{PODCAST} In-Ear Insights: Challenging Marketing Best Practices

{PODCAST} In-Ear Insights: Challenging Marketing Best Practices

In this episode of In-Ear Insights, the Trust Insights podcast, Katie and Chris talk about questioning and challenging marketing best practices. From the best times to send emails to how much curated content you should share on social media, sacred cows are on the table. Tune in to find out what other marketing best practices should be challenged in your marketing strategy.


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{PODCAST} In-Ear Insights: Challenging Marketing Best Practices

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Christopher Penn 0:17

In this week’s In-Ear Insights, let’s talk about marketing, best practices, the things that are generally accepted conventional wisdom about what marketers should do.

And whether or not those best practices are in fact, best practices.

So Katie, when you think about the marketing best practices that you’ve heard of over the years, what which ones come to mind?

Katie Robbert 0:42

I think best practices that I think of are, you know, best times to post on social media, here’s your mix of digital channels that you should absolutely have best practice, you should have a presence on social media best practice, you should do this at this time in this at this time.

And so when I think of best practices in general, I feel like it should just be a guideline, or a starting place to just sort of like, I haven’t done this thing before.

So let me see what other people say is a good way to do it.

But then I think the trap that a lot of people fall into is they never find their own way to do it, what works for them in their company.

So I feel like best practices are a good starting point.

But we want to start to dig into like, some common best practices to see does it make sense to forever do it that way?

Christopher Penn 1:38

Yes, I think you’re exactly right.

It’s like a recipe, right? You start with a recipe from a cookbook.

And you’re like, I don’t have these ingredients, or I don’t particularly like that ingredient, etc.

And eventually, you should evolve into your own.

So let’s start with one, I was doing some testing this past week.

Because I was very curious.

There’s this rule that’s been around since 2006.

I think, in social media marketing, it’s called the 8020 rule that you should be curating.

And sharing 80% of your content should be other people’s content, and then 20% should be your own.

And on a whim, cuz I’ve been looking at my own Twitter analytics is like, that’s not too great.

So I said, What the heck, I’m gonna take a week and just share nothing but our stuff, Trust Insights, marketing over coffee, and my blog.

And much to my surprise, my engagement rates and my reach almost quadrupled the week.

And I was like, Well, I now have to seriously question this best practice, because it’s at least in for my Twitter account, that’s not the case.

Katie Robbert 2:45

So there’s a couple of things.

One is it sounds like that best practice is 16 years old.

And we know that social media changes almost daily in terms of how people use it, what its intention is.

So there’s problem number one is, you know, the 8020 rule is a 16 year old best practice.

And number two, at least this is what I have personally seen is when I look at other brands, I don’t see them sharing other than their own content.

And so I feel like, you know, we were the ones who were sort of late to the game that that best practice is outdated, because I don’t see other people following that best practice at all.

I see the majority of people and brands on social media, sharing their own stuff, or sharing someone else’s stuff when they are mentioned in that thing.

And that’s pretty much it.

And so I feel like it’s sort of I think John was calling it the Mythbusters.

This morning, when we were talking about this, you know, that sort of the, we’re busting the myth that you have to share other people’s content to get noticed and grow your social accounts.

I personally feel like, you just need to share interesting content, period, and it can all be yours.

If all of your personal content is interesting.

People will come find it.

Christopher Penn 4:15

So I think it’s safe to say that at least for this particular best practice, you’ve got to test it.

Not saying it’s right or wrong.

It’s got to be tested on your account because your audience may react differently.

I think in some ways, at least for certainly from my Twitter account, people follow my Twitter account, presumably for me.

So sharing, my stuff should resonate better than sharing somebody else’s stuff.

Otherwise, they would just follow that person instead.

Katie Robbert 4:41

Well, and I think the same is true for brand accounts.

People follow brand accounts, because they want to know what that brand has to say about spec specific things.

what’s new, what’s coming.

If Trust Insights only ever shares other people’s content? What are we about What’s our, you know, stake in the ground? What’s our opinion? What’s our offering? And so I think that it’s a good place to start.

But I think what we’ve learned is that people want to know what we’re doing what we’re up to.

And so we have other people’s content, other brands content in our newsletter as a courtesy, like, here’s what we’re reading.

But I would also maybe challenge to see, is that still useful to? Or can they just get that somewhere else? From the brain into

Christopher Penn 5:30

that, I think it’s a valid point.

And thankfully, because we self host our own email marketing software, we can go into the back end database.

So maybe that’s a a trial for an upcoming week, look at the performance of all the different links and see what which links are getting the most clicks, and go, okay, the ones that are getting the fewest clicks, maybe if it is the shared content, maybe it’s time for that to go to,

Katie Robbert 5:53

I could even see a scenario where we almost break it out into two different newsletters, one that’s solely focused on what we’re doing.

And then a new like literal news newsletter, like here’s what else is going on.

So you can have your option to subscribe to the version of the newsletter that is only about Trust Insights, and then the version of the newsletter where you can get curated content.

I mean, there’s a lot of different ways that we can spend it.

But I think that it’s definitely worth taking a look at the information to see, why are people coming to us? Do they want to know about us? Or do they want to know what we think about other things?

Christopher Penn 6:29

All right, let’s tackle number two, single focus SEO, the idea that a page on your website should have a keyword or key phrase focus.

One of the things that we know Google is doing now is what’s called passages.

If you search for a term on Google, it will now fish out the relevant paragraph or two from your site from a page and highlight that, which means that from an SEO perspective, having just a single focus on a page, if that page does well, if it’s done, you’ve done a good job of promoting and getting links to it.

That page could have multiple focus points.

And then something we’ve been telling clients now for a few years is a page should almost have like a what, why and how structure or the answer the question and then the next two questions that the user might have, so that when search engines dig through and highlight just the content people want, your page has a better chance of being found.

The challenge here from an SEO perspective is that a lot of tools on the market are still very much focused on this page should have this focus term and nothing else.

Katie Robbert 7:41

Well, I think, you know, I think as a best practice, it is good to have some level of focus, so that you’re, you know, your content isn’t about this, and this and this, and this, and all of these things are disconnected.

So, again, sort of, as we’ve been saying, the best practice, it’s a good starting point.

But it shouldn’t be the only way you’re thinking about approaching these things.

And so starting with a focus keyword might help your team or you know, your writers say, Okay, what is this thing even about? But then you can build out the what are the five questions to answer around this particular keyword.

So that may be the way to expand it to have more context around the focus keyword.

So there’s, you know, I personally feel like there’s nothing wrong with focusing what the content is about.

But then you can sort of within that piece of content answer the variety of questions.

Christopher Penn 8:37

Yeah, we will call that semantic focus.

What is the topic that this page is about not just the individual term? Okay, number three, you should be doing email AV testing with email opens, you know, which email is open more.

And the reason that it’s time to retire this one is because of things like Apple’s mail privacy protection, which ruins your open rates, it’s no longer a reliable measure.

So from now on, she’d be doing a B testing with click through rates.

Or if you’re just trying to figure out which does better.

Consider using UTM tracking codes on your links for an individual either links or variations, and looking at Google Analytics to see where did people go and which slice of the pie it’s when we run our one, click surveys in our newsletter that goes through a page on the Trust Insights website.

And you can see very clearly, just in our Google Analytics here, the options people clicked on.

Katie Robbert 9:31

It think AV testing is not an outdated, best practice.

I think it’s a good thing that you as much as you have the ability to do so but just strictly the subject lines to see which ones are open.

There’s so many other variables in in with that.

Do you have the right audience? Or do you have the right offer? Are you spamming people who don’t want to hear from you in the first place? You know, and so I think that it’s to think of it that black and white to say, you can only A B test, you know, the subject line that’s going to tell you everything you need to know about your email marketing is definitely an outdated, that’s practice.

Christopher Penn 10:08

Number four, everybody should be doing x where x is Snapchat or Tiktok, or nfts, or web three

Katie Robbert 10:19

taking a long walk off a short pier

Christopher Penn 10:28

so what’s your other than other than?

Katie Robbert 10:33

Well, again, you know, and I guess I’m just sick of the episode this this week.

I feel like it’s good advice to at least explore for your company.

But you as an individual, for your personal brand, for your professional brand for the company’s brand, you really need to determine how do I want to use this particular thing? What benefit to the business will having a Snapchat channel or whatever it’s called profile account? Be for the company? Is my audience there? Does my audience want that kind of content? What kind of content do I need to produce? For Snapchat? Can I get decent metrics? You know, not everything is for everyone.

We are in the midst of testing.

Does our content, you know, make sense to be on Tiktok? Now, we’ve been testing it for maybe, you know, two months, and it’s not doing a whole lot to be quite honest.

You know, and so does that mean, we should immediately take it down? I don’t know.

I think we need to think like, is our audience there? Is that where people want to be consuming? And if not, that’s okay.

We have other places where people do want to go to consume our content.

So the outdated best practice that you should be doing X everybody else is doing it, I think is crap.

Because it doesn’t necessarily mean that it makes sense for you or your business.

We haven’t, you know, created a Trust Insights NF T.

And quite honestly, I don’t think we’re missing out on anything.

You know, Trust Insights was never on clubhouse, and look how that went.

I think we were fine without it.

So I think it’s listen to what people are saying in terms of what’s up and coming.

But then do your own research to see if it makes sense for you.

It might not.

Maybe it will.

But just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t mean you have to do it.

Christopher Penn 12:48

On that note, then Katie, well, what’s the best time to post on social media?

Katie Robbert 12:53

Oh, well, you know, that’s a great question.

Um, your data is going to tell you that, regardless of what everyone else is doing, your data may be different.

So Chris, you want to walk through a better way to approach the best times to post on social media?

Christopher Penn 13:13

Easiest way to do it is to use a scheduling tool of some kind.

Agorapulse is our preferred when they are a Trust Insights partner.

And set up a schedule where you’re posting regularly around the clock, you know, maybe every three hours, maybe four hours, maybe every six hours, however, a little too much content you have to share.

And then look at your metrics and see when is that content being engaged with? That’s the easiest way to do it.

If it’s around the clock, and consistent, then you will be after 30 days, you will say like this is when people actually engaged with us.

And this is when people didn’t.

And then you can, you know, do some more refinement.

But that’s the easiest way that and looking in things like your Google Analytics account, right? Your Google Analytics account will tell you when you’re getting website traffic, probably don’t schedule your big announcements when your website traffic is the lowest, just general best practice, right? And that statement of best practice that’s that’s just plain common sense.

Look at the days and times when you get a lot of website traffic, particularly organic search traffic, because you know, people are searching for your stuff.

At those times.

They’re around there.

They’re doing stuff.

That’s those are the two methods, I would strongly suggest that everybody use and especially Google Analytics, you don’t need to do anything extra.

You’ve already got the data, as long as your Google Analytics is set up properly, and you can measure users, which is the scope to use for this.

Do stuff when users are around most.

Katie Robbert 14:45

So Chris, why do you think and this is this is more of a I guess, philosophical question for you on the topic of best practices.

Why do you think marketers are always looking like what’s the best practice for this one? is the best practice for that, instead of coming up with their own way of doing something,

Christopher Penn 15:04

fear, it comes down to fear we don’t want.

We have this bizarre culture, in marketing and in business, that you’re not allowed to make mistakes, right that, you know, you will, you’re being held accountable to all these things, and there’s no room for errors.

And so people, you know, as much crap as we like to give him.

Our friend, former CEO, Todd Jefferson did have some useful things to say, one of which was, you can either wait for the case study, or you can be the case study, right.

And a lot of marketers are stuck on that first one, we’re waiting for somebody else to have done it first, so that we don’t have to stick our necks out on the line, and be wrong, or be embarrassed or show bad results to our stakeholders, you know, and that comes from an organizational culture.

Where if your culture is in your company is one where if mistakes are not permitted, then yeah, you’re gonna wait for the case study so that you have something to cover your butt with when something doesn’t work as well, you know, someone so did it in their case study, and it worked.

So we’re, you know, we’re going to do that, instead of saying, let’s test it and find out what doesn’t work.

Katie Robbert 16:11

I feel like the same is true of industry benchmarks.

And so I feel like this is especially true in things like digital ads.

Well, what’s the industry benchmark for the, you know, the click through rate or the conversion rate, you can get a general idea of what’s worked for someone else.

But unless you are running the identical campaign, at the identical time with the identical audience, an identical copy, your results are going to be different, you might come within, you know, a few percentage points.

Or maybe you won’t even come close to it, because there’s so many other variables.

And I feel like we get stuck.

To your point, Chris, in the well, what does everybody else doing? Did somebody else? Do they have the answer that I, so I don’t have to try to figure it out? What am I trying to live up to, and it’s, it can be disheartening to see sometimes because they’re looking at the wrong examples, whereas they should be experimenting, they should be testing things, to see what works best for their company.

Christopher Penn 17:18


And, you know, the whole thing with industry benchmarks and stuff, what we tell our clients is, who cares, doesn’t matter.

What you should be focusing on is making your results 1% better than the last report, make your results 1% better than the last thing, you know, if you can just eke out constant improvement over time.

The benchmarks don’t matter, it’s your you need to be able to show that your results are improving gradually over time.

You know, we look at the same thing, when we look at our own data, we don’t really care what the industry average open rate of our newsletters, we care that more people open it this week than last week.

Katie Robbert 17:55

We care that people are consuming the information in our newsletter and saying, Okay, I can do something with that, or I have more questions.

Let me reach out to Trust Insights to get more answers.

You know, comparing ourselves to larger companies like McKinsey, or Bain or Boston Consulting Group, you know, is helpful to just sort of get an understanding of what’s possible.

But unless we are doing all of the exact same things as those companies, it’s, you’re almost kind of setting yourself up for failure, because those are not, you know, those are not your goals.

Those are their goals that you’re trying to reach.

And so really, I guess the whole point of this conversation, this episode is what works for someone else might not work for you, it’s good to look around and see what other people are doing.

But don’t get so lost in that, that you forget to actually carve your own path for your company.

Christopher Penn 18:59


Now, let’s talk about a couple of things that should be best practices that aren’t we’ll call them the hidden gems, best practices of marketing, number one.

Understanding the difference and focusing on the difference between KPIs and OKRs.

Okay, do you want to talk a little bit about this?

Katie Robbert 19:19

Yeah, it will be a very little bit because I’m still trying to understand it myself.

So you know, I can say full disclosure, I am a lot of what I do is self taught.

And OKR is, you know, it’s an acronym and terminology that I only just recently became familiar with.

And so I’m trying to understand it.

So my high level understanding is that its objective and key results.

And then KPIs.

The key performance indicators fall underneath those OKRs.

And the KPI is basically how you’re measuring your, okay are your objective and key results.

That’s my general understanding.

So I want to dig into it a little bit more.

But but it’s not terminology that we use a lot in marketing.

And I don’t I honestly don’t know why that is.

And that’s what I’m trying to understand is why am I personally only just learning about this kind of terminology when it, it makes so much a lot of sense.

And it’s not new terminology, it’s been around OKRs, I think, have been around since the 70s.

So it should be a best practice, because I feel like it just it helps you focus, it’s similar to us saying you should always start with a user story as a persona, I want to take an action so that it helps set the stage for what it is you’re trying to do, instead of just jumping ahead to, okay, I’m gonna need my social media data.

And I’m going to need my Google Analytics and what are you doing with it? Why Why are you looking at that data? What is the thing you’re trying to do? What’s the question you’re trying to answer? So really, what I’m coming to is that, okay, ours, user stories, KPIs, all of these different things all kind of amount to the same concept, which is, what is the question you are trying to answer state that first, what is the purpose of the thing that you’re trying to do? And how are you going to determine that you did that thing.

So you call it whatever you want.

But you need to have some sort of a purpose before you go and do a thing?

Christopher Penn 21:21

Yep, number two, accessibility is everything.

So accessibility means making your content available in multiple modalities for various types of people with abilities.

So for example, we provide closed captioning files.

For our videos.

What we are seeing, particularly by Google, is that accessibility data is being used to improve search results.

This is especially true on YouTube, you are now able to provide like your section and segment files, or and Google can also infer them inside of a video.

So if you are providing the markup needed to make your content accessible to people in different modalities, video, audio text, for the purposes of helping people with disabilities consume your content, you also dramatically helping search engines and other artificial intelligence tools, understand your content, and make it easier for them to show the results you want.

So for example, in on a webpage, if you have good headings and good layout, stuff like that, it makes it easier for screen readers to read a page to someone, for example, who is blind.

But it also is a foundational piece of how Google Google’s passages search engine works.

So that is one where not a lot of people are doing the thing.

And it’s not a ton of extra work.

But it benefits you more than just making your content compliant for accessibility.

Katie Robbert 22:54

Well even think about some of the basic SEO tactics that we try to get ourselves and our clients to do, which is to provide that alt text description for an image, I don’t think there’s a good understanding of why that’s needed is not just for Google, to say, what is this image of, but it is for that accessibility.

So you know, if someone you know, is visually impaired, the alt text will describe to them as they’re going through with their screen reader what is in that image.

And if you’ve skipped over that, then it’s just gonna say something like image, and they won’t know, you know, what the author intended by including that image, you know, if it’s a graph of something, if it’s of two people talking or whatever the thing is, providing that alt text gives the person who can’t see the image, the ability to see the image.

Christopher Penn 23:53

And it tells Google what the image is for when it reserved returns image results in this new multitask unified model.

Number three, the things we wish were a best practice but aren’t rigorous tracking and governance.

Katie Robbert 24:10

I can tell you why it’s not a best practice, because people want the shortcut, they want to get straight to the point and setting up the term rigorous, feels daunting.

And it can be however, what you then find on the other side of that exercise is that you have controls in place for predictability for understanding what happened and then it actually makes executing much much easier or change management, or measuring or reporting.

All of those things are more efficient, they go faster because you’ve taken the time upfront to set up that you know governance.

Really good example of this is UTM tracking governance.

We talk about UTM you know all the time and why they are so important to us.

system like Google Analytics, we know that in Google Analytics 4, you can’t change the channel groupings.

And that Google has gotten even more stringent with using UTM codes.

And they’ve even changed the rules around.

As we learned on yesterday’s last week’s live stream, that they’ve changed the rules around the UTM codes themselves, which is super frustrating.

So setting up that governance ahead of time say this is how UTM codes will be used when we use them, prevents that guessing game it prevents the human error prevents the mistakes so that when Google is ingesting your data, it’s ingesting it correctly and cleanly.

Unknown Speaker 25:43

Yep, and finally, the

Christopher Penn 25:47

wish list of things that we wish were a best practice comes down to testing, we’ve talked about it this entire episode, you know, testing your assumptions, testing all these different things.

And yet, people seem unwilling or unable to do those tests, even the simple things like hey, I’m gonna try changing up what I shared my Twitter for you this week? And yet, that’s how we discover stuff like, oh, yeah, we’re gonna change what we share, because it would get better results from from going against assumptions.

So why are people not doing more testing?

Katie Robbert 26:22

You know, I think you hit the nail on the head when you said, it’s fear.

It’s fear of being wrong.

It’s fear of wasting money, it’s fear of looking incompetent.

But think about science, science is all about testing.

Science is all about testing a hypothesis, or proving or disproving something, our marketing should follow a similar structure.

Because, again, what works for you, Chris, on your Twitter channel, might not work for me on mine.

And so if I’m just blindly following everything that you’re doing, well, guess what, I’m not you.

And so it won’t work.

Because I don’t have the exact same audience.

I don’t have the exact same opinions.

So actually, I would look very silly, if I was doing the exact same things that you were doing, because people be like, What’s wrong with her? That’s not who she is at all.

You know, because you and I just we think about things a little bit differently, we share different content.

And so the other side of that is, what if I just started, you know, sharing, I know all kinds of political views or something like that.

I have to be okay with people disagreeing with me, or, you know, whatever the case may be.

And that comes down to my capability to, you know, be okay with the unknown, that fear managing that fear managing those expectations? am I wasting time? am I wasting money? Is it even going to work? I don’t know until I try it.

And I think it’s that unknown is that’s why people don’t do more testing.

Christopher Penn 28:01

I agree.

So whatever the best practices are within the organization, the first step probably would be to document your existing practices, figure out what you do and what you don’t do, and then start figuring out, are there things that we should be testing? Are there assumptions we have made based on past results, perhaps in the distant past, like we were talking about the social media 8020 rule that might not apply anymore? When you take the time to run some tests.

When you look, when you think about what you could do to make performance better, you might be surprised at just how far off the beaten path your particular audience is willing to let you go.

If you’ve got comments or questions about anything we’ve talked about, or if you want to share the best practices that you have, willfully and and impactfully disobeyed, pop on over to our free slack group go to trust insights.ai/analytics for marketers, where you and over 2300 other marketers are asking and answering each other’s questions all time, we’ve got some great questions.

In fact, today asking folks their opinions on certain points of view, so pop drop on by there, and wherever it is, you watch or listen to the show.

If there’s a challenge you’d rather have it on, go to trust insights.ai/ti podcast and you can find other places to consume this content.

Thanks for tuning in, and we’ll talk to you soon take care

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