In Everything I Know About Marketing I Learned from Google, digital marketing guru Aaron Goldman shares twenty Googley lessons from the world's most ubiquitous brand to help you better engage your customers and prospects.
2. Google is an amazing company. In just over 10 years, it’s become the most valuable brand in the world and generates more than $6 billion in revenue per quarter. Along the way, Google has done more than just change the way we use the Internet. It’s changed the way we live. The answer to about everything these days is, “Google It!” From a business standpoint, Google has changed the way we think about operating. It’s changed the way we think about financial models. It’s changed the way we think about product development. And it’s changed the way we think about marketing. Want to grow your market-share? Google it! No, seriously, Google it. If you’re not at the top, you’re not growing. Read on for 20 “Googley Lessons” designed to help you grow your business and develop more meaningful connections with your customers. INTRODUCTION Looking for answers to improve your marketing?
4. How does Google work? Essentially, Google counts the number and quality of links pointing to each website as a measure of its popularity and credibility. In this way, the “crowd” — that is, webmasters — vote on what content is important by linking to it and Google tallies those votes to determine who gets the top rankings. However, Google has strict checks and balances to make sure its algorithm can’t be gamed. For marketers, turning to “crowds” can be an effective means of marketing and product development but only if the brand maintains a leadership role and doesn’t let the crowd run wild. Marketers must create platforms for their customers and prospects to engage with the brand and drive word-of-mouth. Chapter 2: Tap the Wisdom of Crowds QUOTABLE: “ Brands have a new responsibility to be ‘open 24/7’ and available.” – Jon Raj, Founder and Managing Partner, Cello Partners GET GOOGLEY: The only way to stand out from the crowd is to stand in it.
5. What are you supposed to do on Google.com ? Duh, search. But why is that such a rhetorical question? Because the Google homepage screams search. There’s nothing to distract you from the task at hand. Just a search box and a lot of white space. In order to attract customers and prospects and generate that coveted word-of-mouth, your products and services must be so simple to learn about, use, and remember that a baby — or your mother — could do it. Hone your Twitter pitch . Describe your company in 140 characters or less. Then shrink it to 95 characters and run it as a Google ad to see how people respond. Tweak. Iterate. Dumb it down without making people feel dumb. Chapter 3: Keep It Simple, Stupid QUOTABLE: “ Focus and simplicity can lead to widespread adoption.” – Sean Finnegan, President and Chief Digital Officer, Starcom MediaVest Group GET GOOGLEY: As a business, to simply thrive you need to thrive simply.
6. Why do search ads on Google work so well? Because people are often in “buy-mode” when they’re searching. They’re looking for something and often that’s something to buy. Google has cornered the market on reaching people in a commercial mindset. Marketers must find apertures to reach people in “buy-mode.” And, if they don’t exist or there aren’t enough, create them. Chapter 4: Mindset Matters QUOTABLE: “ Google lucked into the best business model in the history of business models.” – Michael Lazerow, CEO, Buddy Media GET GOOGLEY: Be mindful of the times when buying fills the mind.
7. Where do Google searches take place? Everywhere. Google-owned properties. Google-syndicated properties. Mobile phones. You name it — if it’s digital, Google’s there. Google doesn’t make you come to Google to Google. Google brings Google to you. Break down your brand into sharable bits. Use your domain as a hub. Don’t just build it and expect people to come. Chapter 5: Be Where Your Audience Is QUOTABLE: “ The key is to be a part of people’s lives. People will always prefer to business with friends.” – Marty Kohr, Integrated Marketing Communications Faculty, Northwestern University Medill School GET GOOGLEY: Being where your audience is must be more than a state of being.
8. Why do Google search ads get such high response rates? Ads on Google reach people at the right time. They don’t interrupt what people are doing. People search because they have a problem to solve or a decision to make. What better time for a marketer to deliver a message? The key for brands is to plant intent in the minds of your customers and prospects. Seek out apertures when you can reach your audience at moments they are most likely to be responsive and not annoyed by your message. Focus on finding people in-between content consumption when they’re most likely to respond. Map your brand to their intent. Don’t push. Don’t yell. Don’t sell. Don’t tell. Show. Chapter 6: Don’t Interrupt QUOTABLE: “ Consumers will tune out when forced to tune in.” – Scott Shamberg, SVP, Marketing and Media, Critical Mass GET GOOGLEY: The key is not to… … interrupt.
9. Why do so many people confuse Google’s paid and organic listings? The content is a bunch of blue links. The ads are a bunch of blue links. Google goes to great lengths to position ads as content — in some cases, “position” is literal as in a recent move to shrink the white space between the organic search listings and the sponsored listings on the right rail of Google.com . One of the keys to Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is having a diverse number of authoritative websites linking to yours. When returning results for a given search query, Google looks for pages with relevant, trust-worthy content. This is typically not the domain of advertising. They key is to pick a relevant niche to which you can add value. Then develop content that provides thought-leadership on that niche without being too salesy. Think of content distribution like product sampling. Chapter 7: Act Like Content QUOTABLE: “ All brands must act more like publishers, in every nuance.” – John Battelle, Founder and CEO, Federated Media Publishing GET GOOGLEY: The best way to act like content is not to put on an act.
10. How did Google choose the design for its now-famous logo? The same way it approaches every aspect of user experience — very carefully. Accordingly, it tested nearly every possible variation before picking a winner. Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is all about testing various combinations of elements — keywords, copy, landing pages, etc. — and continuously optimizing. Because they’re so used to testing, SEM professionals are positioned well to climb the ranks within marketing departments. They’re comfortable with change. They know how to create a culture of testing. And they never rest until they’ve reached the optimal outcome. Chapter 8: Test Everything QUOTABLE: “ Being in search brings your attention to how to understand what people want and how to give it to them.” – Stephen Governale, Executive Director of Interactive and Innovation, AT&T GET GOOGLEY: The next time you have the option to do a test, don’t pass.
11. How do you know your Google ads are working? By tracking them. There are myriad data points you can track related to your Google ads and myriad tools you can use to track them. The reason Google ads are trackable is that they’re delivered via digital platforms. Without digital delivery, there’s no signal that advertisers and publishers can use to measure response to individual ads. That’s why Google’s radio and print experiments failed. One way to track response to non-digital campaigns is by including a unique URL in your ad. Marketers should heed the lessons I share at GoodURLBadURL.com when selecting and promoting their URLs. Marketers must track all variables and give credit to the appropriate channel, not just the last ad exposure or click. Only then can budget can be allocated to fully maximize the entire marketing mix. Chapter 9: Track Everything QUOTABLE: “ Think Big. Move Fast. Revere Talent. Measure Everything.” – Rishad Tobaccowala, Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer, VivaKi GET GOOGLEY: Tack your tractor to the fast track and gain traction with a tactful tracking tract.
12. Who is the key decision-maker at Google? Not Eric Schmidt nor Sergey Brin nor Larry Page nor any other member of the Google management team . At Google, decisions aren’t made by people, they’re made by data. At its core, Google is an engineering company and engineers believe in math, science and data. This can make the Googleplex a difficult environment for right-brained thinkers. Data equals accountability. Don’t rely on your gut or a few focus groups. There are too many data points that can, and must, be considered. Agencies and publishers must find new and innovative ways to use data and add value or else they risk being dis-intermediated along the path from advertiser to consumer. Chapter 10: Let the Data Decide QUOTABLE: “ Data trumps opinion. I love this phrase. How true it is, especially in a creative agency where you can, and almost always do, have varying opinions.” – Paul Gunning, CEO, Tribal DDB Worldwide GET GOOGLEY: The only Android you should trust is sitting on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise. Just try not to catch him in the middle of a data dump.
13. What would Google look like if you removed all the brands? Let’s just say it would not be a pretty picture. You’d have a lot of blogs or “one-guy-in-a-garage” companies purporting to answer your questions and solve your problems – a “cesspool,” as Eric Schmidt once called it. Google does not necessarily favor brands in its search results but it does focus on trust, authority, reputation, and quality when deciding what websites to rank in what order. These attributes, of course, are typically the domain of brands. The key for marketers is to know what questions your brand(s) can be the answer to and make sure your product or service speaks for itself. Shift your acquisition and retention messaging from “advertising” to “service offering.” Chapter 11: Brands can be Answers QUOTABLE: “ Google has greater potential value as a marketing partner when it is the connective tissue between people and things they emotionally care about.” – Jack Myers, Founder and Media Economist, M.E.D.I.Advisory Group GET GOOGLEY: Quick, your CFO’s coming. You’d better have answers.
14. What catches your eye in a sea of Google text listings? A differentiated value proposition aka a unique selling proposition (USP). Google has very strict guidelines about what you can say in your ad. Following their rules can help you craft your USP. No marketing asset better typifies the USP than a slogan. A slogan is your brand promise. I’ve set up a blog at GoodSloganBadSlogan.com to evaluate – you guessed it! – good and bad slogans. Make sure your USP is succinct, focused on benefits, and relevant. Chapter 12: Your Unique Selling Proposition is Critical QUOTABLE: “ Find your brand promise and live it every day!” – Aaron Magness, Director of Brand Marketing and Business Development, Zappos GET GOOGLEY: Do your customers and prospects see your brand as unique? If not, you reek.
15. Who does Google compete with? Pretty much everyone. But, most, if not all, of the companies Google competes with, it also partners with in some capacity. As such, Google has been dubbed a frenemy. In today’s digital world, the rules of competition have changed. The barriers to entry are much lower. And any company that could come up ahead of you in Google results for a relevant query is now a competitor. To find Blue Ocean territory, marketers must understand the competitive landscape. There are many tools that can help illustrate who the direct and indirect competitors in any industry are. However, sometimes you need to just put your blinders on and do what you do best regardless of what anyone else is doing. Chapter 13: Your Competition is Broader Than You Think QUOTABLE: “ You don’t have to like competition in order to understand that it exists.” – Seth Godin, author, blogger and founder, Squidoo GET GOOGLEY: When thinking about with whom you compete, check the list twice to make sure it’s complete.
16. Why does the same Google search bring up different results for different people? By tracking people’s queries over time, Google can deliver personalized results. This takes into account your preferences, location, etc. The insights that can be inferred from search queries extend well beyond Google, though. Queries are a window into people’s intent and, when aggregated, can provide better direction that any mere focus group. Self-reported intent, indeed. Marketers must use query data beyond their SEM campaigns . Tap the “database of intentions” to learn about your audience and better service them. Chapter 14: You Can Learn a Lot From a Query QUOTABLE: “ There is an abundance of data available in the digital world and if it’s harnessed effectively and correctly it can provide terrific insights.” – Gian Fulgoni, Executive Chairman & Co-Founder, comScore GET GOOGLEY: If your marketing plan is looking dreary, put your faith into the power of the query.
17. What’s the most popular search category on Google? Porn. Surprised? You shouldn’t be. The Internet makes it easy, private, and free to consumer porn and Google makes it easy, private, and free to find it. Marketers have been using sex to sell for years. Often, the approach has been more indirect, even subliminal . Selling sex isn’t for everyone though. Keep your target audience in mind when thinking about sexing up your marketing. If you’re going to play in the gutter, prepare to get dirty. Chapter 15: Sex Sells QUOTABLE: “ It’s true that sex sells. It’s also true that sex can burn your fingertips and char your brand.” – Mark Goldstein, Vice Chairman and Chief Marketing Officer, BBDO North America GET GOOGLEY: There’s a fine line between sex and ex. Make sure your marketing hits the spot.
18. Why did Google choose “Don’t be Evil” as its corporate credo? For one thing, it’s a great public relations spin. “ Don’t question our motives when it comes to user-privacy, etc. – we’re doing no evil!” Nowhere has Google’s motto been put to the test more than in China, where, most recently, Google has stopped censoring results at the demand of the Chinese government. Over the years, Google has donated generously – money and manpower — to various philanthropic efforts ranging from wind energy R&D to disaster relief. Green marketing and selling altruism can be more than just an effective PR ploy. To fully exploit… er, leverage it, brands must fully embody the concept of sustainability and show consumers the impact you’re having at the local level. It’s ok to brag if you have the bag to back it up. Chapter 16: Altruism Sells QUOTABLE: “ Green Marketing isn’t a fad. It’s not a two-year-plan. It’s an underpinning of commerce moving forward.” – Mark Goldstein, Vice Chairman and Chief Marketing Officer, BBDO North America GET GOOGLEY: When it comes to altruism, all of these truisms must be taken into account.
19. Why is Google in such a hurry to digitize the world? The more stuff Google digitizes, the more stuff you’ll be able to Google. And the more stuff you’re able to Google, the more ads Google can sell. For marketers, the more ads Google sells, the more marketing costs increase due to bid competition. And, the more costs increase, the more important it becomes to distribute your digital assets in places that don’t require paying for placement but can still drive revenue. Marketers must digitize all their assets, even the less tangible or obvious ones like brand iconography. The key is to think about what utility you can provide with your assets, not what objects you can create. Take stock of your asset inventory and look for opportunities to extend them far beyond your website and/or retail location. Chapter 17: Show Off Your Assets QUOTABLE: “ Information now lives everywhere.” – Gord Hotchkiss, President, Enquiro Search Solutions GET GOOGLEY: When it comes to leveraging your assets, shake what your momma gave you.
20. Why does Google limit the number of listings each advertiser can buy? A relentless focus on user-experience dictates that each search engine results page (SERP) have a diversity of options for searchers. That doesn’t — nor should it — stop marketers from trying to capture as much shelf-space as possible on the SERPs. Marketers should consider all the various “screens” that consumers engage with throughout their day. Ball State University’s Center for Media Design has research showing that 18-24 year olds spend 10+ minutes a day with 10 different screens. Prioritize the screens you want your message to infiltrate based on time-spent by your audience with said screen and the mindset of your audience when engaging with said screen. Remember, we’re looking for “buy-mode” or at least “lean-forward.” At the end of the day, though, the more the better, especially when those that can be earned organically without direct media costs. Chapter 18: The More Shelf Space, The Better QUOTABLE: “ As a marketer you have to understand what your search shelf-space strategy is and have a content strategy to create, distribute, and syndicate content to address all end points.” – Robert Murray, CEO, iProspect GET GOOGLEY: If an opportunity presents itself to capture more shelf space, don’t shelve it!
21. How did Google get started? We all know this one. Two guys in a dorm room set out to change the world. Why do we all know this one? Because it’s a great story . And great stories get great mileage. Take a tour of the Googleplex in Mountain View and there’s a story behind everything and everyone you see. And they’re stories that bear repeating. To get that elusive word-of-mouth and free PR, you need to do something remarkable. Stock your cash register with $2 bills and give people a reason to tell others about their experience. My $2 bill is a series of videos featuring my rapper alter-ego, The Lyrical G. Chapter 19: Make Your Company a Great Story QUOTABLE: “ The people that have a story and evolve the story will succeed [because], today, people share those stories.” – Steven Hall, Professor, College Of Media, University of Illinois GET GOOGLEY: If you want to wake up to the morning glory, be ready to answer, “What’s the story?”
22. What leads you to search? There’s always some stimulus that triggers a search query. Often, that’s a marketing message. Google knows this. That’s why it doesn’t rely solely on search engine marketing (SEM) to promote its products. And that’s why it doesn’t count on SEM alone to grow revenue. For years, Google did very little traditional marketing but now it is active in out-of-home and even bought a Super Bowl ad . Tracking — and acting on — linkages between channels is critical for marketers. Marketing channel integration can be difficult, though, especially when silos have been erected between corporations, agencies, and media companies. To overcome these hurdles, align incentives and centralize data systems. It’s an over-used buzzword, but a “holistic” approach is critical. Chapter 20: Don’t Rely on Search Engine Marketing Alone QUOTABLE: “ The biggest opportunity moving forward is to understand the interaction effects between media.” – Jon Kaplan, Industry Director, Financial Services, Google GET GOOGLEY: If you want to bring home the bacon, don’t put all your eggs in the SEM basket. Try to maintain some SEM-blance of balance.
23. In 10 years, will everything I know about marketing still be learned from Google? Who knows. It’s unlikely search as we know it today will be search as we know it in 10 years. Relevancy must be replaced with usefulness. This means reimagining the search interface and changing the entire search paradigm. The key will be allowing people not just to search but to search and act. In the coming years, we’ll see a shift in focus towards applications -- aka app-ssistants -- that can handle complicated tasks based on our stated intent. Google’s role could be providing search functionality within apps or it could be a provider of apps and/or app platforms. The monetization model for app-sisstants is unclear but brands will certainly have a role. To give your organization the best chance to succeed in a world of search-and-act engines, follow the 20 Googley Lessons in this book. Chapter 21: Future-Proofing QUOTABLE: “ Google is actively tackling technology challenges that are required to pave the way for a future world that puts intelligent technology at the center of both micro and macro decisions.” – Matt Spiegel, Global CEO, Digital, Omnicom Media Group GET GOOGLEY: In the end, Google may not be the big winner, but, by learning from the Big G’s successes and setbacks, you just might be.
24. Get Googley! Anyone who tells you they know what the future holds for marketing is either lying to you or trying to sell you a book. Sure, I’m guilty of the latter but I’m confident that, by following the 20 Googley Lessons I’ve outlined here, you’ll be well -prepared for any outcome. Everything I Know About Marketing I Learned from Google is available online via Amazon.com , Amazon.ca , Amazon.co.uk , Barnes & Noble , Borders , Books A Million , and other retailers. The book includes insights, anecdotes, and case studies from some of the world’s most innovative marketers as well as exercises for readers to apply the lessons to your organization. Check out GoogleyLessons.com for more book-related content and updates. Get social with Googley Lessons on Facebook , Twitter , and YouTube . Or you can always just Google Me . Cheers, Aaron Goldman CONCLUSION GET GOOGLEY: To future-proof your marketing, respect relevancy, covet crowds, stay simple, match mindsets, anchor audiences, infrequently interrupt, covet content, try testing, tackle tracking, deify data, behold brands, utilize USPs, comprehend competition, question queries, stay sexy, associate altruism, activate assets, snatch shelf -space, spin stories, and scale SEM.