good impresssion of your product or brand. The internet is the greatest chance to develop a relationship with your consumer. The consumer is the most important element when creating a user experience and it is the chance not only to influence purchase but to develop loyalty. That should be part of the overall business objective.

Loyalty is the greatest of all assets because it allows you to influence behaviour. Once influence develops, loyalty will ensure that consumers keep coming back. Isn’t that what all businesses crave?

2. “Don’t Rely on One Medium!” Media is so fragmented and consumer usage habits are so diverse that multi media campaigns are mandatory and they should include all types of media including offline sources like TV, Radio and Print. “If someone tells you TV is dead– they are stupid!” Avinash commented. People are morphing their habits and layering their media and it mandates a holistic look at the path to purchase. It is not dependent on one ad or one click or one media.

3. “Data puking is stupid!” says Avinash. Today so much data is available. All the data in the world will not be helpful if you are not tracking the appropriate metrics that drive the business. Focus on the business case– if it doesn’t create revenue, drive profits or increase share, why are you doing it? At the end of the day, Avinash is a pragmatist who believes that we should look at online marketing in context of its place in the path to purchase. It is a view that has endeared him to Marketers and data geeks alike and it is no surprise that they hung onto his every word. If you have a chance to see him talk– don’t hesitate to go. You’ll never look at data the same way again.

Sandy Scopa, Research Director

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