Eric Enge is the founder of Stone Temple Consulting and co-author of "The Art of SEO". With 30 years of marketing experience, Enge is best known for his ongoing effort to solve business problems with a combination of research and critical thinking. My book "When Everybody Clicks" cites the importance of trust between brand and vendor as a path to sustainable digital marketing. Enge shares the importance of aligning expectations and the benchmarks of long-term digital marketing growth.
-What is the number one cause of failure in digital marketing relationships between agencies and brands?
Misaligned expectations. The biggest key to success is communication about what to expect, and updating that on a continuous basis. This needs to start before the contract is signed, and continue for the duration of the engagement.
-When do you decline a project or client?
One of the biggest reasons we decline a client (or fire one) is if it becomes clear to us that they are not going to do the right thing. Sadly, there are still many people out there who are still convinced that the best way is to try and use tactics that are in violation of Google's guidelines. A couple of years ago, we neded a relationship with a major global brand for exactly this reason.
The other major reason for decliing/firing a client is if it becomes clear that they are not going to implement our recommendations. Obviously, our engagement with them won't be successful if they don't accept our suggestions, so continuing those relationships makes no sense!
-What do you think are the qualities that prepare today's digital marketing professionals to be revolutionary and to stay relevant in our ever-changing industry?
Honestly, the main thing you need to be prepared for is constant change. The change in technology is faster today than it has ever been, AND, the rate of change is still accelerating. You have to have the right mindset to deal with this. It's not enough to be "up to the challenge", you need to revel in the chance to keep learning and thrive on the opportunity to master something new.
-What types of clients/engagements are your favorite?
Ones where the client listens! Nothing is worse than those engagements where they simply won't do the right things - this is a great reason to decline (or fire) a client. And, for those clients who do listen and can do the things you suggest, these are the ones where you get to really prove your craft.
-Please share an experience that made you either super excited or super distraught in your time as a digital marketer?
Over the past decade plus, I've had the opportunity to work with many different large brands. What this has taught be is that coming up with awesome SEO recommendations is hard enough, but that sometimes, persuading the organization to make the change is even harder. We started up with one Fortune 100 company in May of 2012, and the work was focused on helping them with their content marketing.
They were doing some pretty spammy stuff when we got there. We were given the opportunity to work with one of their product lines, as a test, using methods that were far more holsitic in nature. We had great initial success with that campaign. About3 months in, the client realized that we were getting better results for them than their spammy campaigns, and they began shifting more work to us.
So this all sounds great. After all, getting more money out of the relationship is good, right? But this meant much more to me than that. We were able to get them to make a change to shift their model to one that is far more sustainable in the long run. This means their business is healthier, and their organization's perception of digital marketing is healthier as well.
Helping people make that shift. Helping them understand how to make the digital marketing ecosystem work for them in a sustainable way is very exciting stuff. This means that not only do they have the benefit of our work in the near term, but that they have improved prospects for continued growth in the long term.
Eric Enge on Long-Term Digital Marketing Growth
What Marketers Can Learn from Linguistics
Rebecca Lieb on Allowing for Change in Digital Marketing