According to an article by Digital Commerce 360, e-commerce accounted to 5.1% of US retail sales in 2007. Whereas by 2018, that percentage had risen to 14.3% which represented $517bn in sales. At this growth rate, e-commerce sales will make up 25% of all retail sales in the United States by 2030.
It is not uncommon to hear what amounts to a ‘you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink’ approach to digital marketing. The reasoning goes as follows: as a paid media expert, I will use all the tools at my disposal to drive as much high-conversion propensity traffic to my client’s site as I can. Once they click on my text ads, html five dynamic banners or YouTube for Action videos, I don’t have control over what happens next. This is by no means a universal attitude but it is common enough and it was certainly my attitude until June 2018.
The modern workplace rewards specialisation and so it should. Ever since Adam Smith visited that famous Scottish pin factory and extolled the virtues of the division of labour, people and companies have profitably actualised the concept of the division of labour.
Charlie Munger, the vice chairman and éminence grise of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway – the fifth biggest company in the world by market capitalisation in 2019 – said at this year’s shareholder meeting, “Generally speaking in life, you have to specialise. No-one wants to go to a doctor who is half dentist and half proctologist.” No-one disputes this logic but it is worth noting that Mr Munger began his statement with the caveat, “generally speaking.” Munger and Buffett are some of the great polymaths of our age and their breadth of knowledge encompasses a very broad spectrum of expertise.
Digital marketers do need to specialise like everyone else but they will animate their effectiveness by cultivating some degree of expertise about the behaviour of the people who click on their ads once they arrive at the ads’ final URLs.
Brand terms and keywords
Many of the world’s largest brands receive the majority of their paid media traffic through cheap clicks on text ads sparked by search queries comprised of exact match or exact match close variants of their brand’s name. Adidas, Nike, Walmart, Alibaba, Target, Best Buy, Lowe’s, Home Depot, Etsy and Wish – all of these brands’ e-commerce portals derive a dominant portion of their traffic from their core brand terms.
This traffic comes from one or two core brand keywords and yet within this traffic are the bifurcated preferences and buying power spectrums of millions and millions of individual consumers that individuate themselves in an extraordinarily complex matrix of consumer patterns and prognoses.
Given the above, no digital marketer can do without an affinity for a working knowledge of Google Analytics. It is only on using this tool that they can access the vast ocean of information that begins to accumulate after users have clicked on or viewed ads that have been expertly trafficked through machine learning algorithms and are referencing hundreds of indicators of commercial intent.
Commercial intent gives way to purchasing behaviour and this information needs to be known to induce first time buyers into becoming repeat customers with a Customer Lifetime Value that will keep your clients paying for your services. A working knowledge of Google Analytics is not optional any more for digital marketers who aim to be at the top of their game.
Andrew Alexander, author at The Media Image.
// Featured in this article