Major Digital Marketing Changes You MUST Know in 2020 – Rand Fishkin

Major Digital Marketing Changes You MUST Know in 2020 – Rand Fishkin


(tech beat) – So Rand, pleasure to
have you here at NextCon. – Great to be here. – Thank you so much for making it out. – Yeah, my pleasure. – What do you think about NextCon so far? – I mean, it’s incredible. You have brought together
a phenomenal audience and some truly impressive speakers, too. – [Yaniv] Including yourself. – Not including me, I would
not group myself into that, but we’ll see how we do. – You’re a marketing legend,
and I know you know this. How, first, how does it
feel to be so well known in the marketing community,
and have accomplished so much, and impacted so many businesses and people with Whiteboard Friday, Moz, and now SparkToro and your books. – Yeah, it is, there is definitely some cognitive dissonance at play, right, because I don’t think of myself as having a very big presence, but then in marketing universe, it’s sort of like I’m a
celebrity to a small number of very specific nerds on the internet. And that, it’s fun, right? I think it’s exciting to
be able to have an impact on a marketplace, and on
a field, and to be able to have access to a lot of people and ideas, and then synthesize those
and help other people learn. Recently it’s also been
really interesting for me to be able to sort of think
more deeply about that, and reflect on how I wanna
help the next generation of marketers, right? So, you know, when you
and I were coming up, it was this kind of golden
era for web marketing, and– – It was just getting off the ground. – Yeah, it was just
getting off the ground. Google was sending so
much traffic, you know. They were an ally to
virtually everyone on the web. The social media platforms as well, right, they drove tremendous amounts of traffic. Facebook and Twitter
and LinkedIn and Reddit and all of these places
were spots where you and I could build brands.
– Yeah. – And they’re becoming
a little bit less that. – Tougher. – Yeah, all of those places
are becoming tougher. And so, I think a big
part of my work these days is not just trying to
help marketers understand how these platforms work, but also urging these
platforms to be more helpful to marketers, right? Trying to apply some of the, you know, whatever clout and pressure I can apply to a Google, a YouTube– – I think that’s important, right? Because we want a level
and fair playing field. And we don’t want it to necessarily be only the big companies or certain people or certain companies to get,
you know, special treatment. – Yeah, I worry about that. I don’t love the idea that
the internet is becoming, that internet marketing is becoming a pay-to-play environment. – [Yaniv] Right. – I don’t think that’s
healthy and good for any of us, right? I think that there’s
something magical about organic, the ability to
organically build a brand based on what you do
and how well you do it, and the information and help
that you provide to others. That inspires me to want to
help a lot of people do that. And I worry about us pulling
up the ladder behind us, right? – But do you feel like it’s
becoming more pay-to-play than ever before? – Yeah. – Like 15 years ago, it
wasn’t as pay to play, I’d say, right? – Well, I mean, one of the
statistics you can look at is what percent of the advertising market does online control, what percent is controlled
by just Google and Facebook. – Right. – And those numbers keep climbing– – Right. – In pretty concerning ways. So I worry about that. I also worry about the percent of clicks that go to paid versus organic, right? – [Yaniv] Diminishing. – Paid just keeps on growing, and organic is shrinking the opposite way. And then there’s Google
themselves capturing so much search traffic and sending it back to
their own properties. The biggest beneficiary to
Google search traffic is– – Google, or YouTube, right? – Alphabet, right? The Alphabet brand of companies. I mean, maybe that’s
because they’re really good, I don’t think that’s true. I think it’s because– – And I’m sure universal search, Google wants to keep
them on Google, right? – This is the big problem– – So traffic is staying. – That search and… I
don’t know if you watched the Congressional hearings, right, where Sundar Pichai was testifying and then Adam, whatever, their…
Google’s representative, was testifying in front
of Congress, right. You’ve got this panel,
tons of people there, and one of the Congressmen
asks point blank, right, point blank, “A few years ago “Larry Page said that “Google’s mission was to
get you to Google and then “send you off to where you
could get the information “as fast as possible. “Is that still Google’s mission?” And you can see, right, this
Adam guy just kind of crumbling and providing a total non-answer and trying to dodge the question. And essentially, the honest answer is no. That is not our mission anymore. We want to keep people on Google because that’s how we monetize them. – And then we even saw
the recent Genius dilemma or situation, so there’s a
lot coming out with Google and definitely the world’s changed. You know, looking back,
let’s say 15 years or so in the game, would you have
done anything differently? Was there a move or anything
that you did, would you, knowing what you know
now, would you have done anything differently? – So many things! “Lost and Founder” is
basically a guide for Rand of things you should’ve
done differently, right, and I think that the reason it’s resonated with other entrepreneurs
is because this book is just filled with, – You really un– – “We did this, it did not go “the way we wanted it to go. “Here’s what I would do
differently this time.” – And what are some of those
things that you really, you know, have stuck with
you still that you’re like, “You know what, more businesses
need to think about this “and know?” – Yeah, I mean– – And not necessarily
follow the kind of norms or the ideas that have been
kind of pushed onto us. – Yeah, I mean one of the
ideas that’s been popularized in startup world and tech
startup world, in particular, is this concept that venture
capital is the end all be all. That if you build a great
company, or a company that could be great, you
will be interesting to VC and therefore that makes you some sort of superstar and that’s what
we should all be aiming for. And that is, I think if you noodle on that logic for just a few minutes,
you will quickly see, “Oh no wait, I think that’s
just venture capitalists “and the tech press working
to amplify that, right.” They say, “Oh, VC is wrong
for 99% of companies” but the implication is, if
you’re a really great company then VC is right for you and that is not true. I believe two things are false there. One, I think that VC
kills far more companies than it needs to, right. So by raising investment in this manner, you know, 90% of those,
95% of those companies won’t return the investment amount. That is I think because of the pressure of being forced to grow fast, right, or die fast. – It’s almost like businesses,
sorry to cut you off, but most businesses think,
or entrepreneurs think they need to, in order to
start, you first need VC money. Like you don’t– – That’s another myth. – Before you get a domain
name, you need VC money. – Madness, right? That’s madness. I think that is part of the problem. I think there’s also a big focus on growth and growth rate over
profitability and survivability. And so a lot of entrepreneurs are trying to build companies that show rapid growth so that
they can attract investment rather than trying to show
profitability and survivability so that they can weather
whatever storms come. And the thing about growth
is, if you don’t die it’ll come. – Exactly. And this is a marathon, right? – This is a marathon! – It’s not the short game. You know, Nextiva’s story. We started off self-funded since day one. Bootstrapped, but also in Arizona, which was different, right? – Yes. – So there’s also this
belief that you need to be in Silicon Valley or a major city in order to start, grow, scale a business. But even that’s a myth I would say. – I completely agree and I
think that there is actually a lot of smart money
looking at alternative investments in secondary, tertiary markets all over the world and that
is a really smart thing. I also think, you know, one of
the big mistakes that I made early on was trying to be
everything to everyone. Right, so, I am of the strong
opinion that focus wins in a lot of marketing and
sales and product arenas. Right, that a ton of the time
when you look at a product or a business that is plateaued and it is not growing anymore it is because they moved
away from what made them a great product in the first place. They stopped serving the
customers they were supposed to serve as well as they could and now they’re back in either searching for a new customer to serve or they’re gonna be slowly dying and you can see a ton
of companies like that. – Whether it’s like chasing the money or moving away from you
original guiding principles or foundation or vision, you
need to know your customer at it’s core right. – Yeah. – So how ’bout some, you’re seeing a lot in the world of marketing today, we
all are, but what are some of the problems that you’re seeing that marketers are doing? What are marketers doing wrong? – I mean I think that
there’s a, I want to say, a binary problem around measurement and
lack of measurement. So there are channels that marketers continue to invest in
and put new money into. Channels like brand, influencer marketing is a really heavy one right now,
a lot of brand advertising, a lot of events and sponsorships, and those dollars are poorly
tracked and poorly connected to overall mission and vision and goals. And then I think we have another problem on the other side of the equation where paid ad spend, organic
search, content marketing, and a number of other practices, email marketing, lots of organic channels are overly obsessed with
proving their ROI value based on last click. – Right, that’s a problem.
– This is madness. – Right, this is madness to like underweight any type of
measurement in this whole sector of marketing, and way
overweight it over here and so you lose your
ability to be creative and thoughtful in these
very tactical channels and you lose your ability to prove ROI and to invest long term
and make these sort of, I don’t know what exactly to call them, almost subject to the
winds of change and the, how the CMO is feeling that day in terms of whether they continue
to get investment or not. – [Yaniv] Or what you VC
tells you or the board. – Sure, exactly, right, so I think we need more structure, more measurability over in channels like brand
and influencer marketing and we need willingness to be creative and to let marketing practices run
even without proving ROI in places like content, SEO, podcasting, video, email, a lot of those places. – What is that one channel
that you’re most excited about right now, that’s
maybe untapped or just in it’s early phase or stage
that has immense potential? – Let’s see, so I’ll answer that two ways. I think the most underrated practice in marketing is positioning. I think that is somewhere,
I don’t know how, but over the last 15, 20 years marketers, myself included, somehow– – We didn’t think about it. – We didn’t think about it! We somehow forgot it existed,
forgot it was important, didn’t realize that positioning, how we describe our
products to our customers, how we position them in the
market against other products, how we talk about the
problem that people have and our solution to it,
that is hugely missing. And tons of product
marketers, especially in tech, completely ignored it, which is dumb. So that one on the strategic side. In the tactical channel, I think that the most exciting still under-invested in channel is building a strong email list. So, you build a channel in search. Google can take that away
from you in an instant. You build a channel on Twitter,
on Facebook, on YouTube, on LinkedIn, on Reddit,
you build a channel through advertising, your competitors can quickly take those away from you. The platforms can quickly
take those away from you. If you have someone’s email address and they love getting your email and they open that email every time– – [Yaniv] That’s powerful. – You are so hard to beat. You are so hard to compete against. And that can build on itself
in a flywheel type of manner the way few other practices can. – And that’s where, you
know, building a community, building, you know, having a direction, and not necessarily
chasing your competition, but really thinking about
you brand, your positioning– – And your marketing,
think about your marketing as a product, right, as a product that, I want people to want my marketing. – Exactly. – How do I make a
product that is marketing but that people want
and they are willing to jump through hoops like marking Gmail as this is not spam, don’t put
this in my promotions tab, send this to my main tab. Like I want to get this email. – Well, Rand, you’re truly inspirational. We’re so thankful to
have you here at NextCon. I know our community
and everyone at NextCon is super excited to have you here. Thank you for joining us at NextCon Studio and looking forward to what’s
ahead for you and SparkToro and wish you all the best. – Thank you, no it is my honor to be here. Thanks for having me man.
– Thanks. – Cheers. (tech beats)

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