My Future Marketing Blog Posts

Focus is the most precious asset for any startup CEO.  As much as I love blogging about startup marketing, it just isn’t a very good use of my time these days.   So for the foreseeable future, I’ll be taking a hiatus from blogging on   The most important thing you should have taken away from is that startup marketers need to focus on doing what’s important at any given stage in a startup.  My short post on The Startup Pyramid gives a good breakdown of the marketing priorities that matter most for startups.  It’s worth re-reading if you’ve read it before.

Now Blogging at

If you do everything right in the early stages and you’re lucky, startup marketing eventually just becomes marketing.  Established companies have many of the same challenges as startups.  They still need to stay on top of who loves their product, why they love it and how to get many more of the right people into a must-have experience.  The effective emerging tactics for connecting with the right people and onramping them to your product experience are the same for startups and established companies.

At I’ll be exploring observations and lessons learned in a way that is hopefully useful to all marketers, not just startup marketers.  My most recent post explores why online marketing keeps getting harder every year and what you can do to keep up.  Below is a brief excerpt followed by a link to the full post.

The Online Marketing Arms Race

Online marketing was pretty easy when I first started doing it in 1996.  It wasn’t rocket science that you should test ads for response rates and measure conversions.  But surprisingly a lot of people weren’t following this process.  Considering that there was less than $20 per year competing for the attention of each US Internet user, this little edge made it easy to profitably acquire lots of customers online.

Dollars spent advertising to each USA web user

Marketing is Getting Harder

But in the last few years, online marketing has gotten much harder. Marketers now pile in more than $140 per user in advertising each year.  To compete, today’s online marketers must seek READ FULL ARTICLE 


Are Marketers Now Required to be Engineers Too?

As much as I hate to admit it, online marketers with engineering backgrounds often have a significant advantage over non-engineering marketers.  They are simply much more capable of “getting stuff done.” The rest of us waste a lot of time and creative energy figuring how to get the obvious stuff done.

Not only are engineering marketers more capable of getting the essentials done, they can use their reserve of time and creative energy to be scrappy about building marketing experiments.  And of course the experiments they build on their own can be much more interesting than us non-engineers.

One way I have worked around my engineering deficiencies has been to hire the skills onto the marketing team.  For example, in my last long-term VP Marketing role I hired a front-end designer/engineer to design and code landing pages and a dedicated DBA to build reports and run ad hoc queries.

Tools are Leveling the Playing Field

Fortunately the playing field has begun to level in recent years so that non-engineering marketers can be much less dependent on engineering help.  For example, I now use KISSmetrics to build my own reports and run ad hoc queries.  And because it is so easy, I spend a lot more time digging into things like event-to-goal correlations.  This helps me know the events I should be promoting to website visitors in a given lifecycle stage. In the past, I was just seeking visibility into the marketing campaigns and landing pages that were and weren’t working.  KISSmetrics allows me to get much deeper and identify additional levers to improve results.

I’m also no longer dependent on front-end design and development help.  Not only can I build extremely effective landing pages with Unbounce, I can also very easily set up and manage A/B tests. This takes me beyond the stuff I even bothered asking for in the past.  For A/B testing landing pages, I previously had to replicate every ad to point to different landing pages.  It doubled the amount of time it took to set up any new ad campaign.  Now with Unbounce it is all automatic.

Even more empowering, I can actually manage all the content and design updates for our entire website using Optimizely.  This proved to be very useful a few months ago when Qualaroo lacked a front-end developer.  Despite limited HTML skills and no design talent, I was able to make all the necessary changes and still keep the key design templates that were custom created by a talented designer.  Finally, Optimizely made it a no brainer to retain the old version and run it as an A/B test.

What’s Next?

I’m very excited about the range of tools that will emerge over the next few years to further empower marketers.  Eventually I see a time where an individual marketer will have the ability to identify and control all of the most powerful levers for driving growth, even from deep within their website.

An important step that is also taking place is automation of the marketing programs that work.  All of this will continue to free up more time for creative marketers to build marketing experiments that truly push the envelope on results.