4 Tips to Maximize the Potential of Widgets
Web marketing used to be about driving traffic to your site, but the fragmented digital landscape and the explosion of portable content and social media have added a powerful twist: Now you can drive your site (or pieces of it) to the traffic.
With the launch of applications on Facebook and the rise of other personalization environments like iGoogle, consumers now can handpick the content they want to receive and have it brought to them dynamically, rather than having to seek it out. Thus, widgets have captured the attention of marketers and consumers alike for their power to deliver, literally. These mini, portable, embeddable pieces of content can be seen on desktops, social networking pages, blogs and even mobile phones. Small yet impactful, widgets can accommodate much of the same functionality as full Web sites.
To maximize a widget's potential, marketers can keep a few simple guidelines in mind:
1. Not all widgets are created equal
The first step, which is crucial to the widget planning process, is to understand the various types of widgets.
- Web widgets live throughout various Web pages, such as blogs, start pages and social networks. Many are entertainment-focused, featuring new movies or music artists.
- Desktop widgets live on users' computer desktops and tend to be the most successful if they are utility-focused (e.g., clocks, calculators, weather updates).
- Applications are built for specific platforms, such as Facebook. These tend to provide high levels of customization and often link back to branded microsites or other landing pages.
There are also multiple business models for widgets as marketing vehicles—you can either build your own or partner with an existing widget (and potentially existing audience). The right fit for your brand depends on the target audience and strategic objectives.
2. Set clear objectives and metrics
Widgets can be of service to a broad variety of marketing objectives and offer a wide array of data. Be crystal clear on goals before deciding what kind of widget and business model approach to take. Those strategic goals and objectives help narrow focus to metrics that matter.
3. Support your widgets
Widgets have inherent potential to generate buzz and viral traffic, but marketers must invest in other media for the initial campaign push. "Send to a friend" or "share" buttons are standard in widgets, helping to increase viral impressions. Allowing users to personalize messages or other features makes pass-along interactions more relevant and engaging. Don't forget existing brand assets here. E-mail marketing, company Web sites and other marketing vehicles are ideal places to build awareness of a new widget. By targeting users who are existing brand loyalists, the propensity of viral traffic will grow—if they download a widget they like, they will pass it along to their friends and family as well.
4. Refresh, engage, repeat
Once a consumer downloads a widget, a marketer's job is not over; engagement will drop off quickly if the content is not refreshed. Widgets with finite shelf lives (movie countdown clocks, for example) may not require as many updates, but creating opportunities for consumers to participate in discussions and interact with each other builds in a sort of crowdsourced refresh that both drives engagement and extends the life of your widget.
Lindsay Wong is a manager of emerging media at Seattle-based digital marketing firm Razorfish. She can be reached at (206) 816-8800.