It came as quite a shock to see Performancing abruptly shut down its advertising network yesterday. Since I often chat with Chris Garrett and Nick Wilson about various things, I’ve known that there have been serious cost issues, especially related to maintaining the huge server expense that the free Metrics service caused. Unloading Metrics simply had to happen, but I expected the Partners program to carry on, even after Nick resigned.
I think people are surprised that such a high-profile company could fail. After all, they did everything right—scores of valuable content, the Performancing for Firefox blog editor that resulted in untold amounts of back links, and other remarkable free services.
However, there are two things to note:
- Most new businesses fail. It’s no knock against anyone involved with Performancing that things didn’t go as planned. They thought big and went for it, but more often than not things just don’t work out.
- Unlike most Web 2.0 companies, Performancing actually had a business model that didn’t rely on eventual acquisition by Yahoo. Despite that, they were still done in by the tyranny of free. “Free” can be awfully expensive for the company providing it if the revenue projections don’t pan out.
When I started Copyblogger a year ago, it was because I saw that creating compelling content for social media was a huge opportunity that existing businesses could use to transition away from ineffective advertising. The concept of providing a resource to these folks seemed like smart business to me at the time, and it still does. The fact that I cover conversion as well as attention speaks to an integrated approach to marketing that’s always worked well for me.
The Web 2.0 thing has been a bit of a humorous sideshow. I’ve always expected Michael Arrington to do two posts about the vast majority of Tech Crunch featured companies—one for the debut, and one for the demise.
Attention, traffic, links, subscribers, search engine rankings… all of these are crucial to a successful online marketing strategy. But it’s all for naught if you don’t end up with a profitable business when the dust settles.
When devising online promotional strategies, the emphasis should not be on making the biggest traffic splash. It’s about getting the right kind of traffic, authority links, subscribers, and search results that will ultimately convert into cash.
So before you launch a link attraction campaign, ask yourself a few questions:
- Will this publicity stunt reflect well on my business?
- Does taking this controversial stance bring me anything other than notoriety?
- Does this “Top 10 list” have any value after the Digg is done?
- Will creating this widget bring me customers, or just high development costs and meaningless traffic?
Any marketing—whether online or off—that occurs in a vacuum is usually a waste of time and money. Make sure your promotion is in line with conversion.