Confessions of a Second Decade Digital Marketer

Many social media marketing companies offer proprietary secrets of success. Over the 16 years I’ve worked in online marketing I’ve seen a lot of digital agencies come and go; but there are a few time-tested techniques and approaches that will always put a marketer ahead of competitors. Some of the competition won’t expend the resources to push ahead and others would like to, and don’t know how to go about it. I’ve been fortunate over the years because I have worked with a lot of people who always took the time to teach me what they knew. The social media marketing companies that I’ve worked with have been some of the best out there, and I’ll always be grateful for the lessons learned from them.

So whether you are an agency principal or on the client side, I hope sharing these nuggets mined from my over a decade and a half in this business will be helpful to you.

1) Great content will beat tricks every time.

Black hat SEO has been around since the dawn of search engine optimization. It absolutely still exists today and Google has many safeguards in place to combat it. Still some black hat techniques can get through and it is frustrating to see a competitor enjoy higher rankings and the traffic that comes with that, when you know that they aren’t playing by the book. I have for years heard clients worry about this problem. You can turn the offenders in to Google, but that could be a waste of time. The best thing to do is to keep a laser focus on what you can control: your creation and distribution of great content. Don’t let thin content or link schemes beat you. Google will demote the offenders soon enough, and in the meantime you will have built a solid reputation with your audience. Be ready to scoop up the traffic that used to go to the black hat practitioners.

2) Clear lines of communication keep campaign momentum going.

Say you are the client in this scenario. The minute you have a new product ready to launch isn’t the time to tell your agency all about it. Keep your agency in the loop during your product development so you can plan to add to your campaign before the product launches. Your agency will then have time to lay out some initiatives for organic and paid search, email marketing and social media.

If you are an agency, keep asking your clients ‘what’s new?’ They may have something upcoming and just forgot to mention it. Part of being a good Internet marketer is to have an inquiring mind. Talk to your clients about their current products – have they ever considered bundling them differently? Do they have any sales coming up? These questions can help you plan effective campaigns and drive traffic to your clients’ sites.

3) If you’re a marketing specialist, diversify your skills.

I often ask myself where I would be if I had not diversified my skills over the years. Sure I’m still heavily into creating content, but I do a lot more than writing web copy these days. I’m always making infographics, optimizing videos, creating images for social media, writing usability evaluations, etc. If I were to provide any advice to new marketers, it would be to continue to grow your skillset. You can do this while staying with your main interest – add some subsets of skills to make yourself more valuable to your clients.

And don’t forget transferable skills. I cut my teeth early on writing descriptions for clients’ listings in the Yahoo Directory. That skill made me a better editor of my own writing. I still use that economical form of writing today when I write tweets.

Also – and this goes for clients, too – take some time to learn something new every day. If you do that, after a month you will have added a whole extra set of skills to your repertoire.

4) There is always time to write – make the time.

If you have tasked an agency to write your content for you, still spend the time to come up with awesome topics for your writers. If you are the agency, then it’s up to you to make the best use of your time so the content you create is valuable and memorable. There are lots of moments in the day to steal some time to write. If you need more time, jot down some ideas while waiting for people to join on conference calls. Right before going to dinner, tack up a note with a few points you’ll work on when you return. If you commute by train or bus, there’s a golden time to get things done, not to mention when traveling by plane. Often it’s more productive to write in short bursts then come back to it a bit later than to sit for hours. Give your mind a break and return to it refreshed. It’s great to plan for the long term, but it’s also important to seize the day. Make the most of every day. Some days that might mean you finally got a hold of a vendor and others it might mean that you wrote 6 blog posts for next week. Short bursts of activity can be quite productive – give yourself 20 minutes to get started on a task that you’ve been putting off. It’s always better to begin and tell yourself, great, I’ve started and now I can continue, versus continuing to put off.

5) Agency & client sides need to work together to produce reporting that provides value.

The agency can track the standard metrics like traffic to the website, referrers, keyword positions – it’s up to the client to tell the agency what other data they need to track. Then it’s time for the agency and the client to decide what metrics will provide that data, and how often to report it. This collaborative approach to building custom reports beats being handed a pile of graphs and a short keyword position report, along with a spreadsheet full of links every month.

6) Don’t sweat what you can’t control.

I learned early on that I could not control the search engines. Google will do as it pleases. What I can do is counsel my clients to be patient and assure them that I am using every technique available to build their campaign.

Bonus Tip: Don’t forget: Google isn’t the only traffic driver! While we are waiting for Google to recognize the hard work we’ve done, we can build clients’ email lists, ramp up their social media accounts, add copy to their websites, write articles for placement in industry publications and do everything we can to make the campaign work. Google will in time give credit for the structure that we’ve built, and our clients will reap the long term rewards.

There are lots of other things I’ve learned over 16 years in the digital marketing industry. I wanted to leave you with another bonus tip that you and your agency can use to push your campaigns to new heights: always have an agenda whenever you meet. Share the agenda before the meeting and attend to each item. Create a list of action steps at the end of the meeting and assign them to the appropriate parties. Then when you meet again, use this action step list as your agenda. You’ll be able to get more done – you might even want to post the agenda on your online project management tool so it doesn’t get lost in a pile of emails.

Want to get organized and take your online campaigns to new heights? Work with an award-winning Gatlinburg, TN agency and get more done! Organically looks forward to meeting you!