Where is the Marketing in Internet-Marketing?
I spent the day today facilitating an all-day Search Engine Marketing seminar where several of the area’s SEO “experts” were invited to speak.
The day began with an overview of search engine marketing basics by the owner of a local web design firm. It was an introduction to the basics, as billed. Nothing particularly ground-breaking or exciting, but a good solid foundation of search engine marketing basics.
Then, the day moved on to four 30-minute presentations, each presented by individuals whom some may regard as the new guard of marketing. They presented timely information about “on-page SEO”, “linking strategies”, “social marketing” and “SEO tools”. Each of these speakers had to have been under 25 years of age. Of course their age is not the issue, given how fast Internet marketing methods evolve. However, more than one of these self-proclaimed experts have less than 18 months of experience as professionals in the field and, forgive me for saying so, seeing search engine marketing from more than a slightly myopic point of view.
So, call me old fashioned, but shouldn’t search engine marketing be a tool to support business goals?
I followed these presentations with 2 seminar sessions exploring best practices to leverage website content, usability and conversion to support search engine marketing (and visa versa). The seminar attendees were professionals from a wide variety of B2B, B2C companies of nearly every scale. They have real challenges in reaching defined business goals and seeking ways to improve website performance…sales, conversion, the bottom line.
I was told at the end of the seminar that these 4 young professionals were seen rolling their eyes frequently as I walked attendees through best practices on reaching target customers through integrated optimization of organic, paid search, content and promotions to convert visitors to customers.
The idea of optimization, SEM and PPC under the governing vision of marketing objectives and intended outcomes appeared to be totally lost on them.
SEO mechanics, tricks and tools are great, but at the end of the day, shouldn’t they facilitate a targeted, deliberate and goal-oriented effort to introducing new QUALIFIED visitors to a client’s website with the intention of conversion and ROI? Shouldn’t we still consider it Marketing!?!
I left feeling discouraged that the professionals entering this field are failing to understand how vital fundamental marketing principles such as branding and differentiation are as important online as they are offline.
If all you’re trying to do is make a name for yourself with no intended outcome or revenue performance, their tactics alone may be enough. They each seemed to have mastery over their perspective area of expertise. Even if they lacked an understanding of other factors, I’d expect they would respect the greater picture.
In my experience, when businesses invest hundreds of dollars in seminars, they arrive with rather high expectations about being able to improve the performance of their website after investing countless hours and dollars to build their web site. In my experience, most businesses (including the web design and development firms building web sites) are absolutely desparate to gain a better understanding of how to leverage search and Internet marketing best practices to support their business model, marketing, sales and CRM efforts.
Perhaps, with more experience and interaction with the CEOs, CFOs, entrepreneurs, marketers and webmasters these will learn to expand their myopic view of what search engine marketing can, and should do for the bottom line of the people who hire them.
In the meantime, I’ll remain thankful to have come from a traditional marketing background (yes, Pre-Internet) which gives me a true appreciation for the power of the Internet I’ve come to know over the past 12 years and anticipate all that is to come in the future.