Internet Marketing Degree vs. Experience controversy
Atlantic BT created a controversy with our 2009 post Experience vs. Internet Marketing Degree – Which is better?
There are several groups in the debate taking these sides:
- People who believe Internet marketing moves to fast to be taught in a classroom.
- People who believe experience and books can teach Internet marketing.
- People who want to become Internet marketers and are confused about how to do so.
Perhaps the debate is moot. The demand for Internet marketers is increasing as the core skills needed to be an Internet marketer widen. Attending the inbound marketing conference I overheard one Internet marketer lament, “How am I supposed to know PPC, SEO, Social Media Marketing, Facebook marketing, curation, video marketing, email marketing, content marketing and cause marketing all at the same time an in equal amounts of expertise.” Perhaps we can help.
Marty’s Internet Marketing Class & Consulting Offer
“Teacher” or Consultant
Martin Marty Smith, 12 years IM experience with 7 as Director Ecommerce, 12 years branding experience with Consumer Packaged Goods companies and created 4 startups.
Monday July 23 9:00 am (first come, first graded or served)
Want To Learn Internet Marketing?
If you want to learn Internet marketing send thoughts on the SEOSpecialists-A-Team case study outline below.
Need Free, No Obligation Internet Marketing Consulting?
If you have a site or business and need Free Internet marketing consulting outline your problem in an email. Please be sure to include your URL, business vertical, 2 to 4 competitors and your marketing question or questions.
What You Will Get
I will give every new to Internet marketing “student” a “grade” and share my notes for how to improve your grade if improvement is possible.
Businesses with Internet marketing problems will receive copies of research and recommendations.
Offer Limit: First 5 Will Receive Fastest Response
The first five assignments will be graded and problems vetted by Monday July 30th.
I will spend at least an hour and probably two or three on the first 5 assignments or Internet marketing problems received. The value of this offer is between $100 and $500 (I billed out at $150 an hour on consulting work back when I had the time to do consulting work LOL). I know my 1:10:89 rule pretty well, so chances of receiving more than 5 assignments or problems will be rare. If I do receive more than 5 I will respond to every note, question or problem by no later than the middle of August. I will respond in the order assignments, questions or requests for free consulting come in.
Sharing With Internet Marketing Friends & Wisdom of Crowds
I would never publish YOUR content to OUR sites without permission, but would like to use anything we receive possibly in another blog post or in a voting round to create engagement and promote wisdom of crowds. I know one very important Internet marketing rule – no one knows it all. I love to collaborate and ask smart friends what they think too, so I will assume I can freely share with friends and will ask permission and share a draft before republishing.
If sharing your assignment isn’t possible, please note CONFIDENTIAL in large letters at the top of the email. I will treat any request with CONFIDENTIAL at the top as if we have a mutual Nondisclosure Agreement (NDA) in place. If you need me to sign a NDA our fax is 919.719.0834 (attention Marty Smith).
I make this offer without limit or obligation. Free really means free and if you guessed I will be spending my weekend “grading papers” you would be correct.
It is easy to guarantee that you will receive more than you paid (lol), but my guarantee goes deeper. You have costs associated with sending an email, so I must create positive ROI on your opportunity cost (a pretty good rule of thumb for any Internet marketing). My guarantee is if, after reviewing my suggestions, you don’t understand Internet marketing better or make more money from my (or our if I use a bunch of friends) recommendations then I owe you one. If All I can do is admire your content, community, campaigns and conversion plan then I will help spread the word (something I would do anyway) and you get to teach the next class (lol).
There are more than 10 recommendations on my Martin Marty Smith LinkedIn page. Here is what one of my Internet marketing friends who runs a very cool company in Charlotte called mailVU.com just tweeted:
Teaching Internet Marketing
– Case Study
I’ve come down firmly on how impossible it is to simulate the speed and competitive environment of Internet marketing (Internet Marketing Degree: Do I Need One?). I even tried to create a too complicated Internet Marketing Summer School. Let’s put aside the debate and DO some Internet marketing and see if it is helpful or we learn anything.
If a B2B client wants to create as many inbound marketing leads in August as they would normally generate in six months on their current rhythm, or 300 qualified leads in a month how would you do it?
Questions To Ask
Client’s URL: SEOSpecialists-A-Team.com
Does the site have PageRank? A: Yes, PR4
Is the site on social media? Yes, but only recently and mostly on Twitter and G+ (no Facebook)
How Go To Market Now: Word-of-Mouth (WOM), PPC ($5,000 year), some ranked content on blog.
What is the client’s business? A: SEO keyword research, site optimization and content development.
Does the client’s site rank organically for SEO in their location? A: Yes.
Does the client’s site rank organically for SEO nationally? A: No
What is the clients Unique Selling Proposition (USP)? Best Value in SEO
Does client have testimonials and references from trusted sources reinforcing their USP? A: Yes
What do you do?
Hint: I start a journey like this with research. Research into:
- The business vertical – Internet Marketing – SEO.
- The client’s SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats).
- Competition SWOTs.
- Keywords (Google) to understand how customers think about the service (what keywords are searched the most) and how competitors think of the space (often find competitors facing off over terms that don’t have many searches)
- Past campaigns by the client or competition.
- Create a matrix in Excel with key information such as: PageRank for at least 5 pages, Page Spread (how many pages in Google), Inbound Links, Social following, email frequency, PPC Buy and on what terms, SEO (organic) strength and on what terms.
Internet Marketing’s 4 C’s
Internet marketing can be boiled down to 4 words that start with C: Content, Community, Campaigns and Conversion. There is no magic order, but I tend to do these steps sequentially like this:
Keyword research looking for the magic bullet (high searches on few documents published). Since you NEVER find major keywords with NO or even little competition, I also look for “long tail” terms. Long tail keywords are away from the most competitive and so are searched less, but long tail keywords may convert better since people looking for Facebook or video SEO may be less competitive and so easier to achieve a page 1 listing.
KEY IDEA: Page 1 organic Listings on Google (or Bing or Yahoo) RULE. I would rather have 10 listings on long tail keywords on Page 1 than 1 listing on page 5 for a major term UNLESS the major term is trending in my favor and I can break the logjam. Best way to break a logjam? Have a bunch of #1 listings on long tail terms.
My community research is around who already owns what. If a competitor has a million Facebook fans then I would probably not focus on Facebook. Facebook is important to SEO, so SEOSpecialists-A-Team can’t be absent any longer, but if a competitor owns the high ground I may want to do the minimal work needed to shore up other assets. The other research I want to discover is WHERE is community forming. Google’s Panda and Penguin algorithm changes are freaking web managers and Internet marketers out, so community is forming looking for answers and reassurance. A finding like the Penguin and Panda finding may feed back into Content Creation and social media marketing strategies.
KEY IDEA: Every C is connected to its brother and sister Cs. No C stands alone. As you review, research and THINK your plan should become richer in each quadrant (Content, Community, Campaigns and Conversion).
A campaign is a time limited OFFER relevant for some group within your current or desired marketing segments or personas. Marketing personas create archetypes for the buyers you want to reach. Personas help think LIKE your customers instead of talking to them. Personas provide a sense of NEED and possible TRIGGERS you can use to cut through the clutter of contemporary Internet enabled life.
Offers are something special locked by a deadline. Deadlines are very important online. Deadlines motivate, cut through clutter and are of the utmost importance. Amy Africa gave one of the best presentations I’ve seen about the importance of things like deadlines at the Conversion Conference in Chicago Liveblog Notes. Something special can be anything of value including free content, a free review or free iPad sweepstakes. FREE is the key word. I’ve tested thousands of offers always trying to beat the use of the word FREE and it can be done, but it is TOUGH. Free can cause some pain in email marketing and PPC. Ever noticed this subject on an email: “Offer 1 & Shipping Is On Us”? The Internet marketer mailing you that offer didn’t want to say FREE because it can increase their spam score. Example SEO Offers:
Free Social Media SEO Evaluation, a $740 value, until noon Friday July 20th.
Free Social Media SEO Evaluation, a $740 value, for the first 10 requests before noon Friday July 20th.
Good idea to have an example of the $740 SEO review (be sure to use dummy data not live client stats). Once you put a thermometer on an offer (first 10 requests), be sure to create a visible counter and remove when the offer is complete.
You can always lower the intensity of the offer. Instead of a SEO Review you can give a SEO Guide or a special SEO Report. Typically these kinds of offers help build your list. Once someone requests your SEO Report they’ve opted into your list and you can begin to create relevant communication as you get to know their needs better. This is where an inbound marketing tool such as Marketo or Eloqua or HubSpot can really help.
KEY IDEA: Create Marketing Personas – If you’ve never created working personas for your marketing groups I recommend Managing Content Marketing by David Rose and Joe Pulizzi. The book is a fast and important read.
Internet marketing is informed by the fastest feedback loops marketing has ever known. Within moments of doing something online there are metrics telling you how your idea or offer is performing. Create 3 to 5 Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to help define success. For our SEO Specialists we might want a KPI for traffic increase, lower level conversions such as into our list and ultimately how many new clients results from our new Internet marketing efforts.
Key Idea: Common KPIs include site heuristics (Time On Site, Pages Viewed, Repeat Visitors and Bounce Rates), Conversion % (B2C) or Cost Per Conversion (B2B), Social Reach (Twitter, Facebook, G+ Followers, Likes and Mentions), Social Engagement (RTs, FB Shares, Stumble Upons, Comments). Inbound Links = Critically important to SEO.
WWMD – What Would Martin Do?
Since the goal is aggressive I would create an “umbrella campaign”. Umbrella campaigns tie offers, content and metrics together in a 4 week plan. If I had the time I would create alternative “What If” scenarios to be deployed if I was ahead or behind my 150 new leads a week goal. I tend to worry more about being behind since being ahead is usually a good thing, but money is involved so I may slow the PPC train if we crushed 200 leads the first week.
I would create at least 8 – 12 unique offers all addressed at what is happening NOW in the space (gained from research). I wold look to create offers across a variety of campaign channels such as:
- Email to existing customers (always easier to sell more to existing than anything to new).
- PPC Campaigns – PPC doesn’t make you money until you cook the people you capture to the point where you know how to help so keep the offer low bar such as share your email get a white paper or free download.
- PPC Aggressive – The exception to the rule I just wrote is if I’m behind on lead capture. PPC is the best way to increase lead flow, but if I’m behind I’m going to move to a higher value, shorter sales cycle offer just to cut through the BS. Cool thing about PPC is you can turn it on a dime.
- Organic Content – I would want to create 5,000 to 10,000 words of new SEO content around what I discovered in my research (probably on Panda and Penguin) AND I would want to curate as much content in from other knowledgeable sources. I would think of most of this content as “evergreen” meaning it would have a life after August.
- Interactive and Social Content – SEO is something everyone either thinks they know or is scared senseless by their lack of knowledge so I would curate gurus and rookies into a community with some special social capital (SEOSpecialists-A-Team swag probably). Polls, games and contests all work GREAT to create community. I would want to create a “Fan Gate” Facebook campaign. Fan Gate campaigns require links to vote or enter a sweepstakes. You have to be careful about how you do a Fan Gate campaign to NOT violate Facebook’s Terms, but a viral Fan Gate campaign can move 1,000 Facebook fans to your company’s page much faster than its natural growth.
- Testing Culture – Read my post on creating a testing culture and take our Testing Culture Quiz. Every campaign should have a testing regime. Test things that matter and produce BIGGER results. BTW, “Testing Culture Quiz” is a perfect example of a long tail keyword since Testing Culture is too competitive, but we now rank #1 for Testing Culture Quiz. I would rather have page 1 listings on long tail terms than page 3 on any other keyword.
- Rinse and Repeat – No matter how many plans I’ve made BEFORE launch they are all subject to change AFTER launch. You aren’t launching a campaign into a static world. Competitors may attempt to best your offer, some key piece of something may change, so you must live in what I call “Near Real Time”.
Hope this gives you an idea about where I would start. Internet marketing is best created by TEAMS of people since wisdom of crowds applies (you are always smarter as a group than alone). Even if you don’t send us an assignment or ask for free Internet marketing consulting, we hope you will JOIN our Atlantic BT tribe of Internet marketers by:
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