The Holy Grail: Having A One-Stop Shop For Online Marketing

Last week I received a great Facebook message from Michael McCarthy and it got me thinking a bit. Essentially he’s starting his own retail business after apparently leaving Nestle USA and asked me for some insights. He was looking for some form of technology that was a “one stop marketing portal that will help manage all his marketing efforts: logo creation, bix cards, miscellaneous printing (on demand), POS, flyers, signage, website builder/onlinme marketing, buying local ad space–and the ability to measure/track results.

So here’s his question:

Does there exist an online web-enabled single source marketing tool that essentially aggregates great marketing providers like: spot runner, zoomerang, dotster, logoworks, homestead and/or template monster?

I don’t really think that there is a “one-stop shop” that is out there that will accommodate all the different systems that you use from a small business perspective – and I can imagine that there are a lot of them, right? At the very least you’re looking at web hosting, email marketing, online advertising (SEM & PPC), market research tools, and probably dozens of others. A dashboard approach would be really helpful if someone can do this – and this happened to be something that I had a conversation about a while back at a Microsoft event. It seems to me that it’s quite possible but you’d have to have a couple of things (nay, scratch that) several things to consider, such as:

  • How will you determine what systems to link up to in your dashboard? Some people probably prefer using a specific program so how will you be able to account for every possible selection?
  • Does all the sites that you want to link to in your dashboard have an open API? I would imagine that in order for you to have the dashboard be a monitoring & maintenance tool, you would need to find a way to link to the data in more ways than by simply including a link to the login page. The API, or application programming interface, is the back-end developers door to link it up so it looks rather seemless.
  • How robust will the dashboard be? You probably won’t be able to specialize in everything web related, right? I think the point of the dashboard was to be generic yet specialized, but it’s probably impossible to gather the experts in house to help you understand how to effectively create this tool.
  • Can your hosting handle such bandwidth and will you need to be able to enter into agreements with the systems to import into your dashboard? I can only imagine that by having that much traffic and activity going on, you might need to make sure your product’s hosting provider can handle it. And what happens if you’ll need to go into maintenance? Or what if there’s a non-maintenance issue going on with one of the providers you linked to? How will that get resolved?

So what exactly will you need in your dashboard? I would imagine quite a plethora of different web “professions” including, but not limited to, link ups with: web hosting providers, email marketing vendors, search engine marketing tools, online marketing programs, web analytics, content management systems (including blogging platforms like WordPress, Blogger & Typepad), social media tools like Twitter, Facebook, and countless others.

Overall there’s a lot of work that would need to go into the creation of this dashboard. I, for one, would love to see something like that, but unfortunately it probably won’t happen for a while. However, it should be noted that there are different specialty dashboards out there. Take hosting providers, for example. They are able to offer a slew of services besides domain registration and hosting. As part of the package, you can sign up for some small time help with online marketing efforts (SEO and search engine marketing) and also even some providers will throw in email marketing (either through their tools or through an additional partnership with a email service provider like Blue Sky Factory, Constant Contact, etc.). Or, you could have a dashboard just for your online marketing efforts and that would be through companies like Yield Software. If you’re interested in monitoring the entire web spectrum for buzz or mentions about your product, you could try using sites like MightyBrand or ScoutLabs and watch what’s going on with their dashboard.

The point in using these above services and probably countless others that offer a “dashboard” approach, is that everyone has their own “specialty”. They are able to understand from their own little niche what is best for the customers and what is important in that respective field. Having someone in the online advertising field create a dashboard for email marketers is probably not a great thing because they might not be aware of SPAM best practices or perhaps how to create a template, etc.

Unfortunately I had to tell Michael that I was not aware of one that complex that would handle his needs but there are other services that will help cluster some of the things he is looking for. There is not a “killer” solution that will help consolidate everything into one tiny box. Until that day comes, we must resign ourselves to finding products that can help us mitigate the amount of time spent and the work needed to monitor our online brand presence.

6 responses to “The Holy Grail: Having A One-Stop Shop For Online Marketing”

  1. Bob McClain Avatar

    Interesting post. It's interesting that online powerhouses like Microsoft or Google or Yahoo haven't ried to create a “one stop shop” for new business owners. I think it's beyond the abilities of most small marketing firms like mine to create something like that.

    While I offer all kinds of Online Marketing services like Search Engine Optimization, Pay Per Click and Social Media Marketing, I'm a actually a copywriter who knows enough about these things to sell them and answer questions about them. However, I have a string of experts who do the actual work.

    And maybe that's how something like this would have to work. Have a centralized website where people can gain acess to experts on all the different subjects and services listed in the post. A centralized “marketing management” site where everything is outsourced but it's all centrally managed through your dashboard.

    Of course, I'll admit, I'm working on something like that but it's not ready yet. Plenty more 16 hour days before launch…

    1. Ken Yeung Avatar

      @Bob – thank you for your feedback and you're right that it's interesting that online powerhouses like Microsoft, Google or Yahoo haven't tried to create this “one-stop shop”. Perhaps this is something like a startup that needs to take place – businesses may be inspired to participate because it will minimize/reduce the amount of touch points needed to work on projects online?

  2. spryka Avatar

    I will recommend using ePostMailer for all bulk email marketing needs. Its the best mailing list management software I have used so far.

    1. Ken Yeung Avatar

      @spryka – Thanks for your recommendation of a bulk email marketing tool. I have a few others that I could recommend as well, but does ePostMailer handle anything else besides email marketing? I'd like to know about any possible dashboards that may exist out there.

  3. davidbaer Avatar

    Affiliate Marketing is a performance based sales technique used by companies to expand their reach into the internet at low costs. This commission based program allows affiliate marketers to place ads on their websites or other advertising efforts such as email distribution in exchange for payment of a small commission when a sale results.

  4. davidbaer Avatar

    Affiliate Marketing is a performance based sales technique used by companies to expand their reach into the internet at low costs. This commission based program allows affiliate marketers to place ads on their websites or other advertising efforts such as email distribution in exchange for payment of a small commission when a sale results.

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