I’ve already looked at the three things I dislike most about digital marketing. But what about the best bits? Here are the two things I love about our ever-changing, complex and fascinating digital marketing world, having worked in the direct marketing industry for more than two decades.
The way things change
I love the way things are always changing. Search engines release a steady stream of algorithm updates, some of which have no discernible effect on the way marketers do their thing. But every now and again a big ‘un comes along and changes the face of search engine optimisation so profoundly that the repercussions cause chaos. Big brand websites get de-indexed, link juice is knocked for six, businesses suffer penalties and drop like stones in the search results. If you cross the line it can be the stuff nightmares are made of.
Search engine changes often mean changes in the way I write. Once upon a time I’d use plenty of key terms in my copy to show search engines what the content was about, so they could classify it accurately. Now I take a very light and careful hand because search engines are so much more sophisticated. Plus there are thing like the Google Hummingbird algorithm update, which means it makes more sense than ever to write in conversational language. As a general rule, algorithm changes make my life easier and more fun because they tend to encourage quality content.
Then there are revolutionary technologies, new gadgets like smart watches and fast-surfacing social networks. The view varies constantly. If you like to know what’s what and prefer things written in stone, today’s marketing landscape is far too scary for comfort. If you get a kick out of knowing everything could change tomorrow, it’s an exhilarating ride… as long as you keep up.
Talking about keeping up, now and again I still get asked to write keyterm-stuffed copy, usually by sub-standard digital marketing agencies. They’re obviously trapped in the past and I always turn the work down. I don’t want to contribute to a business owner’s SEO misery by doing things old-style, and agencies like this should know better.
The way things stay the same
Algorithm changes come and go. New marketing media surface, rise, then plateau or die. New technologies blow our marketing minds. But some things remain the same.
As long as you put the user first, it’s actually quite hard to balls things up. And human nature doesn’t change. Put your consumer hat on every time you create new content, remember to empathise and you stand a good chance of hitting the right note, no matter what the medium or how awesome the technology.
Then there’s language. No matter what you’re trying to put across, words are the best way to do it. And plain language is the best way to express it. Despite their increasing sophistication search engines still use words to do their thing, and unless something genuinely revolutionary happens they will rely on written information for the foreseeable future.
Finally, the direct marketing bit. Direct marketing has always been the best way to get people to engage, respond, interact and buy stuff, and now it matters more than ever. The internet is the perfect DM environment, ideal for direct response work. It’s a match made in heaven, which means my offline marketing experience applies beautifully online.
What do you love or hate most about marketing online?