The marketing industry is notorious for not getting to the point.
Vendors wrap their services in complex hyperbole, creatives value medium over message, and blogs like this one (hands up) often fail to call them out.
So, I thought I'd round up a collection of articles, chiefly from the Econsultancy blog, which get to the point and serve as a useful little reading list for marketing execs (and above).
What is technical SEO and why is it important?
Younger folks who might not remember keyword stuffing or article spinning will likely have an innate understanding of how Google works. The search engine provides the most relevant and authoritative content, with a focus on usability, particularly for mobile.
But what factors other than content and links can impact on a site's search ranking. Here's an introduction to technical SEO, which should go some way to informing what questions marketing execs may ask of their tech team or agency partners. From site architecture to HTML, the article covers off the basics.
An illustration of a simple site architecture
Four things email marketers should do to get noticed in their company
Co-founder of Phrasee (a company that performs email subject line optimisation using 'AI') Parry Malm has been one of our most successful and engaging blog contributors over the years.
You can browse a collection of his articles, but there's one that serves as a great introduction to email marketing. Parry gives us 'four things email marketers should do to get noticed in their company', in an article that explains what makes email important as a marketing channel and what issues email marketers must overcome. From tracking sales to segmenting your audience, testing new technology to optimising subject lines.
There's plenty more to consider but Parry's article is the perfect clarion call for email.
What is the ROI of social media?
The return on investment (ROI) of social media has always been a hot topic for debate. To those with even very limited powers of deduction, it's obvious that just because people don't click from a tweet on to your website and buy a pair of trainers (they may do) doesn't mean social media is worthless. It has its uses from customer service to branding.
However, there are some that say the ROI of social media is too low. Playing devil's advocate, I advise new hires to read James Hammersly's provocatively titled article - If you want to improve your marketing ROI, stop spending on social media - if only because the comments provide food for thought.
For a more balanced perspective, Econsultancy editor David Moth has rounded up some case studies and stats that prove measuring social media ROI is possible (and that ROI can be good).
Programmatic has become problematic
Programmatic is a sacred cow of the media agency world that, from the wrong angle, looks like two cheeky monkeys in a poorly-fitting cow costume. I'm talking here about display advertising.
Yes, it's difficult to understand, partly due to complexity but also due to obfuscation. Thankfully, if you want a really simple introduction to two of the biggest problems in programmatic (the lack of fairness in auctions and lack of transparency in agency pricing), you can read a great explainer from Jeff Rajeck and Hari Shankar, MD at Escelis.
The hierarchy of user experience components
UX is a very trendy term. It is popping up more and more in job titles and management meetings, but it is perhaps becoming bastardised, corrupted by visual design and wishy-washy discussion of customer experience.
UX is all about meeting user needs. With online user interfaces, this requires viability, accessibility, predictability and consistency, before we even get to any notion of 'brand'.
An easy way to think of UX is through the (almost literal) prism of the hierarchy of UX components. Once you've read that article, for a full grounding in UX and interaction design subscribers can download Econsultancy's best practice guide.
Some definitions from the marketing technology stack
What marketing technology is essential for an innovative marketing team? And how does it fit together?
Chris O'Hara puts forward his vision of the martech stack – a layer cake of data management (from CRM to DMP to CDP), artificial intelligence (which analyses all this data) and orchestration (or journey management, such as email, CMS, personalization etc.). It's well worth a read.
While there are acronyms and concepts in Chris's article that may be confusing to beginners, the overall structure of the stack is one that makes common sense. And if you get confused by the talk of data management platforms (DMPs), customer relationship management (CRM) and marketing automation, we can recommend the following blog post - What's the difference between CRM, marketing automation and DMPs?
Ecommerce best practice lessons
As ecommerce sales continue to increase, even the marketing layman should be aware of what makes a good online shopping experience. But, it doesn't hurt to learn from the best, and though this article from Graham Charlton was written way back in 2014, a lot of the features identified remain best practice today - 13 ecommerce best practice lessons from ao.com.
Is the 'brands as publishers' trend utter nonsense(?)
Content marketing has long since shrugged off its buzzword reputation and is practiced by many marketers and brands. However, in B2C there is a debate as to the efficacy of content marketing, particularly when it comes to low value products such as FMCGs.
Would an online magazine created by a soda brand really go some way to encouraging repeat purchases?
Obviously, the debate is nuanced and I would argue there are many brands doing this right and many doing it wrong. Again, in seeking to understand the trend, it's useful to digest a strong opinion on the subject, and none are stronger than those of Mark Higginson.
Mark's article - Why the brands as publishers trend is utter nonsense - provoked strong reactions from our audience, who waded into the comments and issued their rebuttals. See what you think.
FAB Beauty by L'Oreal
In the AI era, it's digital ads that face disruption
A really thoughtful article over on Marketing Week now from Mark Ritson. Prof Ritson reflects on how artificial intelligence may challenge interruptive advertising (Google and Facebook ads on your smartphone) and ultimately all advertising.
However, Ritson is keen to point out that the pace of change may be slow and that good old television (and its ads) are relatively immune to this disruption, as they reach the customer in their laziest state.
Lots to think about for the more contemplative marketing exec considering a career in agency land or leading brand strategy.
The concept of media neutrality in a marketing strategy
More from Mark Ritson on media strategy. As Adidas's new CEO declared his interest in social media over television, Ritson asserted that all marketing strategy should approach media dispassionately, assessing which channel fits best with objectives.
TV isn't always the best approach, but to dismiss (however lightly) such a powerful medium is close to folly.
A newbie's glossary of digital marketing jargon
Lastly, an invaluable guide to any jargon newbies may not have encountered before now. From agile to growth hacking to omnichannel.