There is a huge event happening that directly affects digital marketers, agencies, entrepreneurs, and founders.
As Ryan Deiss pointed out during his opening keynote at Traffic & Conversion Summit 2019, change occurs in a cyclical pattern. Just like the seasons change, the world of marketing is changing in phases.
And right now, we’re at the end of a cycle—which means the opportunity for innovation and disruption is the largest that it’ll be for years.
To learn more about this opportunity and how to make it work for you (and not against you), watch Ryan Deiss’ opening keynote from Traffic & Conversion Summit 2019:
- Why it’s the end of marketing as we know it… and why he’s not worried about it
- 3 digital marketing strategies to help you rise above the noise
- A brief history of digital marketing and what the future of digital marketing holds
Don’t have time to watch an hour-long presentation? Read on to learn the highlights from Ryan’s keynote!
The 5 Phases of Technology
History has shown us this cycle over and over again.
In 1801, the first steam engine was unveiled.
In 1830, railroads were opened across the US and UK.
By 1880, there were 2,000+ railroad companies causing a necessary standardization that regulated the industry in 1886.
By 1906, all of the rail lines were owned by just 7 entities.
Alexander Bell patented the first phone in 1876.
His patent expired in 1894, and immediately 6,000 phone companies were launched.
Today, there are only 4 major phone service providers.
We see the same pattern with the newspaper industry and the automobile industry.
The world is moving in cyclical phases which means—technology is too.
There are 5 phases of technology:
Phase 1: Discovery and Invention
In Phase 1, there is a new technology that benefits an industry or is even so large that it changes society.
To succeed during Phase 1, you have to be in the right place, at the right time.
The invention of the steam engine and the phone are examples of Phase 1.
Phase 2: Proliferation
The proliferation phase is the gold rush and becomes the wild west of the new technology.
In an ideal world, our business enters at this stage. Here, we have the first mover advantage.
It’s during this phase that businesses spring up and grow at a rapid pace, like the railroads in the US and UK. And—unfortunately for those like Alexander Bell—patents expire and entrepreneurs rush to launch their own company causing a ton of new companies to start.
Phase 3: Standardization
By Phase 3, there are so many companies selling the new product that the economy, government, or industry itself has to create regulations for the benefit of everybody.
It’s at this stage that a lot of companies fail because they don’t get with the program.
Instead of adapting to standardization, they fight the change and go out of business or get bought up, which leads to the next phase…
Phase 4: Consolidation
During consolidation, companies get gobbled up and the industry becomes consolidated in the hands of only a handful of dominant companies.
For instance, the 2,000+ railroad companies and 6,000+ phone companies of the past merged into 7 railroad companies and 4 phone companies.
This is the phase where the rich get richer.
Phase 5: Innovation Or Disruption
In the final stage, the company that was once on the cusp of the brand new has become so normal, so part of the every day that the companies that own them become comfortable and the level of competition that once existed goes away.
This is a crucial stage because there are only 2 directions to go: avoiding or embracing innovation.
Companies rather become stagnant and will have a harder time competing when a new player comes onto the stage and starts to disrupt the status quo.
Or companies lean into innovation and push the boundaries of the current technology and create a brand new cycle.
The process of discovery and invention begins again.
This cycle has been happening for centuries, and it is happening in the digital marketing world…
The History of Digital Marketing
This is when the first banner ad was displayed (and had a 78% click-through rate!!!)…
…the Dotcom bubble placed the internet in the news and Google AdWords launched.
During proliferation, the first (of many) mommy blogs were created, WordPress launched, and the major social media players were established (Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter).
Facebooks ads rolled out and the first iPhone was released.
In 2009, Google introduced its newest ad ranking feature, Quality Score. This forced advertisers to completely change tactics as Google now favored high-quality ads and landing pages. Paired with Panda, this standardization is now referred to as, “ The Google Slap.”
During this time, Facebook started to audit advertisements, banning dating sites and weapons in 2014.
The whole era can be best described as a giant flaming pile of poop for marketers as the rug was ripped out from under them.
And then it got worse…
The technology wave of consolidation placed Google and Facebook at the top of the advertisement world. They control 84% of the ad space, allowing them to push their prices up.
Facebook’s ad revenue doubled in 2009 and 2018. Think about this… they doubled their revenue without doubling the number of users. And they did this in a very short amount of time… by increasing their prices.
Then came Amazon, who is accountable for nearly 50% of all US ecommerce sales. FIFTY PERCENT!
Startups are currently spending almost 40 cents of every VC dollar on Google, Facebook, and Amazon advertisements.
Because the average Facebook organic reach is 0.5%.
In 2019, traffic costs are up and conversions and engagement are down. And they have been for some time now.
The question digital marketers are asking themselves today is, do we innovate or disrupt?
Innovation or Disrupt: 2019-?
“Today digital becomes king.” ~Ronan Shields
2019 is the year that US digital ad spend will surpass offline ad spend. Digital marketing is disrupting the world of marketing.
The digital marketers, agencies, entrepreneurs, and founders who don’t want to accept that it’s time to disrupt are going to be left behind.
DigitalMarketer is not one of them. Change is here and Ryan’s strategy to become a disruptor is simple. And it can be applied in your business, too.
Do the opposite of what used to work:
Everything that is fast, needs to be slow.
Everything that is big, needs to be small.
Everything that is small, needs to be big.
What does Ryan mean? Let’s take a look…
Strategy #1: Shifting from Fast to Slow
There are 3 ways to make this shift.
- Fast to Slow
- Automation to Conversation
- Scalable to Unscalable and Untrackable
Let’s start with…
1. Fast to Slow
Funnels need to be shifted into a journey.
I have nothing against funnels, but in 2019, they focus too heavily on value extraction (how do we get customers to buy?) instead of completing the Customer Value Journey (how do we get customers to sell our product without being asked?)
The Journey starts with the customer coming to us in an incomplete and sad state and shifts to them being in a complete, happy state.
This is known as the Before & After.
In the “Before” state, the customer is discontent in some way. They might be in pain, bored, frightened, or unhappy for any number of reasons.
In the “After” state—life is better. They are free of pain, entertained, or unafraid of what previously plagued them. All thanks to your product or service that solved their problem.
And to get them to buy your product, you need to move them through your Customer Value Journey…
The Customer Value Journey
The Customer Value Journey starts at Step 1 with Awareness and moves to Step 8: Promote.
To get customers to sell your product by becoming a promoter, you need them to be successful. You need to help them get to their ideal After state.
Have you mapped your customers’ Journey? You can do it for free (without having to opt-in) here.
2. Automation to Conversation
I’m sure you’ve heard Newton’s famous law that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
The action in the past decade has been toward automation, and we are about to see a significant reaction to it.
The reaction is going to come as a solution, talk to your customers.
Chat with them on Facebook, use Drift to automate chat conversations on your website and have bots filter (but not replace) basic human interaction.
Or, here’s a crazy idea, answer the phone.
Here’s an even crazier idea, send emails without links—this feels more like a personal conversation.
Ryan believes the future of digital marketing belongs to companies that are willing to invest in real-time, one-to-one interactions.
Now, there are 2 questions to ask yourself during this time of disruption:
- Do you know how much it costs you to acquire a conversation?
- How much is a conversation worth?
Answer those questions to help your company focus and grow.
3. Scalable to Unscalable & Untrackable
If you want to kill any idea, say, “It doesn’t scale.”
What “it doesn’t scale” really means is—we don’t know if it’s working and we don’t know how to track it.
But if you’re not careful, saying something doesn’t scale can hurt you in the long run by killing a good idea.
Here’s a new idea, do the things you cannot track.
Untrackable Idea #1: Send Emails Without Links
Instead of links, ask for replies or ask if your customer has any questions.
The response you get can lead to a conversation that generates a sale.
Or at the very least, can help strengthen your relationship with your customer and continue to move them through your Customer Value Journey.
Untrackable Idea #2: Managed Facebook Groups
Do you have a Facebook group? Assign a team member to manage that community so it becomes a community that delivers value.
Does your community actually make you any money? It’s hard to tell. We’re unsure if our private community does.
But we know it helps retain customers.
So while we may not be able to track how much, we know the DigitalMarketer Engage Community makes us money through retention and happy, successful customers.
Untrackable Idea #3: Post Unrelated Content
At DigitalMarketer, one of our most popular blog posts is, “100 Books Every Marketer Should Read.”
And this post actually helped generate a lot of buzz for Traffic & Conversion.
What does it have to do with selling tickets to the event?
Not a whole lot.
But it was unrelated content that our customers wanted and responded to when we distributed it throughout our channels.
Untrackable Idea #4: Answer Stupid Questions
When you’ve been doing something a while, the easy, intro questions start to sound pretty basic and stupid to you. You may even get tired of answering them because they’re not what you want to talk about.
But that doesn’t matter because they’re the questions your customers want to talk about.
Find ways to answer questions that your customers inevitably have.
For example, you can use Quora to answer questions about your industry or place a “Questions and Answers” section on your homepage, like we do here…
Untrackable Idea #5: One-on-One Onboarding
Assign a team member to onboard each new client.
Give them that special white glove treatment and make them feel special. We do this for the highest level of our membership.
Untrackable Idea #6: Write a Book… or 2
Writing a book is a painful process with absolutely no trackability—do it anyway.
It exposes your brand to new audiences.
Ryan wrote Invisible Selling Machine years ago, and people still ask him to sign it. Since then, he’s worked on Digital Marketing for Dummies and another book is in the works.
Untrackable Idea #7: Publish a Podcast
DigitalMarketer has 2 podcasts, Perpetual Traffic and The DigitalMarketer Podcast, and helped launch Roland Frasier’s Business Lunch, and we have absolutely no idea if these podcasts are helping us acquire more clients.
But the podcasts have helped build the DigitalMarketer brand and expose us to different audiences.
All of these ideas are very hard to track and therefore, hard to scale. But we do them because they feel right. They feel like the right thing to do for our customers.
More businesses should start doing things that feel right for their customers.
If you want to know more about becoming an expert at these techniques, read this book.
Strategy #2: Big to Small
At DigitalMarketer we’ve created a system that segments our customers. And we’ve done this by adding in more fields as a customer signs up for our products—be it for our free membership of Lab or one of our products.
While this longer form has decreased our conversions, it has increased the value we are able to deliver to our customers.
And we’re happy to accept lower conversion rates for better data. We’re able to get better customer segmentation.
And through this customer segmentation, we’re able to…
- Figure out the best products to pair customers to so we can help them reach their ideal After state
- Increase the number of customers in those programs
- And get a better idea of the ROI of a customer
Strategy #3: Small to Big
Fact: No one willingly follows a small idea.
But as companies have niched down, their focus has become so granular that they’ve stopped thinking big. They’ve become kings of tiny, little ant hills.
As marketers, we need to start thinking big again.
Marketers need to define new categories for themselves.
Drift has defined a new category of conversational marketing and entrepreneurs like Sir Richard Branson have defined a new category of celebrity entrepreneurship. These are examples of companies and brands thinking bigger.
Want to get in on this? Ryan suggests reading Play Bigger, the playbook for category creation.
In 2019, marketers need to create movements.
Don’t tell stories about your product—change the stories the customers tell about themselves.
Movements matter and if you want your business to matter, start a movement.
Ask yourself, what do we fundamentally believe to be true about the universe and our place in it?
But despite all that’s changing or will change, in digital marketing, we can be certain that 2 things will never change:
- The need to generate traffic
- The need to convert that traffic into revenue