Many marketers thought they had digital marketing mastered. Recently, these “experts” have noticed their results declining, even though their efforts remained constant. Times have changed and we’ve shifted our strategies. This phenomenon of new challenges is what Rand Fishkin, Founder and CEO of SparkToro, calls: The Web Marketing Apocalypse.
The Four Horsemen
Rand outlines the four horsemen, or *evils*, that are fueling this apocalypse:
1. The Social Platforms Massively Diminished Outlinking Traffic
All social platforms have the goal of keeping you on their site. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and even Reddit have been limiting reach of organic posts with outbound links to keep users on their platform.
2. Google (for the first time) Sends Less Organic Traffic
Google has been solving more queries without clicks. Basically, their bots pull the information the user is looking for and spit it out right on the results page. Now they can get what they’re looking for without having to actually click onto your site.
3. “Influencers” Failing To Deliver Influence
There is a huge influencer market spend. However, many businesses are failing to get metrics reporting from influencer campaigns. The influencers also are trying to use outbound links, which we’ve learned aren’t working. A serious lack of strategy is leading businesses to basically throw money at large influencers and hope for results.
4. Web Advertising ROI (in many fields) Is Trending To Zero
Venture dollars are flooding the ad markets. Many companies who are seeking growth and not necessarily profitability are tossing a ton of money into web advertising which leads ad bids in many sectors to go far above what’s profitable.
The Smart Marketer’s Battle Plan
So what do we do?! Rand has established “The Smart Marketer’s Battle Plan” to aid in combating these recently arisen monstrosities.
1. Center All Marketing on Your Website & Email Lists
Rand states that he would much rather have 10 new email subscribers than 10,000 new followers. Users are much more valuable to you on platforms that you own and control.
2. Invest in the Right Marketing Flywheel
A marketing flywheel should gain momentum and provide increasing stability. Invest in flywheels for content marketing, PR + ads, and events + sponsorships. Rand says that it may seem hard at first but that it gets easier and more profitable with scale.
3. Market Where Your Audience Already Pays Attention
Discover what sources actually influence your audience and market there. Surveys and interviews are a good way to start figuring this out.
4. Balance Social Engagement vs. Drawing Clicks
Create high-engagement social posts that earn brand exposure and new followers while occasionally sprinkling in promotional posts that contain links.
5. Broaden Content & Outreach Campaigns
Unique content stands out, switch up the format. Make sure you’re creating content that resonates not only with your customers, but also with amplifiers (influential publications and people your customers listen to).
6. Use Ads to Reach Already-Primed Audiences
Start with building your organic brand before you worry about ads. Rand states “If you’re not yet known, liked, and trusted, ad ROI sucks.” Rand recommends focusing on retargeting so that you are putting ad budget towards people who already know who you are.
What worked a couple years ago no longer works. It doesn’t mean we stopped doing social and blogs, it means that we’ve shifted our social and content marketing strategies accordingly.
A quote we’ve referenced at Reaction is “Don’t build your house on rented land.” Basically, don’t invest all your time and money into social platforms while neglecting the areas you actually own: your website and email list.
We agree with the notion that you need to focus on building your organic brand before you start running ads. Why would you buy from a company you’ve never heard of? Too many businesses are going right for the sale on social, before they’ve built the know, like, and trust of the customer lifecycle.