IT’s role in effective marketing – and so in driving business growth – is more important than many may realise. Without close collaboration between IT and marketing, unseen potential customers are lost to the business, the company’s online presence drops in search rankings and the company may even suffer reputational damage.
Randall Glick, lecturer and content developer at Digital Skills Global, says IT’s role in underpinning marketing efforts extends far beyond developing apps and websites.
“Many fail to grasp the ramifications of IT functions on a company’s website, for example, which has long-term impacts on how the company is perceived by its market and on how many site visitors can be turned into customers.”
There are many IT issues that will impact the backend functionality of a website, and so support marketing, Glick says. These include effective management of the metatags and title tags which give indicators and clues to search engines. “IT usually handles functions like hosting, which also has ramifications that need to be considered for marketing purposes. The IP address, for example, where the site is hosted and how it is configured, impact the site’s relevance to search engines. There are also issues such as compression to consider – a site may look appealing but if a page takes longer than three seconds to load, you risk losing that visitor.”
Site performance is increasingly important as consumers’ patience levels drop, he notes. “Ten years ago, people might have been prepared to wait seven seconds for a page to load. Now, three seconds is the average and under one second is the ideal. If you consider the cost and effort that goes into TV, radio or print marketing, which usually directs people to a website for further information, if the site does not perform as expected and people leave, you have seriously undermined your marketing campaign.” He likens this to running a campaign urging customers to call in for special deals, but having only one line available to take the calls.
Redirects are another important backend issue that impacts marketing, says Glick. “For every redirect, even if it is invisible to the site visitor, the page drops further down in search engine rankings. And every time a site is redesigned and old links are not redirected, you lose potential site visitors. This has a direct impact on marketing.”
To get full value from marketing efforts, IT and marketing strategies should be closely integrated, with IT understanding the needs of marketing and marketing understanding the role of IT in optimizing its efforts. “You could be undermining marketing if your digital channels aren’t optimised to support it. Beyond ensuring that digital communications channels are delivering on marketing goals, IT also has an important role to play in data management and analytics to help marketing assess the impact of campaigns and improve customer interfaces to grow the business.”
“It can’t be expected of the IT department to know understand all the ramifications their work can have for marketing and the company as a whole. We at Digital Skills Global offer courses in digital marketing and programming aimed at bridging these knowledge gaps, to help IT understand marketing and vice versa. We typically find that once we make the technical teams aware of the impact they have on marketing, they make an ongoing effort to better support marketing and the overall business goals,” he says.