Perhaps one of the reasons why the news business is declining in Y/Y sales is that everyone followed industry accepted best practices. In other words, it did not innovate in step with understanding -- and moving ahead of -- the marketplace. It was a new kind of media company that launched the Kindle: Amazon.
Why is Amazon so successful?
Because it understands the digital medium and learns from customer behavior constantly. Go to the site after a book search and browse on related links on that page. What do you see up top in the URL? Exactly. Each unique URL is tracked from the source and provides a picture of someone's path to the site and through it. Then, the company serves up content based upon what is stored in the site's database memory about you.
Tracking is one component that allows the media company to create a specific experience for the buyer.
It's the same mechanism that allows serving up the right ads and offers at the right time in the browsing experience. You can have a similar result on your Web site, if you implement software such as Silverpop, Eloqua, or DemandGen, tools of varying features for multichannel marketing.
If you're not familiar with these tools, you may want to take a look. They have features such as (check out individual offerings for specifics):
- email marketing personalization
- lead management or nurturing automation
- multichannel integration
- data integration
- lead segmentation
- customer life cycle management
And so on. Tools that learn about your customer preferences -- and now geographic locale -- have been fore and center with the exponential growth in acceptance of digital and now social media. Geotagging is the promise of what's next, especially as we think of mobile communications. From the Wikipedia definition (emphasis mine):
Geotagging can help users find a wide variety of location-specific information. For instance, one can find images taken near a given location by entering latitude and longitude coordinates into a Geotagging-enabled image search engine. Geotagging-enabled information services can also potentially be used to find location-based news, websites, or other resources.
There are ways to geotag your photos with Google Earth images, for example. Yelp allows you to pull local restaurants on your iPhone, for example. And the all popular foursquare allows you to find friends in the neighborhood and them to find your. Robert Scoble writes about a few of these applications and compares them to foursquare.
Venues are starting to promote their involvement with foursquare on Twitter, with signs at cash registers and even sidewalk blackboards and to offer something back to the repeat visitor. Nick Saint at Silicon Alley Insider has more information on the growing user base -- 275,000 -- the company's potential business strategy, and step by step instructions for iPhone use.
You still need two things to succeed
Even when you become really smart about the tools and implement repeatable processes that allow you to track interest, and get people to your business, you still need two things to succeed with sales. You need:
1. a steady pipeline of great new content that keeps people coming back to interact
2. a conversation strategy to make that interaction helpful and memorable
We've talked a lot about content marketing in the last year. We'll continue to talk about what works, what doesn't with that and how it's evolving with mobile. Last week we talked about mobile news. Will geotagging help the news business? Relevant, local news, when you need it. Will news organizations start behaving more like media companies, a-la Amazon?
Moving forward, we will also talk about tying all the pieces together with a conversation strategy. Something that is still missing in many business strategies and could help the next wave of the news media.
Do you have a conversation strategy? Have you assessed its effectiveness? What do you think is missing from it? What is ok to outsource to a third party and what should you keep in house? Weigh in!
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