How to Figure Out Which Channels Actually Work for You

Episode #018: Rand Fishkin, CEO and Founder of SparkToro and Previous Co-founder of Moz

If you’re a marketer then it’s almost a definite that you’ve heard about this week’s guest. In fact, if you’ve been to a marketing conference in the last few years then you’ve likely seen him as a keynote. In this episode of Mobile Matters, we talk to founder of SparkToro and former co-founder of Moz and Inbound.org, Rand Fishkin, about how the marketing landscape has changed dramatically in the last 10 years, the impact no click search is having on businesses, how to prioritize your resources, and so much more.  

Stephanie's Strong Opinions

  1. No click search is having a major impact on numerous businesses, but few marketers understand the significance of it.
  2. One email address is more valuable today than 1,000 Facebook fans and our strategy needs to reflect this change.
  3. Don’t assume that what your competitors are doing will automatically work for your business.

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Episode Transcription

Stephanie Cox: I’m Stephanie Cox in this is Mobile Matters. Today I’m joined by Rand Fishkin. Rand is the founder of Sparktoro and was previously the co-founder of Moz and Inbound.org. He’s dedicated his professional life to helping people do better marketing for the Whiteboard Friday video series, his blog, and his book Lost and Found, are a painfully honest field guide to the startup world. In this episode Rand and I talked a lot about how he founded Moz and what he’s doing now with Sparktoro, the impact no click search is having on businesses and how only a small number of murders actually realize it, and why you should consider one email address more valuable than a thousand Facebook fans. And make sure you stick around to the end where I’ll give my recap and top takeaways so that you can not only think about mobile differently but implemented effectively. Welcome to the show Rand.

Stephanie Cox: One of the things that I think is so impressive about your career is you’ve done so many different things and you really have kind of become this expert on all things SEO. How did that all happen? 

Rand Fishkin: Sort of by accident! My mom and I co-founded the company that’s now Moz, and initially it was a consulting business. My mom had been running a small business marketing consultancy, doing things like business cards and letterhead and logo design and yellow page ads for small businesses around the Seattle area since 1981. So ‘81 to 2001. And then I dropped out of college and started doing web design for some of her clients as the web was getting big and people were getting connections. That was fun for me, and, I think fun for both of us, but it was not particularly profitable. We ended up going deeply into debt and we had subcontracted SEO services from some local providers here in the Seattle area, and we were not able to pay our bills. We couldn’t afford to pay our subcontractors for the work that we needed to do for our clients. And so, you know, the necessity was OK, Rand, you need to learn to do SEO so that we can deliver this work to the clients that we promised. And that meant spending a bunch of late nights learning how SEO worked and trying a bunch of things and eventually, I found that I had both a knack for it and a lot of interest in it. And so I started up this blog initially called SEO Moz, that was just designed to kind of record what I was learning and share those things with people and it became a popular website in the SEO community. And then I launched some resources on there including something called The Beginner’s Guide to SEO. And it took off and that ended up becoming our primary business over the next couple of years. 

Stephanie Cox: That’s actually where I learned everything I needed to know about SEO, from you! 

Rand Fishkin: Wow, well there you go! So, I think it was one of those things where I enjoyed it and I loved learning and sharing with other people. Google and the other search engines in the earlier days, when there was sort of more distributed market share, where it was very tight lipped or misleading, intentionally or not, about how things worked and in their structures and systems and I wanted to demystify that. So, Moz has been a really helpful resource for a lot of people. That makes me thrilled, right? I love that search engine optimization is more accessible now than when I started in the field. 

Stephanie Cox: And now you’re the founder of SparkToro. So, can you tell us a little bit about what your new company does? 

Rand Fishkin: So far, nothing! [laughs] So, my co-founder Casey and I are working to build some software that we think can help with a very frustrating marketing problem, which is, discovering all of these sources of influence that affect you or any given audience. So if you want to discover, what podcasts do architects in Los Angeles listen to or which events do general contractors in the Midwest tend to attend, or what publications do journalists in the field of economics read and talk about? That’s what we’re trying to solve. And right now today that’s a very manual, intensive process of interviewing and surveying, which is really important and lots of marketers have to do it, but a lot of us don’t. We don’t ask our audiences enough or we don’t bother learning where we should go to reach them and, as a result, I think a lot of marketing dollars get poorly spent, and a lot of channels that could reach a tremendous number of people don’t get investment. This is sort of the goal of SparkToro. It’s to be able to answer that with a single query. You type in architects, perform a search, filter to Los Angeles click on the podcast tab. We tell you which podcasts architects tend to listen to. 

Stephanie Cox: That would be amazing. As a marketer, I would absolutely love that.

Rand Fishkin: Me too. Fingers crossed we can we can get this thing built. It’s challenging but I think it’s possible. 

Stephanie Cox: So if we switch back to SEO for a second, there has been so much change in the last five years, especially. What have you seen the biggest factors that have impacted the SEO landscape. 

Rand Fishkin: Gosh. Biggest factors. I mean I think that certainly one of the biggest, if not the biggest, is Google’s shift away from being a search engine that refers traffic, to a search engine that tries to answer queries with their own results. So, in fields like flights, hotels, weather, traffic, lyrics, film and television, medical queries–Google is essentially trying to present results that prevent you from clicking on anyone else’s website and just let Google themselves answer it or solve that problem for you and monetize that problem for Google. I think that’s been a very effective strategy for them, and for their shareholders, and it’s been immensely frustrating for everyone else on the Web. But, that is a reality. So I think a lot of marketers and a lot of SEOs have had to compensate with changes in their strategy in terms of diversifying their traffic,  targeting keywords, and phrases that are likely to still have decent organic click through. Investing in paid advertising when Google presents data is kind of the only option above their own results or, potentially changing their business model to serve different audiences, different keywords, different subjects to deal with that.

Stephanie Cox: Do you think businesses understand the impact that this concept of no-click searching is having on their results?

Rand Fishkin: I think there’s probably only a small percent who really understand how severe the problem is and how much of a trend it is and how much of their audience is being either taken from them or at risk. So, if you’re a marketer and you work for a travel website, you get it. 100 percent, you get it! You know that Google has siphoned away a ton of this and you know that, I think a lot of the travel websites are immensely frustrated because Google often scrapes the content from your website. You’ve built all this content, you’ve done all the work and research, and Google’s bots just crawl it, and scrape it from you and then repackage and represent it without attribution. Or, with attribution that doesn’t lead to a click. And that’s pretty frustrating. I think that if we went 20 years back in time, websites would just block Google. They’d say, no way, I’m not letting you access my data. You’re a content thief and you can’t do this! But, once Google had all the monopoly power, they could sort of “Trojan horse” their real business model which is kind of AOL 2.0. And, I think that some marketers who are in some fields definitely get that. The vast majority of us, probably not or not yet. I think this is true with Amazon, as well. For a lot of e-commerce stuff, many folks thought, oh you know this is really great. Amazon’s letting me advertise on their platform, and put my products on Amazon. And then it’s only later that you realize, oh wait, Amazon’s real model here is to figure out what has high sales, what has high customer engagement, what gets good margins? And if I do all those things, Amazon just makes another version an “Amazon version” of my product and starts selling it and puts their results above my results, and I was just a training program for them.

Stephanie Cox: Yeah, you were their startup cost that they never had to pay.

Rand Fishkin: Exactly. I mean, this is a tough thing about you know, really smart companies with near monopolies and immense government lobbying power and nearly untouchable business models. It just kind of sucks to be the little guy or even the medium sized guy. 

Stephanie Cox: One of the things that we’ve seen a lot in terms of just search traffic is, obviously, going more towards mobile than desktop. Have you seen big impacts on search when people are using more of their mobile devices?

Rand Fishkin: Yeah, so certainly! I mean, two things are really interesting here. I think one is that there was a lot of speculation that the rise of mobile would lead to the demise of desktop. And that is not what happened, weirdly enough. Maybe not that weird, right? Just as television never killed radio or audio. And, you know, the video cassette didn’t end up killing movies and television, the same is true with mobile not killing desktop. The desktop has certainly flattened off, it’s plateaued. It’s no longer growing. I think it’s down maybe 2 to 5 percent in terms of usage from its maximum in 2011 or so. But, desktop, weirdly enough, at least from a search engine optimization standpoint, probably still drives more traffic than mobile. And that is because the click through rate on desktop is much higher. When people are doing searches on the desktop, they often click on more than one result. They often actually click a result, whereas on mobile they often don’t click a result that no click searches that we talked about, are twice as high on mobile as they are on desktop. I think something over 60 percent on mobile and somewhere around 35 percent on desktops, so not quite 2x. And so, you get this weird world where optimizing for mobile is hugely important. You know, half your traffic or more probably comes from mobile. Maybe it’s only 30 or 40 percent depending on your space, but desktop has not lessened its importance. And there are folks who have over-optimized for mobile and made their desktop or laptop experiences worse as a result. They’re less rich, less useful. And I think that’s probably actually hurting them. 

Stephanie Cox: What would you recommend is the balance between the two, then, when you think about optimization?  

Rand Fishkin: So, I think about how I think about mobile and desktop as being very similar, but not quite exactly the same. And I think that it pays to invest in the things that make for a great mobile experience which is, essentially, speed and ease of UX, without ignoring what makes for a great desktop experience which is essentially rich results that don’t limit or filter the opportunity to navigate, to explore more deeply, to get the big images or high quality video or whatever it is that you’re that you’re seeking. So, I think that you can play both of those very reasonably, in a modern web browser with a good website. And, there’s lots of good examples of folks doing a great job with that.

Stephanie Cox: You mentioned speed, so I know Google last summer released their speed update. Have you seen that have any impact on rankings for anyone? I know there was a lot of talk around it could, but has there been any data proving that out or not? 

Rand Fishkin: Nope. It looks from the SEO world like it was a line from Google and,you know, occasionally someone does something and a Google representative will be like, well no, it is a small ranking factor, it’s not a big one. And, you know, you sort of look at the correlation numbers like gosh, where can we find places where speed seems to be the winner and, eh, it’s not a lot. That being said, you shouldn’t optimize for speed just because Google makes it a small ranking factor or not. You should be optimizing for speed because users care about it a ton. And I think that’s the much more important piece and I worry when folks say, “oh let’s optimize for this because Google says its ranking factor” or “let’s not optimize for this because Google says it isn’t”. I think that’s a poor way to make a decision. Versus, ”oh this is something that will really help my users, this is something that will add value to my website, this is something that will get me a higher conversions and more email addresses”, whatever I’m looking to do. 

Stephanie C:ox I think that’s such a great point because I think marketers do that a lot. They’re like, “oh a change is coming! Let me go do whatever that change says!”, and they don’t take a step back and say, what is that going to do to my user experience? And yes, it might get me higher in rankings and might drive more clicks. But, if they come to my site and they don’t do the action then I want them to do, does that really matter? 

Rand Fishkin: Yeah, I think one of the best examples of this is in the social world ,right? Where so many marketers for many, many years optimized and over-indexed on how do I get more Facebook likes to my page, how do I get more Twitter followers, how do I get there more LinkedIn followers, how do I get more Instagram followers? All that kind of stuff. And it was only later that we realized, oh wait a minute. Facebook is going to show my posts to less than 1 percent of the people who clicked follow. I should have gotten one email address instead of a Facebook fans. Crap! I got misled. And that’s a real danger. You know today, I’d probably take one email address over a thousand Facebook followers.

Stephanie Cox: Once again, proving that email is not dead! 

Rand Fishkin: Oh no, email open rates are still amazing compared to social click-through and open and engagement rates and there’s so much you can do with an email address. You can take an email address over to Facebook and advertise against it, using a custom audience. You can take it over to Google and use RLSA (remarketing lists for search ads), you can take it to LinkedIn or to Twitter, you can email those people directly. You can use it in display advertising. Just, super power! An email address and a website visit, those are the things that I would optimize for. Social fans and followers, appearing in zero click searches from Google, I don’t think these things are as valuable. The value of being the content that’s spoken aloud by an assistant, like Alexa or Google home, I don’t think those have a lot of value. 

Stephanie Cox: But they’re the current shiny object that sometimes we all want to chase, I feel like. 

Rand Fishkin: It’s pretty funny, right. I see all these things are marketers talking about, Oh you know voice answers are gonna be really hot this year, AI is going to be hot this year, virtual reality is going to be hot this year. The Internet of Things will be hot. What value are you as a marketer getting from investing in an Internet of Things marketing strategy or a voice answers marketing strategy or VR marketing strategy or AI? The answer is often, well look it’s hot! We’ve got to invest in it! Which, that’s not an answer. 

Stephanie Cox: I completely agree. It only makes sense that your customers would actually want to use that to engage with your brand. Otherwise, you’re just chasing another shiny object. 

Rand Fishkin: One of the weird things about marketing that I think is tough for folks to grasp is that we do not need to lead markets. In fact, it is probably a very poor decision for marketers to lead a market, rather than to follow. So, if your customers and your audience of potential customers all start using a platform, tactic, embracing a technology, enjoying a type of content or medium, great! Now go pursue that! But, being ahead of the curve on, “we’re going to adopt a virtual reality video on demand webinars through Oculus Rift!”…How many users could you possibly get through tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars you’re going to spend on that? You can wait until there’s market saturation there and then go invest. That is not going to hurt you.

Stephanie Cox: And the costs would come down dramatically, too, at that point, once there’s market saturation. 

Rand Fishkin: Yeah exactly! Exactly. Well said. 

Stephanie Cox: Speaking of topics that are getting hot conversation, is this idea of on-SERP SEO. So, for all my listeners that I don’t know what that is, can you kind of explain a brief definition and then why it’s so important? 

Rand Fishkin: The concept behind on-SERP SEO is that much of the interaction around many queries and for many brands is happening on the search engine results page itself. So, if you do a search for Nike in Google, the results that come up are engaged with two to three times more than the actual page on Nike.com that people click through. And so on-SERP SEO is the practice of doing SEO type of things to control which results show up, and what those results say about you, and what the snippets of the results, and the titles, and the descriptions, and Google’s knowledge panel about you, and the videos, and images, and news items that might come up in that page. You can do SEO influence almost all of those things. And for many brands and many products and websites, influencing what appears there and what the SERP looks like to a searcher is an important part of their marketing mix. 

Stephanie Cox: If I’m a marketer and I am not doing anything with on-SERP SEO, how do I get started or what do I do to optimize content for that? 

Rand Fishkin: Let’s see…I think the first thing you do before you get started is to have a list of keyword research, do your keyword research, look at all the terms and phrases, and say, which of these is: A) important enough to my brand, B) gets enough search volume to be worthwhile for me to go invest in and C) doesn’t get a high click through rate back to my website or back to a website, such that doing SEO on the SERP itself probably is very important. And if you get that list of those three things, you can then prioritize the words and phrases–where you should be making investments in what appears on those pages. And then from there you go look at the SERPs themselves, you know, the search engine results. And you say, OK what’s showing up here, what’s not showing up here, what do I want to show up here that isn’t? What do I not want to show up that is showing, and how can I make changes to that. If there was unflattering results? How do I get some high ranking results in there? If it’s there’s inaccurate data, how do I correct that, where’s it coming from, who controls it, and what do I have to influence to change that? If there’s images or there’s videos that I wish were these other images or videos–maybe they’re not negative, but that they’re not as positive or as good as the other ones–how do I do some image SEO? How do I get some YouTube videos which is, basically, all that Google shows in video results anyways. And what will help manage or take over the results that are already there?

Stephanie Cox: Do you find that most marketers do keyword research or is that something that we’re sort of all behind on? 

Rand Fishkin: I find that most savvy SEO professionals do keyword research. But I think that when we broaden that out to marketers, the answer is that it’s a small number and not nearly as many as should. And then I think there’s also levels of sophistication around keyword research. So, looking at a list and prioritizing. Doing your work your research exclusively in Google AdWords, or I think it’s just called Google Ads nowadays, is probably a terrible idea because Google hides the volume numbers from you for a lot of searches and it suggests a lot of searches that are relevant, but they don’t think you should buy ads for. Google Ads is a fine platform and they do a decent job of optimizing for what keywords should I buy advertising against. And if you are trying to figure that out, great! Use Google ads! But if you’re trying to figure out what organic terms and phrases should I rank for, Google Ads is a terrible, terrible platform to use. You’d be better off with Google Suggest or Google Trends. If you’re looking for something free and probably if you want to be sophisticated you should use a paid tool. Moz has a tool called Keyword Explorer which, full disclosure, I worked on those was my last projects before I left. But, I think it’s quite a good piece of software. And there’s two competitors to it, that are also pretty good. One is from a company called Ahrefs. Their tool is also called Keyword Explorer. And there is also a tool called SEMRush, which is quite popular as well. And those platforms–well, at least Moz and Ahrefs–both have an estimate of organic click through rate, which comes from clickstream data. So you could say, you know, type in whatever it is, maybe “Seattle to New York fares” and it would show you, oh, the estimated click through rate for that is only 30 percent, versus, whatever it is, something like, “best Seattle neighborhoods to stay in the summer”, and that might have an organic click-through rate of 80 percent. So then you would say, oh OK, I can get more sophisticated with my keyword research. It’s not just volume that I want. I want to know the volume, but I also want to know how difficult it is gonna be to rank for a keyword. And what’s the click through rate that I can expect from this keyword? So I can start prioritizing intelligently. 

Stephanie Cox: I’m so glad you brought it up not to just use Google Ads for your keyword research, because when I talk to people a lot of times they’ll tell me that’s what they’re doing, I’m like wait no, no please stop! 

Rand Fishkin: Google is not optimized for you, man! Their goal is not to get you the best data so that you can rank organically, right? They want you to buy paid ads!  

Stephanie Cox: One of the things that I know a lot of marketers–myself included–have done the last 10 years is really latch onto the concept of blogging and how–especially like the early 2000s, even late 2000s, early 2010s–that was a really big way for you to improve your SEO results! Is that still the case today or have we seen changes in how blogging really impacts that? 

Rand Fishkin: I guess the answer is, it depends. Now, this is certainly true of many, many things in SEO, but a blog may be a good way to optimize content for your website and to earn the rankings that you want, but it may not be. It really depends on the sector that you’re in, right? Are you in a sector where fresh, regularly produced content that has a short shelf life but that is sort of engaging with the other blogs and website communities in your space can drive a lot of results? Or is it the case that a blog is, sort of, temporarily working against you? By that I mean: you publish a post, it has a shelf life of six months. After six months, people in your field don’t pay it much mind or attention anymore and historical resources that are six months or a year or older aren’t as trusted. OK, then maybe blog is the wrong way to go. Maybe, we should be publishing in other ways. And certainly, there’s loads of options. Everything from basic articles to news, white papers, or research papers or, more guide-driven content, those kinds of things. I think it’s also a question of how often are you updating, right? Are you publishing something every day or every week, or a few times a month? OK, maybe a blog makes sense, especially if it’s more of an informal type of publishing that you’re doing. But if it’s something more formal, more structured, and less frequent, blog probably doesn’t make sense. It depends.

Stephanie Cox: When you look at search trends in the United States and you compare that to other parts of the world–so EMEA, APAC, etc.–are there differences? If I’m a global company, are there things that I need to think about?

Rand Fishkin: There’s a huge amount of differences. There’s cultural and user experience differences, obviously, there’s language differences. And then when it comes to search and search specifically, there are big differences in how Google does ranking in, let’s say, India versus Bulgaria versus France versus the United States. 

Stephanie Cox: I love that you just mentioned Bulgaria because no one ever talks about Bulgaria. My kids happen to be adopted from Bulgaria! 

Rand Fishkin: Oh, sure yeah. No, I actually visited Sofia a few years ago and gave an SEO talk there, and I think I learned more from them than they learned from me! The local SEO people were sort of like hey, this is how it works here, and in Bulgaria the searches are structured differently and Google’s rankings are much less sophisticated than what you’ve got in English-speaking countries. A lot of spam tactics are still working. Google is much more link-centric here than they are other places. They’re not good at filtering out exact match domains here versus in the U.S. and the UK and other places. So, very different. I think you know it pays to find some on the ground experts in those, as opposed to relying on like: OK, well, you know what are the best practices that Google is talking about? Or SEO people are talking about in the United States? You know, some of that might apply a little bit in Bulgaria, but a lot of it doesn’t. 

Stephanie Cox: When you talk to marketers about search, what’s the one thing you tell them they have to be doing right now that they’re not? 

Rand Fishkin: Gosh, I hate to be giving an “it depends” answer, but that’s almost always the case, because what more sophistication in marketers varies dramatically and what is the best thing to do in your field also varies a lot. I would say one of the things that I do a lot is talk to start-ups and early stage companies and small businesses that are launching their web efforts, or trying to double down on them, and a lot of the time a big question that comes up is: Where should I invest? There’s all these channels, all these opportunities–should I start a blog, should I be participating in social discussions, should I try to build a YouTube presence or my Instagram? Should I be investing in content marketing, should I be doing more paid marketing, should I try and get an email list? Right? The list goes on! And the answer that I always give is: Look, you only have time and attention and effort to put towards maybe two or three of those. You can’t do fifty! Unless you have a huge marketing department, you really can only do a few. And you can only do a few well. And so I urge people to find one or two or maybe three that are at the intersection of three things. One: Something–a channel, an activity–that you are personally passionate about and interested in. And, the reason for that is, I find that people are not good at investing in channels that they don’t personally like and care about. If they sort of go, ugh Twitter hate it, I don’t really get it. 

Stephanie Cox: Yep!

Rand Fishkin: Well, guess what? You know, if you hate it, it’s probably not going to be a great marketing channel for you! Even if your audience is there even if you think there’s marketing opportunity there, sorry! If you’re not into it, you probably should take that off the list and find something you’re more interested in. Second: Somewhere where your audience actually pays attention. So, maybe you’re hugely passionate about Instagram and you love the format of the photography there, and you’re really good at crafting stories for Instagram and personally, you use it all the time and you got a lot of followers. But guess what, if your audience is B2B electricians? No, sorry.

Stephanie Cox: They’re not on Instagram! 

Rand Fishkin: Yep! And, even if they are, they’re not on it through their work, right. And I think this is a big problem. A lot of people say: Oh everyone’s on Facebook and Instagram, so of course that’s where I should be doing my marketing! And that is dead wrong. Facebook has bias to make it such that you know you really are not going to get reach, not going to get engagement, in things outside of like, here’s my friend’s baby pictures or the latest political controversy type stuff. The third one that I urge people to pick is somewhere where they feel confident they can add unique value. Meaning, there’s lots of other people who are already blogging, doing an email newsletter, making a YouTube channel, or putting together an Instagram feed. What is it that you are gonna do that you are confident is uniquely valuable to your audience and different from what everyone else is doing? And, if you have a great answer to that question and a great answer to the other two, awesome! That’s a good channel for you. Prioritize those. 

Stephanie Cox: So how do you combat the issue when your boss–whether they’re marketing or you know the CEO of the company–says, why aren’t we doing it all? We need to be on everything!  

Rand Fishkin: Yeah, I think, generally speaking, that’s a simple answer, right? Which is: we can either invest deeply in a few channels and get a lot of value from those or we can invest very shallowly in many channels. And of course, when you hold the purse strings and you’re signing the paychecks, you get to control which one you want to do. So it is up to you. However, these are the benefits and drawbacks of each, right? We can either be relatively non-competitive because we’re not investing deeply, but we are visible across a lot of channels. And, maybe that’s of interest to you as a personal point of pride or because you think that’s the best way to do marketing, or we can go deep on two or three, and here are the benefits of that. We can be uniquely competitive and, as we scale, we can add more channels and those kinds of things. So, I would leave, obviously, the decision up to them. I think it’s just up to the marketer to present to the pluses and minuses. 

Stephanie Cox: I like that you mentioned making it unique for you, because sometimes I feel like our initial gut reaction is: Well, our competitors are investing heavily on paid search, that must mean that they’re driving results! Let’s go do that! 

Rand Fishkin: Oh and you have to be really careful with paid search especially, right? I mean, paid search, one of the things that’s fascinating, I’ve been writing about this recently–how a lot of paid channels are being invested in by companies that are venture backed or backed by private equity dollars or gross equity dollars. And those dollars are not seeking a profitable return on investment. They are seeking user growth, right? So their job is not to spend a dollar or make a dollar and five cents back. It’s spend a dollar to lose a dollar or four or five, so that I can show that my growth numbers are rising. Because that will get me my next round of investment. I don’t need to be profitable, I don’t need to be showing return on investment. And so paid channels, especially Facebook and Google, in competitive spaces are run with non-ROI seeking dollars and that can make them very, very unattractive to a marketer who needs to make a return.

Stephanie Cox: There is absolutely no one better to talk about SEO with than Rand. He’s led the industry on SEO education and created a ton of resources that an entire generation of marketers, myself included, have really learned the most of what they know about SEO from him and the content his team created. And I know on a personal level I really cannot wait to see what he does with SparkToro. If he can solve the influencer problem for marketers that he discussed earlier, and really help us determine what channels, events, resources etc are most effective for our company’s, he’s going to once again substantially influence marketing. Now, let’s get to my favorite part of the show where we take the education and apply it to your business.

There’s so many great insights from my conversation with Rand that can really help transform how you think about mobile marketing. Let’s dive into my top three takeaways. First., the marketing landscape has dramatically changed in the last 10 years. And while I know that sounds like an obvious statement everyone, I wonder how many of us if we sit back and are honest with ourselves, really understand the extent of what’s changed and what that really means for a business. There are two topics I talked about with Rand that really kind of came up to me when I start thinking about this concept. First was how much of our time do we currently still spend on acquiring new fans and followers on social media. Now if I think back to earlier in my career, I did some of that, and we all did. Because social media was this new and shiny object, and there was a ton of potential with it. But how much of that has actually been worth it long-term? Rand’s point about a single email address being more valuable today than 1,000, then let me repeat that 1,000, Facebook followers really struck a nerve with me because I’ve seen so many marketers still claim email is dead, and it’s not valuable, and I’ve seen people move away from email acquisition as a major tactic in their marketing strategy. And I wonder how many of us are still focusing on social media growth and thinking about our Twitter followers, our Instagram followers, our Facebook fans and so forth and really overlooking email. So that was a really big eye opening  moment for me. The other point I think he made that was really phenomenal, that I also see marketers struggling to really grasp, is the impact of no click search. If you think back to what’s happened with SEO, it’s kind of quietly happened with Google. They didn’t make a big announcement that it was happening just started happening and we really, a lot of us, haven’t noticed the impact that’s having on our business. And so we really need to take a step back and look at all the changes that have happened in the marketing landscape. Especially as technology has evolved, and honestly evaluate whether or not we are truly keeping up with the changes or if because the changes have happened slowly over a period of time we are actually super far behind and don’t even realize it.

Next if you’re like most marketers, you have to prioritize your time and resources regardless of how big your team is. I find this to be a challenge really at marketing teams that are hundreds of people to ones that are teams of one or two. How do you determine where you should focus your energies, to drive the best results for business? This is a challenge that we all have and it really does change throughout your career and throughout every business that you go to. And I think Rand gave some really great suggestions on how to think about that very question and answering it that I thought were really simple but also exceptionally helpful. Especially his, around being focused on two to three channels or opportunities and not trying to tackle all of them. And I know we all want to do all of them. I fall into that bucket as well. But I think this idea of really looking at the intersection of what you are personal interested in, somewhere your audience is actually paying attention, and then also where you can feel confident that you can add unique value to your audience. They’re not earth-shattering statements, but when you start to think about the intersection of all three of them, it makes a ton of sense of how that actually could be what moves your business forward faster. So what I think we need to do is take a step back and look at our marketing priorities that way. What if we said we don’t need to be everywhere? What if we said we were intentionally only going to focus on the channels that meet these three guidelines? It’s going to enable us better allocate our resources, which I believe are going to drive better results and I believe Rand feels the same. So it’s all about whether or not we’re okay with doing a lot of things just okay, or if we really want to be exceptional at a few of them. And if we’re honest with ourselves, few brands truly need to be everywhere to meet their target audience. 

Finally, can we all agree to stop looking at what our competitors are doing and then immediately trying to do the exact same thing. And I know that some of us hear this from other people in our organization, but it is our natural inclination so I can get it, but I want us to think about this differently. There’s a ton of value in looking at other successful companies and trying to emulate a little bit of what they’re doing because we want to drive the same type of results. However, why are we always assuming that what our competitors are doing or would another company that is successful is always going to work for us? Or that the exact tactic is actually working for them? And I think the comment that Rand made around paid search was really really insightful. So he said that companies that are investment funded  are really focused on growth, right? They’re not focused necessarily on profitability. So paid search could be an area where they invested a ton because they don’t need to make you know, $3 for every dollar. They might be okay making $1 for every dollar or even less than that in order to hit their growth targets to get to that next round of funding. So this could actually mean that they’re paid search investment is driving them significant growth but not actually making them any real money. And so unless you want those same types of results, it’s probably not going to work for your business to the extent that might work for a competitor in that situation. And that’s why we really need to do our research. So think about what you see other companies doing. Dive into what they’re doing. What about their business trying to figure out how they’re using it and what type of results are probably trying to drive with it to see if that makes sense for you before you just jump in and start doing it.

Now here’s my mobile marketing challenge for the week. Take the time, and it’s really you guys going to take you maybe an hour to do, to answer the three questions about what channels and opportunities you find most personally interesting, where are audiences paying the most attention, and where you can add a unique value. What’s the intersection of these three? Hopefully that list is only two or three things. If not, you’re going to need a widdle it down and ask yourself those questions again. And then take those answers and try and make it part of your Q2 strategy and focus. I know most of you were in the midst of Q2 planning implementation, so there’s still time to do this. And I’m not saying pivot your entire marketing strategy for the quarter to this list, but instead focus some extra time on it. See what happens. I think you’re going to be really happy with results.

I’m Stephanie Cox and you’ve been listening to mobile matters. If you haven’t yet be sure to subscribe, rate ,and review this podcast. Until then be sure to visit Lumavate.com and subscribe to get more access to thought leaders, best practices, and all things mobile.