For the past 5+ years, I’ve been in web development marketing in some shape or form. From the customers to the travel, it’s been an interesting journey, to say the least. I’ve done it all: sales, digital marketing, paid, organic, trade shows, content curation/creation, etc.
I’m now at the stage in my career when the next generation of marketers are asking me what things I wish I had known before I got into the industry. Sure, I could wax lyrical about great content, or create a list of SEO tools/tips/tricks/life hacks. Heck, I could even create “how to guide” for talking B2B sales smack. But, I won’t. All of the above will change, evolve and develop as new trends take hold. Rather, I decided to keep it real. Thus, here’s what I actually wish I had known when I started in this crazy web development world:
For real. They’re everywhere.
Example conversation: “Hi there, Jeff. Do you have a minute for me to show you our new SaaS tool that lets us retarget our Value-Added-Services to the Decision Makers at the top B2B CRM Companies in our demographic targeted location? Also, we need to drop our Top-Of-The-Funnel Potential Leads into our drip email campaign. It’s shown to convert at least 20% of the email recipients into Qualified-Warm Leads, so you can add them to your Pipeline for Erica, our Relationship Success Manager, to ping them or talk to them ‘offline.’ After all, she is a, ‘Growth Hacking Prodigy.’ PS – Do you have last month’s Onboarding KPI numbers? We have to show our ROI on our Paid Media campaign and compare it to our Viral Organic Reach for last QTR. Oh, right, the metrics are in the Marketing Cloud. Silly me. Hashtag brain fart!”
Real conversations, kids. No lie.
2. Wow, another new tool?
Early in your career, you realize that tracking everything online is pretty darn important. Good for you!
Being the good employee you are, you realize: “Jinkies, my web development company should be on Twitter.” So, you sign them up for Twitter. Then you read some articles about tracking metrics and realize: “Jinkies, I need some scheduling and tracking tools.” So you find Buffer… then you discover Tweetdeck… then you stumble upon Hootsuite and then suddenly realize that your Hubspot account has these features. But there’s more! How about measuring the number of social shares? I guess Buzzsumo. Or maybe Klear? Topsy seems cool. Wow, Radian6 seems neat. Why not Twitter Analytics? You continue your search until you stumble upon Annie Cushing’s Must-Have Tools which has 50+ social tools. But you’re not done. You discover Product Hunt, a place that highlights all the new startups/tools on the market. You do some digging and you find Tools for Marketers & Growth Hackers (35+ tools), Tools for Writers (30+), Tools for Startups (40+)… and it just goes on and on.
There are literally new tools every week.
3. Oh, you’re an “entrepreneur”… great
Oh, the people and personalities you’ll get to talk to in web development! In a lot of web development shops, resources are tight. Your company might be a little strapped, so they may need you to help qualify some leads. Not a problem! You welcome the chance to actually engage with the people you’re working for!
You get your first client-facing role and the conversation may go like this: You: “Tell me about your app idea!” Prospect: “Well, I want it to be just like Vibor, Tango, and WhatsApp, with a social network like Facebook and video streaming service like YouTube. Oh, and it should have emojis. It MUST have a built-in emoji texting option. And users should be able to write reviews anonymously that disappear after 16secs.” You: “Okaaay… Well, all those things have been done really well in other apps. Not to say you can’t do this, but what makes your idea unique?” Prospect: “I can’t tell you until you sign a 20 year NDA. We need to hurry. I am fearful the idea may get taken and deployed by another app-idea-inventor.” You: “Okaaay… Well, do you have any wireframes, or know what platform you want to develop on?” Prospect: “I have no idea what any of that means. Look, I’ve been reading a lot about Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs. I’m not saying that I am them, but I KNOW I have a unique, market-changing idea. I just have no clue how to do any of it. That’s where I need your help.” You: “Okaaay… Well, this will be expensive. What’s your budget?” Prospect: “I have $2,237. After you sign the NDA, we can talk equity. For your services, I’ll give you 0.5% of the company. I’m an entrepreneur.”
Real conversations, kids. No lie. “Entrepreneur” meetings are the best.
4. Wait, how many competitors do we have???
So you get through your first buzzword-driven marketing campaign. Awesome. Sadly, you realize that it wasn’t as successful as you imagined. I mean, who wouldn’t want web development and app help? You then Google, “app developers [your city]”, or “web development companies [your city]”, or even “best app company in [your city].” You wait 2.3secs for Google to populate the results and…. Competitors! Competitors everywhere!
In the US alone there are over 150,898 web development companies. Oh, and there’s Canada, India and the UK. And because the world is all connected, every single one of them is your direct competitor. No joke. We’ve lost business to Eastern Europe before (we’re based in Atlanta and LA). Sure, you could say that not all of these companies offer the same services. I 100% agree. But the sheer volume of other companies that do what you do can be daunting. Insert buzzword about, “finding your Unique Value Proposition” here.
5. You’re a maven? I could’ve sworn that you were a rock star
As you progress into your career in web marketing, you’ll no doubt be asked to attend a marketing conference. These are a great experience and I’d highly recommend you go. There are literally hundreds of digital marketing conferences. You settle on BlogHer ’16 (A hard choice considering there’s also iRetreat, FitBloggin ’16, and UnGagged Conference) and are ready to meet others just like you in the digital marketing space. Hooray!
And you do… except they’re nothing like you. They go by titles like, Social Media Maven, Social Growth Hacker, Social Sharing Lifestyle Architect, Idea Inventor 2.0, Digital Media Rock Star, Content Librarian, and Simplicity Engineer. These people eat and breath, but you’re not entirely certain that they’re human. Oddly enough, when you see them at the conference next year, their titles are totally different.
6. This blog post is totally going to go viral… and by that I mean it sucks
After you get a few weeks/months/years under your belt, you’ll slowly start to figure out how SEO works and what types of content are relevant/what your customers want. Until that point, your content will probably straight up suck. Take hope! Great content will shine through… but it will take a lot of promotion and probably will need to be ten times better than the rest. Don’t over-think content.
Read blogs from the best, make great stuff and see what sticks. You’ll be all the better for it.
7. I didn’t know my spam folder could be that full
Once you start getting the hang of the whole job, you’ll actually start seeing some digital wins. That means your pages rank in Google and people start coming to your site organically. Congratulations! Your prize: spam for the rest of your time at the company!
Here’s the thing: people literally get paid to find websites/companies that are doing well and solicit them (AKA SPAM-town). I just got one while writing this article. For real. Oh, and there’s more! Remember all those tools you tried? Well, they’ve got your email now. Soon, they will (on a weekly/daily/hourly basis) email you to sit in on a demo, try their service and buy, buy, buy! Unless you explicitly tell them to stop emailing you (and sometimes if you do) they never will. Even if you don’t respond.
8. Wow, I actually really love this
If you don’t run screaming after year 2 in web marketing, it’s probably because you love it. Seriously, I find some twisted and lovely joy from all the things described above. I adore learning, so I can’t wait for the next tool. I really enjoy listening, so entrepreneurs always have an ear. The buzzwords and job titles give me great fodder for fun conversations at home and allow me to distinguish who’s legit and who’s just playin’. And the competition? Hey, they don’t have me or my team working for them. And I think that’s a darn great advantage for us. The spammers, well, they suck. But, hey, even those who wish to sing always find a song… No matter how off key they are.