How website performance powers marketing success

12.02.2013

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Back in September my colleague Chris Livesey wrote a fascinating blog for Business Computing World called ‘Why Marketers should care about Website Performance’.  It touched a nerve as I care fervently about it. Others would say I’m bordering on obsessive about website performance. But I’m a marketing guy. What’s all this stuff got to do with me?

But why?

The fact is that the majority of ‘best practice’ marketing is now digitally based – it’s no longer solely about interrupting your prospects during their day with an offer or an advert. It’s no longer about mail-shots for most folks and physical events & tradeshows only appear to really succeed if supported by Social Media programs and extensive digital ‘support’.

Increasingly consumers of anything – from a night in a B+B to a piece of B2B enterprise software – are doing extensive research themselves before engaging with their shortlist of pre-selected suppliers. Think about how frequently you’ll fire up your smartphone and ‘check’ Amazon stars or reviews of a product you’re just about to buy in a shop. That’s modern consumer research in action.

Modern marketing professionals are increasingly concerned with ‘inbound’ marketing – presenting ‘content’ for the self-educating and Google-savvy shopper – as they need it, instantly. Which is why website content, marketing automation tools, Social Media marketing, blogs and community sites are now at the forefront of successful marketing – and a lapse in performance in any of the systems can be potentially disastrous.

That’s probably why Chris’ guest blog didn’t so much touch a nerve as jump up and down on it. Because I recall with a shudder the day I launched two of the most important campaigns of my career on the same day that the web server behind our Marketing automation platform fell over. Could it get worse? Yes it could – and rapidly did.

Computer says no

I called our account manager to tell them that the landing pages were FUBAR. I can still feel the deepening sense of woe as I was reassured that it was OK as the email servers were still functional. I could feel my blood pressure rising as I realised the storm I’d entered became perfect.

The campaigns we’d worked on tirelessly, for weeks, were dead before they’d even launched  simply because the links to the landing pages would fail.

Think I’m being over-dramatic? Think about how you use the web. If a page doesn’t work or takes too long to load, don’t you just shut it and move on? In that split-second all the hard work of the marketing, sales and agencies working on the creative was for nothing.

So that is why I care about web performance. Why I fret about page loading speed. Why I worry about errors. Why I am concerned about which devices’ content will load on and which platforms and browsers. It’s because I realise that producing great creative work is only half the story – the mechanics are working, too.  

Belt and braces

When I can, I test our stuff manually and automatically. Like many ‘modern marketing’ professionals, I am obsessed with website performance and how my content performs within the digital environment where it lives. Because without a reliable digital infrastructure underpinning them, apps and websites WILL CRASH – taking your marketing efforts with them….

This leads me on to another important point in this whole sea-change in marketing. Chris is in sales and I am in marketing – but we’re both in agreement. So why are modern sellers and marketers are increasingly hung-up about digital marketing and digital performance? It may be because they realise that their professional futures can depend on it.

And who in B2B Sales or Marketing doesn’t care about that?

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