Ditch Don Draper for ‘measured’ approach to online marketing, says Google Canada chief

Technology and consumer behaviour have a symbiotic relationship.

Firms that fail to measure the interaction between the two risk being left far behind, says Jonathan Lister, managing director of Google Canada.

Goodbye Mad Men

“The days of “Mad Men” style marketing, with brands talking to consumers are long gone,” says Lister, who heads the Search firm’s Canadian operations.

The Google Canada chief is among the marketing and digital media thought leaders speaking at Marketing Week, a digital marketing conference hosted by the Canadian Marketing Association, Nov 11 and 12 in Toronto.

His presentation is titled: The New Rules of Online Engagement … I Got It Now What?

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As the Internet evolved from an online brochure, to a sales channel to an “always-on, two way communication stream, everything and everyone are now interconnected,” he said.

“Now more than ever it’s important for businesses to track and measure data, but we still don’t see many advertisers and marketers measuring the stuff that matters.”

A Toronto-based e-commerce and marketing expert agrees.

Traditionally marketers told consumers what a product was about through magazine ads, billboard posters and TV commercials, noted Tim Richardson, professor of e-commerce, marketing and international business at Seneca College and the University of Toronto.

Those media are still around, but people increasingly use the Web to educate themselves about products they want, he said. Now through social media they have discussions about this.

He rued that many firms still do things old-style, building marketing campaigns based on gut feel or surveys. But on a positive note, businesses are beginning to use online tools to measure audience engagement, he said.

Seek ‘sneezers’

Savvy marketers are also building online communities and using viral techniques to create brand awareness, said Colin Smillie, director of social media at Ascentum Inc., an Ottawa-based communications and marketing company.

Give a boost to your viral marketing efforts by finding “sneezers” in your communities, Smillie said. “These are highly influential personas who will spread the word just like to common cold.”

Studies show 68 per cent of store purchases are made by customers who’ve visited the store’s Web site, or did some prior online research.

But offline activities, such as product launches, can also directly effect your Web site traffic, noted Google Canada’s Lister.

For example, he recalled how online traffic to the official Winter Olympics Web site spiked because of offline activities, such as a launch or the Olympic torch run.

Canadian Tire may have halted its e-commerce activities but its Web site still sells products for its bricks-and-mortar locations, Lister noted.

“Customers are still looking up products and information on the site and then going to the store to purchase them.”

The key, he said, is knowing how offline activities affect your online traffic, and vise-versa.

And to understand this, marketers should measure activity on their corporate Web site based on certain key performance, according to Richardson.

“No single tool will answer all of your problems,” said he said. But combining a few will help you accomplish what you need.

Here are some metrics to look out for:

  • · How much traffic is occurring in your site? When do most visitors come?
  • · Is the traffic coming from the desired demographic?
  • · What are visitors doing on your site?
  • · What part of the site appeals to your visitors?
  • · What actions do they take?

For Google and other free tools to help you measure or improve site performance click here.

Follow Nestor Arellano on Twitter.

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