One of my favorite things about online marketing is how much stuff there is to learn. The downside of that is how easily you can get lost in all the blog posts and Google algorithm updates and Analytics data…
Your goal should to become a T-shaped marketer.
Essentially, a T-shape employee is one that has broad knowledge of a lot of related topics, but is an expert in only one specific field.Adria Saracino, SearchEngineWatch
So here’s what I advise:
(very similar to the advice offered here: http://www.coelevate.com/essays/customer-acquisition)
- Choose a specialization that most interests you. Aaron may prefer UX and CRO for their graphical elements, while Sam may prefer PPC because its rapid set-up and feedback appeal to his (as well as my own!) ADD issues.
- Focus your research on your area of specialization.
- As you learn a new concept referenced by your area of specialty, read up on it. Your knowledge will slowly grow laterally as well as vertically.
- Stay curious. Whenever you run across a new concept you’re unfamiliar with, research it. Make notes. Have 40 browser tabs open at the same time. As long as you follow your curiosity into areas that interest you, you’ll never be bored.
Where to start
This is a fairly comprehensive introduction to the online marketing world and a great place to start: http://www.quicksprout.com/the-beginners-guide-to-online-marketing/
Here’s another good overview: https://moz.com/blog/the-noob-guide-to-online-marketing-with-giant-infographic-11928
And keep in mind the 5 strategies of highly successful marketers: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/5-strategies-highly-successful-marketers-gordon-parlova
Great big list of links
One of the biggest advantages we have is the incredible range and depth of educational resources, references, guides and how-tos freely available online. You don’t have to pay a penny to become an online marketing ninja. All it takes is your time and interest.
Note: I broke this down into categories so you can zero in on a topic that interests you. Attack this list in any order you like but be sure to note concepts you don’t understand yet so you can dig deeper.
- http://www.marketingexperiments.com/ (This is the single most valuable source of online marketing knowledge I’ve ever found! Highly recommended.)
- http://searchenginewatch.com/ (Covers SEO, PPC, Analytics, Social… pretty much all inbound channels)
Adwords / paid search
Introduction to Google Adwords: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SiAzaDqVYGQ
SEO is incredibly dynamic simply because Google constantly refines and tweaks their ranking algorithm. Best practices of 2013 don’t work anymore. The most basic elements (content and links) don’t change, but almost everything else does.
SEO in 30 seconds
Two things matter:
- The content on your website (on-page optimization)
- Links pointing to your website (off-page optimization)
Everything else is details.
Once you’re past the basics
- Website structure and SEO: http://www.vanseodesign.com/seo/silos/
- The top result gets over 30% of Google traffic: http://searchenginewatch.com/sew/study/2276184/no-1-position-in-google-gets-33-of-search-traffic-study
- When to use a nofollow: https://beymour.com/when-you-should-and-shouldnt-use-a-nofollow
Local (location-based) SEO
Social media marketing
- The best article I’ve ever read on social media strategy: http://searchenginewatch.com/sew/how-to/2202307/social-media-roi-how-to-define-a-strategic-plan
- B2B lead gen with Facebook: http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/b2b-lead-generation-facebook-secrets-slideshare
- http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing (Hubspot sells content marketing software. Most of their content is focused on B2B lead generation)
- Microcopy: http://conversionxl.com/microcopy/
- Hemingway analyzes your copy for complex sentences, words you can cut, and words you can shorten: http://www.hemingwayapp.com/
- 6 things that make stories go viral
CRO (conversion rate optimization)
- Start here: http://thelandingpagecourse.com/landing-page-101-intro/
- This is one of my favorite and most useful resources of all time: http://conversionxl.com/blog
- On color and visual design: http://www.slideshare.net/aschottmuller/usabilityconversionoptimizationfortheeye
- Behavioral psychology and CRO: http://www.searchenginejournal.com/8-ways-sell-online-behavioral-psychology/123921/
- Optimizing contact forms: http://unbounce.com/conversion-rate-optimization/how-to-optimize-contact-forms/
- AMA with Oli Gardner
UX (user experience)
User experience means how a customer feels about every single interaction with a business. It’s a BIG topic — we’re focusing on website user experience mostly, and how that impacts conversion rate.
- Guiding principles of UX: https://whitneyhess.com/blog/2009/11/23/so-you-wanna-be-a-user-experience-designer-step-2-guiding-principles/
- UserTesting offers really inexpensive user testing services — they recruit someone to go to your website and try to use it and provide a video with verbal feedback: http://www.usertesting.com/
- Test designs and mockups on real people: https://usabilityhub.com/
- Colors mean things (big infographic link)******
- Side note — did you know cultures and languages around the world seem to develop words for colors in very similar patterns? Mind. Blown.
- Beginner’s guide to Google Analytics: https://blog.kissmetrics.com/google-analytics-5/
- Google Analytics basics in 5 minutes: http://www.gorilla76.com/the-basics-of-google-analytics-in-5-minutes/
- Google Analytics Academy: https://analyticsacademy.withgoogle.com/
- Creating your Analytics measurement plan: http://webris.org/how-to-create-web-analytics-measurement-plan/
Certifications: proving you can walk the walk
There really aren’t many certifications worth pursuing. For that exact reason, an entire cottage industry of unnecessary and mediocre-quality courses has sprung up. Other than these listed here, I encourage you to avoid online marketing certifications.
Google uses Skillshop to handle certifications now — use the filters to set “Earn an Award” and get cracking!
Bing has the only significant minority of paid search ads. The exam is easier, too — because Google is essentially a humongous advertising company, and Microsoft is a, well, um, a computer hardware and software and cloud services and Bill Gates turning shit into gold and whatever.
Note: my disdain for certifications does NOT apply to becoming officially certified with tools we actually use. For example, if we landed a super-high-end client who used Adobe Analytics and required we use it, it might be smart to pursue the appropriate certification: http://training.adobe.com/certification/exams.html#p=1&product=site-catalyst
Tools and other cool stuff
www.spyfu.com is just about my favorite tool for SEO, Adwords and competitive research. Lets you see your competitors’ organic keyword rankings, paid search keywords, and even ad text! Why do your own research when your competitors already did it for you??
ahrefs.com is better than SpyFu but a lot more expensive.
WhatRunsWhere is the best service I’ve seen for spying on competitors’ banner and mobile ads.
- I like using Chrome: http://www.google.com/chrome/
- LastPass is the best password manager I’ve ever found: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/lastpass-free-password-ma/hdokiejnpimakedhajhdlcegeplioahd?hl=en
- Ghostery plugin shows all the ad tracking scripts running on a website: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/ghostery/mlomiejdfkolichcflejclcbmpeaniij?hl=en
- MozBar shows you a LOAD of useful SEO information for a page/site: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/mozbar/eakacpaijcpapndcfffdgphdiccmpknp?hl=en
- Eye Dropper lets you get the hexadecimal and RGB color values for any element on a webpage or image: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/eye-dropper/hmdcmlfkchdmnmnmheododdhjedfccka?hl=en
- Evernote is my favorite software for keeping track of all my research, articles to read, awesome images, etc. — and it’s totally free! www.evernote.com
My favorite Google hacks
define:keyword gives you a definition of the keyword.
site:www.site.com shows the number of site.com pages Google has indexed.
site:www.site.com keyword searches the specified site for the particular keyword — returns results from specified site only.
keyworda -keywordb returns results excluding keywordb
“exact phrase” returns results that include the exact phrase
link:site.com returns a list of websites that link to site.com
http://lmgtfy.com/ is the passive-aggressive way to answer dumb questions
- Google Adwords keyword planner
- Google Correlate finds keywords related to your original phrase
- Bing Keyword Research tool isn’t as comprehensive as Adwords
- Google Trends shows you change in keyword search volume over time: … this helps you determine whether a specific keyword phrase is seasonal or steady, growing or dying out.
- Google Autocomplete
- Amazon autocomplete — go to Amazon and start typing a product name in the search box. See those suggestions? Those are GOLD and there is NO WAY to capture them except manually, one at a time — you can’t even screenshot them. You can try to get the same info from a tool like Sonar but I’m not totally confident in the results.
- CloudFlare is a free website acceleration service EVERYONE should sign up for! www.cloudflare.com
- Google’s mobile-friendly check: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/
- Google page speed test: https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/
- … and why pagespeed matters: http://www.globaldots.com/how-website-speed-affects-conversion-rates/
- Meme generator: http://memegenerator.net/
- An app that enables you to link two services: https://zapier.com/ — for example, if you wanted to automatically save all your Gmail attachments to Dropbox… or create new Pipedrive deals from a Google Docs spreadsheet… awesome stuff!
- Optimizely is the most awesome a/b landing page testing service I know of: www.optimizely.com
- CallRail enables you to track phone calls back to the organic or PPC click that initiated them: www.callrail.com
- Google Analytics URL builder lets you enter your campaign variables and outputs an Analytics tracking URL: http://gaconfig.com/google-analytics-url-builder/
- Google’s Structured Data tool crawls your website and tries to match your structured data with metadata tags: https://developers.google.com/structured-data/testing-tool/
- The Long Tail: http://archive.wired.com/wired/archive/12.10/tail.html
- How to create demand, or, how Crisco became a thing: http://www.marketplace.org/topics/sustainability/consumed/crisco-marketing-revolution
- Metadata / schema markup: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microdata_(HTML) and http://schema.org/
- Latent semantic indexing
- Economist price comparison experiment