In August 2009 it was reported that Webjet was cutting back on its paid search activity and was getting out of affiliate marketing because of its reliance on the channels. And whilst Webjet feels that its decision is also partly because of its brand maturity, I think this highlights an important consideration for brands in the online space – Is your online strategy too dependent on one online channel?
Channel dependence is an issue that any online business should consider the ramifications of. Whilst Webjet has realised the potential issues before there have been serious consequences, other businesses have not been so lucky. A few years ago I stepped into an organisation operating in the classifieds sector that had a strong reliance on email marketing, so much so that it delivered 70% of their conversions. And tried as I might to change their mindset on singular channel reliance the powers at be were not bought in to increasing marketing spend to diversify. Only then, when site content dipped dramatically (which was the sole driver of the email program), did the organisation sit up and take note. The net effect resulted in a decline in site conversion of 30% in a 1 month period. Ouch!
And it seems in the world of the Google Behemoth that many businesses could be exposed to a similar issue. In a recent article in the Brisbane Times, Melbourne-based website publisher Joey Lee, who runs more than 15 websites, highlighted the impact a Google change had on his business in 2003. Mr Lee said “In 2003, with Google’s ‘Florida Update’ [a surprise new algorithm that dramatically changed search results and site listings] my traffic and revenue dropped 40 per cent.” So with a big Google update looming – Google Caffeine – could your online strategy be overexposed to organic search? Or with paid search inflation at spiralling out of control, can you business continue to compete in 12 months time?
The message here online marketers is simple. Whilst some online channels may appear to be more cost effective than others – consider the risks and costs associated with channel dependence, and channel proof your online strategy before your dealt a serious blow.