A web strategy pioneer, Philippa Gamse has been working with Internet applications since 1991. Originally from the UK, she formed her US-based consulting and speaking practice in 1995. Clients report significant improvement in quality web traffic, visitor engagement, customer loyalty and qualified sales leads within 30 days of implementing her recommendations.
Philippa was the sole featured expert for the cover story on effective web strategies for UPS “Compass” Magazine Fall 2009, distributed to more than 1million businesses. She teaches digital marketing on MBA programs at Hult International Business School in San Francisco. She is a Certified Management Consultant – an ISO-accredited designation recognized in over 60 countries. Her book 42 Rules for a Web Presence That Wins was published in September, 2011.
MO: You have been working with internet applications since 1991. Was it obvious from the beginning that the internet would become such a central factor in our lives? Has there been anything about its evolution that has surprised you?
Philippa: It was quickly obvious that it was a very powerful tool for mass communication. In the early 90’s I was working for a national nonprofit organization with a chapter in every state, and we realized that using email and bulletin boards (this was pre-Web days) could significantly reduce the cost and efficiency of disseminating information, and of facilitating discussion among a number of people at once. It’s been amazing to use tools like Skype to talk to and see people all over the world at almost no cost!
One thing that has surprised me has been how the fundamentals of online success really haven’t changed. The basic principle still applies that it’s all about people – technology is never the real problem! A paper that I co-wrote in 1993 called “Seven Steps for Building Electronic Communities” is still quite relevant today – in fact, I refer to it as a foundational primer for social networking.
MO: Have there been any websites over the past year or so that you’ve been really impressed by?
Philippa: I know this sounds strange, but I don’t hang out on the web that much when I’m not working. So I use a lot of resource and research sites like Econsultancy and MarketingProfs, and I follow news from the BBC and the Economist, but I’m much less of a consumer online.
MO: What are some of the best ways to generate online sales leads?
Philippa: For all the hype around the Web and social media, the best techniques are still based on the fundamentals of creating lasting relationships with your customers. I talk a lot in my book about emotional connections online – that means making your visitors feel recognized, engaged in your content, confident that they can trust you, motivated to interact with you, and supported in their use of your products and services. Most sites are awful at this, but it is possible . . .
MO: Tell us about your new book, the inspiration behind it and what your creative process looked like.
Philippa: I was invited to write the book by Laura Lowell, who is the Executive Editor of the 42 Rules series – there are now almost 30 titles. The format is wonderful for the reader, because it’s a lot of small, thought-provoking chunks that you don’t necessarily need to go through in order. But each section is limited to around 650 words, which is actually quite difficult to write in a way that sets up the premise, makes the point, tells a relevant story, and sums everything up, in a way that’s very concise, and hopefully both educational and entertaining!
MO: What are three trends that excite you?
Philippa: I’m very interested in using technology for social good. This means finding ways of using email, cellphones and tablet computers for empowering disadvantaged communities, developing world populations, reaching people in very rural areas – for example to perform complex medical procedures through the use of robotics, etc. I’m also watching the developments in the concept of the “personal concierge” (think “Siri” on the iPhone), although I’m somewhat concerned about potential privacy and security issues.
MO: What’s next for Philippa Gamse?
Philippa: I’m very excited to be teaching digital marketing on MBA programs at Hult International Business School in San Francisco this summer. I’m also starting to think about my next book – I’m fascinated by the intersection of information / customer service / advertising / privacy / and how it’s all going to play out for businesses like Facebook and Google. And I’d like to find a really interesting project to work on in the area of using technology for social good on an international basis.
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