"Time and attention. Better than lamb's blood."
Websites are dead.
I know a portion of the audience are not going to like this, good. It's not for them. They'll be gone, with their market shares shrinking day by day, week by week - Year Over Year traffic and profits dwindling and then poof, nada. However the ones that get IT, at least you'll have a chance. We're not all going to make it.
Let's take a step back for a moment as marketers, think about your own internet usage on a daily basis. Most people consume the internet or media through their phones, over 50% of internet traffic is now mobile devices. Internet usage is going up and will continue to go up, but people aren't hanging around in the Safari web browser.
I asked a random friend to send me her App usage when she is her iPhone:
I can't wait for the battery comments...
In a week she has use Safari for 49 total minutes. The Web Browser is simply an App now, and the attentions of the audience are within other Apps. Don't take my word for it, and don't try to look at your own usage, simply ask random strangers, co-workers, spouses, or friends if they don't mind you peeking at their App usage times, try to find Safari, Top 5 - yeah right!
What's crazy is people refer to me as an SEO, but when I look at my own referring traffic, cause you know I love traffic leaking, I see the majority of my traffic coming from referring websites and not search engines. And I OWN an SEO software company!
This isn't about SEO, it's about what I've always thought of myself as, a marketer, that specializes in online marketing first, a programmer second. SEO is too restrictive since Google is simply one website on the web, a powerful one, but still only a single website that can drive traffic to my brands. However I can easily generate traffic from Quora, Reddit, or other sites and measure the conversion rate on who converts and see which traffic source is getting me the better customer.
100% Focus on SEO is Death
Internet usage is going up, daily. Yet website traffic is not seeing the same spike in usage going up. You can't blame Google. Google search is dying too, their percentage has been ticking down 1% each year (source: U.S. search spend grew 19% in 2018, but its share of digital ad spend ticked down, again). Video, Youtube, is taking over, and now for ecommerce Amazon is chipping away cause consumers go directly to that platform now instead of Google.
I was listening to GaryVee, and heard some content where Google's cost per click declined by 14%, even though their revenue was increasing (source: Google's cost per click, or what advertisers pay each time someone clicks on an ad, declined 14% during the period).
This isn't a Google problem, or really a problem, it's evolution. If you are waiting for Google to magically give you way more traffic one day without evolving, your kind isn't dying, you're dead.
And remember, Google doesn't owe you Sh*t. They give you "free" traffic, but if you spend your whole time and effort concentrating on one platform, that platform can easily take away that "free" traffic without notice.
SEO isn't dead, but it's not as easy as updating some meta tags and ranking and banking like it is 2007.
We have to meet the user at their level, where they congregate. Imagine if there are 100 competitors in your industry, and 99 of them are talking to your audience on Youtube, yet you don't even have a youtube channel or updated videos, you are becoming irrelevant to that segment of the consumer, and that audience keeps growing, while yours are moving on.
History is a great indicator of the future. Think about it, who the hell opens a Yellow Page Book now a days? So imagine businesses that are only in the Yellow Page Book, their smarter competitors jumped to the internet, and their audience - the old are literally dying, so they are becoming irrelevant.
When audience's eyeballs leave the primary medium you engage on you either have to adapt or die. Is your own stubbornness making your brand irrelevant?
So is your marketing strategy becoming like the old school yellow page guys who refuse to "go all in on social"? And this isn't about "jumping on social", cause you have to first understand the landscape of what's realy going on.
The web browser is simply an App now and it is not even the dominant way to use the internet anymore.
Don't Become Irrelevant
Brands As A Platform
From the marketing angle: marketing allows me to engage users beyond search engines, because realistically a search engine is simply a website that drives traffic, thousands of other websites can drive traffic too. Actually let's evolve that - a search engine is simply a platform that I can utilize to generate customers from. I can pay to play by buying advertisement on the platform or rank in the organic results with SEO.
Change Your Perspective
Easy to understand, now let's take this beyond:
Facebook is another platform that can drive traffic - I can pay to play with advertisements/boosts or rank in the users' feed.
Youtube is another platform, I can pay to play with Advertisements or rank in the youtube search engine results. Look at your competition, are they playing in that field already? Most likely, OR there are growing new brands and new competitors that you've never heard of taking over your space without you even knowing it.
And then there is Instagram as a platform - I can pay to play with advertisement or share content within the platform to generate traffic to my brands. Same with Snapchat.
The Death of TV
These platforms are siloed within the mobile ecosystem. You have to download their Apps to mostly use them, You can't even use Snapchat's website to login.
Old school TV - Media
Once you start seeing the landscape as platforms you start seeing the NEW "Internet". And to really put things into perspective of user's attention, the "Mobile" has now surpassed TV:
Mobile attention has surpassed TV
We all knew this day was coming, and for those that aren't evolving with the times, they'll become irrelevant, just put them in the back of the yellow pages, or throw them into the organic rankings of search, burying them on page 2, and call it a day.
So not only is the TV declining, the desktop has been surpassed by mobile...
New Media is here. You have to play within the platforms your consumers are at - either by buying advertisement or creating content that's better than your competitors or both.
And here is the thing, your brand is considered a platform, even if you are running an affiliate site, if you can create enough presence on other platforms that drives your potential audience to your brand.
Consider this, Amazon is killing Google when it comes to eCommerce, little known fact - the biggest advertising spending on Facebook was Amazon in the early days. So Amazon leveraged one platform to create their own.
You don't need the marketing budget of Amazon to "traffic leak" from one platform to another. You can do it with better content than your competitors, engaging users within the platform like in Linkedin with long form content, or get into Facebook groups and engage with consumers there (Pages can be added to groups, if allowed). WITHOUT SPAMMING obviously.
Deliver value by being inspirational, informative, entertaining, or educating - or better yet a combination of the 4.
The audience is hooked more and more to their phones and therefore the internet more than ever, but they aren't on websites, they are visiting platforms. The problem is with SEO is you can only impact a small percentage of total internet users cause you can only get your brand's message to them within the web browser, and as we've seen time within the web browser app is dwarfed by other brand platform's time.
Entertaining is The Key to Attention
Now here is your next problem: you have to have real estate on those platforms. With Google you've got your website. With Youtube you'll need a youtube channel, with Facebook you'll need a FB Page or FB group, Instagram you'll need a profile, even Amazon you'll need your own merchant presence there to get customers from that platform.
If SEOs don't evolve into online marketers we'll become dinosaurs - think of the people in 2000 that were talking about Yellow Pages. There are still business till this day that advertise within the yellow pages and simply aren't evolving with the times to even have a website to have a presence within the web browser App.
SEOs will become those Yellow Page marketers - the traffic will be there, but the percentage of that piece of the pie will continue to shrink.
Don't Blame The Audience
The audience hates websites, but who can really blame them? I know this will irk some website designers, but put your ego aside, no one really cares about that extra 3 hours you put in to perfect that pixel alignment, let's be serious.
When I visit a website to read a blog or some content within 2 seconds of landing on the site I get a pop-up asking for my email or giving me a discount code or some promotional nonsense, I literally just LANDED!
There might be a ADs all over the content, then as I read and get half-way through the content I'll get hit with another pop-up or something slides in from the right side, or some chat bot - seriously who the hell thinks it's a good idea to put a bot on their website? People don't like talking to robots on phone calls, why would they want to communicate with them on a website? Oh let's not forget the ADs that scroll in and move the content down as you are reading it breaking concentration.
After attempting to mine-sweep to close my way through the pop-ups (with those close buttons way too small) and scrolling banners I get to the end of the article and there is a weak call to action to upsell me something, then if I accidentally move my mouse outside the browser or go to click exit an "On-Exit Pop-up" appears, Jebus.
Oh yeah I forgot about all the "Accept Cookies" banner nonsense to get through, wow. Why would anyone want to deal with this "over-spammed by marketers" environment? You can't consistently pollute the water then complain when people stop drinking it.
Oh yeah, I also forgot the "auto-play" videos that appear and their lovely off-spring the "lower-right corner auto play video" pop up - Come on guys... I'm on a website reading some news and there is an auto-playing video that follows me or sticks to the bottom corner of my screen - wow.
Time to Mind-Sweep those close buttons on ADs!
What's crazy is I'm using Disconnect and other AD blocking plug-ins, so good luck with a person that doesn't have any of that. I went to Express.co.uk and over 5999+ Advertisement connections have been made, and the page is technically "still loading" - WTF?
Is this really necessary - is this the experience we want for ourselves?
And this experience is happening on over 90% of the websites I visit, no wonder people are naturally going to platforms like Instagram, Youtube and Facebook - simply just for a cleaner experience.
Within Instagram I can just scroll through photos and not have to mine-sweep my way through a dozen close buttons to see the content or be entertained. Same within the Youtube App.
What type of experience have we given the audience and what did we expect in return?
Why would they give us that as we've popped-up to death the Web Browser App experience?
If you are reading this you may not have realized it yet but there are no pop-ups or interrupting nonsense on SERPWoo.com by design.
For the most part ALL platforms that are winning do not employ any sort of "Pop-up" situation, some of their forced onboarding like Pinterest (or visiting a Facebook page without being logged in) gets annoying, but not at the levels 90% of the internet has going on. These clown "Growth Hackers" ruined everything...
Why would they give us their loyalty?
What's The Next Step?
It's 2019 mofos, SEO - what a freaking waste of time, but a web browser, shieett people aren't even paying attention to that thing anymore. They might Google some question and hopefully an answer box doesn't have the response and force them to click into an over-advertised-spammed wordpress site, but if you aren't keeping up with your competitors who realize, that content, killer content, and more importantly content that fits the platform are the way to go... You're done.
So we have to evolve, we have to jump in to these different platforms and study our competitors, but more importantly study our audience, and **rolls eyes** 🙄 read these clowns' retarded comments to understand what makes them tick, what makes them laugh, and how we can engage with them to do one of the four engagement content types.
Before you start selling you have to engage with your audience to build trust, all it takes is one user to get the "Ah ha" moment and they'll spread your brand like wildfire within your industry.
So first you have to understand HOW to engage your audience before you start posting all over the New Internet. There are 4 pillars to engaging content: Informative, Inspirational, Educational, and Entertaining. Here is a breakdown of what each accomplishes:
There is always something changing within an industry, if you can become the "news outlet" for the latest of what's going on AND add your expert commentary on the situation your audience will start looking for your input on topics. You'll need to stay on top of the latest though.
Or you could be a source of content for the news. For example within the SEO industry Google Algorithms happen "occasionally" so at SERPWoo we created a free tool that monitors our crawled data and showcases the latest search engine results volatility (Located here: Latest SERP Volatility Stats). New sources, bloggers, and commentors now use our data as a source when talking about what's going on with the latest Google updates. There are number of other competitors that we get compared to, so users can see from multiple sources that there is indeed a Google update going on. Boom, now we are informing people and letting the audience spread the word of mouth about our brand.
Can you create a tool or something similar in your industry?
Inspiring people will have a positive impact on your brand more than anything else in my opinion. Inspiring people to do something or take action or pull the trigger on an idea, on bettering their life anything that leads to a net positive in their life they will attribute to YOU and YOUR BRAND as the source of inspiration. Now imagine selling a product or service to them after that initial impact of positive flow? Money in the bank!
To generate trust you need to show your company, your employees, and your brand has the knowledge to get the job done. That means educating your audience on about your industry, tactics, and things to look out for. Your audience can be broken up into 3 levels: Newbie, Intermediate, and Expert.
Newbie Level Audience Member:
A person within your industry that has absolutely no idea about what's going on - these guys are going to be your bread and butter since they tend to trust the first brand that gave them the "Ah ha" moment. It's why so many people within the SEO industry still tout Moz as being a good source. It's because they were the FIRST source that gave them detailed information. You have to create the content that's geared towards them, like a glossary of your industry jargon, and then detailed explanation of each industry jargon term and what it means, what to look out for, and more.
They'll consume this content left and right. Here is the thing, the content should not be in just text format, create a YouTube video of the same piece of content with example walk-thrus. There is a percentage of your audience that learns through video. Then also create the same content into podcast format, there are people that walk their dogs and listen to podcasts all day - I throw on a GaryVee podcast whenever I'm driving since I can't connect to video. Look at your own actions and family/friends' actions on how you all absorb content.
Example: You are a plumber, so you create a piece of content on how the audience can fix their own toilet with different store bought products and give them a long DIY (Do It Yourself) guide on how to fix common toilet problems. A portion of your audience will fix the toilet themselves, another portion will be like "screw this, this guy looks like he knows what he is doing lets just hire him". Another portion will remember you as the local plumber with video guides and they'll recommend you through word of mouth, and your business will grow as you create more content in multiple formats.
Giving out value first is key to winning on the internet. Simply throwing up an advertisement "Hey I'm a plumber, got a leaky sink call me!" Is boring, lazy, and isn't a long term strategy, there is no word of mouth behind it, there is no "added-value" behind it, there is nothing except "I want your money". We are evolving from the TV, Radio, print media era to a new era where the brands that add value to the ecosystem will have the staying power.
Intermediate Level Audience Member:
This is a person that knows the industry jargon and will be mostly looking to maximize current strategies and learn about new things going on. This is where content piece centered around new products and services within your industry is the key.
Example: Being a plumber, you can create content about a new drain snake, tool used to clean out pipes, that has entered the market and is absolutely great OR is absolutely horrible and to stay away. Creating videos of your attempt at using the newer products and reviewing them will show that you have a wide field of knowledge within your industry.
The results will be word of mouth, and recommendations from the intermediate audience member and your brand's expansion.
Expert Level Audience Member:
This is probably a competitor level audience member that's also in your industry. Create content that engages them and/or even provokes them can get them to spread your message for you to THEIR audience. When a competitor starts talking about you to their audience, their audience is now suddenly aware of a potential alternative. Their audience will start looking at your content and you can capture a good portion of them if your message is on point.
Create expert level content that talks about different problems within your industry or regulation that's coming that will impact everyone. You can interview other experts within your industry to help boost your own authority. This will help spread the word within your industry as an expert amongst the experts since you are on-top of the news. It's again why Moz is so annoyingly referred to even though they've been slipping for years. Being a part of the news circuit and writing informative comments when you read an article will help spread your brand within your industry faster - it's why CCarter is CCarter. The brand lives on after WickedFire's demise.
Example: You are a plumber and you read the comments of content from the newbies to expert levels of your audience. This allows you to gather new content ideas, but also comment back when there are errors or is confusion that you can solve - EVEN if it helps your competitors. That genuine help will not only be seen by the audience but if your competitors are smart enough they'll be alerted to it. Slowly a relationship can grow and you can partner up on future marketing initiatives to help both your brands cross-pollinate your audiences. Example you can invite them onto your podcast for a series that collaborates on problems in the industry and how they can be solved.
Every industry gets a little mundaned so a brand that can entertain while providing value is going to stand out. Think Eat24 (before GrubHub bought them). Eat24 was up to a lot (How to Advertise on A Porn Website - in fact that's how I found out about them and started ordering from them - WAIT! FROM THE ARTICLE they wrote about their marketing not that other way, yuck... yeah... that's it.) They also created a unique voice for their advertisement that stood out amongst the competition.
Same thing with Wendys' Twitter account - they were straight up roasting people left and right on twitter and that gained notoriety.
But it doesn't end there, entertaining your audience shows you've got more going on than just "Buy My Product", it shows you're creative and color outside the box. I plaster gifs all over my content, I've got a unique way of telling a story about marketing that my audience loves. It permeants throughout all social channels and marketing copy I do. It also aggravates a good chunk of people, Good - they help spread my personal brand further, I need you to hate.
Entertaining while educating, informing, or inspiring allows you to impact your audience twice as hard cause they are actually enjoying reading each word and the underlying story behind it.
Your Evolution Domination Game Plan
1st Step, first thing is you have to land grab all your brand's name (and personal name) on the major platforms period (register your brands' name!).
2nd Step, is you have to follow and monitor your competitors' movements, daily. Absorb what they do on that platform.
3rd Step, read the comments of the audience about your competitor's content, that's the fastest way to understand what your audience likes, dislikes, and get ideas on what content you can create on that platform and what doesn't make sense for that platform.
4th Step, after 1-2 months of recon, which is AGES on the internet, you'll start THINKING in terms of "Facebook" versus "Instagram" versus "YouTube" content. You'll quickly realize you can't use the same content on all 3 platforms.
Set aside a monthly "Exploratory Marketing" budget between $200 and $2500. Make sure to spend it all up every month, it'll be easy. This "Exploratory Marketing" budget is to be used for experiments platforms you are not familiar with. The budget will go towards creating imagery and test budget ADs for different content pieces.
5th Step, Next hit up Fiverr and find a cheap graphic designer person that you can pay $5-10 for each different piece of graphic. They exist, art students hate me, you don't need to hire an in-house art person for $70K to get things going (Side-note: the problem is when you have unlimited supply from 3rd world countries that do the same level or better work for cheaper you're in trouble as a graphic designer, so up your game or find a new career, this goes for everything including programming).
Also look for Voiceover actors/actresses as well as video spokesperson personalities, literally you can create brands content if you find the perfect formula, I mean I think I did it once, or twice 😉 😉.
6th Step, Start creating content and posting it on different platforms based off of your research on your competition.
7th Step, When you start getting into the groove of one platform, remove that platform from the "exploratory" marketing budget and set aside it's own dedicated marketing budget and grow it as you start seeing the conversions or your goals are being met.
Something to consider: Branding content is completely different than Sales oriented content.
Branding content is used to grow your brand presence, it's used to showcase you are a player in the industry. Sales content is used to persuade or educate your audience on your product.
For example this particular article/blog post is a branding content piece. I rarely will mention SERPWoo and there is really no upsell. It's an informative and educational and hopefully entertaining piece of content with actionable items that will grow the SERPWoo brand in the minds of our audience, you.
If this were a sales piece of content, we'd be mostly talking about a particular problem that the audience has and that SERPWoo solves better than the competition, like our ability for Online Reputation Managers to tag negative URLs for advanced reporting to their clients. 😉
8th Step, Go all in on GaryVee, follow him on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Linkedin (Yes Linkedin, if you got business customers it's time to click that 'forgot password' link and get back in the game cause it's on!). Look at how he creates content and understand WHY he creates so much content.
The problem is a lot of brands hold back cause they think they'll flood their users with too much content, HOW? They are already drinking from a firehose when they turn on the internet. Your organic reach within Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other platforms are at best 5-15%, so even if you repost a piece of content, you can never hit 100% of your potential audience within that platform. it's impossible to hit terminal velocity and overwhelm your audience.
What GaryVee does is take a single content piece, splices it up into Micro-content pieces, and then shares that piece on so many platforms, that his penetration makes it almost impossible for you to not see it. Actually just take a look at his blueprint, he literally wrote it all out on how he does it:
The GaryVee Content Model
Don't like GaryVee, I give zero fucks, he's winning at audience penetration. Your brand needs to up it's game, even if you can do 10% of what he's able to accomplish you'll be leaps ahead of your competitors who only post a new blog post once a week, and maybe a tweet along with it.
The internet is an ocean of information that gets reflooded daily, how can your one single piece of content survive more than a couple of minutes? It's like a drop of water into the ocean, you have to keep dropping content piece after content piece to win. It's why the micro-content strategy works, it helps penetrate different parts of your organic reach and you can test which content pieces got the most attention and then buy ADs against that creative and money in the bank.
Fucking evolve. I first watch my competition and people playing the game on platform better than me and absorb. Currently GaryVee is out-doing everyone in terms of execution. so I studied him and I realize I was watching most of his content within other platforms. He's presence is like he is running for president of the internet. I've been absorbing his content for 3 weeks before I realized he has a website! WTF. It never occurred to me to even check.
That revelation opened my mind to how brands are missing the boat if they simply concentrate on their "website" as the vehicle to grow their brand.
Evolve with the internet
Go Hard. Envision your brands as running a political campaign for president of your industry. You've seen these political Ads, they are everywhere at all times. That's the level of fever you should hit within your industry:
When your audience turns to YouTube you are in their pre-rolls ADs, you are in their suggested videos.
When your audience turns to Instagram you are in their IG stories, you are in their feed. Your audience turns to Facebook you are in their scrolling feed and in their sidebar.
When your audience turns to Twitter you are being retweeted and in their feed, you are being promoted to them with different content pieces from your micro-content strategy.
When your audience tries to update their Linkedin Profile, you are being recommended to follow them, your content is being shared with them by their colleagues.
When your audience opens their email, your newsletter is sitting in their inbox old school style.
When your audience turns to reading blogs, you've retargeted them and your brand is showing up in Adsense ADs on the blogs they are reading.
Go Harder Than Every Before
Your Brand Is Everything. Platforms can come and go, even if no one visits your website your brand can still exist within the realm, you have to evolve your way of thinking about how to "Internet". As the internet continues to evolve, you have to continue to evolve with it, your marketing, your messaging all have to adapt to the platforms they reside on. Follow your audience and stay in front of them because if you don't you better believe your competitors, old and NEW are going to be in front of them, and you'll become irrelevant and forgotten.
Time to get to work.
- CCarter (http://www.twitter.com/MercenaryCarter)