Hey, I am interested in learning more about Internet marketing so I can do it for a living. Is there a certain training program that you could recommend. I am looking at Marketing Motive, but unsure if this will make me marketable. I have noticed a lot of IM jobs want you to have a bachelors and I will go back to college if I need to but would rather get it done quicker is possible. I do manage my own site and it is doing well but feel I really need to learn a lot more before I do it for someone else. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Brian Johnson, Buffaloz Photography Training
I left my position as a Director of Ecommerce in March 2010 to ride a bicycle across America. Arrogantly I figured my skills were so in demand I could take a year off. This logic is flawed on so many fronts it is sad, but the most critical error is THINGS CHANGE. In Internet marketing things change a LOT in no time at all. What I knew when I left my job in March 2010 ticked down to almost zero by the time my ride was over. I had to learn THE NEW. There is always new. Internet marketing reinvents itself constantly.
Upon return I had to learn how social and search are becoming the same idea. I had to pick up on Real Time after attending Content Marketing World in Cleveland (on one of my last dimes since I was BROKE after Martin's Ride To Cure Cancer) and I had to chisel new tactics. My standbys such as viral marketing had, in my absence, become too common. This need to standout is another reason Internet marketing can't be taught in a classroom. Classrooms are about doing what others agree is the thing to do. Internet marketing is about finding ways to create uniqueness. Conventions, those things such as shopping carts and email subscription forms, have their place but I'm a big believer in "Blue Ocean Strategy" - creating new value so compelling customers tell five friends.
Where Can You Learn Internet Marketing
Brian assumes Internet marketing is something different or more complicated than the three sites he has created and is already managing. It isn't. Internet marketing turns on several key ideas including:
- Reputation Economy - What OTHERS think of YOU and your offerings
- Thank You Economy - Give until it hurts and give some more
- Content Marketing - Like Brian's photography tips this is what you give until it hurts
- UGC - User Generated Content because YOU can't create all the content you need
- Analytics and Web Metrics - (PPC and SEO) What is converting and why in the modeled universe
- Web Site Design
- Email Marketing & Social Media Marketing - what is creating advocacy and social shares
- Five Other Things (Serving and Tech, Video Marketing, Curation, Retargeting, Mobile)
See the problem? No way ANYONE knows everything an Internet marketer needs to know. Here is how I explained it to the last President I worked for:
I know 25% of what I need to know. I can model another 25% based on trending data and twelve years of experience. Finally I create a SWAG (Sophisticated, Wild, Ass, Guess) that gains 5% moving us to 55% so we are above chance. The rest of the 45% I've learned to let happen and watch like a hawk on a wire looking for dinner.If you can't learn Internet marketing in a classroom and that is the bad news, the good news is you can learn how to THINK like an Internet marketer. I have a meeting tomorrow with the creator of Content Marketing World and the reason Cleveland is becoming known as the content capital of the world Joe Pulizzi to discuss making our draft of Think Like An Internet Marketer a book complete with a full description of what it means to think like an Internet marketer, practice exercises and every secret we know. The book will provide what no classroom can - an adjustable process capable of helping anyone who wants to Think Like An Internet Marketer.
Important to share two ideas immediately - KPIs and Modeling. Every site has Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that can tell the site's daily story in shorthand. I watched 5 KPIs like my life depended on them:
- Unique Traffic
- Conversions (sales in ecommerce or subscriptions and downloads for B2B)
- Unique Traffic / Conversions
- Cart Abandonment (best converting page / worst converting page)
- Heuristics (bounce rate, time on site, pages viewed)
My advice is to set up daily Key Performance Indicators, trend them and then deep dive if you see + or - 10% standard deviation (it being the spring soon and Christmas 2012 is a way off so you have some leeway assuming you don't sell flowers or chocolates since Valentine's Day is pretty HOT right about now). A "deep dive" requires getting inside the data, looking for the cliff the data fell off creating the anomaly. Deep dives require going a day (or even an hour or a minute) at a time until you see the outlier condition confirmed no matter how you cut the data.
I like to "database" data with a spreadsheet, tag it and then pivot and eliminate. If I go through this process backwards, forwards and sideways getting the same result in the same place I've found the problem. Problems come from Google, code and Ghost In The Machine. I will never know where some of the anomalies I chased came from. They disappeared into the great, "can't be consistently recreated" Bermuda Triangle between code, serving and use.
I could go on and on, but a couple of quick notes about Brian's Buffaloz's Photography Training site:
- Design - Site is a tad chaotic read Barry Schwartz's book Paradox of Choice to understand why doing less can be more especially online. Also read Don't Make Me Think by Kruger.
- Taxonomy - Navigation is a great place for keywords and keywords are never as general as "contact" or "advertise" think about the powerful difference between those and "Photography Tips" use Google Adwords Keyword tool to learn how many monthly searches are being performed on your top 50 keywords and then choose five of those for your menu (don't have to be the TOP 5 but more traffic is better than less UNLESS you are using a 'long tail' strategy trying to niche your offerings) - Watch for my post on Branding Keywords on Atlantic BT's blog soon to understand how we organize keywords into blue oceans
- Coming Soon - SHOP is a pretty powerful keyword so it will get a lot of clicks even if only curiosity clicks, never say "coming soon" online as it destroys your credibility forever. Put things up when they are ready you gain NOTHING from teasing a store and lose everything
- Hierarchy - Your site communicates in a nonverbal way. Right now yours is saying, "cool stuff here but disorganized and so a lot of work" only 2% of your traffic will be willing to work as hard as you are asking them. Do less and do it fast then watch your metrics to see if you've chosen right. To provide some perspective I made one menu change and it made my last company $1,000,000. I put the most important product we sold on top of the left menu - small things can make all the difference in Internet marketing
- Heroes - We call the largest image on the page a "hero". This is a purposeful name since it conveys how important the top image is to setting the tone for the page. Your hero is tiny and overshadowed by the text / graphic of your logo. Heroes communicate connection and create legitimacy. Your name, while important, shouldn't get out of a box on the upper left since to do so calls too much attention to it, breaks convention and destroys legitimacy. There are times to break with convention name in up left is NOT one of them
- Menus - The more alternative navigation you provide the more confusing it becomes. I would eliminate the cloud since it is too much information without clear hierarchy. If you are going to use a cloud pick NO MORE than 7 keywords. There is a reason we have 7 digit phone numbers. Our short term memory can handle seven digits. Think how impossible our lives would be if our phone numbers were 15 digits. We wouldn't be able to phone home and your cloud has more than 100 options. Here again DO LESS and your users will thank you by spending more time on your site, view more pages, bounce less and, eventually, pay you money
- 2nd Conversion Email Subscriptions - Don't forget to ask people to join your list. Email marketing will become your more valuable marketing communication. Also, your crew will WANT your monthly newsletter full of tips and ideas (I would start with monthly but you can always mail MORE as long as your messages are relevant and not spam, always give your subscribers easy and secure ways to opt out as it is the law and a good idea)
Hope this note has helped clarify that NO you don't need to go to college to be a great Internet marketer. YES you are already doing the right things and Don't Give Up since real Internet marketers never do.
Good luck and look for Think Like An Internet Marketer in the fall.