The idea that the human body is a model of perfection has existed for millennia, originating
in ancient Rome as an architectural concept and continuing to live on through numerous
forms of art, mathematics, philosophy and religion. Leonardo da Vinci’s iconic drawing, The
Vitruvian Man, is easily the most famous representation, as it illustrates how the human body
fits neatly into the perfect geometric forms of a square and a circle to create an ideal whole.
This ancient theory has not been lost on history’s most successful
business leaders, who have built their organizations out of a
series of flexible, moving parts that work in sequence with one another.
This holistic approach is particularly important to the success
of today’s Web businesses, whose independent entities rely on
the very latest technologies in order to achieve their goals.
While the rapid rate at which today’s Web technology is developing
provides business owners with countless benefits, it also
presents significant challenges. Built to make our lives easier and
our businesses operate more efficiently, new Web technologies
can be difficult to master and even harder to keep up with —
sometimes counter-intuitively disrupting the synergy of an organization
and sabotaging the overall goals of your Web business.
For that reason we have identified some of today’s ideal Web
technologies. Over the next few pages we highlight some emerging
technologies that Web workers should follow closely, as well
as some of the evolving solutions to increase performance, lower
costs and improve the efficiency of an organization.
Whether your Web business is a single-page website or a
large corporation with dozens of sites, it is reasonable to assume
that you are selling products to or providing a service for
customers, and that the body of the organization can be divided
into two parts: marketing and development. We can then
separate the marketing unit into three additional parts: search
marketing, email marketing and social media marketing — the
three most effective Web business applications for marketing
your product or service.
Now, with a clear objective and all of the individual parts out
in the open to see, let’s take a look at some of today’s ideal technologies
that may help drive your Web enterprise to perfection.
No community of Web professionals has endured more upheaval
during the past 18 months than search engine optimization
(SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) specialists.
Google made over 500 changes to its search algorithm in 2010
and is on pace to surpass that in 2011, keeping the SEOs of the
world on their toes if not pulling out their hair.
“This last year has been the most volatile in the history of
search,” says Prashant Puri, co-founder of search marketing firm
AdLift. “As users continue to go onto multiple platforms and not
just the desktop anymore, the search engines have to adapt and make changes to provide for a better experience. Google alone
has introduced personalized search, real-time search, the Panda
update and Caffeine in just the last year — it’s the largest number
of changes they’ve made in their history.”
And for the foreseeable future, at least, Google still sets the
bar for the rest of the Web — especially when it comes to search.
What the company has done over the past year and a half has set
it very high from a technological standpoint as it strives to provide
a better user experience and tries to claim some ownership
of the social media space. The results thus far have been beneficial
to the SEO community and the Web as a whole, continuing
to drive new innovations in a number of areas.
One of the oldest but most important technologies that will
be mentioned in this article is that of retargeting or remarketing
—the ability to serve highly personalized, display advertising
to past website visitors based on their very specific interactions.
Though it has been around for several years, retargeting has
not come close to reaching its potential and companies that
offer the technology such as Criteo and Google promise forthcoming
advancements that “will make remarketing even
smarter, faster and more dynamic,” in the words of Google Ad-
Words’ Dan Friedman.
As it applies to search, today’s marketers have the capability
to retarget users who have previously searched for their
company, brand, products or targeted keywords. They can do
this not only for users who have visited their own sites but also
for those using keywords on search engines. Google and Yahoo
both offer retargeting capabilities for marketers, as do many
advertising networks including Dotomi, FetchBack, ReTargeter and others. The value, of course, is that search retargeting allows
marketers access to the most highly targeted and motivated
consumers that have already shown interest in their
product or service; and the future of retargeting looks to simplify
and amplify that process.
Another Google technology that has been around for several
years but is only beginning to impact the search marketing
picture is voice recognition or voice search. In July 2011 the
company added voice recognition to its Web searches for desktop
users utilizing Google’s Chrome browser, and followed that
up in August by adding it to Google Maps — also limited to
Chrome users. These users now have the option of typing in
their search queries or simply speaking into microphones on
their desktop or Android devices.
Voice search is clearly a strong initiative for Google as the
functionality aims to enhance the user experience — certainly
for poor spellers and otherwise limited typists — for desktop
and, perhaps most important, mobile queries. Forward-thinking
marketers will want to prepare for a day when voice recognition
becomes the standard method of mobile search, if it does
not overtake the keyboard altogether.
Google has also been instrumental in the technological development
of the real-time Web, creating demand for innovative
SEO strategies from real-time marketing software companies
such as Optify and others. Optify’s latest suite of technology
allows Web businesses to access instantaneous analytical data
so that they can know what keywords are generating the most
leads, see what channels and activities their visitor traffic is focusing
on and optimize their pages accordingly, all in real time.
In a May 2011 report entitled “How” U.S. Marketers Use
“Email,” vice president and principal analyst of Forrester Research
Shar VanBoskirk concluded that, “To get more out of
email programs, marketers should invest in analytics, implement
device detection, focus on relevant content before employing
rich media and incorporate social media into their
Not surprisingly, much of the technological focus within the
email marketing space is aimed at measurement and tracking,
mobile communications, interactive email and social media marketing.
After a wave of highly publicized data security breaches
in the spring of 2011, the best-known of which involved multichannel
marketing firm Epsilon, protecting subscribers’ personally
identifiable information also sits high on the list.
With regard to email security, Proofpoint has emerged as
an industry-leading provider by utilizing some of the latest
technologies in spam and phishing detection, cloud deployment,
advanced data-loss prevention and compliance capabilities.
In August 2011, the company announced that it was
receiving new email security customers who were leaving
McAfee for Proofpoint at a rate of one per week. During the
course of 30-day evaluations at a major university and retailer,
the Proofpoint solution detected 2,000 phishing and 600,000
spam messages that slipped past McAfee’s Ironmail solution.
New analytics technologies are also becoming increasingly
important to email marketers, and top firms such as MailChimp
and Contactology offer integrations with both Google Analytics
and Salesforce to provide extremely detailed reports on the number of opens, forwards, clicks, bounces, unsubscribes, top-performing
links, spam and more.
With the influx of mobile users today, device detection is
also becoming an increasingly important technology in which
marketers can track their emails to the specific devices being
used by subscribers, measure the recipients’ engagement and
adjust their campaigns accordingly.
As email marketers strive to incorporate more social media
into their campaigns, a few additional technological developments
are gaining a lot of attention. Hotmail, the world’s largest
Web-based email service, announced in July 2011 its support
for HTML5 video. Video-in-email presents significant advantages
for marketers in that it eliminates some of the steps in
the conversion process and it gives the recipients more motivation
to share the messages and less reason to abandon them.
Several email marketing firms are testing Hotmail’s support
for HTML5 video, and it appears that video-in-email is headed
for the mainstream — if not for another year or two. For marketers
with products or services that depend on a platform
such as video and want to act right away, video-in-email solutions
provider Liveclicker has its own technology that detects
the recipient’s browser and email client in real time and serves
up a compatible version of the video — and that technology is
being widely used right now.
A final email marketing technology to be aware of is burst
email delivery, which in the case of email solutions vendor
StrongMail and has found a nice niche serving many of the daily
deals sites that rely on the high-speed delivery of millions of personalized
emails. StrongMail’s high burst-rate systems are free from the performance limits often encountered with
traditional email service provider platforms, allowing
businesses to send that kind of volume in minutes
rather than hours.
SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING
It has taken marketers several years to fully understand the importance
of and opportunities within the social media landscape,
but for the most part today’s Web businesses are all using
it in some capacity. That landscape is changing, however, and
while the earliest marketing technologies for the social Web
were focused on sharing and helping businesses build their
brands, we are entering a new phase of social media marketing.
“Fifteen years ago when we were all developing our first websites,”
says Diane Buzzeo, CEO of Ability Commerce, “we were
doing it so that people could find us and call our 1-800 numbers.
Now we have social media to let people know who we are
and engage with our brands, and the next step is turning social
media into an actual revenue-producing shopping experience.”
Buzzeo’s company has one of the most innovative technologies
to achieve that goal, having released its virtual Facebook
shopping cart to a handful of e-commerce clients in August
2011. Unlike other Facebook shopping applications, Ability’s
virtual “floating” cart allows users to place multiple items in
their shopping carts without ever leaving Facebook, but if they
do leave the site the items in the cart follow their movements
from Facebook to the Web store and vice versa.
“The key is in making those products stay in the cart,” says
Buzzeo. “We were adamant when we developed this that we did
not want to interrupt that social experience when people are
shopping. Facebook doesn’t have a shopping cart or a checkout,
but this is a cart that follows you to Facebook and back while
preserving all of the items you selected while on Facebook.”
The final piece to the puzzle, says Buzzeo, due for release in
October 2011, is an analytics solution that will tell merchants
using the cart exactly which placements were made while the
user was on Facebook. This may be the second most pressing
technological issue for social media marketers behind searching
for viable revenue-producing social commerce solutions —
measuring and analyzing the volume and ROI of a business’
social interaction with users. To date, no notable industry standards
There are numerous players in the social media analytics
space, with noticeable differences in technologies, pricing and service. Radian6 is one of the best-known solutions
for larger enterprises, as are Buddy Media and Sprout Social,
while Postling, HootSuite and Argyle Social are equally
popular and worthy choices for smaller and mid-sized
Most feature analytics only as part of more comprehensive
packages that include social media management, customer engagement,
social customer relationship management and other
services, which may be one reason why we have not yet seen a
game-changing analytics technology rise from the pack. Of the
most recent entries into the market, the 2011-launched TwentyFeet
is a very affordable social statistics aggregator that allows
users to monitor accounts from Facebook, Twitter,
YouTube, Google Analytics and others to see how key performance
indicators are developing over time.
Gigya is another strong option for enterprise-level organizations,
though it has been around for some years. The Software as
a Service technology integrates online businesses with the top
social networks and optimizes each implementation to deliver
some of the most measurable social media tracking available
today. Gigya’s technology is the choice of corporations such as
CBS, Fox Sports, Intuit, Coca-Cola, Home Depot and Turner
“It’s a real gateway into the social media scene,” says Chris
Hauca, vice president of commerce solutions for digital marketing
firm Acquity Group. “If you want to plug into all the social
sites, you build an integration into their API and they take
much more of an activity-based approach to their analytics than
other solutions. While others in the space are more concerned
with measurement and monitoring, Gigya gives you a real ecommerce-
ish, actionable view into the type of activities that
are taking place.”
As in the areas of both search and email marketing, fierce
competition within the social media marketing space will only
serve to drive technology and foster innovation. As it stands
right now, the next big breakthroughs are likely to be in the
areas of social commerce and social analytics, so be watching
those spaces particularly closely.