I just finished David Baker’s book, The Business of Expertise… I wish I had read it 5 years ago.
In it he discusses an exercise to do a gut check on whether or not you’re an expert in some thing for some group. Sort of a vertical + horizontal specialization test.
If you are specialized and “expert,” then you should be able to rattle off 20 things (ideas, insights, findings, etc.,) that someone with some real knowledge in your field (here, marketing) would learn from, and that applies specifically to the vertical or market you specialize in.
I tried it. I’m publishing it for posterity because I wasn’t particularly happy with the results and hope to come back, do the exercise again in a year, and be better.
So sharing my exercise here, as it relates to audience-first businesses with piles of content:
- Almost everyone does content one way. Without a good analysis, and maybe third party help, it’s going to hurt your profitability and growth potential.
- You don’t organize your content or prune it like a garden, so it gets unwieldy and, over time, becomes a liability to your site’s ability to generate traffic and have healthy flow.
- Healthy flow just means a good information architecture. Remember the last time you were somewhere with bad wayfinding? I do. But I don’t remember places with good wayfinding. That’s because it’s such a natural healthy flow you don’t have to think about it. This should be the experience you present to your users.
- Instead, we mostly we think in funnels and quizzes for personalization buckets. This is too one-dimensional and rigid. In reality, it’s really a matrix. A matrix garden if you will.
- It’s a common idea that most people are probably doing SEO wrong. But the way I see it happening “wrong” the most is ignoring SEO. Ignoring SEO works to a point where you take that search visibility for granted while it’s there, because, hey, you weren’t trying for it anyway. This actually isn’t a bad initial approach to SEO. As it gets more complex, it’s actually better for your risk profile to not try to get clever. The “doing SEO wrong” thing I see the most is reacting too brashly when you start to have traffic problems by trying lots of SEO things to optimize, when you don’t know why you’re having traffic problems. This would be like hurting your arm and then immediately trying to lift weights to make it better. You’re often just strengthening dysfunction.
- 90% of your traffic will come from 10% or less of your posts. Very often, a majority of your traffic comes from two to three posts. This means you are not at all optimized.
- A good discount is like a drug. It lights up the same parts of the brain associated with pleasure, and when it’s over, you’re on to the next thing. If you missed out, you’re left feeling like you’re in withdraw. It does inspire loyalty, but loyalty to the next fix, not loyalty to you.
- Conversion rate optimization is not throwing button colors at the wall to see what sticks. It’s not A/B testing. It’s not your checkout flow. Those things can make tiny incremental changes, but generally, for your level of traffic, CRO is about optimizing for anticipating users’ needs through context of their experience and goals. It is a majority user research driven exercise.
- You should test big but portable ideas with A/B testing. You pick one metric to test along, and then consider other effects when looking at your results. e.g. CRO A/B testing shows a bump in sales but SEO went down. If you are testing small changes, you will need much more time and data to get to an answer when changing small things.
- If you are testing small changes, it’s because you
- think you can take a shortcut to growth
- have found your mix and decided it is time to stop growing
- are simply looking for more out of what you already have.
- If you are testing small changes, then you need to know that things will get much slower. More time, more data required to discern AB test outcomes. That means less impact, which means it’s probably not worth doing compared to other things. Does it matter if an attractive woman of an ambiguous racial background outperforms a clearly white man in an A/B test? When you start thinking like this and caring about these things, you’ve already lost. You will become fragile and reactionary to the rapid change happening around you.
Next 10 are done, but for the sake of your inbox, they’re coming tomorrow!
Update: The next 10 items are live.