If you’re old enough to be reading this, you’ve undoubtedly heard most of the the nuggets of life wisdom I impart in my latest SEMPost article. But you probably have never heard them applied to web marketing. This article illustrates how you can take insights from everyday life to inform and improve your marketing efforts.
Do you have any to add? Let me know in the comments!
The problem with reading about everyday life lessons is that we typically hear them outside of any particular context. They are great ideas that often leave us struggling to find real-world application.
The average person is generally looking for specific information on how to accomplish a goal or task before them. In pursuit of this information, life lessons are completely overlooked, due to lack of specific correlation to the task at hand. I hope to remedy that here with some life lessons that you can apply specifically to your web marketing campaign.
This post will take some life-lessons you’ve probably heard before and give you real-world application to web marketing. While your jaw may not drop at this information, hopefully your brain will engage, reminding you there are insights to be gained for web marketing that can be learned from everyday wisdom.
Avoid Making Permanent Decisions Based on Temporary Circumstances
The fact that we have access to so much instant website data is great. Many web marketers dive into their analytics every day looking for trends and insights. The problem is, most trends aren’t visible by looking at day-to-day information. Over the course of any marketing campaign, there will be mountains and valleys. Rankings fluctuate, traffic is volatile and sales bound around on a day-to-day basis.
If you are looking at the same analytics data every day, you might be alarmed by something that happens today that didn’t yesterday. But this can give you a false picture that only looking at an overall trend can spot.
Every web marketer has to make decisions based on the data before them. But making decisions on short-term data can lead to the wrong decisions at the wrong time. A temporary crash in web presence might be due to an anomaly rather than a problem with the web marketing campaign itself. This can lead to improper actions being taken. A solution in search of a problem. Any change you make to your website or marketing campaign that hasn’t been verified can ultimately make the situation worse.
Be sure you understand your data before you make a permanent decision based on a self-correcting problem.
Don’t Let Emotions Stand In the Way of Good Marketing Decisions
Every business owner is invested in the success of his campaign. Business owners focusing on the thrill of having a top position may be overlooking many other things that would make their business even more successful.
It’s quite possible that your business will perform better after you lost your #1 rankings. The question is, are you willing to trust the process?
Picture this: You wake up one morning to see all of your top rankings gone. Hyperventilating, you call your SEO. They calmly tell you that it’s all part of the process, convince you to wait to see the results.
Several months later, you see that yes, business is in fact up, but what about those top rankings? Too many business owners and marketers would still be focused on the rankings loss rather than being excited for the increase in business. This, in turn, puts pressure on the web marketer to do whatever it takes to get those rankings back, even if it harms to overall performance of the business.
Emotionally, those rankings feel good. But when you look at the data, you have to be willing to set those emotions aside to make more reasoned decisions.
Surround Yourself with People Better & Smarter Than You
My wife hates the TV show Suits. To her, it’s just a bunch of back-stabbing, greedy, jerks looking to get ahead at all costs, regardless of the damage it does. She’s not too far off, but it makes for great TV.
While the show is purely fiction, there are many people who operate similarly to the characters in the show. They are always competing against someone and are fighting like hell to be the top dog.
Personally, I operate on the opposite approach. I always try to surround myself with people who know more than I do. If I could do everything, I wouldn’t need anyone else. But I can’t, nor do I want to do everything myself. That just seems like too much work!
I also know that, in the grand scheme of things I can only do a few things very well. Which means if I want my company to succeed, I need to to hire people who can do many other things better than me.
Not so long ago, we began training an internal person to take over one of my (many) roles in the company. Even though I’m an “expert” in that role, her job is to do the job better than I ever did. People who are successful surround themselves with other successful people. If you’re always trying to be the top dog, you will be, but you’ll never truly be at the top.
Consider All Your Options Before Taking Any Specific Action
There is rarely a time in a web marketing campaign where there is no action left to take. The problem is in knowing which action to take at any given time.
Many things web marketers do on a daily basis provide marginal value at best. That doesn’t mean those things shouldn’t be done, it just makes them less of a priority over things that will provide a more immediate impact.
If you don’t have a complete list of things that need to be done, you’ll often find yourself doing what’s easy over what’s valuable. That’s not to say that you will always know the full set of actions. You always find more as you go. But starting with a complete analysis of your current web marketing efforts and results is the best way to plan a strategy going forward to ensure each action is the most valuable and appropriate at any given time.
Get the Facts Before Making Decisions
There is more to making good decisions than just considering your options. Sometimes you need to understand why any option is being presented, what it will take to implement and what the expected results should be.
We often present our recommendations to clients for approval, and most trust us and give us approval to continue. However, some clients will shoot down a recommendation without fully understanding the ramifications.
If an SEO is making a recommendation, there is usually a valid reason behind it. Marketers will often give the basic idea behind a recommendation, but there could be a more complete set of facts left unsaid due to expediency.
Before shooting down any idea or web marketing recommendation, ask questions so you can more fully understand why that recommendation is being made and what you can expect it to achieve. Only then can you make a knowledgeable decision.
Choose Your Battles Wisely
This applies to both the web marketer and the business being marketed. Inevitably, there will be differences of opinion and direction of the web marketing campaign. Now, conventional business wisdom says that the customer is always right. But that only goes so far when the SEO gets the blame for bad performance based on decisions made by a client.
But not every battle is worth fighting, whether you’re the SEO or the client. Some performance issues are rejected simply for preference. And some SEOs put too much emphasis on the small details when there are other more important issues to tackle.
Don’t fight battles that matter little. Put aside preferences in favor of results, and when a hard line is set, move on and come back to it later. There are always alternatives.
Consider the Consequences of Everything You Do
Everything we do in web marketing is geared toward having a positive impact on the site’s performance. However, some things have multiple effects, both positive and negative. The goal is to work on those things that will result in a net gain.
SEOs often see things only in the terms of online performance and don’t consider what the net effect on the business may be. At the same time, businesses often make changes to their site without consulting their SEO only to find something went horribly wrong.
Both sides have to be aware of the basic law of physics that says every action has an equal and opposite reaction. If you’re making a change that will impact search engine performance, you have to also be aware of what impact that might have on the visitor. Everything has consequences, they just need to be properly managed.
Don’t Waste Your Most Valuable Resource: Time
In my opinion, time is more important than money. Money is renewable, time isn’t.
If you are paying someone to manage your web marketing, you are simply paying for their time (along with their experience and skill, but you don’t get that without their time). One of the worst mistakes clients make is taking too much time to respond to their web marketer’s requests.
Delays in the process and getting approvals only delay the time it takes to get the results you want. That loss of time also causes a loss of money.
As a client, it is in your best interest to do everything you can to keep the web marketers moving as quickly as possible. I don’t mean trying to hurry them, but simply give them whatever resources they need to do the job that needs to be done without delay.
Keep Your Expectations In Line With Your Resources
The age-old web marketing battle is the results you want verses the cost to achieve those results. Web marketing success all boils down to time. Better web marketers will be able to be more successful with smaller amounts of time, but the cost of those marketers can be significantly greater. The first question for you is are they worth the cost versus someone who is cheaper?
But no matter who is at the helm of your web marketing campaign, the results you get are still impacted by the amount of time/cost they are able to put into the campaign. Large and/or competitive websites will require a great deal more time to achieve and maintain success.
Your marketing performance expectations should be in line with the overall budget you are investing. If you have a lower budget you should have lower expectations. However, if you are investing significantly, then you have every right to expect significant results. Just know what you’re getting into and set expectations accordingly.
Expect Things Will Go Wrong But be Fully Committed to Success Anyway
Web marketing is mostly art with a healthy dose of science built in. And even the science is non-exact. That means that your web marketing campaign will never be perfectly successful.
Mistakes happen, problems arise and disasters occur. Some of those will be man-made, and others will be a result of something missed. As they say, “stuff happens.”
The goal is to understand that these things will occur and to be committed to succeeding through them. Everyone needs to accept responsibility and find the best solution quickly.
If you expect nothing but a perfectly smooth ride, then you’re setting yourself up for problems. Your expectations are simply impossible to achieve, and you’ll find yourself fighting battles that can’t be won. This does not excuse man-made errors, but for the most part, all can be successfully managed and overcome.
Keep focused on the big picture. After all, that’s what web marketing is. It’s all about the big picture results. You won’t see them in the first few months, but as time goes, everything poured into your web marketing campaign builds upon the previous.
And while web marketing requires a bit of skill and expertise, it also requires a bit of wisdom to be successful. These life lessons, when applied to your web marketing campaign, should guide you into making better decisions that, overall, will improve the odds of your campaign being successful.
While no one can guarantee that you’ll achieve the wildest dreams of success, operating under these life principles will guarantee that your web marketing campaign will be in a much stronger position to succeed.