It’s a new year and there are about a million posts out now telling you what emerging trends to follow, what the next ‘big thing’ is going to be and a ton of other bandwagons to jump on – this is not one of those posts.
This list isn’t about the next big thing to jump on because it sounds cool. This isn’t about emerging tech or tactics or some weirdo marketing or linking scheme that looks good on paper until it gets your site penalized.
This is going to be a list of simple things you need to do – including some older things you probably still haven’t done – and things you need to stop doing if you want to get anywhere with your marketing.
Now with no further ado, let’s get to it.
We’ll start with things to stop doing immediately:
Things To STOP Doing
Stop Making Marketing ‘Guarantees’
I know everyone loves a guarantee. Potential and current customers love it, your CEO loves it and I bet you anything your sales team loves it. Guarantees give us all the warm and fuzzies. Nothing says ‘hey, they know what they’re doing!’ like a statement of ‘you don’t pay unless we get results!’ or ‘triple traffic or your money back!’
Guess what, though.
Guarantees provided by marketing firms are unadulterated, 100% fine malt BS.
You heard me. I said it.
I don’t care who told you what, there’s literally no way to guarantee anything in terms of digital marketing whether it’s PPC, social media and especially in SEO. There are just far too many external factors at play for anyone to be able to guarantee you anything except for ‘we’re going to do things that we think will work and that we’ve seen work in the past’.
Anything more than that is a lie.
Stop making nonsense promises to people – especially you SEO companies.
Look, there are just too many factors at play that you don’t control. Even if you or your firm is the best at what you do and you do everything right, all it takes is someone in the client’s IT team to do something janky with the code or break a template or block something in the robots.txt file and there went your ‘promise’.
And we haven’t even mentioned if someone hacks your client’s site and what that would do to your ‘guarantee’ yet…
Just stop making guarantees you can’t keep, OK? This ain’t a used car lot.
Stop Nonsensical ‘Rank Chases’
If you’re still trying to do the same old ‘I want to rank first for this word!’ crap in 2019, you’ve already lost. Sure, some SEOs out there will disagree with me on that but walk with me for a minute.
Google’s mission is to deliver the correct results for queries and to do that, they need to understand context, not just ‘This letter is a match of this letter and this word matches this word! This must be the best result! Hooray!’
No. That’s not how this works.
Do not sit there and ‘optimize keywords’ like this is 2008. In fact, make 2019 the year you completely stop caring about ranking and positioning period. You should have done this years ago but seriously, make this the year you really do it.
Hot take: Rankings themselves don’t mean anything. You want a vanity metric? Being number one for a certain word in Google – that’s a vanity metric.
You rank first? Who cares. I bet you anything in your quest to ‘rank real high’ all you did was rank number one and get a whole mess of traffic from people who’ll never convert.
Tell me about your sales. Tell me about your leads. That’s what I want to know about. Rankings only matter when it drives the right traffic.
Instead of focusing on rankings and keywords and other trash metrics that look great on paper but don’t really do anything, focus on growing relevant traffic and potential customers, not just five thousand people from who knows where who’ll never buy anything and only help to increase your bounce rates.
Stop Making People Do The Wrong Jobs
You have a marketing team. You have a sales team. You have a product management team. You have an IT team.
Let those teams do their own jobs.
If you have an intern doing your social media or some guy in IT trying to do SEO, you’re on a path to nowhere. People specialize in fields for a reason. I can bet you anything your SEO guy’s dream isn’t to wake up and suddenly be an admin for a product manager on top of all of their other duties. Your IT team studied coding, not content writing. Your CEO, CFO and COO are business people – not web designers.
This whole ‘everyone do everything!’ nonsense needs to stop. It kills morale, it keeps people away from doing what their actually good at and, worst of all, it makes everything on your website and in your business average at best and terrible at worst.
Far too many times we see people in IT trying to tell marketing things like, “Sorry, we’re not going to add schema. It takes too long and its just not worth it.” and “Compress the images? All that work to save half a second? Why even bother?”
And worse, we have product managers launching new products without doing the proper research first and turning around and blaming marketing when it fails hard – even though marketing tried to warn them it was going to be a flop.
Marketing’s job is to promote products & services and provide product managers and clients with quality data to help them make better decisions based on what they are seeing. It is not their job to make their decisions for them.
Marketing’s job is to generate and provide your sales team with warm leads they follow up on and close the deal and make the sale. It is not their job to close leads.
Marketing’s job is to tell IT when they see improvement’s to the site’s infrastructure that can help assist in web conversions or bring quality leads to the site or prevent possible problems in search, PPC, social and more. It is not their job to go and literally beg for every single change to be implemented because some random person doesn’t think it’s worth the time.
You see what I’m getting at here?
That being said, there’s a flipside to this issue:
Stop The Silos In Your Office
Then you have the offices that just don’t talk at all or worse yet – basically tell other teams to stay in their lane when they identify a problem in another department.
You know what I’m talking about – places where the left hand doesn’t know what the right is doing.
Social media and digital marketing teams are promoting one thing without telling anyone.
Product managers are so afraid of being called out for not doing a good job, they tell marketing to stop pulling data because that’s ‘not their job’.
Customers calling customer service about a deal they saw online and customer service has no idea what they’re talking about because why tell ‘those guys with the headsets’ anything.
This is a nightmare for customers, different departments and – since everything is marketing – your business as a whole.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, there’s no reason your teams shouldn’t be in communication with each other when something is about to launch. There are too many tools out there like Slack, Skype and good old fashioned email to let that happen.
If your team can’t be bothered to use the tools on their own, then make them mandatory. If you’re not in a position to do this, then take it upon yourself to send an email to whoever may be affected by something before you launch. You can’t change the world but you can change how you work.
If a certain manager or department is telling you to stop pulling data because it might make them look bad, do it anyway. No individual or team is bigger than the overall health of the company – and that just might be the most capitalist thing you’ll ever hear me say – but it’s true!
Your job isn’t to play politics or stroke egos, it’s to do the best job you can in your role whether that’s for a client or for who you in-house for.
If nothing else, you just covered your own ass when their next campaign flops because they can’t be bothered to do their jobs properly.
Things To START Doing
Start By FINALLY Fixing Your Site
No point in putting a new coat of paint on a car with no engine. It still ain’t going anywhere.
I’ve been saying this for years. Everyone has been saying this for years.
It seems that almost no one has actually done this yet.
I won’t even go over all the fine points of how to do this because they’ve been covered much better literally everywhere else on the internet but fix your pagespeed issues, site structure, canonicals, schema markup, image compression, 404s and everything that I bet is still wrong with your site from like two years ago.
Go fix it.
Start Listening To Your Audience
Hotjar, SurveyMonkey, Social Media Polls, Social media listening, Quora, Mention, BuzzSumo, Email feedback, Customer Service calls, Suggestion boxes on your counter at your physical location.
With all the ways today to know exactly what customers are talking about in your industry and with your company in particular there is absolutely no reason on this planet that you shouldn’t know at all times the way the wind is blowing.
At this point, if you’re not giving your target audience exactly what they want when they want it, it’s not a question of you having no way to know what that is, it’s that you just don’t care enough, your staff doesn’t care, your staff cares but knows even if they told you, you wouldn’t do anything or you’re ridiculously understaffed.
These are all internal problems you need to fix because if you aren’t giving people what they want, your competition will.
Don’t try to sell crap you think people want to buy – go find out what people in your industry actually want to buy and sell that instead.
Start Making Better, Data-Driven Decisions
This ties in with the one above and it’s really just common sense to the point where it shouldn’t need to be said but it always does.
Look, if something didn’t sell in 2015, 2016, 2017 or 2018, what makes you think it’s going to sell in 2019?
Marketing isn’t magic and you can’t market a punch in the face no matter how much money you throw at it. If the people are blatantly telling you ‘we don’t want this thing no matter how many times you show it to us!’ maybe its time to stop throwing good money after bad?
Why waste time, money, energy and effort on a dud? All that money you’re about to throw into yet another destined to fail marketing campaign for the Crapmaster 3000 could be better spent in R&D for a new product or figuring out what the audience wants so this doesn’t happen again?
Another thing not having proper data leads to is putting either too little or too much money behind campaigns for certain things. Why drop five grand on a week long campaign for something that sells for five bucks? You think you’re gonna sell a thousand of these in a week? Even if you do, congrats, you just broke even so unless your goal was to just get those things out the door because you don’t want them in your warehouse anymore, what did you really just do?
And no, hoping the ‘word of mouth’ you built from the people who bought the thousand items isn’t a real goal. That’s a hope.
Look, it’s not hard: get historical baselines, define KPIs, plan strategies, track your campaigns and do a post-mortem on every single thing you do. This way you’ll have the data and know where your time and money are best spent.
Start Staffing Your Department & Treating Your Marketing Team Better
This one applies to every company out there because there’s always room for improvement.
For all you businesses out there with in-house guys, if you have just one person doing your SEO, PPC, Social Media, Content Marketing, Email Marketing, acting as a marketing manager and has to stop what their doing at least ten times per day to put out random fires on the marketing team that no one else knows how to put out, you need to hire this person an assistant before they burn out. It’s the same thing for agency guys who have like fifteen or twenty clients. I personally know someone who had – and I’m not making this up – forty three SEO clients by himself. Needless to say he quit that job the second he could.
Burn out in this industry is real and it happens to even the best of us.
All this is to say that you need to take care of your people. If you’re understaffed, overworked and letting other teams scapegoat your team when their ideas flop, you’re managing your department wrong and it will bite you in the end. Whether it’s turnover, miserable employees or just half-assed work from people who really don’t want to be there because they’re treated like garbage, it will affect your bottom line.
You think you’ll just fire them all and bring in people who ‘want to be there’? Good idea – until that crop realizes what a horrible situation your company is and then you’re back at square one.
Just do the right thing and take care of your people.
Also, if you’re not a manager, don’t forget to take care of yourself. Forget all this ‘hustle’, ‘grind’, ‘always on’ BS…if you’re burnt out and stretched to the point where you forgot how to be a human, take a vacation. I don’t care how understaffed your department is or how busy you are, if you need the time, take it. If you’d get fired for that, then make 2019 the year you get the hell out of that toxic ass workplace and find somewhere that values their employees.
The Bottom Line
It’s a brand new year so there’s no better time to make some changes to the way you do things.
Stop wasting time, money and energy in things that just don’t work anymore and focus on the things that do.
It’s not as hard as you’d think and most of it is just common sense.