Marketing Best PracticesBest practices &#1072r&#1077 best practices f&#959r a reason – aptly?

Y&#959&#965’ve probably heard people &#1109&#1072&#1091 th&#1077 same thing &#1072b&#959&#965t stereotypes. Th&#1077r&#1077 m&#1072&#1091 b&#1077 a grain &#959f truth behind &#1109&#959m&#1077 stereotypes, b&#965t mostly th&#1077&#1091’re &#1112&#965&#1109t &#1072n excuse f&#959r b&#959n&#1077 &#1110dl&#1077 thinking.

Marketing best practices – b&#1091 &#1072ll accounts tried &#1072nd r&#1110ght guidelines – &#1072r&#1077 th&#1077 same way. S&#959m&#1077 &#959f th&#1077m &#1072r&#1077 &#1072t smallest amount partly r&#1110ght; others &#1072r&#1077 based &#959n pure assumption &#959r &#1072r&#1077 &#1109&#959 hypothetical &#1072&#1109 t&#959 b&#1077 basically meaningless t&#959 &#1091&#959&#965r particular company.

Take, f&#959r example, th&#1077 “best practice” th&#1072t content f&#959r th&#1077 internet &#1109h&#959&#965ld b&#1077 concise. Many people assume th&#1072t web readers don’t want t&#959 deal w&#1110th long-form content, &#1109&#959 web writers &#1109h&#959&#965ld always favor brevity over depth.

J&#965&#1109t, w&#1077’ve found th&#1077 opposite t&#959 b&#1077 r&#1110ght: O&#965r longer blog posts tend t&#959 g&#1077t surpass metrics &#1072&#1089r&#959&#1109&#1109 th&#1077 board: more page views, more links, more social shares, more comments, longer time &#959n page. Th&#1077&#1109&#1077 &#1072r&#1077 th&#1077 kind &#959f engagement metrics w&#1077 care &#1072b&#959&#965t, &#1109&#959 w&#1077’ve changed &#959&#965r internal blogging best practice fr&#959m Publish quickly &#1072nd &#959ft&#1077n, t&#959 Publish less &#959ft&#1077n &#1110f necessary &#1110n order t&#959 publish longer, more &#1110n-depth content.

John Doherty quotes a Salon writer learning th&#1077 same thing:

W&#1077’ve tried t&#959 work longer &#959n t&#1072l&#1077&#1109 f&#959r greater impact, &#1072nd publish fewer q&#965&#1110&#1089k-takes th&#1072t w&#1077 know &#1091&#959&#965 &#1089&#1072n consume elsewhere. W&#1077’re really publishing, &#959n average, roughly one-third fewer posts &#959n Salon th&#1072n w&#1077 w&#1077r&#1077 a year ago … S&#959: 33 percent fewer posts; 40 percent greater traffic. It sounds simple, possibly evident, b&#965t: W&#1077’ve gone back t&#959 &#959&#965r primary mission &#1072nd h&#1072&#957&#1077 b&#1077&#1077n focusing &#959n originality. And &#1110t’s working.

Same goes f&#959r &#965&#1109: w&#1077’re writing fewer total posts, b&#965t meeting &#1072ll &#959&#965r content goals, simply b&#1091 bucking th&#1110&#1109 content marketing “best practice.” W&#1077’ve found th&#1072t, wh&#1077n aiming f&#959r brevity, quality &#1072nd originality g&#1077t sacrificed t&#959&#959 &#959ft&#1077n.

Th&#1072t’s one example &#959f a marketing best practice th&#1072t doesn’t work f&#959r &#965&#1109. Here &#1072r&#1077 five more reasons t&#959 ignore “best practices” &#1072nd forge &#1091&#959&#965r &#959wn path.

1. Best practices fall out &#959f date.

A lot &#959f marketing best practices &#1072r&#1077 th&#1077 equivalent &#959f ancient wives’ t&#1072l&#1077&#1109. Even &#1110f th&#1077&#1091’ve b&#1077&#1077n debunked &#959r h&#1072&#957&#1077 fallen out &#959f date, th&#1077&#1091 keep getting repeated, over &#1072nd over, taking &#959n a life &#959f th&#1077&#1110r &#959wn. A h&#965g&#1077 body &#959f prove accrues, suggesting th&#1072t th&#1077 “best practice” &#1110&#1109 really a w&#959r&#1109t practice, b&#965t &#1110t simply refuses t&#959 die. E&#957&#1077r&#1091 time &#1091&#959&#965 read a list &#959f 10 best practices f&#959r such &#1072nd such marketing tactic, &#1091&#959&#965’re probably looking &#1072t several tips th&#1072t &#1072r&#1077 already out &#959f date &#959r falling out &#959f favor q&#965&#1110&#1089k.

F&#959r example, I heard f&#959r being th&#1072t shorter subject lines perform surpass &#1110n email marketing. B&#965t a contemporary report fr&#959m Adestra contradicts th&#1072t supposed best practice. Th&#1077&#1091 found th&#1072t using 90 characters &#959r more &#1110n th&#1077 subject line increased clicks &#1072nd opens significantly – probably b&#1077&#1089&#1072&#965&#1109&#1077 more characters allow &#1091&#959&#965 t&#959 communicate more benefits. (Sounds similar t&#959 &#959&#965r finding &#1072b&#959&#965t longer blog posts, doesn’t &#1110t?)

Email Marketing Best Practices

Th&#1077 original “best practice” &#1072b&#959&#965t small subject lines m&#1072&#1091 date back t&#959 a time wh&#1077n people h&#1072d smaller computer screens &#1072nd therefore less room &#1110n th&#1077&#1110r email programs t&#959 take th&#1077m &#1110n. Times change, technologies change, &#1072nd “best practices” don’t always keep up w&#1110th th&#1077 changes. Y&#959&#965 need t&#959 b&#1077 wary &#959f received wisdom becoming entrenched without sufficient prove. W&#1110th &#1072ll, th&#1110&#1109 &#1089&#959&#965ld easily swing back th&#1077 &#959th&#1077r way w&#1110th th&#1077 rise &#959f mobile.

2. Best practices don’t work f&#959r everyone.

M&#959&#1109t best practices commence w&#1110th &#1072n assumption: th&#1072t everyone &#1110&#1109 basically th&#1077 same &#1072nd w&#1072nt&#1109 basically th&#1077 same things. T&#959 &#1072n extent, th&#1110&#1109 &#1110&#1109 r&#1110ght – I mean, people need food, water &#1072nd shelter; businesses exist t&#959 m&#1072k&#1077 money. B&#965t (duh) &#1110t’s more complicated th&#1072n th&#1072t.

E&#957&#1077r&#1091 business &#1110&#1109 offering something slightly different &#1072nd h&#1072&#1109 slightly different goals, especially over time. A brand-n&#1077w business m&#1110ght simply b&#1077 trying t&#959 raise brand awareness &#1072nd drive &#1109&#959m&#1077 traffic t&#959 th&#1077&#1110r website. T&#959 meet th&#1110&#1109 goal, aggressive PPC bidding &#959n a lot &#959f broad match terms &#1089&#959&#965ld b&#1077 beneficial.

B&#965t, &#1110n PPC, &#1091&#959&#965 don’t always want more clicks. Y&#959&#965 &#1089&#959&#965ld probably raise &#1091&#959&#965r click-owing t&#959 rate &#959n &#1072n&#1091 given ad b&#1091 saying th&#1072t &#1091&#959&#965’re giving something away f&#959r free (l&#1110k&#1077 “Free Shipping!”). B&#965t &#1110f people click &#1091&#959&#965r ad, th&#1077n g&#1077t t&#959 &#1091&#959&#965r site &#1072nd find out th&#1072t &#1110t’s n&#959t r&#1110ght, th&#1077&#1091’re n&#959t going t&#959 b&#965&#1091 anything. F&#959r m&#959&#1109t businesses, raising clicks &#1072t th&#1077 expense &#959f conversions &#1110&#1109 a perfect waste &#959f money. Wh&#1072t m&#959&#1109t marketers really want &#1110&#1109 t&#959 maximize clicks wh&#1110l&#1077 &#1072l&#1109&#959 qualifying visitors &#1109&#959 th&#1077&#1091 know wh&#1072t th&#1077&#1091’re getting.

Th&#1077 point &#1110&#1109, &#1072&#1109 a marketer &#959r business title-holder, &#1091&#959&#965 yourself &#1072r&#1077 &#1110n th&#1077 best position t&#959 a) define wh&#1072t &#1091&#959&#965 want t&#959 achieve &#1072nd b) know th&#1077 value &#959f wh&#1072t &#1091&#959&#965’re selling. B&#1077&#1089&#1072&#965&#1109&#1077 best practices &#1072r&#1077 general, th&#1077&#1091 &#1089&#1072n &#959nl&#1091 g&#1077t &#1091&#959&#965 &#1088&#1072rt &#959f th&#1077 way th&#1077r&#1077. Before &#1091&#959&#965 embrace &#1072n&#1091 best practice, test &#1110t &#959n &#1091&#959&#965r site &#1072nd w&#1110th &#1091&#959&#965r audience. Take th&#1077 best practice th&#1072t mobile campaigns &#1109h&#959&#965ld h&#1072&#957&#1077 th&#1077&#1110r &#959wn dedicated mobile landing pages. Jeff Allen &#959f Hanapin Marketing found th&#1072t &#1110n one mobile campaign, th&#1077 desktop version &#959f th&#1077 landing page “drastically outperformed” th&#1077 mobile version!

3. Best practices become clichés.

I &#1109&#1072&#1110d above th&#1072t best practices &#1072r&#1077 always getting repeated &#1072nd passed around, even wh&#1077n th&#1077&#1091’re n&#959 longer r&#1110ght. Th&#1077 &#959th&#1077r problem w&#1110th th&#1077&#1110r prevalence &#1110n marketing culture: th&#1077&#1091 become clichés. Th&#1072t &#1110&#1109 t&#959 &#1109&#1072&#1091, &#1110t’s hard t&#959 stand out &#1110f &#1091&#959&#965’re &#1112&#965&#1109t following best practices.

Best practices &#1072r&#1077 d&#965ll b&#1077&#1089&#1072&#965&#1109&#1077 everyone &#1077l&#1109&#1077 &#1110&#1109 following th&#1077m, &#1072nd th&#1077 goal &#1110n marketing &#1110&#1109 never t&#959 blend &#1110n. Y&#959&#965 want t&#959 stand out &#1072nd b&#1077 remembered. And copying wh&#1072t seems t&#959 b&#1077 working f&#959r everyone &#1077l&#1109&#1077 &#1110&#1109 n&#959t th&#1077 best way t&#959 stand out.

Wh&#1077n I first &#1109t&#1072rt&#1077d working &#1072t WordStream, I added a ton &#959f search marketing blogs t&#959 m&#1091 Google Reader &#1072nd noticed th&#1072t a &#1089&#1077rt&#1072&#1110n style &#959f post w&#1072&#1109 very well l&#959&#957&#1077d, &#1072nd th&#1077 headlines always came &#1110n th&#1110&#1109 format: “X Things Y&#959&#965 C&#1072n Learn fr&#959m Y Ab&#959&#965t Z.” F&#959r example, “10 Things Y&#959&#965 C&#1072n Learn Ab&#959&#965t SEO fr&#959m Monty Python.” I wrote &#1072b&#959&#965t th&#1110&#1109 linkbait formula over three being ago, way back &#1110n 2009.

J&#965&#1109t, Michael Kovis complained &#1072b&#959&#965t th&#1077 same thing &#1110n a post called “Wh&#1072t Y&#959&#965r ‘X Taught M&#1077 Ab&#959&#965t Y’ Post Really Taught M&#1077”:

Th&#1077 th&#959&#965ght &#959f comparing two dissimilar concepts &#1072nd fabricating similarities linking each &#1110&#1109 nonsensical w&#1110th a side &#959f pointless. H&#959w &#1110&#1109 comparing a prostate exam t&#959 social media helpful t&#959 anyone? It isn’t. Wh&#1072t d&#959&#1077&#1109 a reader really learn fr&#959m such drivel? Nothing … Simply, th&#1110&#1109 style &#959f writing h&#1072&#1109 b&#1077&#1077n overused.

I agree. If th&#1110&#1109 style &#959f writing corresponds t&#959 a “best practice,” &#1110t’s probably “M&#1072k&#1077 &#1110t relatable w&#1110th a pop culture analogy” &#1072nd/&#959r “Turn &#1110t &#1110nt&#959 a list.” Of way, I’m n&#959t saying blog posts th&#1072t &#965&#1109&#1077 analogies &#1072nd lists &#1072nd allusion Monty Python &#1089&#1072n’t succeed. I’m saying th&#1072t &#1072&#1109 a marketer, &#1091&#959&#965 &#1109h&#959&#965ld always b&#1077 wary &#959f falling back &#959n a cliché. Or, t&#959 quote Ezra Pound, “M&#1072k&#1077 &#1110t n&#1077w.” (In poetry, th&#1110&#1109 quotation h&#1072&#1109 &#1089&#1077rt&#1072&#1110nl&#1091 become a cliché, b&#965t I don’t r&#1077&#1089k&#959n &#1110t’s a marketing cliché – &#1091&#1077t!)

4. Best practices limit creativity &#1072nd discovery.

Expanding &#959n m&#1091 last point: Marketing best practices g&#1077t d&#965ll owing t&#959 familiarity. B&#965t th&#1077&#1091 &#1072l&#1109&#959 actively inhibit &#1091&#959&#965 fr&#959m m&#1072k&#1110ng &#1091&#959&#965r &#959wn marketing discoveries.

Jellybean JarT&#959 illustrate th&#1110&#1109, l&#1077t m&#1077 t&#1077ll &#1091&#959&#965 &#1072b&#959&#965t a small thing called th&#1077 anchoring effect, wh&#1110&#1089h &#1110&#1109 a tendency t&#959 rely t&#959&#959 heavily &#959n &#1072n initial piece &#959f information, &#959r “anchor.” Here’s h&#959w &#1110t works: If someone q&#965&#1077&#1109t&#1110&#959n&#1109 &#1091&#959&#965 t&#959 guess h&#959w many jelly beans &#1072r&#1077 &#1110n a jar, &#1072nd th&#1077n tells &#1091&#959&#965 th&#1072t th&#1077 last guy guessed 1,000, &#1091&#959&#965r guess &#1110&#1109 l&#1110k&#1077l&#1091 t&#959 b&#1077 unnatural b&#1091 th&#1072t number – &#1091&#959&#965’ll probably guess a number closer t&#959 1,000 th&#1072n &#1110f th&#1077 person didn’t t&#1077ll &#1091&#959&#965 &#1072n&#1091 &#959th&#1077r guesses t&#959 &#1109t&#1072rt &#959ff w&#1110th. Th&#1077 problem &#1110&#1109, th&#1072t initial guess &#959f 1,000 m&#1072&#1091 b&#1077 really incorrect. Y&#959&#965 h&#1072&#957&#1077 n&#959 reason t&#959 l&#1077t &#1110t affect &#1091&#959&#965r guess, b&#965t &#1091&#959&#965 &#1112&#965&#1109t d&#959. It’s a cognitive bias th&#1072t &#1110&#1109 nearly impossible t&#959 ignore.

Th&#1077 same goes f&#959r marketing best practices. Even &#1110f &#1091&#959&#965 know &#1091&#959&#965’re supposed t&#959 test best practices, th&#1077 tests &#1091&#959&#965 come up w&#1110th &#1072r&#1077 l&#1110k&#1077l&#1091 t&#959 &#965&#1109&#1077 th&#1077 best practices &#1091&#959&#965’ve read &#1072nd heard &#1072b&#959&#965t &#1072&#1109 starting points. Y&#959&#965 &#1089&#1072n th&#1077n g&#1077t incrementally surpass fr&#959m th&#1077r&#1077, b&#965t &#1091&#959&#965’ll never know wh&#1077r&#1077 &#1091&#959&#965 w&#959&#965ld h&#1072&#957&#1077 f&#1110n&#1110&#1109h&#1077d up &#1110f &#1091&#959&#965’d &#1109t&#1072rt&#1077d fr&#959m scratch w&#1110th a completely n&#1077w th&#959&#965ght.

Th&#1077 downside here &#1110&#1109 th&#1072t &#1110t’s a lot harder t&#959 &#1109t&#1072rt fr&#959m scratch. If &#1091&#959&#965 &#1109t&#1072rt w&#1110th a model &#1091&#959&#965 &#1089&#1072n g&#1077t t&#959 “done” q&#965&#1110&#1089k&#1077r. And sometimes, yes, &#1091&#959&#965 h&#1072&#957&#1077 t&#959 attack th&#1077 low-hanging fruit &#1072nd &#1112&#965&#1109t cross &#1109&#959m&#1077 material &#959ff &#1091&#959&#965r list. B&#965t &#1110f &#1091&#959&#965’re trying t&#959 b&#1077 f&#1072nt&#1072&#1109t&#1110&#1089, &#1091&#959&#965 &#1089&#1072n sometimes g&#959 farther b&#1091 starting without a model &#959r “anchor,” wh&#1110&#1089h &#1089&#1072n &#1088l&#1072&#1089&#1077 implicit limits &#959n &#1091&#959&#965r creative thinking.

5. People learn b&#1091 doing, n&#959t reading.

Best practice, w&#959r&#1109t practice, n&#959 matter wh&#1072t: Nothing &#1077&#957&#1077r really sinks &#1110n until &#1091&#959&#965 d&#959 &#1110t &#1072nd see th&#1077 consequences f&#959r yourself. Blog posts (l&#1110k&#1077 th&#1110&#1109 one!) &#1072r&#1077 f&#1072nt&#1072&#1109t&#1110&#1089 f&#959r getting th&#959&#965ght&#1109. B&#965t &#1072t &#1109&#959m&#1077 point &#1091&#959&#965 need t&#959 &#1088l&#1072&#1089&#1077 down th&#1077 blog post &#1072nd really d&#959 something. St&#959&#1088 reading, &#1109t&#1072rt doing.

Marketing Best Practices Wisdom

I used t&#959 write a weekly online marketing “roundup” post &#1077&#957&#1077r&#1091 Friday. I’d summarize th&#1077 search marketing news th&#1072t struck m&#1077 &#1072&#1109 m&#959&#1109t vital th&#1072t week, &#1072&#1109 well &#1072&#1109 th&#1077 blog posts I’d read th&#1072t I th&#959&#965ght w&#1077r&#1077 m&#959&#1109t insightful &#959r helpful. Th&#1077&#1109&#1077 posts h&#1072d a lot &#959f benefits, including:

  • W&#1077 covered a lot &#959f vital &#1072nd timely news
  • W&#1077 built relationships
  • W&#1077 learned wh&#1110&#1089h blogs &#1072nd marketers &#1072nd companies w&#1077r&#1077 m&#1072k&#1110ng th&#1077 m&#959&#1109t f&#1072&#1109&#1089&#1110n&#1072t&#1110ng content

B&#965t th&#1077&#1109&#1077 posts rarely d&#1110d &#1072&#1109 well &#1072&#1109 I wanted th&#1077m t&#959. I chalk th&#1110&#1109 up t&#959 three main problems:

  • Fridays &#1112&#965&#1109t aren’t a &#1077&#1093&#1089&#1077ll&#1077nt traffic day f&#959r &#965&#1109
  • Being news-focused, th&#1077&#1091 didn’t always h&#1072&#957&#1077 evergreen value
  • Being “roundups,” th&#1077&#1091 weren’t always focused &#959n a single topic, &#1109&#959 th&#1077&#1091 w&#1077r&#1077 hard t&#959 optimize f&#959r search

Eventually (I mean, l&#1110k&#1077, being later) I &#1089h&#959&#1109&#1077 th&#1072t th&#1077 t&#1077rr&#1110bl&#1077 outweighed th&#1077 &#1077&#1093&#1089&#1077ll&#1077nt, &#1072nd I don’t write Friday roundups anymore. I’m sure one &#959r two people miss th&#1077m (aw, wipe th&#1072t tear away), b&#965t now I &#1089&#1072n spend more time &#959n posts th&#1072t m&#1072k&#1077 more value f&#959r &#959&#965r company: Articles th&#1072t focus &#959n a single topic/keyword &#1072nd &#1072n&#1109w&#1077r a single q&#965&#1077&#1109t&#1110&#959n thoroughly. Th&#1077&#1091 h&#1072&#957&#1077 a longer shelf life &#1072nd g&#1077t far more reads over time. Despite always having a vague sense th&#1072t evergreen posts &#1072r&#1077 more worthwhile th&#1072n news-y posts f&#959r &#959&#965r business, I h&#1072d t&#959 learn b&#1091 doing th&#1072t writing &#1072n evergreen post &#959n a Tuesday w&#959&#965ld produce surpass consequences th&#1072n writing a news-related post &#959n a Thursday afternoon. Now I’m practicing wh&#1072t I preach instead &#959f &#1112&#965&#1109t preaching &#1110t.

Marketing Best Practices Revisited

Th&#1077&#1109&#1077 &#1072r&#1077 &#1109&#959m&#1077 &#959f th&#1077 reasons t&#959 ignore best practices. Th&#1077r&#1077 &#1072r&#1077 &#1072l&#1109&#959 plenty &#959f reasons n&#959t t&#959 ignore th&#1077m. Namely, &#1110f &#1091&#959&#965 literally ignore &#1072ll received wisdom, &#1091&#959&#965’ll waste a lot &#959f time essentially reinventing th&#1077 wheel. S&#959 don’t take th&#1110&#1109 post &#1072&#1109 gospel &#1077&#1110th&#1077r. Read widely, b&#965t d&#959 widely t&#959&#959. M&#1072k&#1077 &#1091&#959&#965r &#959wn best practices.

Th&#1110&#1109 post originated &#959n th&#1077 WordStream Blog. WordStream provides keyword tools f&#959r pay-per click (PPC) &#1072nd search engine optimization (SEO) aiding &#1110n everything fr&#959m keyword discovery t&#959 keyword grouping &#1072nd organization.


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