Big Data is all the rage these days and one can easily find many articles about businesses gaining some advantage or other by analyzing their data. Can we use a similar approach to understand who has the best answers in marketing?
Yes! Follow the Top 15 Master Marketers and you shall learn much, young padawan.
What are Marketing Master Profiles?
Simply put, they’re your guide to the world’s best marketers. I found them through extensive research. I do my research by compiling analytics about as many marketers as I can. I keep broad data series on all of them. I track about 50 different variables that cover everything from how much traffic they get, how good they are at backlinking and keyword research, where there traffic comes from, which social media they leverage, and a whole lot more.
You see, I’m an analytics and data junkie. I got my start creating one of the first and best spreadsheets for Microsoft Windows. It was called Quattro Pro and it sold over $100 million the first year we launched it. I’ve been happily crunching numbers ever since.
I’ve explained in the past how you can evaluate marketing experts for your self. Beware–there are a lot of Charlatans on the web posing as Marketing Masters. They aren’t, not really.
Marketers Can Easily Use Fake News to Boost Their Reputation
Marketer’s can easily use Fake News to boost their reputation…
I was in a private Facebook Group not too long ago that was aimed at a particular marketing skill. One of the other members posted a link to a Forbes article:
Nothing really wrong with the article, except it sure seems like classic fake news if you dig into it carefully.
Consider, for example how it is presented. It sure looks for all the world like Forbes has, after careful editorial research, chosen 17 Online Marketing Influencers for 2017.
That’s big news, right?
Except, not really. First, the article is by a contributor, Jimmy Rohampton. This is no knock on Jimmy, but he’s just a contributor. There’s a note right under his name that says:
Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.
What that means is Jimmy can write nearly anything he wants once he gets in as a contributor. Yes, there is some editorial oversight. Yes, the article will get shot down if it causes a fuss because it’s racist or sexually explicit. But if you think Forbes exercised their full Editorial Staff to do the homework for the article, you’re mistaken. So many major “news” outlets work this way that’s it’s a miracle we even consider them news outlets any more.
If you read the article, and analyze the list of 17 Online Marketing Influencers given, it’s fascinating because it is so Bipolar. There are a bunch of familiar names there like Neil Patel. Anybody who doubts Neil is an online marketing influencer to watch in 2017 or any other year hasn’t been paying attention. That’s why he’s literally the first Marketing Master I profiled for this series.
If you keep reading, there are a bunch of other great, recognizable, non-controversial names there like Gary Vaynerchuk, Tim Ferriss, Michael Hyatt, Derek Halpern, Jay Baer, Rand Fishkin, and Amy Porterfield. Not bad, I follow all of them. There’s also John Lee Dumas (Entrepreneur on Fire) and Jayson DeMers (AudienceBloom). I didn’t recognize their names because I am lousy with names, but I read their web sites and knew them from their sites.
That’s a solid 10 names out of 17. Then a funny thing happened. Of course I jumped at the rest of the list (I love these lists!) and promptly stuck them into my analysis spreadsheets with all the data I could find. I was dumb-founded. Most of the rest were complete unknowns as far as my analytics could establish. Bipolar indeed–nothing but really excellent and really unknown?
This is where I started to wonder about fake news. Maybe these guys are the greatest thing since sliced bread, but you wouldn’t know it to look at the stats on their public web sites. In the article they get billings like:
- 7-figure Internet Marketing Company: That’s actually not that big for a decent agency. In fact, it’s small.
- Worked with, optimized copy for, and similar billings for <Insert Recognizable Brand Here>. OK. I guess I could take every recognizable brand I ever came in contact with and claim I had made a major difference for them. In fact, I do exactly that when I list some of the major manufacturer’s that use my software:
No harm no foul, but I sold them a piece of software for a few hundred bucks. “Optimizing Copy for” could be a summer intern job. Let’s not get carried away that that’s a reason to be identified as a Top Marketing Influencer.
- Recognized by <Insert favorite big-name magazine or website here including Forbes, Inc., Huffpost, and so on>. Guess what? It’s not that hard to become a contributor to most of these. Here’s an article telling you 30 ways to do it. Guess what, most of the people quoted wouldn’t qualify as Marketing Masters for our roundup either.
Let’s delve into how I identify the real Marketing Masters and why I am suspicious of so many others.
How Are Marketing Masters Identified
Look, I read a LOT of marketing blogs. It’s how I’ve learned the craft. I follow about 250 blogs in my RSS Reader. Over time, I have repeatedly winnowed my list and added new names as well. My strategy is simple:
I need proven, verifiable, measurable results before I want to listen to advice.
The problem is that on the Internet, nobody has any idea who you are just by looking at your content:
You could be presenting yourself as a Marketing Master when in reality, you’re just another Dog on the Internet!
Incidentally, the original Genius behind Google, the idea that created all of that incredible ginormous wealth, came from this same realization. Until that time, search engines pretty much only considered what was on the page. So it was easy to game the search engines and get up to no good. The results they brought back for searches were lousy.
So Google’s Founders came up with a brilliant insight. They’d still consider what was on the page, but they’d also consider who linked to the page.
Because if you link to a page, you must consider it to be valuable. The more links, the more valuable. And, if a page that is valuable due to links to that page links to your page, it’s links are more valuable than random links from no-name pages.
Pretty cool, huh?
Well, yes it is. It turns out there are actually a number of great statistics available about any given web site. Put them all together, and you can know quite a lot. But, you need to find a way to calibrate. I call that calibration, “The Marketing Masters Top 15.”
The Marketing Masters Top 15
Collect a bunch of data on literally hundreds of sites. Boil it down. Rank it by overall site traffic. Take the Top 15 sites and check them out thoroughly by reading and acting on their content for years. If the data is good, you get a lot of value. If it’s BS, you don’t.
That’s how my Marketing Masters Top 15 came to be. I’ll be publishing profiles on each of the Top 15 Marketing Masters and a whole lot more besides. In fact, I created a new article category to make it easy for you to track these profiles:
By comparing each to the Top 15, we can learn a lot about different styles of marketing and what it takes to excel. That’s what we all really want to know, right?
What Does the Data Tell Us About Marketing Masters?
Let’s get started by looking at the Top 15 in aggregate. How do they generate their traffic? What channels are emphasized more than others. I’ll go over the Top 15 in the same format I use for the individual Marketing Master profiles right here:
We start with who each Master is and what their web sites are. In this case, we’ll just use our Top 15 Marketing Master logo…
Marketing Style tells us where they get their traffic from…
The Marketing Style panel tells us where each Marketing Master gets their traffic from in general. These are the same categories you find in Google Analytics, so it’s easy to compare to your own traffic sources.
In this case, we find the bulk of the traffic is search, followed by Direct, followed by Referral, Email, and very little Advertising. Makes sense–why would a Marketing Master need to spend a fortune on advertising when it’s so easy to get traffic elsewhere when you know how?
Are you surprised the Social Media category is so low? Having worked with it for a long time, I wasn’t. Most Social Media is short attention span theater and what traffic you do get is challenging to convert or persuade to come back. Still, it’s valuable enough you need to invest some time in it.
Google rewards content quality and so should you…
Google rewards content quality and so should you. If people take the time to read your articles and visit more pages on your site, it’s a sign you’re publishing high quality content. A lower Bounce rate is another good sign.
Google rewards all that with better search rankings, and so should you. How do your website’s numbers compare to the Top 15’s?
SEO is a lot of work. How efficiently do you generate Domain Authority and Traffic?
SEO is a lot of work. Optimizing an individual article, once you know the keywords you want to rank for, is pretty easy. But building backlinks and doing keyword research takes quite a lot of time. There are a lot of tactics available for each, but there’s also a lot of skill needed to master each area.
I’ve put together some proprietary ways of keeping score. Backlinks need to deliver two things:
- Domain Authority: This is an abstract score based on number and quality of backlinks. Remember what I said about the Google algorithm above? If you have more Domain Authority than others, you will find it easier to get your content to the top of the Google Search results.
- Traffic: This is an amalgam. You get traffic because higher Domain Authority makes it easier to rank for lucrative keywords. But you also get it because someone encountering the link elsewhere discovers it’s enticing them to click-through. I’ve tried to minimize the latter by only looking at visits due to search.
- Backlink Quality is an amalgam that combines the Domain and Backlink metrics for a single score.
- Visits/DR tells you how efficiently a site is generating visits from its relative Domain Authority. If you beat the averages on this, it’s probably a mix of great backlinks and great skill at choosing which keywords to rank for.
The situation with Keywords is a little cleaner. If you get more than the average amount of traffic for keywords you’re very efficient at researching and capturing the best keywords given your site’s Domain Authority.
For small and new sites, it’s much easier to focus on keyword research than it is to build backlinks. Keywords that are not yet dominated by high-ranking sites are the chinks in Castle Google’s armor. These so-called long-tail keywords can be extremely valuable.
Yes, it’s true, Social Media is less than 10% of these Top 15 Marketing Master’s incoming traffic, but it’s still important. And it’s also important to see which social platforms they utilize:
- A whopping 54% comes from Facebook. If you cover no other platform, you must make sure you’re taking advantage of Facebook!
- LinkedIn is the next largest at a little 12%. Here’s an important fact–your mix will vary based on your audience and your skills with the platform. You need to test multiple platforms before you decide which ones to really focus on.
- The other three categories, YouTube, Twitter, and Other, are very close.
If you have a new website, you’ll probably see a lot higher percentage of your traffic from Social Media because you can borrow traffic from these platforms to help establish your blog.
Marketing Master Profiles is a series I’ll be running for a long time. I’ve learned a lot analyzing these folks and have a database of several hundred marketer analytic profiles to draw from. I’ll also be analyzing groups to learn things like:
- What works best for small, medium, and large websites? Not every website or marketer is ready to operate exactly the way the Masters do.
- Who are the experts in particular niches? For example, who gets the highest SEO numbers out of my Marketing Masters Universe and is therefore well worth checking out for SEO advice? What about the highest Social Media traffic? And so on.
You don’t want to miss out on any of this analysis as it unfolds, so be sure to sign up for my weekly newsletter below.
PS: If there’s a particular Marketing Master who is your favorite, let me know via the comments below!
(Cross-posted @ Bob Warfield)