What digital marketing activities are most effective for entrepreneur-author-speaker types?
I’ve had a lot of trouble with this question with one exception: content organization, or simply the idea that if users can easily find relevant content to their situation, they will be more likely to join your audience, be impacted by your content, and give you money.
On the one hand, it’s not exactly feasible to get a large sample of experts in life and work things that also happen to be best selling authors to provide self-report data around their success.
And as soon as you introduce the idea of what success looks like, if people think they’re successful, how they became successful, it just gets messy, fraught with all sorts of bias.
On the other hand, we can look at their footprint:
- what they expose to the world (content whether to a list or on their site)
- audience sentiment (reviews, mentions, branded search volume, list size, social followings)
- relationships (interviews, links, speaking engagements)
Uncovering what makes someone successful — whether financial stability, audience impact, work satisfaction or some other measure — is the process of untangling truth from all the biases we have, and then applying those findings in relevant contexts without screwing it up by, once again, getting your biases all over it.
Like fundamental attribution error:
the tendency for people to under-emphasize situational explanations for an individual’s observed behavior while over-emphasizing dispositional and personality-based explanations for their behavior.Wikipedia
If you’re late to work, it’s because there was traffic. If someone else is late to work, it’s because they’re one of those people that’s always late to things.
If you reach a measure of success, it’s because you’re awesome. If someone else reaches a measure of success, it’s because privilege, or luck, or their network.
How do you learn anything when that bias is so strong in all of us?
Imagine you have amassed about 50,000 subscribers daily publishing to an email list over time. You know when an email has been successful because you’re inundated with thoughtful replies.
This is going well, you think.
This email is really striking a cord with your audience. You tuck that little nugget away and use it as a signpost informing future emails’ content.
Only you don’t really know why an email lands so well. You can have a suspicion before hitting send, but you never really know.
If I talk about habit stuff, I’m likely to get more email replies. But that could be because everyone has opinions on habit stuff. Or because half my list is family and friends and those emails are often more personal. No easy way to know.
Now let’s say you’ve also published those emails to your blog. You’re up to about 3,000 of them. But you haven’t seen a lot of corresponding traffic as a result.
That makes sense, you think. You’ve never really “done SEO” things.
Your emails are awesome because you’re awesome.
But your website traffic sucks because “Google.”
See the problem? Fundamental attribution error. Your bias is all over it.
You haven’t tended the garden of your website to make sure that the experience is optimal for the use cases you care about. Instead of good wayfinding due to a well thought out architecture, getting around on your website is more like a maze for users.
Your approach is to write as a way of thinking, doing that in public means you get input from an audience along the way.
There’s something transactional/reciprocal happening there and you’re building relationships with those you’re thinking for.
Ultimately you summarize cohesive thinking around that subject matter or topic into a book, or course, or info product.
This makes sense. Nothing wrong with that approach.
My point is you value your content organization enough that you’ll happily sell it as a convenient way to consume your thinking to your audience, but not enough to organize your site in a way that creates the exact leverage you’re looking for: getting your users what they need when they need it in a convenient for them way that facilitates a purchase of some product around your thinking.
The blogging to book approach is not fully serving you. It’s incomplete.
On your site, your page heading were meant to be subject lines, not post titles. This adds more confusion.
In a sense, you’re writing letters, maybe around a story. Subheadings end up being examples or metaphors instead of clear indicators of what the content is about.
Now a low patience user comes along and tries to skim your headings to figure out what the post is about because they certainly didn’t get there through a Google search on the topic you’re actually speaking to.
And we’re all low patience users.
That’s why the average time on page for your site is like 30 seconds.
For the medium of high cadence publishing to a list, even given about the same number of impressions, your email list responsiveness is much higher than your web traffic responsiveness.
The emails are going well, so the thought of doing more website things passes and you turn back to what has been working. So you take it as a sign you’re just meant to focus on your email list. Bias.
In one case you’re providing excellent context in the form of ongoing digestible emails for an audience, and in the other you’re basically discarding email content onto a website.
You’re comparing work that’s been carefully considered and crafted for one context (an ongoing conversation with an audience that knows you) to another (standalone articles for an audience that often doesn’t).
That’d be like recording a conversation you had at a dinner party and then using it for a speech.