Contest Illustrates Disconnect Between Marketing and User Experience

This is the time of year for annual polls and content. They make for great link bait. If you make such a list, this may be proof your work was noticed by your peers.

Perhaps you are overlooked.

One recent example is Vote for the top 100 online marketers of 2009, in which they ask you to  ” pick the top 100 most influential online marketers, leaders, and thinkers”.   Where were the marketing user experience people?  Where was search usability?

One name jumped out as a person who I know for a fact includes usability audits by a usability consultant in her SEO packages. Another “marketer” on the list is associated with the usability industry’s persuasive design segment. Sadly, many others like them are not on the list because they are aligned with the usability camp, even though they provide SEO services.

I am unable to vote on a list of 100 names. Many people on the list specialize in different types of marketing, such as affiliate, links or social media. There are “thought leaders” from these areas who stand out among their own niche but who may get lost in a mass clump called “marketing”. There is no criteria for what makes the “top” marketer. Top for who? Peers? Customers? Clients? What field? Healthcare industry? Products? Conferences?

What type of marketing is this contest interested in recognizing? Brand reputation? Search engine placement? Rank? What types of sites? Some categories of sites are easier to market than others. Adult industry marketing has its own criteria. Target markets are different between financial sites, healtchcare and news, for example.

User instructions are missing, which is another signal user experience is not the point of the contest. Do you choose one from that list? Who knows? The true thrust of the contest is to get the nominees to put embedded code on their sites to get traffic into the contest site. Marketers love traffic. You and I don’t count.

How can it be that the top marketers and a contest that promotes them, however well intentioned, has no one that works inside the circle of site development from the ground up? How can you market a site that’s not built for the people you are trying to sell to?

A truly representative annual round up, in my opinion, calls for teams of people or companies that work together in the interests of the client and end users from the whiteboard stage on up to production. A “thought leader” understands the mechanics of marketing, AND site performance, database performance, user expectations, search usability, accessibility, findability and information architecture. Such a group is not an overnight sensation. They have spent year upon year testing, trying new methodologies, growing (rather than doing the same things year after year), teaching and educating their clients and peers and providing exceptional services (most of which we never hear about due to NDA’s.)

Please don’t expect me to choose one person when I work with and support so many talented and skilled folks, some of whom never make the Big Lists. I know I could not succeed without their knowledge, letting me ask questions (no matter how dumb) and definitely their loyal friendship, year after year.

Team work, versus a solo act,  meets every nook and cranny of web site promotion.