Nothing But Wool 6

Follow customers, not trends

There’s an old saying that nobody’s as gullible as a salesman afraid of missing out on a trend. We would put some marketing people into this category today.

Consider two astute observations that came our way recently. One is that you shouldn’t believe all the hype about “in-bound” (as opposed to outbound) marketing; the other says quality content on a web site always trumps search-engine optimization (SEO). You’d think that both contentions would be self-evident truths.  In practice, too many marketers seem only too eager to err on the side of excess when it comes to perceived trends affecting their craft.

The dramatic rise of social marketing is the “trend” here that so many marketers seem afraid of missing out on.  Don’t get us wrong. We’re avid practitioners of all things digital but we’re in solid concurrence with Seattle-based PR exec Howie Barokas. To his way of thinking, the advent of social media has given too many marketing types, particularly when it comes to PR, a bad case of myopia about potential customers and the content aimed at them. While social media has changed the way people consume information and buy things, at the end of the day it’s just another channel. However important, it’s just another element in the mix of advertising, direct marketing, tradeshows, webinars and all the other means by which marketing content is made available.

As for the plight of the SEO-obsessed, we commend the sentiments of our colleague Efi Rodik: “People are sifting through the garbage online to find the good stuff—information that is informative, engaging, and above all, relevant. If your site is so keyword-optimized that it barely passes as English, then you’ve got a problem.”

Having responsibility for marketing content, you can never lose your focus on your end-user. We share Rodik’s view that customers looking for information or resources on the web will always want content that’s easy to read and understand. “If you’re pounding your keyword,” he says, “rather than focusing on providing useful, compelling information, then you’ll lose a conversion, your bounce rate will go up, and your ranking on your search-engine results page will suffer”.

 

This post first appeared in The Write Stuff, the blog of Write Angle, a high-technology writing service based in Silicon Valley.

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