Internet, leadership, Marketing

Lessons for marketers from Googles search team

By William Bakker | 08.29.11 | Comment?

Every year Google launches over 500 improvements to its search algorithm. There’s a lot to learn from this video for modern day marketers.

Focus on your end user
It all starts with a focus on the user. “Google has made a huge investment in understanding what works for users (3:25)” because “when you align Google’s interests with user interests, good things happen (3:17)“.

Aligning business objectives with user objectives should sit at the core of any online marketer principles. Without it, you’re sure to fail.

Keep improving what you have
Google is obsessed with improving their search product; “we get excited when we hit on an idea what helps a lot of users (3:37)“. Continuous improvements sits at the heart of their culture.

Traditional marketers spend almost all their efforts before they launch because it’s hard to change things after. Online marketers need to spend the majority of their effort post launch. You receive instant results and it’s easy to change things.

This includes websites, social media, search, email marketing, etc.

Base decisions on data, not opinion
In too many organization, decisions are made based on opinions. Usually a senior person doesn’t like something or receives pressure from a stakeholder with an agenda and want something changed. Or a real problem is being dismissed because it’s invisible (a technology upgrade for example). Rarely does anybody actually look at the data in detail.

At Google, “a problem identified and hypothesis created (0:35)” and subjected to “rigorous scientific testing (0:53)“, using a trained panel called raters (0:59), live experiments (1:14) and analyzed by a search analyst (1:14). The decission to make the change is then held in a “launch decision meeting (1:47) by the leadership, based on data with an unbiased view”.

Implementing this at your organization

These are some key elements of Google’s success. But even when you’re not Google with a large team, here’s what even the smallest organization can do:

  • Always put the user first. Not your manager, not the CEO, not the creative genius at your agency, not that difficult stakeholder but always the user. Fight for your users and make it a non-negotiated principle.
  • Foster a culture of rapid iteration. Change is good and needs to be constant. To streamline the process, remove unnecessary approvals and sign-offs. Trust your team and don’t micromanage. Educate, don’t police and empower staff.  With empowerment and responsibility comes a powerful sense of ownership.
  • Implement a system to collect all feedback; from consumers, from staff, from stakeholders and from your online marketing team looking at the data. Break big problems into smaller pieces and prioritize all feedback based on your objectives.
  • Look at the data and look for evidence. Run tests. Is this a real problem or an unfounded opinion? (bonus: you now have ammunition the next time the same “issue” comes up)
  • Create hypothesis and test them best you can. Through usability, prototyping or A/B testing. Might sound complicated but it doesn’t have to be. A/B testing in SEM is super easy and with Google Website Optimizer, so are web pages.
  • Bring back the data and make a decision.
The most successful online marketing programs I’ve seen aren’t the organizations with the most money. They’re the organizations that run their programs based on the above.
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