Web Jive - The Buzz on Web Development

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Web Marketing – Part 1: The Web Marketer

As a web consultant, I frequently cross paths with marketers who believe marketing and web marketing are one in the same. To a certain degree, that's true. Trying to define the differences can be challenging and takes an understanding of both sides. Either way, today I’m going to set the record straight on web marketing. Just 5 years ago the web was simply just another medium for a company to advertise itself with the dependence on web in a very skeptical stage. While just getting over the dot-com bust, most companies were reluctant to invest time or money into their websites – it just wasn’t a safe investment. Dot-coms were dropping like flys. Since that time, the web has vastly changed and people have started to gain their trust back in the web, thus resulting in the emergence of Web 2.0. Web 2.0 is marked as the turning point in the web, making it more important than ever before. Web 2.0 signifies new technologies, better security, faster internet connections, stronger web resources, as well as many other things. Web 2.0 has increased the importance in the web thus directly affecting the importance of company websites. With that has come the materialization of Web Marketing. Most people will argue that “marketing is marketing is marketing.” The truth is that Web Marketing is a whole new specialty that formulates into the combination of marketing, technical web knowledge, web best practices, and marketing best practices. Let’s be honest, just like any other profession, web marketers come in all different shapes, sizes, and skill sets. A successful web marketer will contain an understanding of web trends, marketing trends, and, web marketing trends. Let’s examine each… Web Trends and Skills – As you already know, websites are all composed of many different technologies and languages. Having a basic knowledge of the technical makeup of a websites is of great advantage to a web marketer. There’s always a small change or fix that is needed on the website and a web marketer will be required to get their hands dirty in certain situations. A basic knowledge of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript is a must, while having a broad idea of server side languages is an added plus. With the knowledge of HTML, keeping the website W3C compliant should be a relevant and frequent task. Basic design skills in Adobe/Macromedia products (ex: Photoshop, Illustrator Dreamweaver, etc.) will play a major part in usability and proper design techniques. The technical abilities will abdicate well in scoping and implementing web strategies. The web marketer must fulfill the communication gap between the techies (developers, or "geeks") and the business users. Marketing Trends and Skills – The marketing aspect of web marketing is fairly straightforward. Employing proper marketing techniques will help a web marketer discover the needs and wants of prospective customers as well as help them satisfy those needs. It’s important for a web marketer to understand their customers and users. Many successful websites put usability and design at the forefront. The web compliments good creativity and frowns upon bad creativity. Implementing positive marketing ethics is important since competition is stiff in the web. Search engines are getting better at catching unethical practices, so consider yourself warned! Web Marketing Trends and Skills – Finally, we come upon the most important piece of being a web marketer – the integration of the web and marketing. A web marketer will need to have a strong mix of creative and technical skills for drafting Web Marketing Strategies, using web technologies, and analyzing internal web trends. Web Marketing Strategies involve a combination of Web Strategy, Web Usability/Design, Marketing Optimization, and continued analysis. While some simply call use the phrases “web strategies” and “web marketing strategies”, marketing is a crucial aspect of these strategies and must not be left unnoticed. Strong skill sets reside in a good understanding of the primary technologies included in email marketing, analytics, SEO, SEM, and strong web content building. There’s a vast array of tools in the world wide web that provide good solutions for these technology needs – a web marketer must be on their toes to provide the best solutions for each specific situation. Strength in knowing how to integrate web tools with each other will provide exemplary company value. Next, analyzing the results of implementations and strategies will provide tangible value for business users. A strong trait in web marketers will reside in their ability to employ web best practices in all web technologies and strategies. This comes with successful experiences as well learning from failed attempts. It's true, finding qualified web marketer’s for companies come few-and-far-between. Since web marketers are still pretty rare, the pay is good and the position stands in growing demand. Time will tell with what web marketing evolves into, but my guess is that it will only become more prevalent as the web moves into its next stage(s). Like the universe, there is still much to discover in the web. The opportunity is yours to discover the depths.


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