We wanted this expert round-up to focus on new beginnings. With us having just transitioned to yet another New Year, there seems no better time to ask industry leaders how they want to apply their energy in the coming months, after last year’s learning-curve.
2017 has been quite the year for SEO – perhaps the year SEO went even more mainstream than ever – and we wanted to find out from big-players in the industry just what they’ve taken from it, and how they plan to make progress in the year ahead.
This article is an opportunity to learn from some of the most motivated guys in the field, how they plan to improve their business in the coming year.
Sit back and take notes – these tips might just be the key to business growth never seen before, in 2018.
“This year was all about focus for me. In 10 words or less: do more of the things that are working (and stop the ones that don’t). We all have limited time and a huge list of things to do – social media, blog posts, videos, client work, collaboration etc. Some of it really helps your business, some of it is just wasting your time. It is important to measure or track what is working for you and your business (it’s always different for everyone) and then to focus on those things. Sure, you should be blogging more, hanging out on Facebook, sharing on Twitter, etc etc. But in the end, some things are just not worth your time. As a business owner/entrepreneur it is your job to figure that out and FOCUS.
So, with 2018 just around the corner – what are those things worth focusing on for you?”
“While it’s been on my mind for quite a while now, one area that I could definitely use improvement on is the connection between my websites, blogs, mailing lists, and also the power of remarketing. For anyone that is still sitting on the sidelines and not using remarketing to target their audience after they leave your website, you’re missing out big time. This is especially true for anyone that wants to focus on the power of Facebook advertising. Remarketing is also quite powerful when you look at the options available in Google AdWords. No matter how you are currently marketing your business or targeting your audience, be sure to integrate remarketing into your 2018 marketing efforts.”
“This year was a transformative year for our company as we took a hard look at our core services and decided to focus only on SEO. It might sound counter-productive for a business to offer fewer services (especially when there are people asking you to help with marketing tasks outside of SEO) but the change has accelerated our growth in two notable ways.
Focusing only on SEO allows us to streamline our messaging, our marketing, and our systems and processes to deliver a better customer experience. In essence we’ve been able to master the practice of performing SEO for our clients without the distraction of other service offerings that we may not have been as good at.
The second benefit to ‘niching down’ is that it allowed us to start building stronger relationships with other agencies near to our industry. That has opened up some fantastic opportunities for growth for us and our partners because we aren’t directly competing for the same customers.”
“My lesson this year, which I am already implementing is circumstantial. My daughters are getting older, but not yet driving. Their schedules, both extracurricular and social, have become very taxing on our schedules. This has made it increasingly stressful to keep up with all the requests that come my way.
The lesson is: streamline. I am now saying ‘No’ to a lot of smaller jobs that are taxing to keep track of. I am also not personally doing any large job, such as writing a book, but leaving those all to my team. I had been trying to write one or two per year myself for a while.
The long-term benefits of this streamlining are two-fold. When the girls leave home and/or start driving themselves in a few years, I will not longer be chasing the low-value, high-maintenance jobs. And I will be able to resume some of the high-value jobs that I enjoy.”
“In 2017 I learned a lot about the benefits of hiring and training talented people. In 10 months, I’ve learned more from my A-players than they’ve learned from me, or at least it feels that way sometimes. In 2018 I’ll be giving them a lot more responsibility, something Jonathan knows well about too. For example, I’ll be branching out a lot of my projects and instead of doing them myself, I’ll be putting key team members in charge instead and letting them run with it.”
“As important as email marketing is, it’s still a game of trying to figure out how to best improve open rates and deliverability at all times. Gmail is now one of the largest email service providers on the internet today. With so much focus on Gmail, it’s important to make sure your brand and email provider can get through the spam filter and not get thrown into the social media or promotions bulk folders. The difference between landing in one of these subfolders can mean the difference between having a successful email campaign or a complete failure. This is one area that all online marketing experts and brands should be focusing their efforts on in 2018.”
“2017 was a banner year for my agency, rebuilt from the ground up. What I learned wasn’t discovered overnight but was finally put to the test and skyrocketed my agency’s success. With years of working with incredible employees and clients, I’ve learned that closing quick will never produce the results you want – whether it’s hiring an employee or signing a contract with a client. Spending time to ensure your businesses and processes are compatible, expectations are reasonably set, and value is recognized for a well-negotiated engagement is essential to the success of your company. Being patient when you’re building relationships before the handshake will ensure your continued success after the handshake.”
“Sales and Marketing alignment is a cherished goal for any goal due to the fact that it enables growth and scale. However, it can be a challenge when the business units of sales or marketing have inherited legacy pipelines and entrenched mindsets. As digital transformation becomes a business imperative, both business units have to undergo big changes while remaining aligned. This can be even more complicated than it sounds. Sales and marketing have to not only be agile to deal with rapidly changing market but also have to do this while reworking internal processes and leveraging new technologies.
Successful change management is dependent on both people and processes. Though I’ve always known this, 2017 has been another year I was reminded of the fact that good processes that include workflows, integration, technology implementations, and metrics are only one part of the equation. Leading and motivating people on both the sales and marketing side to work together on common goals is an often underestimated and challenging part of digital marketing leadership. Effective change management is a predication of business success. Probably even more so in the current digital age.”
“2017 was an incredible growth year for my company and included integrating other businesses. This took considerable time to ensure it was done correctly. The rapid growth meant that I did not get to spend as much time on other formal processes for the team that I’ve been building out. While the growth was extremely positive and has helped take what I want to achieve to a new level, it’s also important to start focusing on more formal structures that will guide my team, which is primarily remote, while I continue to working on these strategic endeavors. That means taking more time in 2018 to implement structures related to communication, delegation, and specific timelines. It will help me get more information to my team so they can continue to amazing things behind the scenes to make the newly expanded company align with the vision I have for it.”
“The best business lesson that I’ve learned in 2017 is that you should optimize everything. From lead generation to operations, each and every aspect of a business should be optimized accordingly. My team and I have slowly learned how to optimize our time, efforts, and workload. And slowly but surely, output generation has been improving. So, in 2018, My team and I will continue to optimize everything for a much better work dynamic, and more satisfied clients.”
“2017 was our third year as a corporation, and a train wreck of experiences. The most important lessons I learned included having a better pre-qualification process and building formalized training for new team members. Finding and hiring good digital PR talent was our most difficult challenge, followed by the challenge of scalability as a consultancy (there are only so many hours in the day to be on consultation calls). We also spent a lot of money on software, most of which was rarely, if ever, used.
From these lessons, we’ve built solutions we can sell in 2018 that require less or none of our time. We’ve started to improve our recruiting and training process, including a full wiki and intranet for employees and contractors. Our new rule with software procurement is that the software must replace something we are already actively using and cost less. We expect our costs to go down next year by 60% or more from 2017 and our efficiency to improve by 30% as it relates to recruitment and training. It’s going to be a great year!”
“2017, just as in years past, made it even more clear to me the value of relationships. Many this past year have come to the realization of how the personal influence of consumers can be the cornerstone of their brand marketing. Welcome to the ‘Age of Influence,’ where anyone can build an audience and effect change, advocate brands, build relationships and make a difference. Relationships are like muscle tissue… the more they are engaged, the stronger and more valuable they become. #NoLetUp!”
“The one sentence that I have truly learnt in 2017 that has impacted my life in more ways than I could ever imagined is to focus on one thing. I apply this in every aspect of my business.
What services do I provide?
Only one – I help companies get on first page of Google within 60 days.
What strategies do I use to get leads and clients?
Only one – by building genuine relationships with other people.
How many positioning messages do I have for my company?
Only one – I never compete on price. Healthy companies choose my services when they want the absolutely best SEO service.
You might be thinking, ‘Tor, that is cool and all that, but does focusing on one thing ACTUALLY work?’
Judge for yourself.
I have in a 16 weeks been able to build the best SEO Agency in Norway.”
“One of the biggest lessons that we learned in 2017, is that you need to continually be promoting your content after it goes live on your website or blog. At the same time, it’s also important to create much longer content than what you are normally used to. The top pages that are ranked in Google now have roughly 2000 to 4000 words of content per page. This is why it’s important to create better content on your site, and also focus more time on promoting that content as well. This has been a valuable lesson not just for ourselves, but for many other bloggers and content creators as well. There is no longer a need to create a lot of short articles, as it’s now important to simply focus on higher quality content with more text content in those articles.”
Having read all of these wonderful responses from our lovely contributors, its clear to see that everyone is quite excited for another year of exponential growth and hard work.
I think that its quite clear that one of the main focuses for these experts, is focus itself. Getting rid of distractions and doubling down on ones strengths is often the deciding factor between failure and success.
Another clear point is that business success is all about adapting to your specific circumstances. It’s clear the most successful Entrepreneurs know how to apply their focus, even if that means narrowing the scale of their operations. In every bit of feedback we received, almost all industry leaders were focused on learning and adaptive growth.
A blue print for success can be found in these answers – a capacity to adapt, grow, and trust your instincts while trusting your team, are our industry experts top-tips for business success in 2018.