Find Your Discomfort Zone Quickly

12/17/2008

- Andrew Wetzler, President

It struck me recently that for the first time in a while, the pace of change on the internet has picked up substantially. By pace of change, I mean that the speed of  innovation feels like it's 2001 again. What's different about the current growth spurt is that instead of being "website" and "search driven," it is now being "analytically and socially driven." Back in the day, changes centered around the creation of functional websites along with the continual evolution of the structure / foundation of the internet, along with the relationships between the engines. Issues like how a shift in the positioning of LookSmart ads on MSN's homepage might affect traffic or whether the Yahoo Directory's retreat to a link off the homepage would be the death-knell for an incredible source of essentially free traffic, were front and center for discussion. It would be fair to say that most advertisers and marketers operated largely in a reactive mode, as fewer variables were in their control.

In hindsight, the issues of the day were quite one dimensional when compared to the present. Furthermore, it was easier to gauge success. If more money came in than went out, then a company's website was "working" and, as a result, gained a bit more credibility within the organization. Fast forward to today's analytics-driven world and there is never a shortage of information to review, in order to better understand how a website is performing. This leads to never-ending refinement opportunities for the site, which tend to fall to the bottom of the priority list for many marketers, as the work can be quite tedious. 

The wealth of data and new marketing channels today can seem overwhelming, and it's tempting to play it safe by not trying new things. I encourage you to keep pushing yourself in terms of your industry knowledge level and understanding of your site's performance. Here are a few action steps that could be very beneficial:

  • Install a robust analytics program (like Google Analytics) if you don't already have one. Invest time to learn about new reports and functionalities that will help you better understand how to extract useful information from it. This applies to both SEO & SEM related data. 
  • Utilizing data from Google Analytics, make changes to your efforts to try and boost results. Test a different landing page or figure out which keywords are performing and adjust your campaigns accordingly. 
  • Learn more about Social Media. Many of us have a Facebook or LinkedIn page today. That's fine for reconnecting with old friends and making new acquaintances, but few of us have an understanding of how impressively these networks are integrating new targeting opportunities that are more precise than anything we've ever experienced before for keyword-driven advertising. 

One of my goals for the new year is to find my discomfort zone by learning more about what's new in our industry. With so much going on it's easy to find places to invest some time to stay current with the industry. Have a healthy, safe and prosperous new year!

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