Do you remember the movie Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory? The character Violet Beauregarde inflates after chomping on the full-meal gum she snatches from Willie’s hand. That scene reminds me of launching a global search marketing campaign. Whether it’s English-only or multilanguage, when you’re planning the rollout, make sure the plan is effectively scalable—and won’t blow up too quickly.

In my previous post, I talked about the data analysis and reporting practices that are essential to SEO and search marketing management. The thing is, there is more data than ever to sift through and sort. Part of effectively planning a global search campaign is recognizing the need to plan for scalability.

The distance between companies and their customers has been reduced to zero. Google calls it the “Zero Moment of Truth,” and Adobe has referred to it as “the last millisecond.” Couple that with the growth of Big Data, and you’ve got a need to ensure that your search marketing plans are scalable.

What Is Scalable Planning

The term “scalable” no longer refers to simply handling an increasing amount of data. SEO and search marketing practices must now account for algorithm changes and cloud protocols that affect ever-increasing search activity.

When I talk about scalable planning, I’m not simply referring to vertical data computations but developing capabilities across the spectrum of global growth enablement.

  • Geographic – modeling search behaviors within localized regions
  • Functional – managing increased data flows resulting from search behaviors
  • Administrative – allowing larger internal and external enterprise stakeholders groups to share distributed data
  • Load – enabling distribution to expand or contract resource pools according workflows or number of inputs.

I remember my ninth grade science teacher telling us about the laws of thermodynamics. The second law shows us that all systems are in a perpetual state of entropy where order and structure break down over time. Scalable planning limits the impact of entropy as your systems are scaled up.

For example, marketing automation and CRM should be ready to accommodate larger data sets. As your global outreach extends, the CMS you use must expand both horizontally and vertically. Thankfully, the cloud environment is built to expand. The need for scalability was one of the reasons Adobe has aggressively rebranded as a cloud management provider.

How Is Scalable Planning Practiced

Scalable planning is not a new concept. The key is to establish the architecture first. Start with the vision for the campaign and develop a roadmap with intervals where change can happen. Using the Agile Scrum process for IT development is just as effective for SEO and search marketing practices. Being agile requires the same organizational and process requirements—consistent sprints, daily stand-ups, and a tight customer feedback loop, for example.

At Adobe, we operate using a maturity model that envelopes a modified Agile methodology with Scrum principles. We believe this approach leads to a more responsive scale-up. Being agile is important to scalable planning because of the changing nature of search tools that lean toward sharpening SERPs to match a searcher’s unique profile.


How to Manage with Agility

The challenge today is that when search marketers connect with global markets, immediate feedback impacts the success of the campaign. Agility is paramount when we plan for scalability. Shorter feedback loops and faster development cycles now require managers to move swiftly between customers and development teams, and SEO and search marketing are not excluded from those mandates. When consumer sentiment changes with a stinging review or your campaign suffers an unexpected drop-off in search traffic for a specific search term, your enterprise must adjust practices swiftly and smoothly.

Look at an Agile marketing maturity model, for example. When stakeholder commitment is loose and agile adherence is low, a basic project management structure is typically in place. The team may set goals, assign ownership, and define deliverable dates. Development is linear, not iterative in this case. However, the fully agile enterprise has firm stakeholder commitment even when the adherence to more complex agile practices is necessary.

Stakeholder Commitment

Algorithms constantly change, with over 400 throughout 2012 from Google, so our teams are constantly responding to meet changes that can impact search marketing KPIs instantly. From launch to scale-up, each team is adjusting variables as data-driven input is continuously received. These changes are made seamlessly across different platforms because of our attention to scalability planning.

Our Adobe Experience Manager is one example of the tools we develop to support agile management within a scalable environment like global search marketing. We do this by building SEO best practices into our most common CMS templates—whether desktop, tablet, or mobile. With mobile becoming a significant channel, for example, managers are able to deliver content and digital assets through an increasing number of mobile devices.

I would encourage you to emphasize scalability when you’re planning your next global rollout. Although the impact may be overlooked at times, the risk of inflating into a giant blueberry without an adequate response to expanding needs could leave your campaign in a chaotic mess.