It’s all 1-to-1 from here (thankfully)

June 14, 2007

Isn’t it just that simple?

When the internet started, just having a website meant you were likely to be found. But as more people and and more businesses created more websites, the ability to be unique and one-of-a-kind became more difficult. So now, 8 A.G. (after Google) on, the internet is no longer a luxury to those who know how to program, but the norm to anyone and everyone who owns a PC or Mac. And with the ubiquity of the net, websites and blogs, computers and so on, getting seen and heard as a marketer is really difficult; as of 2004, Google was indexing over 8 billion webpages.  Imagine what it is now?

Which is exactly why the concept of ‘1-to-1 marketing’ seems such a no-brainer, but at the same time is a concept that’s lost on many companies, businesses and individuals alike.

Assuming the natural growth of something as never-before-seen as the internet requires ‘growing pains’ and trial and error, we’re all past the first phase (Web 1.0), which can only be described as ‘the blind shotgun‘ or ‘spray and pray‘ marketing.  With email marketing it was obtaining a list, creating one campaign with standard copy, and pressing send.  With SEO it was simply creating page after page with keywords and phrases, hoping to get picked up by Google’s magical algorithms.  The same model still exists in most online advertising – eyeballs matter more than clicks, seeing as banner ads are becoming so ubiquitous and commonplace that I for one no longer even notice them.

But now we’re in the next phase, and as a marketer it’s even harder to get noticed.  With blogs, pre-packaged websites, affordable broadband etc., anyone can act as an authority on any subject, or sell their goods, or do just about anything.  So getting noticed is of the utmost importance.  But spraying and praying won’t work anymore. You can’t just go buy a list, because the recipients won’t respond – they know what’s Spam and what’s not.  Google and other SE’s are smarter, you can’t stuff keywords into a page’s meta info and hope for high rankings.  You’re the needle, the internet is the (massive) haystack.  To get noticed you not only need to be ‘remarkable’ like Seth Godin’s purple cow, but you need to be willing and able to speak to customers as individuals and deliver content, emails, pages, etc that are relevant to them and only them.

Basically everyone needs to stop trying to shout louder than everyone else, and focus on what they’re offering and tailor it to the individual customer. 

ESPs (Email Marketing Service Providers) are waking up to this and starting to offer better list segmentation capabilities and content management.  SEOs are starting to realize that Google is really, really smart, and that simply making a page that’s meant to be read by a human being will work better than a page full of jibberish keywords.  Online advertising is getting smarter too, with better technologies to allow for segmentation and localization, and new waves like socal bookmarking are allowing for relevance to reign supreme.

But as long as everyone understands that shouting loud is not working anymore, we’ll all be better off.

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