5 Key Lessons Learned From 15 Years of Internet Marketing

Over the past 15 years, I’ve seen incredible changes in how we use the web.  I remember when Google first appeared on the scene:  
Since 1998 when PC Magazine announced that Google was the “Search Engine of Choice” it has radically changed not only how we find things online, but how we market our businesses as well.

Social Media has had the same radical influence on our internet usage - 27% of our time spent online is spent on social media sites!  (Experian data)

Here are five of the most important lessons that I have learned through the years:

LESSON 1 - Marketing Hasn’t Changed Much.

At it’s base level, effective marketing has NOT changed - only the MEDIUMS are changing.  I recently pulled out my trusted copy of “Ogilvy on Advertising” - written in 1983.  The pages are full of fundamental marketing (and sales) advice and hundreds of successful Ogilvy ad examples.

What David Ogilvy did better than anyone else was create messages that connected products and customers at a very deep level.  He didn't use fancy words, just authentic and interesting information about the product and it’s benefits.  Direct response advertising today looks a lot different than it did in Ogilvy’s time but whether you are reaching customers via your website, Facebook, Twitter or any other medium these three Ogilvy pearls of wisdom will help you create more effective messages:

[blockquote]  Never write an advertisement which you wouldn’t want your family to read. You wouldn’t tell lies to your own wife. Don’t tell them to mine. [/blockquote]


[blockquote]The best ideas come as jokes. Make your thinking as funny as possible.” [/blockquote]

[blockquote]On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar. [/blockquote]

You NEED to understand your customers and connect with their needs. Do this and your marketing will hit the bullseye.


Lesson 2 - Chasing Fads Doesn’t Work.  Chase Customers Instead

The essence of this lesson is this - do your homework!  Understand what “pains” motivate your customers to search for your products and services.  Only when your marketing touches the benefits of your products or services vs the features will it truly resonate.

Why you ask?  The answer is simple... we as consumers just aren’t logical thinkers.  Most of our decisions are rooted in emotion and we then justify them with logic.

The Power of WHY

Asking “Why?” uncovers your readers deeper motivations - it might take 3 or 4 rounds of "why?" but the method is what is important.  When you do this, you will uncover the emotional reasoning that drives people’s behavior. Emotion stimulates actionHere’s an example:

Q: Why are short, fast exercise routines of interest to you?

A: Because I am frustrated with how difficult it’s been to find time to workout

Q: Why incorporate workouts into an already busy schedule?

A: Because I want to be lose weight.

 Q: Why is losing weight such a big concern?

A: Because I will have more energy and won’t be so tired all of the time.

 Q: Why do you feel being more awake and having higher energy levels is so important?


Lesson 3 - Test Everything

One of my mentors, Flint McLaughlin the Director of MEC Labs used to say constantly that “Marketing is Testing”.  Test headlines, test images, button shapes and colors... especially test your copy and your forms.

You might be a marketing novice and might be saying, “But HOW do I test?”.  It’s easy:


  •  Test email subject lines and send times - split your list in two and test two different subject lines to see which one increases open rates.  Test send times as well.

  • Test your contact us page - adding testimonials or other credibility indicators to your “contact us” can increase leads...test this page using Google’s free testing tools

  • Test different versions of ads - when you run ads on Facebook or on search engines test different elements like headlines, images or copy to see which ones generate the most clicks and new leads.


Testing your messages online is an incredibly valuable way to ensure that your advertising and your web content does it’s job of connecting with your target market.

Lesson 4 - “What Gets Measured Gets Managed”

This is a quote from the Father of Modern Business Management, Peter Drucker.  Measuring your website’s performance is both easy and free.  If you aren’t running Google Analytics on your website, sign up today.  For a primer on what to measure, check out this blog post on making decisions based on data.  Interested in measuring what you are doing via Social Media?  Google Analytics can help here as well with detailed information on which social sites are driving traffic and leads.  In addition Facebook provides great measurement tools (Facebook Insights) to help you understand which posts are reaching and engaging people.  Pinterest does too.


Lesson 5 - Devote Yourself to Learning New Things

I have a set routine that involves waking at 5 a.m., coffee, 15 minutes at Lumosity.com, mindfulness and then dedicated time to either reading books or blog posts about marketing and business in general.  This might be my favorite time of the work day - the time that I serve MYSELF.  I challenge you to devote yourself to learning new things everyday.  Not only does it make life more rewarding, it will benefit your business!  Lessons can be found everywhere and overtime, this acquisition of knowledge will significantly increase your impact, regardless of where you are in the company hierarchy.

Just ask my friend John Spence, considered one of the top 100 Business Thought Leaders in America.  John dedicates himself to reading a MINIMUM of 100 business-related books each year.  That’s quite a feat but his dedication truly sets him apart.