In anticipation of his keynote presentation at Affiliate Management Days entitled Being the Signal Amidst the Noise, our very own Geno Prussakov interviewed keynote speaker Rand Fishkin, Wizard of Moz. View the Q-and-A below to learn more about Rand’s thoughts on digital marketing and also, glimpse what’s in store for the AM Days 2016 conference.
Question: If you were to emphasize one important issue that every online marketer should be paying more attention to, what would it be and why?
Rand: Customer and audience empathy. I think too often, we get lost in optimizing ads and targeting keywords and we lose sight of who’s in our audience, what influences them, what they are paying attention to vs. avoiding, and how they perceive our content and our marketing. When I see folks who are having tremendous success with their web marketing efforts, it’s always because they start from a place of great understanding about their audience. They know what problems resonate, they understand their competitive space and what folks are substituting for their products/services, they know what sites they visit, which people they follow, what social networks they use, what apps they install, and why. Most importantly, they know what makes for a qualified buyer and they’re constantly asking the question “what makes some qualified buyers NOT buy?”
Question: What was the most important marketing lesson that you learned in 2015?
Rand: As Moz broadened its product offerings from just one product to several, we’ve learned how hard it is to have a brand that’s known for many things vs. known for just one thing. I don’t think it’s an impossible challenge to conquer, and there are smart reasons for growing product offerings (resiliency from market forces and distribution of risk are two big ones), but the power of having a brand associated with a space (e.g. SEO = Moz) is inimitably powerful and it’s going to be a challenging road to discover how to market in a multi-product world.
Outside of my personal business lessons, I think 2015 was also a big year for me to learn about the power of adding smart paid ad-targeting to a marketing mix. Adtech has gotten so good and so targeted (and so multi-faceted) that I think every great organic marketing strategy (content+search+social) can leverage a boost from the right paid channels, too.
Question: What do you believe to be the main areas of opportunity for online marketers in 2016?
Rand: We’ve observed organic reach on Facebook growing again, which is definitely a huge opportunity for brands that can get it right. Google’s mobile searches have also grown massively, and mobile search is an immense opportunity, too. Some of the social ad networks like Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, and Twitter are getting better and better with targeting and reach, too, and they’re often less expensive (if done right) per impression/conversion as FB and Google.
Question: What do you believe to be the biggest challenge that digital marketers now face, and what steps could help them overcome it?
Rand: Too many channels to consider and too much noise in potential customers’ online experiences. Both of these are really hard to overcome and require not just disciplined effort but a great degree of testing, iteration, and freedom to fail from marketing leaders and management. That latter one is insanely rare, but insanely powerful. Marketers who are given a long leash to try things, learn, fail, iterate, and try again are the ones who eventually find success. Those who have 30 days to make a successful foray into a brand new channel are the ones that barely have a chance.
Question: Please give us 1-3 reasons why marketers should attend your AM Days 2016 keynote speech, Being the Signal Amidst the Noise.
Rand: #1 - I’m going to help provide actionable tactics to help marketers fight through the noise and be the signal to their audiences
#2 - My presentation covers a wide range of channels and tactics, so no matter what you’re doing, you’ll almost certainly see some valuable techniques to try
#3 - My slides never have bullet points
Question: If you were to leave online advertisers, brands, and affiliate managers with one piece of advice, what would it be?
Rand: Don’t assume you know what your audience wants, who they follow, where they are online, or what makes them buy. Ask. Research. Validate. Your bottom line will thank you.