SMX East 2014 Series: Internet Marketing Lessons in the Kitchen & Beyond with Lisa Williams

There are Internet marketing lessons to be learned everywhere. Just ask digital marketing strategist Lisa Williams. The oft-cited marketer is gearing up to share her lessons on SEO and SEM in “Let’s Work Together: How SEO & SEM Can Help Each Other” and “Key SMX Takeaways” at SMX East 2014. And marketer that she is, Williams sees marketing lessons in unexpected places … like the kitchen.

Pretty much every time I cook I learn a lesson about marketing. For example, proper knife techniques require the right knife and lots of practice. If your technique isn’t perfect, you can still get the job done, but the better you get at the technique the easier it becomes and the better the outcome. Also, that most great dishes start with great, fresh food,” Williams said, explaining that the ingredients you start with — whether they be in Internet marketing or chicken soup — matter.

With a book coming out before the year’s end and two SMX East 2014 sessions to prepare for (plus all that cooking), Williams still found time for an interview. Read on to discover her insights on SEO, SEM, relationship-building and more.

Before we get going, please share three fun facts about yourself.

1) I love being a mom of two smart, funny young adults.

2) I’m thrilled and terrified every day by the job.

3) Martinis are how I get my citrus.

Congratulations are in order; your book, “Sustainable Digital Marketing: When Everybody Clicks,” will launch before the end of this year. We’re excited to read it. Can you give us a sneak peak at some of the insights you share?

One of my favorite lessons is ‘get brave in the beginning.’ Ask the really hard questions before you start the marketing relationship. Identifying potential stumbling blocks up front and creating reasonable expectations early create the framework for sustainability.

Another favorite is investing in the marketing relationship (whether that’s with employees or agencies/consultants); eHarmony, for example, is launching a site to help employers align with the right employees. We spend so little time investing in the relationship and it shows in our stats as an industry. Marketing has 30 percent turnaround, the only industry that’s worse off is food service at 37 percent.

Big brands create relationships for sourcing material and other important aspects of their business, those relationships can last for decades. Typical digital marketing engagements between brand and agency last for less than three years, depending on the research. There’s so much lost opportunity. It takes at least a year depending on the brand to truly go through brand immersion that can impact campaign and project success.

We hear a lot about breaking down the silos of today’s marketing mindset. How can SEM and SEO break down the barriers and create better efficiencies?

lisa williams search discovery
Lisa Williams

Harvard Business Review just posted a great article about this issue, highlighting that  many marketing organizations suffer from a failure of cross-functional collaboration. I believe this lack of understanding and integration is one of our biggest hurdles as marketers.

Agreement around goals and alignment around messaging are a great place to start. Someone has to be held responsible for the overarching marketing strategy. Sending SEO off to do keyword research and SEM off to create ads and place media without a coordinated strategy creates a poor customer journey and less-than-optimal marketing efforts from both teams. We’re better than this.

In a perfect world we would have a campaign, clear messaging and/or a goal to rally around as SEO & SEM practitioners. In the absence of that sophistication, start small. For example, I worked on a project where we showed a large tooling company that their PPC ads tested shipping messaging and we had a clear winner, yet we weren’t using the winning content in our SEO description. It was a great opportunity to learn from each other in a way that drives co-exposure.

What are your tips on improving collaboration? Do you have any platforms that can help departments collaborate and improve overall performance?

Collaboration starts with shared planning platforms, whether that’s Trello or Kapost. Don’t try to drive collaboration with email. I love for visualizing a project all in one place. Don’t be afraid to ask the question, “Who owns success of this project?” I just read “My Life in France” about Julia Childs. She gives wonderfully compelling examples about how to collaborate while owning the end result.

2015 is around the corner … what’s a good New Year’s resolution for Internet marketers to have?

Dedicate a year to mastering a part of marketing you don’t know. For me that’s CRM/loyalty, as a search marketer I’ve focused primarily on discovery, I really want to focus on retention and how to inspire customer joy and advocacy.

Next week, SMX East 2014 kicks off in the heart of New York! Headed there? Great! Come join Bruce Clay, Mindy Weinstein, Virginia Nussey and me for the SMX Meet & Greet on Oct. 29 at 6 p.m., and catch Clay center stage on Oct. 2 in one of SMX’s most popular sessions: “Ask the Search Engines and SEOs.” Nussey and I will be in and out of sessions all conference long, liveblogging sessions as they happen. Get our liveblog schedule here!

Update: This post was revised shortly after publication to remove Lisa Williams’ erroneous job title and work association.

Kristi Kellogg is a journalist, news hound, professional copywriter, and social (media) butterfly. Currently, she is a senior SEO content writer for Conde Nast. Her articles appear in newspapers, magazines, across the Internet and in books such as "Content Marketing Strategies for Professionals" and "The Media Relations Guidebook." Formerly, she was the social media editor at Bruce Clay Inc.

See Kristi's author page for links to connect on social media.

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