Program Marketing -- Starting with a Website

Program Marketing: Starting with a Website

This article is triggered by an old blog Engineering Your Way To Marketing Success. The blog was mentioned in an email newsletter that got more than 400 comments in one day in a hacker news discussion.

The old blog was posted in the last day of 2009 – almost 7 years ago. For me, it is a sign that the subject is still and will be relevant for a long long time.

The Blog Summary

It talks about a revalation of an engineering-to-marketing conversion. The author had been engineering his marketing for many years. He built and used a set of automated scalable marketing approaches including A/B testing, optimizing user interactioni, tracking everything, implementing Mailchip APIs, etc. He realized that he and the software industry don’t do nearly enough of engineering marketing efforts. He attributed it to engineers’ mindset focusing on product features, not benefits perceived by end users.

The blog suggests that engineers should put an eye on the marketing end and build tools and processes to make marketing automated and scalable. The tools/processses are

  • A/B testing that anybody can use.
  • Scalable content generation. Use freelancers, find topics using algorithm. More contents are good for long-tail searches.
  • Automatic SEO error detection. Use testing tools to check if the web is spidered properly.
  • Your own CMS. Writing your own CMS gives you the maximum flexibility.
  • Lifecycle cusotmer contact. Integrate mail compaign (MailChimp) API with your web site.
  • Automatcially generating advertising creatives.
  • Tracking and testing. Track existing contents for different compaigns, monitor the results.
  • Building processes. Streamline disconnected tasks into, automated if possible, processes. For example, editorial workflow on parameterized user-generated content.

Simply speaking, programmers should not limit their effort only in product feature development. They should take a broad marketing view that includes product definition, customer awareness, lead generation, coversion, lifecycle contact, and the automation, measurment and improvement of marketing processes.

My Interpretation

Most programmers don’t have a marketing sense and most marketing persons don’t have the technology know-how of software. This a chasm in the business world in the digital age.

How could this happen? Building automatic, scalable digital marketing processes, called as program marketing here, requires strong marketing senses and a solid software knowledge. Most talented porgrammers are working on more challenged subjects such as artificial intelligence, new programming languages, distributed computing, internet-scale database, digital currency and etc. The limited number of talented programmers with an interesting in business application are hired by big ecommerce companies such as Amazon or Alibaba. It is hard for small or medium business (SMB) to build program marketing from scratch. Because few programmers with marketing experience are avaible, there is no good open source marketing applications.

What We Can Do

Here I use “we”, not “I”, because it is not a single person effort to build the program marketing tools and processes. However, it should start with a single-person’s effort to bootstrap the program marketing open soruce project and the project starts with the digital hub of customer interaction: the company website.

So, an open-source web site with a mind of the program marketing is a good start.

What Kind of Web Site

At the end of 2017, some trends are clear for a state of the art company web site. Below is an incomplete list of features from both the business and techonolgic perspectives:

  • PWA support: with Apple’s announcement of PWA effort on August 2017, PWA should be a basic requirement for websites in 2108.
  • Server-side rendering: for SEO purpose, web sites built with pouplar frontend framework such as React, Angular and Vue should have a solid SSR story.
  • Builtin CMS: all web site pages should be customizable easily by business persons. The website operation should be part of daily business operation.
  • Builtin Blog: blog is a good in-bound marketing tool and can be used as a base for landing pages.
  • Builtin social integration: not just a list of share buttons, but a deep integration two-way communication: social media feedbacks and content synchronization.
  • Email campaign: strictly this is not in the web site domain. However, the site provides landing pages for email campaign and a seamless integration is much desired.
  • Easy A/B testing: the CMS should allow easy A/B testing.
  • Track, analyze, and refine: all customer interaction are tracked, analyzed and the site is refined to improve customer experience.
  • Advertisement integartion: the site should integrate with major digital marketplaces such as Google Adwords, Facebook Ads, LinkedIn Ads and etc. The integration should cover the end-to-end story of a digital marketing compaing: from ads creating, launching, result analyzing and refining.
  • Dashboard with business measurements: in addition to the technical measures such as daily active users, page views, the site should give high level business measures such as conversion rate, ROI of marketing campaigns.

A website is the tip of the iceberg of the lifecycle customer engagment. Let’s Do IT as a new year’s project.

Written on December 24, 2017