Net-times: My Perspective

A collection of unorganized thoughts about my experience in the online world (by Kevin Shea)

Browsing Posts published by Kevin Shea

Senior level online marketers (aka digital marketers, interactive marketers, web marketers, digital CRM, etc.) need to have a strong understanding of product management to be effective.

It’s great knowing individual tactics but if you don’t see the whole picture, you are going to miss key elements in your strategy.  In order to see the big picture, it is necessary to have walked through the requirements development process for each.  In addition, today’s digital marketers should also have an understanding of the technologies that support your strategies and tactics.

For example, the following chart is a modified example a B2B focused online digital marketing organization I did some online consulting for recently. As the online marketing lead, or agency responsible for those activities, an accurate strategy can only come from intimate knowledge of these operations. In other words, you need to be able to visualize the operation like a product manager can do the same for a complex software application.


In this organization, there is a senior digital manager responsible for overseeing the entire operation with a few internal resources and several external agencies. I drafted this chart to show senior management what was involved with their digital marketing. Without PM-level requirements, many of these initiatives would likely fail in their objectives.

There are some initiatives that carry stronger needs for detailed requirements than others. For example, analytics and reporting became it’s own very detailed product due to the complexity of the operation and various levels of stakeholders.

In the end, knowing details within each category of operations will make you a better online marketer. A product-level requirements perspective of your strategy, tactics and operations will help build confidence that you understand each process and how it will be fulfilled.

In the past, I’ve found that companies of all sizes generally like people with some start-up experience when taking on new talent.  However, it’s the SMBs that really see the value, particularly those based in technology.  People who have worked for startups generally have gained experience in various areas surrounding their specialty.  It’s the nature of many startup operations…the need to wear many hats.

But lately, I’ve heard a few comments from people that wearing of many hats probably means the person was not able to focus on their core responsibility (even from startups now looking for people).  Well, from my experience this could not be farther from the truth.  Most people I know that have worked in startups have had to do at least 150% of their core job PLUS the “other hats”.  This is a huge advantage when qualifying someone because you are getting a contributor who knows their core responsibility and how other functions interact with it.  People with this type of supplemental knowledge usually see the bigger picture better and are more capable of offering non-standard solution options.  They are also not afraid of taking on challenges outside of their core expertise and you’ll probably never hear them say “but that’s not in my job description”.

Add this to the other benefits of startup folks (high energy, ability to work under extreme pressure, over performers, flexibility, etc.) and you have a winner.  All you need is to harness these benefits with your superior management capabilities :)

So, next time you are thinking of bypassing a startuper, stop and have a chat with this person.  You might find a winning combination of experience, drive and aspirations.

There is definitely a lot more to this story than the graph below.  However, this report from Compete.com shows declining web traffic from 4 of the 5 major tech blogs (that I read regularly).  If this graph was the story, year over year numbers are looking ominous.   Techcrunch and Lifehacker both down more than 50% is a drop that can’t be ignored, assuming it’s accurate.

Some reasons why this might not be the whole story:
1. Compete.com’s data is just wrong for general web data – it would be a good bet to assume these numbers are incorrect.  I’ve always found Compete to be off when compared to actual web data.  Most of the time the numbers are lower than the real web stats.  However, I’ve also found the relative positioning between the sites being compared and general increase/declining indicators to be accurate for sites with high traffic.
2.  Mobile traffic is making up the difference, but not being counted accurately – audience analytics companies have had difficulty measuring mobile traffic accurately due to sampling methodologies and challenges getting onto the mobile devices
3.  Access is coming from sources not measured here – RSS and Twitter are delivering enough of the message to keep visitors from hitting the website.
4.  Content is being syndicated and effort is focused on delivering there

The actual reason is probably a combination of these.  However, I would still want my trends pointing in the other direction if I were any of these publishers.  Also, with all of these Tweets, you would think an increasing number would get clicked from non-mobile devices.

One other interesting note is that Techcrunch hides their traffic info on Quantcast.  Why is that?  For competitive reasons?  If things were going great, I’d want the world to know.

And if people aren’t going to these websites for their info as much as they were, where are they going?  Has social media diluted the impact of the largest media vendors, including tech?

What do you think is happening?

NOTE: GigaOm was up significantly in year over year comparison.

Kevin

Optimizing for positive and accurate professional branding and marketing are now essential when seeking new employment or consulting opportunities.  It all starts with some published content like your resume, a LinkedIn profile, a website about your services or a professional profile.  You start crafting this content thinking about how you would describe yourself in order to gain the most positive response from the reader.

When I describe myself I use words like marketing, product and strategy.  These are all quite accurate to both my experience, strengths and aspirations.  However, while I’ve worked in these areas across different industries and verticals, my experience has been focused online.  This blog post is going to focus on the word “Online” or “On-line”, whichever your preference.

I’ve been using the term Online to describe my marketing experience going back about 15 years now.  I used this term for two reasons.  Back in the mid-late 90’s, this term was used to describe work on the web.  It was actually an advanced term at the time and expressed your knowledge of the industry.  The second reason is that it is an accurate description and generally distinct from other phrases.  The term Online was a single term that referred to the numerous medium that were used to deliver messages or direct response promotions, like email, web, instant messaging, online services (AOL, Compuserve, Prodigy, etc.).

However, at some point just before the bubble burst (or just after), this term generated a foul stigma.  It might have been the billboards that read “become an online marketer, no computer skills necessary”, or maybe the general opinion of those of us that were on the inside of the inflated valuations of the web.  Whatever the reason, the impactful importance of this term became diluted.  And then the everything crashed and we didn’t have to worry about what we called ourselves for a while.

Then a reemergence occurred in 2003 – 2004 and we’ve been back on track ever since (less that minor financial blip in 2008).  In my opinion, the online industry has not been stronger and valuations are generally staying in-line with reality.

However, describing marketing in this space has taken various fragmented paths.  Terms like Digital, Interactive, Internet, Mobile, Social and Web have all been used to describe what I, and many others do professionally.  Take a look at this Google trends chart that shows how these terms are ranking in the U.S. market:

Online Marketing trending

This chart represents the relative positioning and trends of these different search terms.  In addition, since I am looking for employment, I have been looking at a significant number of job descriptions.  Digital, Online, Internet, Web and Interactive are all used to describe very similar roles, particularly at the Director level and above.  I have noticed that Agencies like to use “Digital” and they sell it as a more authoritative term to their existing and prospective clients.

And, while Online Marketing is holding the best market share and least steep decline (aside from social), there is still fragmentation.  As a search marketer, this creates an interesting situation for natural optimization since optimizing for less terms is smarter than diluting with many others.  Also, with the emergence of LinkedIn as a sourcing and networking powerhouse, optimizing for their search is critical.  Aside from my name, the terms “Online Marketing” are the second most popular driving views on my profile.  Now I need LinkedIn to tell me which terms are converting into contacts or introductions…let’s close the loop!  I see similar search analysis results from my web-based resume.

Now this table from Indeed.com (below) shows a different picture.  This graph shows job postings that mention the terms being compared.  In this view, we see “web marketing” as having momentum coming into January of this year.  I’m very interested to see what has happened in the past 2 months.

I believe the term Online Marketing, Online Product and Online Strategy are the most correct and most used among my target groups.  They are also the most accurate in describing the different medium that are used to market:  Email, mobile, social, web, etc.  However, I will continue to analyze the data and make adjustments where necessary.  One of the most important aspects of search marketing is to use the same language as your customers/prospects/future employers.

Are you doing similar research on your own personal branding?

Last week, Search Engine Land posted current results for December’s search market share as released by comScore.  It looks like things are moving in the expected direction with Google continuing to climb and maintain the dominant position while Bing edges up a bit.  Yahoo, Ask and AOL all dipped with AOL hitting a record low point.

However, it’s important to note that mobile data is not included.  I actually read this article while taking a break from a blog post about my fishing website yearly analytics review.  This is going to be a yearly post where I briefly outline performance over the past 12 months relative to previous years.

Bing Organic Search for Mobile
When I returned to my analysis, I decided to look at the mobile traffic associated with organic search for this particular website.  Now, it’s important to note that this is a low traffic, niche website with only about 32,000 visits per year.  However, after looking at the data, it was clear that Google drove almost 100% of the mobile search traffic to this particular website.  In fact, I was only able to register a single mobile visit from Bing.  I immediately went to Bing with my Droid X (great phone, btw) to see if I had difficulty navigating to this website via Bing mobile search.  My queries produced good results for the terms my website usually performs well.

Perplexed, I checked various other higher traffic websites that I have access to analytics.  The result:  none showed much organic search traffic from Bing at all.  This tells me that between Android and iPhone, people are using the native Google search and not bothering using Bing.  Would they use Bing if it was the default?  Is search a commodity when compared between Google and Bing?  Is this less a brand game than one of distribution?

And didn’t Microsoft get into a bit of trouble bundling their browser with Windows?  There are similarities to an Android OS and Google search pre-installed, no?

What are your experiences with Bing organic search traffic?

Kevin