The 2015 Digital Marketing Rule Book. Change or Perish.

Unravel It is the season to be predicting the future, but that is almost always a career-limiting move. So I'm not going to do that.

It is a lot easier to predict the present. So I'm not going to do that either.

Rather, I'm going to share a clump of realities/rules garnered from the present to help ready you for the predictable near future . Now here is the great part… if you follow these rules and act on these insights I believe you'll be significantly better prepared for the unpredictable future.

Awesome right?

Now here's another surprise: These rules/insights/mind shifts are not about data!


But before we jump into the exciting 2015 rules, here's very important context…

The Fundamental Web Analytics Problem Is Not Data!

A huge part of the last few years for me have been about bringing more data, better strategies, more powerful tools, ever more impactful keynotes to people around the world.

One of my biggest learnings?

Most companies are astonishingly blasé about data and possibilities of measurement. Most web "analysts" remain glorified "data pukers" or glorified JavaScript taggers.


The problem, it turns out, is not data. The problem is only partly the data pukers or JavaScript taggers. The real problem is that our management teams lack imagination when it comes to the web, and our marketing executives continue to do TV on Twitter, catalogs on display ads, irrelevant shouting on search, etc.

That frustrating reality is the source of numerous problems for the company (and the web as a whole), but it also means Executives ask for unimaginative data. "Count Impressions, in real time!" "Show me Clicks and the count of Facebook Fans!" "My dashboard should have Page Views and Exit Rate!" Sad, unimaginative measurements of their sad, unimaginative campaigns.

If you are doing lame stuff, why try harder in an analytics context by asking for Economic Value or Visitor Loyalty or Conversation Rate or a thousand other super powerful and insightful metrics ?

beware of the hidden danger iceberg

The problem is not analytics or data (or your blood, sweat and tears). The problem is Marketing and lack of imagination in using the web/digital channels.

And here's the thing… if you are a "Web Analyst" in the broadest sense of that word, then this is your problem. Solve it or suffer the indignity of making decent money doing work that will have no impact on your organization. If you are a digital marketer then this absolutely is your problem. You're the massive, under-appreciated, hidden part.

In the last eighteen months or so, I've spent a lot of time trying to solve that problem. Get the senior-most people in the largest companies in the world to unlock their imaginations when it comes to their digital existence via impactful digital strategies. Convert them to be revolutionaries for their companies and customers.

I've discovered that if we can just get them to imagine a better existence, undertake serious risks, experiment with new better ideas, and spend money executing them… they will ask for more robust measurement! Because you need serious new good analysis to understand the impact of serious new good stuff!!

In the same spirit, if they don't do wonderful, beautiful, imaginative things, we people who play with data will continue to play a marginal, at best, role in most corporations in the world. Even if these unimaginative companies spend a ton of money on Omniture, IBM, WebTrends, Yandex Analytics and Google Analytics, we digital analysts will lead unimpactful puking tagging lives.

And no one deserves that.

In case you are reading this and you are the aforementioned Digital Marketer, then your life is sadder still. How good can it possibly feel to do unimaginative things that barely even worked on TV/radio/magazines/catalogs?

Whether you are the Marketer/CMO or the Web Analyst/Ninja, it is imperative that we unleash imagination.

Why doesn't everyone do that already?

I know that this sounds utterly simple but we, people and companies, don't always realize that the "rules" have changed. Our mental model has not shifted enough to the existing reality. This lack of internalizing the rules jeopardizes our current state to some extent, and our future to a significantly greater extent.

A lot of my work is making companies realize the implications of these rules on their company strategy and structures. You've probably seen these rules sneak into my blog posts. I want to share them below as a collection with the hope that it will motivate you to create a veritable primordial ooze from which new ideas (or indeed life) will spark for an imaginative digital existence.

seven sevens

7 Rules for Digital Marketing Revolutionaries!

These are my observations on changes already underway, changes that are dramatically affecting what marketing is and should be. You might have observed at least some of them in bits and pieces, but perhaps you have not considered them as a whole. Adapting to the implications will allow the creation of a more future-proof you.

#1 Customer expectations on the web are insane, will get super-insane.

We expect more.

High bounce rates show how horrible slow-loading websites are. Lack of loyalty shows simply re-publishing AP stories is useless. After 19 visits, should create a home page around my interests, not their one-size-fits-all pimping to everyone. With an iPhone there is no friction between me being in your store or on your site (or, omg, getting a mobile geo-targeted coupon from your competitor for 5% off your price while I'm in your store!). There are 12 different alternatives to your site that provide free return shipping. Just because your site is B2B, you do not have the right to create a 1940s website and force visitors to type their name, precise GPS coordinates and underwear size to get a PDF that should have existed as a webpage in the first place (as HTML has been invented).

It is no longer acceptable to just meet past expectations. Alternatives to you are one click away, one Google search away, one tweeted recommendation away. Aim to meet super-insane customer expectations and you'll future-proof your business.

Oh and yes, I do get that this is hard. You have to rethink everything. Price of greatness, sadly.


#2 Multiplicity: Competencies, Campaigns, Systems, Everything.

This is something we are most unprepared for.

You can no longer be good at just one thing, or two. It is a 10-thing world now (and maybe a 20-thing world soon).

If you are a catalog company you have to be good at catalog marketing (as long as it continues to provide incremental revenue ), and you have to be good at NASCAR (as long as it provides incremental revenue), and you have to be good at Facebook, and you have to be good at email, and search, and YouTube and… a hundred other things. All while constantly optimizing your portfolio via controlled experiments .

You have to be good at sourcing your products and you have to be good at delivering them.

You have to be good at using clickstream and surveys and competitive intelligence and heuristic evaluations.

You have to be good on every device of every screen size in every country with a monetizable audience.

You have to be good at… many things all at the same time. For far too long we've been able to be successful by relying on our sheer strength on one thing. Catalog. Paid search. YouTube. Billboards. TV. With every passing day that strategy now ensures we are rejecting tons of revenue and tons of prospective customers.

It is hard to rewire the company's DNA to truly execute a multiplicity strategy. That's why you allocate 15% of your Marketing budget to getting good at multiplicity. All the time.

one trick

#3 One-trick ponies are going to be a liability.

This is a subset of the one above, but I wanted to call it out separately because I am madly, deeply convinced of its importance.

Increasingly, your people can't be one-trick ponies. Especially not people you consider stars.

If your Marketer is not savvy in basic finance and analytics and writing some html and creating mobile campaigns and tag clouds then you have a long term liability on your hands, and not an asset who is really, really, really, really good at writing copy for display campaigns.

The web demands immense agility and flexibility from every company. Having one-trick ponies can limit your capacity to think smart and move fast.

If you have an Analyst who is just good at Omniture and has never done an online usability study, and used Compete, and taken a whack at a rough digital P/L, then it is time to set them on a path to evolve, or get someone else.

If you have a Finance person for your web business who has never run campaigns on Facebook, and who doesn't understand the uniqueness of mobile applications, and a little bit about the insanity of ad exchanges then over time try to hire someone who does.

At one time, it was okay to be 100% good at one thing, and only one thing. But today companies with people who are 70% magnificent at one thing and have filled the remaining 30% with being good at everything in the periphery of their jobs will rule this world.

You want to change HR hiring practices now to nurture such 70/30 people inside your company, and to make that a mandatory condition for all new hires. Then you'll rule this world.

PS: Here's the raw brutal truth for you dear reader… no company is going to invest in you. The most precious Digital Folks are those who choose to invest in themselves, on their own time. Especially in the 30% area referenced above. Now you know.

seeking attention cans

#4 Attention is the most precious commodity.

We live in a hyper fragmented world with, quite literally, hundreds of TV channels, thousands of social connections and millions of websites. The single biggest gift any brand can get is attention. And not just the few seconds you get by showing 19 ads on one web page, or tweeting one relevant link in 1000, or showing the same ad for DirecTV six times while watching one 23 min program on Hulu, or showing up for a query for "flights to Sao Paulo" when you only offer flights to Europe, or… a million other ways.

Attention results from understanding the true strength of each channel and then engaging uniquely with your audience. Here's a good example. I bike ride a lot. I walk a lot. In general, I'm a big fan of exercise. I would follow Gatorade on Twitter with the exercise connection of that brand. But you know what they do on Twitter? They retweet other peoples tweets about them. The most lame thing you can imagine using Twitter for. (That is if they don't waste time with condescending tweets like "We've got your back xyz.")

How could Gatorade have my attention? With a Twitter stream about hydration. If their tweets supported their bio on Twitter: "Helping athletes get the most out of their bodies before, during and after activity." I could not find a single tweet of the 250 I reviewed that fell in that category. Why not try that? Why not go for grabbing my attention and then keeping it? Why not go from trying to have a Gatorade ad on every TV sports event in the hopes that I'm watching to doing that plus doing social media right and have a direct relationship with me?

Not one or the other. Both done exceptionally well. That's how you earn attention.

Or consider this example. Why do Priceline or Expedia mobile apps only do prices? Why do they not have a TripIt-like functionality built in? If they did, I would go having to remember which app to use to search for a hotel to having an app that is central to my life (and TripIt provides such value that it is) that I use all the time and that I will of course use when I have to think about booking any travel.

Get it? Attention. Via incredible daily utility.

One more example. With 55k RSS Subscribers and 110k Visits a month, this blog could make a few dollars with AdSense or Display ads or annoying interstitials offers. It could also make a few more dollars constantly pimping my two books in posts. Yet it does not. It simply gives you content (my goal: "incredible, relevant, of value"). You see, I don't want your AdSense clicks. I want your attention. And I know I can monetize that 100x all other things combined.

So what is your business shooting for online when it comes to digital marketing? What are you doing to earn, and keep, attention?

brand destruction

#5 Brand destruction is insanely efficient now. Beware!

United breaks guitars. Kenneth Cole goes too far with Egyptian protests. Gap logo. Bank of America everything. You can add 100 more examples in 100 seconds.

Those are big ones. But there are small ones too. I told 20 people that Nikon's site is slow and profoundly sub-optimal on mobile. (Guess what I had on hand when I saw their sexy ad on TV? A mobile device!) Now these 20 people will tell others. Small, silent brand destruction.

Yet so few companies have built organizational capabilities with this efficiency in mind. The distance between a story and an audience is six pixels (as my friend Mitch Joel might say). It is ever more important to live your values, walk the talk, deliver what you promise, not say stupid stuff, be real and accessible, and all those delightful things.

You see, the power that can so efficiently destroy your business, is also the power that can boost you to untold heights. And that's marketing money can't buy.

Oh, and you are right that people bought Kenneth Cole stuff even after the insensitive tweet because only a few people are on Social Media. The challenge is that everyone will be Social in ways they can't even imagine. Then we move from six pixels to two. Then what will you do?

Imagine a better future for your company.

PS: It is no longer optional for you to just create TV ads and not have the most brilliant, engaging and helpful mobile websites. In case you were wondering, the year of the mobile was two years go.

gaping void hugh macleod short tail

#6 Being good at the Long Tail matters just as much as the Head.

I've talked about the long tail on this blog, especially in context for Search. But the concept applies across all channels.

Here's a good example. You can spend all your money on the four standard channels on TV and get in front of 1000 people. But you can probably find 1000 people *relevant* to your brand and message by advertising on 28 *relevant* channels in the long tail (those after channel #14). Or the relevant 50. It is much harder to do, and much harder to explain to your boss who is still looking at GRPs, as GRPs for the long tail mostly don't exist. But if you do, you'll be more efficient, shout less, and deliver more value to your company and delight to your customers.

In every channel we have, Facebook or YouTube or Google or AOL or AdMob or pick your favorite, we have the capacity to shout at concentrations of irrelevant people, or show up for the dispersed hyper-relevant few. While I can't dissuade most Executives from the former, I try as hard as I can to help create strategies for the latter. I'm convinced it is the ability to do the latter that makes you future-proof.

Oh, and this is why Multiplicity matters (TV AND Catalog AND Mobile). This is why owing your own strong digital outpost (your own website) and being present in a space someone else owns (Facebook) matters. This is why having multiple trick ponies matters. They combine to get you really good at the Long Tail execution complexity and massive bottom-line benefit.

experiment with your ideas

#7 Glory will come to the precious few who are willing to embarrass themselves.

We don't take risk and try things, imaginative (possibly glorious) things, because we believe the price of failure is so high. And it is in the real world. Consider creating a TV commercial or re-packaging a product or trying a new offer. First, it takes a very long time to actually try something (add longer plus infinity for risky things). Second, when you fail, you fail spectacularly. Heads roll. Companies get entrenched in what they know and end up constantly optimizing for what's always worked, meanwhile the world changes and these companies die, albeit slowly.

Now consider the web. You can have your most embarrassing idea for a redesign/new offer/product launch/whatever out there in one day. AND you can control for risk! You can only show the redesign to 1% of the site traffic. You can try the offer with just one affiliate or some Bing ads. You can launch the product to a selected group of opted-in customers (or only to people in New York). You can literally control for risk should everything blow up in your face. AND you can have analysis of your risk in almost real time to get an early read and in a few days with statistical significance!

And yet it is the rare company that is able to get over its mental model from the real (old) world and try imaginative things in the digital world where the rules are different and stacked in your favor. Yes, brand destruction is easy in our world, but we are not talking about destroying our brand. We are talking about taking controlled risks and optimization. What marketing program in the universe does not need that?

If you are an executive, encourage your company to check its old world thinking at the door. Consider rewarding people with new ideas. Allocate some of your aforementioned 15% budget to experimentation and testing. If you are a large company don't live without someone with strong Design of Experiments skills. Don't brush off Twitter or Google+ because you are B2B or A2K. Try. With 100% effort . Then do more of what works, or kill ruthlessly.

If you can't embarrass yourself, in controlled quantities, you can't become magnificent. and you can't future-proof your company.

data and you bff

Bonus: #8 Data is your friend.

You did not think I would miss this one did you? :)

This blog is about the joys of measurement and the transformative power of data. So I won't talk about it a lot more in this post.

Let me just say this… more of marketing is becoming algorithmically driven and a lot more decisions we make using reports today are being automated to be made faster, more efficiently, on our behalf. The ability to have a real analytical competency will mean the difference between winners and losers.

So do the 7 things above, but ensure you have a clearly articulated Digital Marketing & Measurement Model. Fill it with the best web metrics to measure success. If you partake in analysis, let that be at the intersection of custom reports and advanced segments.

Data + You = BFF = Business & Personal Success.

Eight simple rules for digital revolutionaries to follow in order to unlock the imagination of their companies and be massively successful in the future. Absorb them. Undertake the very hard task of slowly evolving your company to adapt to them. Monetize the opportunity presented, future-proof your company.

I wish you all the very best.

It's your turn now.

Do you agree with my learning that our primary problem is not web analytics/data but, rather, it is unimaginative web strategies? Have your own stories to share about brand destruction? Do you agree with the eight rules for revolutionaries above? Got your own?

Please share your feedback, ideas and awesomeness via comments.

Thank you.


  1. 1

    All I can say is Holy S*&t!

    This has made my eyes bulge and awe and the magnanimous task ahead.

    I do feel like crawling under my table at the moment with the 'fight or flight syndrome' looming over me.

    Will have to digest and crack on if I want to achieve greatness for our business.

    • 2

      Mr Avinash… thank you for the provocative post! Good discussion.

      @Azzam "This has made my eyes bulge and awe and the magnanimous task ahead."

      Azzam… I'm with you on this. I'm in favor of showing discipline on things that are working, locking those down, and dedicating a small but steady % of resources to "new, new, new!" Good things take follow-through and discipline, not "a new idea every day" or endless cross-training.

      @Avinash: "Increasingly, your people can't be one-trick ponies. Especially not people you consider stars."

      @Avinash: "You can no longer be good at just one thing, or two. It is a 10-thing world now"

      With great respect, Sir, we already know folks that think like this… classically described as "an inch deep and mile wide" (definitely *not* referring to you!). How does one gain rich, relevant experience and expertise w/ a motto like this? Specialization allows for depth… and encouraging extensive cross-discipline experimentation means more arguments, less focus, more "marketing by committee."


      • 3

        Guy: I might have failed to communicate this point effectively. I'm advocating 70/30 and not 100 points of expertise distributed evenly across a 100 points.

        Put another way… Everyone is not going to become a generalist. Rather everyone is going to be a specialist in one thing (70) and will have to expand their knowledge to include areas adjacent to their core expertise (30).

        At the moment across the entire spectrum of our digital existence we have people who are hyper-optimized in silos with no "adjacent area" knowledge. They make for very poor employees / team members / executives. IMHO.


        • 4
          Dines Bishnoi says

          I appreciate your 70/30 Rule. It's something like this: Jack of all, Master of ONE.

          I would also like to add one more rule. 80/20. This is something like this: what we expect (100 %) from some application, firm or person, if we get 80% result, we should be satisfied, and give some time for next 20 percent. No one or no body can make you 100% satisfied, even in your personal life.

          • 5
            Oddie Gopalan says

            I think IDEO's CEO Tim Brown captured the type of person digital marketing needs well with his 'T shaped person' philosophy. The vertical bar represents the depth in a field (the 70%) and the horizontal bar represents empathy for and the ability to use/apply knowledge from other fields (the 30%). []

  2. 6

    Wow! I was not expecting this post from you. I am used to you giving great insight into data analyses, but not into life in general. I love the line:

    Solve it or suffer the indignity of making decent money doing work that will have no impact on your organization.

    I see this with my organization. We worry about the number of followers or fans, but we don't do any better than Gatorade.

    I hope that this a kin to when Seth Godin moved from talking about marketing to talking about Linchpins. You should make this into a Manifesto. I look forward to seeing where you go with this next!

    Well done.

  3. 7
    Bryan Gonzales says

    Hi Avinash… I am totally new in the world of digital marketing but your site helped me in every aspects that I am taking. I agree with each and every step that you've discussed but this is the most important for me ^_^

    "#7 Glory will come to the precious few who are willing to embarrass themselves."

    In my opinion, its a matter of getting out of your own "COMFORT ZONE". Some people don't do new things simply because they don't know where it will lead to. As simple as that…

    Some of the steps that you mentioned can also be applied in our own life… Thank you very much and I am looking forward for your next article… Happy New Year :)

  4. 8

    Very interesting article Avinash and I agree mostly with what you say.

    I say mostly because I find your second and third points as source of argument.

    Is it really possible to expect small business load up on all marketing fronts?

    Also are you saying becoming a generalist is better than being a specialist ?

    • 9

      I think it's vital for small business people to read Occam's Razor realizing that Avinash's main market and audience is big business – corporations. Our issues are the same, but our response is a little different because our markets are more homogeneous and often the CEO is also the CFO, the marketing specialist and the janitor.

      I read this and see a simple message: Know who your customer is and be where he or she is searching. Use all the tools Avinash talks about to to make sure you're not fooling yourself about either. Then get busy. Small business owners are 70/30 people to start with.

      • 10

        Joanne: Thanks so much for adding your perspective! I completely agree with it.

        And this line should make every SMB's heart jump to joy: "Small business owners are 70/30 people to start with." So true.


  5. 11

    Great material, as usual!

    As a small business owner (Bed & Breakfast), and sometime tech/analytics/SEO consultant, being multifaceted goes with the territory. But it becomes amazingly frustrating to deal with folks mired in the past – your example of the 1940's web site where you download a PDF that should have been html is talking about a marketing organization with which I am all too familiar!

    Thanks for the great observations!

  6. 12

    I love it, Avinash. I remember hearing about a "T-shaped" employee earlier this year who was deep in one area of knowledge, but then very broad in all areas. Basically it's the 70/30 split you're talking about. I strongly agree that this will become more important. How can you possibly do a great job at your task if you don't know the basics of the steps that come before and after you?

    Broader skills and technical chops seem to be greatly lacking in our space, but I think you're right when you say that a failure to embrace these things is creating a long-term liability for your company. What a great way to put it. Thanks for continuing to evangelize! I hope your 2012 brings you great things!

  7. 13
    Kim White says

    Avinash, you've got it! You are absolutely correct that many companies have no imaginative web strategy – if they have one at all. My experience is that it tends to be their old print strategy minus a lot of dollars (because the web should be cheaper, they think).

    One interesting thing I've noted working on web analytics with small businesses and large ones; the small ones seem to be getting it. They are asking for deeper dive data and seem hungry to learn more about the digital world. I wonder if that's because they are more accustomed as small business owners to have to wear many hates and hone skills in many different areas, whereas in corporate America it's all to easy to think 'that's not my job' or 'I don't have time to learn that'.

    • 14

      Kim: Wonderful insight!

      I completely concur with you, small businesses are often more savvy when it comes to taking advantage of these incredible digital opportunities and digital data. I think it comes down to these factors:

      1. They have very little money, and every little bit of it counts.
      2. They can move on a dime (lack of bureaucracy, less overall risk).
      3. Fewer entrenched opinions / personal turfs / closed minds in place.
      4. Faster everything (failure, glory, satisfaction).

      That is a great combination to have. Some big companies also have that :), but more of them sadly don't. It is a huge challenge for big companies to keep in place the above four things while becoming big. A lot is done simply to keep checks and balances in place. But over time the very same checks and balances choke innovation.

      I've worked in very large multinational companies in four different industries, trust me I do not underestimate the unique challenges they face.


  8. 15

    … OMG… im not alone.

    I would humbly add ninth to say "branding is an excercise in reducing the cost of aquiring the users' attention w future touch points."

    Us marketers and analysts are tired of having to jump through hoops measuring impressions and keeping cookies active for years just so management can attribute useless visits and pageviews to a paid or fb campaign that didnt move the needle – chalking everything up to branding.

    Super awesome post AK

  9. 16

    Avinash – Great post!

    Your earlier point about controlled experiments makes me think that web analytics/data remain a problem.

    At least the "understanding" of web analytics/data.

    For example, I blogged recently about judging relevance based on a user choosing an early search result in a page of results. My suggested test was to put a link in to the private cellphone number of one of the top ten actresses of 2011 as link #1 or #2 in any search result.

    I don't think user choices, without more, is a good test for relevance. Simply because we can measure user choices automatically doesn't mean that is a useful or even relevant measurement.

    A better test would be to have user testing with known users that are subject to pre/post test interviews and perhaps other analysis concerning relevance.

    That is to say using management understanding of web analytics or data is to measure only management understanding of web analytics or data. Probably not a useful goal for marketing to users.

    • 17

      Patrick: I admit there is a chicken and egg problem here. Does smarter business thinking ("imaginative marketing" in our specific case here) come first or does imaginative insightful analysis come first.

      Having made the case for the latter for the last few years, and with the knowledge that pretty much all ingredients we need for insightful web analysis are already in place, I've firmed up my opinion that we need to solve the "smarter business thinking and execution" problem now. Without it all "big data" horsepower (systems, people) are dead on arrival.

      Thank you for sharing the ink to your post, it was wonderful.


  10. 18

    Thanks for your info Avinash!

    As you've often said, the website is not for one purpose it's for different purposes. In the same way website is not meant to advertise in one channel it should advertised in different channels and for different purposes.

    I would say that we should always follow the upcoming trends. Now in this era of the internet there are so many trends coming up like Mobile, Social Media, and different ways of advertising such as QR Codes.


    Sridhar K

  11. 19

    The problem is unimaginative web strategies! I tell people tips 'n tricks are not what gets a site to perform well; instead, a well planned internet marketing strategy does.

    #3 One-trick ponies are going to be a liability – I think this is where the valued person separates themselves lesser valued employees. The mentality is completely different.

    I think specializing in one thing is great. When I started in internet marketing in 2006, I 'was' really good at this one thing. As time passed, internet marketing had grown and this "one thing" turned into a lot of things. I would have perished along with many people during our last recession if I was a One-trick pony.

  12. 20

    Thanks again Avinash. As is my custom, I'm going to add a couple of thoughts.

    => You said, "The problem is Marketing and lack of imagination in using the web/digital channels." and "…but we, people and companies, don't always realize that the 'rules' have changed."

    I agree about the symptom. However, I see the root disease somewhat differently. To be into the second decade of the 21st century and using "head in the sand" management techniques sounds iffy (at best) to me.

    Putting total incompetence aside, I think most people know things are changing. Therefore, I'd like to propose the root cause is much more basic (and ego) based. That is, Mr/Mrs/Miss C-Level (and all the way down) has to step forward at a key meeting and say, "I don't understand. Can you please explain that?" How often does that happen? It's not possible to prioritize and/or have imagination about that which is not understood. Yet how many freely admit they don't understand? I rest my case :)

    => You said, "#1 Customer expectations on the web are insane, will get super-insane." and "Aim to meet super-insane customer expectations and you'll future-proof your business."

    Agreed! But at the risk of parsing words, I would have said, "Develop processes and measurements to meet super-insane customer expectations so you're endlessly future-proofing your business." Knowing you, I understand what I said is already implied in your idea. You're always good like that.

    Unfortunately, there are still plenty of non-believers. For example, if your article was forwarded on to Ms. C-Level (see previous bit) they might not have the context I have. I'm betting we agree, it's not about aim, but aiming, aiming and aiming again. There are plenty who are aiming. Unfortunately, they see is as a one a year recalibration when in fact it's a never ending process. I think it would have helped to be more upfront with that. It's the myth of the once-per-year aim that needs to be squashed, yes?

    => You said, "#2 Multiplicity: Competencies, Campaigns, Systems, Everything." and "#3 One-trick ponies are going to be a liability."

    Agreed *in theory*! However, the reality is, this is not the nature of most humans. Interests on and off the job are typically silo'ed and the ability to connect dots (read: critical thinking) too often under-exercised. I'm not sure what the answer is but I'm pretty sure it's pretty darn involved. It's not just a corp culture issue. Most people are by nature not as radical as you are proposing. There have been few times in history where such skills have been essential, yes? The irony is also that many white collar jobs are looking more and more like a blue collar assembly line. Corporate leadership/management can't have it both ways. At least I don't think so.

    => You said, "#4 Attention is the most precious commodity."

    I see this differently. I think it's more accurate to say "#4 Understanding motivation is the most precious commodity." Getting people's attention is fairly easy. As you noted there are plenty of brands playing (what comes down to be) the class clown. On the other hand, if they focused on your motivation(s) their tune would change. What motivates you to use and buy Gatorade? Obviously, it's not Letterman's future "Stupid Twitter Tricks." :) As it is, these brands are stuck with the old media model of counting quantity (e.g., likes, follows, etc) instead of trying to curate and measure quality. It's not about how much attention, but how good it is. I can get your attention with some stupid viral video but that does not mean 10,000,000,000 views add value to the brand. In fact, it might have hurt.

    => You said, "It is ever more important to live your values, walk the talk, deliver what you promise…"

    Agreed! Agreed!! Agreed!!! Now can you take this idea and post an article where it's repeated ten times? Gowd knows there are still those stuck in the spin zone. Slay this myth and you will be my hero for life.

    => You said, "#7 Glory will come to the precious few who are willing to embarrass themselves."

    Kinda. Again, at the risk of parsing words (but getting the message more right) how about "#7 Glory will come to the precious few who are willing to try and try again." Embarrassment is not the end but the beginning. And those who are more willing to revisit that moment, learn and reinvent are the ones who will progress the furthest. Again, I understand this is what you mean (or believe I do). I'm only suggesting a bit of clarity from better language.

    => You said, "…executives…Consider rewarding people with new ideas."

    Just the same I'd like to add, "…consider not punishing people with new ideas that did not go so well." That's not to say stupid and wasteful should be let off the hook. However, anyone who believes there's no such thing as an overnight success will probably agree that (for example) Jules' success story today might very well be built on Jim's failure early last year. In other words, without Jim there would be no Jules.

    => You said, "#8 Data is your friend."

    If we're looking out a couple+ years how about "Data is your friend. But make Analysis your lover." :)

    Sorry this was so long of comment. That said, I have to be honest and say that sometimes I wish your posts were split into two or three parts. In other words, instead of one uber-healthy does of Avinash wisdom every two or three weeks, we could get a steady stream weekly. Or even as an extreme example, this article could have been one post per day for a week. I think it would be interesting to see what impact that would have on visits, commenting, etc. Sometimes I think it's tough to participate (read: comment) when so much of a slice of a day is devoted to the (great) article itself.

    Thanks again Avinash, you continue to inspire me to be hungry and foolish. For this I remain grateful.

    • 21

      Mark: It is an amazing coincidence but this morning I spent 20 mins brainstorming exactly what kind of environment do we need to create so that CxOs will feel comfortable uttering these words: "I don't know." I don't know what Twitter is or I don't know what retargeting is or I don't know how Pinterest could possible be of of any value, etc etc etc.

      It is very hard to create that "safe zone."

      I agree with you that most people are not radical. I hope not. It would be a tough world to live in. Sadly at the moment not enough people are radical. I'm just aiming for a critical mass that will change a company (and the world).

      And totally agree with you on making analysis a lover!

      I'm immensely appreciative of your perspective. Thank you.


  13. 22
    Paul Mancini says

    This is exactly where I am living right now.

    Getting past "old school" upper management has been the biggest challenge. I have found that the only thing that is working is "asking for forgiveness, instead of permission". In other words, go for it. Take the controlled serious risk.

    You (us digital marketers) probably are freakin brilliant and do know what the heck you're talking about. It will turn out great.

  14. 23
    Guillermo says

    Thank you.

    Thinking seriously in translating to Spanish right now. I think every digital marketer in Spain should read it.

  15. 24

    It's the leonnardo´s da vinci time together, no only one thing to do but a lots of things.

    Simply, clear, thanks Avinash

  16. 25

    You're totally right about how the new world online will be totally different.

    Web sites from 5 years ago look ridiculous now. Today's websites will be laughable even sooner.

    The possibilities presented by unlimited, omniscient data and integration are mind-boggling. I suspect the biggest hurdles we'll hit will be:

    – privacy
    – security
    – legal (liability and jurisdiction)

    • 26

      Giles: We will probably reach a level of maturity where our problems will be Privacy, Security and Legal. I firmly believe that we are so early in our evolution (nay, revolution!) that that date is quite far away.

      There is so much blue sky, so much opportunity, and so many exciting possibilities before the "Big 3" come and rain on our parade. Not that they've not already tried! :)


  17. 27

    Thanks for a great post! You "put to paper" that strange feeling digital marketers and analysts were feeling about our role/future/job profile.

    Something everybody in my company should read/change/follow. If they don't, I guess I'll be the only one in 2015.

    Tweeting right now :)


  18. 28

    I've been preaching this. It takes a holistic approach to have an effective strategy. And you need to utilize the right tactics and execute them in the right channels.

    Budgeting and dumping more monies into one channel is ineffective because there is only short-term gains. Its all about managing the user's expectation. UX (User Experience) should be high on priority.

    Use analytics to steer you on where to improve the UX and having the proper strategy and using the proper channels. UX isn't just the look and feel, its the brand perception from the point of entry to a company's business, values, mission, goals and differentiators.


  19. 29
    Rick Curtis says


    Phenomenal post! I agree with your comment that, “It is imperative that we unleash imagination.” I also agree with your comment that corporations are “constantly optimizing for what’s always worked.” After having worked at multiple Fortune 500 companies, we are bombarded to nausea with terms like ‘best practices’ and ‘standardize’. Once a ‘best practice’ has been established, process is wrapped around it and things don’t change for a long, long time.

    In regards to the theme of innovation that your post bleeds, I often think about the fact that our web analytics tools have historically been report-spewing silos that our data have lived in. I think that this largely still the case in many organizations. However, with the ability to extract that data en masse, it doesn’t need to live in those silos any more. Speaking to using imagination, what else can be done outside of the tool with that data? Not talking about spreadsheets or additional reporting. Not just talking about feeding targetted emails. Think about other systems in the enterprise that support marketing or other functional areas that could benefit from that data. Or perhaps data mashups from multiple systems could build new business benefitting systems all together. Cross-polination. Product category management systems, etc…etc…. I wonder what other organizations are doing outside of their web analytics tools with this data that is creative and innovative.

    Innovation is hard. Organizations are largely crafted to prevent it. People in the highest corporate positions are often far removed from the details and are often very right-brained. People shoulder-deep into the details are the ones that see the possibilities and are often not skilled at socializing new ideas and influencing upper management. Also, as a previous manager of mine gave me excellent insight once, in many organizations, management often is not receptive to ideas from subordinates because they take resources and focus away from ideas that are sacred cows of influential management. Having said this, there are many organizations that are highly innovative (Google, Apple, etc…) where innovation is part of the DNA. Risk and innovation are rewarded. Performance is evaluated as part of the employee review process.

    I agree with Daniel O’Neil and his comment that some of this post is relevant to life and not just marketing and web analytics. Your comment of ‘It is ever more important to live your values, walk the talk, deliver what you promise, not say stupid stuff, be real and accessible, and all those delightful things” is something that my wife would agree with in context to relationships (professional and with our spouses) too.

    Your comment of large companies needing people with Design of Experiments skills was interesting to me. That topic might be worthy of an individual blog post further defining what that looks like.
    I absolutely agree that nobody is going to be as concerned and invested in your development as you. There are lots of companies that have resources to support your development, but you need to be responsible. You need to self-manage your career and your development.


  20. 30

    Given all these challenges, you know what would help?

    If Google gave us the data to make informed choices to meet the needs of our customers

    • 31

      Stephen: Its a fair comment, and I appreciate the feedback.

      I want to stress that the "not provided" keyword data for logged in users is but a tiny piece of our data set. There is so much we can still do with our Campaign, Referral, Content, Outcomes, Social data. We can still be 99% effectively data driven should we choose to be.

      This is not to say that the missing "not provided" data is not important. It is. Just note the amount of effort in this post to try and figure out what is there: Smarter Data Analysis of Google's https (not provided) change: 5 Steps. I wish we had that data, but sadly we don't.


      • 32

        Have read every word until this point (and will finish all the comments, along with reading the article again) but was motivated to add a quick note at this point.

        We need to get over obsessing with the fragment of our data that shows up "not set." Focus on what's working and do more of it–the amount we need to know about what we can't know is sidetracking some of us, derailing us from our goals.

        I've always been a 70/30 kind of person, but have been moving toward 100% SEM in the last few years because the field is changing so quickly that it's full-time just to keep up. This article is a timely reminder to me that a too-narrow focus is a recipe for disaster. (Not to mention that SEM or anything else always makes more sense when set in a larger context.)

  21. 33

    Great Post!

    Guess it's time to put in the overtime for the next couple of months, thanks a lot!

    PS: One broken link, the best web metrics link right near the end seems to have a quotation mark at the end.

    Thanks again for this post!

  22. 34

    I think your point on #5 is right on. Brand destruction can happen with a simple tweet now. At the same time, we can also use social media to magnify our good deeds much like how we can be ripped apart for neglecting our customers.

    Takeaway: Stand out from the other boring companies by doing something unique on social media. Make a list of your customers and listen to not just what their problems are.. but what their interests are as well.

    What happens after that? People talk about you and you have a customer for life. Bam.

  23. 35

    What about customer experience? How do we merge the people side, non-tech, everyday point and click people with data analysts and coders? These two types of people think as differently as men and women. Webmasters, CTOs, etc are from Mars and users are from Venus.

    The companies who figure out how to truly measure the customer's experience and design to create the ultimate UX, will be the winners. This requires a different type of person than the typical CTOs and CMOs running the show today.

    I try to take as many UX surveys as I can manage, just to see if they are asking the "right" question. 90% of the questions are worthless. We need to integrate the people-people into the process.

    And here's a final thought, the data does not tell you how much more successful you can be.

    • 36

      Gary: My hope in this post was to stay at a business direction / strategy level. At that level I feel that user experience is a tactical issue that is a part of the strategic issue #1.

      UX is very important (just look at the most obvious example: Apple). But to get to that point we have to overcome these other bigger issues.

      I disagree ever so slightly with the last point. Data can tell you how much more successful you can be, if you are willing to create hypotheses and test them using controlled experiments. It can get pretty close to predicting the near future for you! :)


  24. 37
    Kevin hill says

    Grest post yet again A. So true about companies NOT getting the fact that someone buying online is just as likely to buy in store is just as likely to buy at a competitors business if there is ANY friction.

    So many companies are worried about being multi-channel, yet have a vp of marketing that deep down wants all sales to come in via his channels. For a company to even let that thought or silo prosper is a sign of how much "don't get it" is out there.

    We have soooo much data – i look at online ,metrics as the great Testing ground of the new business revolution! And I do not have to spend 1MM to get a valid test!! I can spend 1,000 and find out amazing things about my customers!

    One suggestion to find out who are one trick ponies – put a question to many people you work with. Embrace those that get out on a limb and just LOVE the fact that they can spitball around a question. Question those that remain silent or shoot ideas down at this phase.


    P.s. i learned 30 years ago that companies don't want to invest in you. You gotta invest in you before others will. Truer words have never been written.

  25. 38

    I guess what would happen, if nice folks from this blog joined and started to do business together with Avinash as "CEO".

    We should rule the world in 2015 (ok maybe few years later), don't we? :-)

  26. 39

    As always a great read.

    One more example.

    With 55k RSS Subscribers and 110k Visits a month, this blog could make a few dollars with AdSense or Display ads or annoying interstitials offers. It could also make a few more dollars constantly pimping my two books in posts. Yet it does not. It simply gives you content (my goal: "incredible, relevant, of value"). You see, I don't want your AdSense clicks. I want your attention. And I know I can monetize that 100x all other things combined.

    This pretty much hit the nail on the head for me.

    I have seen too many companies or bloggers try and put up ads from day 1 while their quality suffers and suffers over time. If the intent is good content – revenue follows but if the intent is revenue – good content is not guaranteed.

  27. 40

    Thanks for the insightful post!

    I think that the way you explained and visualized the true (invisible) problem was very convincing!

  28. 41


    This was a great article. Thanks for putting together. I recommended as a good primer for people to your "perspectives" on the subject if they haven't read your book.

    I asked this on Google+ but figured I should post it here. What are your thoughts on how to qualify and measure "social engagement." Now that Analytics has started incorporating such data and Google is moving to tie search and social together, I'm interested to hear what you think.

    I expect the impact of social in 2012 will be huge, especially with today's article about the merging of social and search –

    Thanks as always for everything you do!

  29. 44

    Only recently found this Blog and I think this may be my bible for a while.

    I am just starting out in online marketing and I am going to try and take all of these on board (even if i have to take it slow and favour one of two of them before the others).


  30. 45


    I was consulting a sizable company on online marketing recently. Most of their questions stumped me because they made no sense. The company wanted to employ online marketing tactics that were deprecated in the 90s. Why they would want to do that? Then I realized that they are not aware of the way digital marketing works these days. They do not know better.

    Your post explains so well the paradigm shift in online marketing. Companies have to understand it before they stop counting impressions, fans – meaningless stats. Customer-focused companies do online marketing very deliberately. And "focus" is the word here. With all the complexity around us, we need to focus, test, measure, and adjust.

    I am forwarding your post to all my clients. If they learn just one thing, the mission will be accomplished.

  31. 46

    Hi Avinash,

    Another great post. I agree with your post and I feel the same with a lot of companies out there. Most companies only stick to what they know and they are afraid to take risks or look at the detailed insights. Most care only about the bottom line but fail to look at the granular things, such as user behavior and customer experience, that lead to causes.


  32. 47

    Avinash, very provocative post. The points you mentioned are very true but those are not that easy to implement in reality.

    What I feel is that you ultimately need a superb service and you must listen to your customers/prospects carefully with patience and show great love to them by your quality, dedicated and fast acts that would yield something positive for their businesses. Simple, innovative yet powerful solution.

    Digital marketing is now not that bookish old age things fit for all, rather it is now very case specific that varies from business to business and it needs stronger research, analysis of data and conclusive decision/strategic map from the data. Everyday you have to update yourself and you need to be present everywhere utilizing every possible available channel specific to your type of requirement. Customers love and come back to those who keep their promises, who deliver what they say, who give surprisingly more, beyond the customer's expectation.

    Everything might be changed but if you can maintain your business relationship with your customers well by standing beside them as a true partner in their business, you would win. Retaining customers is more profitable than attracting new customers. Marketing can give you the super exposure but ultimately your luck/fate depends on how or what you are delivering to your clients and how you are balancing their expectation with your service delivery. 5 strong, loyal, long term, super satisfied clients are far better than 500 short term most ordinarily satisfied clients.

    So ultimately you need focused step-by-step plan rather than haphazardly running after everything. Very good post, insightful and all the comments already posted are pretty interesting too.

  33. 48

    I hate bronchitis.

    I hate being sick.

    There is nothing worse than diminished breathing or body pressure to drag you down.

    But if there is one net positive when you are sick, it is that the mind tends to focus on what actually matters.

    When I read the article above in my weakened physical state, it's as though all of the other nonsense associated with customers and their value fell by the wayside.

    Marketing gets such a bad rap for many reasons. Lazy marketing is the chief reason in a world of thousands clamoring to get my customer's attention.

    Many thanks, Avinash, for crystalizing customer value – positive and negative – in today's world.

    Man, I have a lot of work to do for the next three years… ;-)

  34. 49


    Great stuff, as always!

    On the "Brand Destruction" topic, I run a Facebook group called "Strong is the New Skinny" that's just about to reach 40,000 followers – and many are passionate and outspoken followers! In the year plus we've had the group we've had many hits and we've had a few misses. My experience is that when you put out good content and TRULY engage with your users, the misses – while they may create a sh#tstorm of negative comments in the short term – tend to be short lived and forgotten.

    I take risks in my writing and the few times people really don't like something, a sincere apology usually DEEPENS the connection with the users. You can't push the envelope and experiment and be sincere and be yourself AND be safe. More often than not users and communities tend to take an aggregated look at your value and the mistakes and strikes and misses are usually forgiven – especially when the brand has humility…

    Authenticity is worth a lot more than safety!

    Just my $0.02. Keep rocking, my friend!


  35. 50

    This Rocks !

  36. 51

    Hi Avinash,

    Great post as usual.

    I totally agree that all of your points are important but I'd like to bring up a point I think should be included in this list:

    * Never stop optimizing *

    I don't mean just in terms of looking for new opportunities to improve the bottom line or to delight customers, but don't assume that what works today will work tomorrow as well, or even in two months from now.

    I actually just wrote up a post about test fatigue which talks about how gains obtained from testing often decrease shortly after a test is completed.


  37. 52

    After reading #5, I couldn't help but think immediately of the current BBQ debacle:

    The owner could stand to read a social media marketing blog post or two.

    Thanks for the thoughts, Avinash.

  38. 53

    Avinash, another great motivational post yours are like the Knute Rockne of halftime talks during the biggest game of our lives.

    I also notice in my consulting efforts that Imagination and Fear of testing are the main obstacles for both small and large companies. It is through your post and teachings I am able to open there eyes to better see the whole digital landscape.

    thanks again

  39. 54
    Craig Burgess says


    I confess I tend to skim your posts looking for nuggets. But this one grabbed me by the ear and said, "Listen! He's talking to you!"

    I had begun to think I was alone in the rapid pace of learning, trying, risking, failing, and trying again….and that it's about "change or die". It is hugely obvious to me that the "T" person that @Josh Braaten talked about is what we are all becoming or need to, if we are conscientious as digital analysts.

    But I wonder about our ability to REALLY THINK about what we're doing on a day-to-day basis, and the impact it has. Hyper-fragmented is your term. It's almost like a virus that worms it's way into our life, and we've adopted and utilize the practice. But what real, positive outcome has that fragmentation brought? Our attention suffers (totally agree) and our deeper thought processes are almost non-existent. (See Daniel Forrester's excellent book, Consider) The real challenge is to take time in-between to reflect, which in our frenzied, connected, tweeted, checked-in lives is very tough. Reminds me of a historical fiction book I read in the late 80s, "between the thought and the action falls the shadow". It's the shadow part that I feel I'm operating in most of the time. Lots of uncertainty about data, actions, experiments, you name it. And, the weird part is….I think we need to feel and get comfortable in the uncomfortable, the "shadow" zone (no evilness implied here, just using the metaphor) just so we can change, be nimble and agile in how we approach any project or initiative.

    Thanks for a thought-provoking post, and giving the right atmosphere for us all to feel comfortable to bring our own views to the party. Now to go send it to some others…

  40. 55

    Hey Avinash,

    I've been reading your blog for a while and I have to say this post did blow my mind!

    I totally share your vision and I wish I can drive myself to that way much more.

    Thanks for sharing all this great content, I'm a big fan ;)

  41. 56

    One word…awesome. Great article.

    Comepletely agree if your not agile and open to change/experiment might as well be dead in the water. More companies better realize this now… It may already be to late.

  42. 57

    Avinash, Awesome simply Awesome!!!

    #1 Customer expectations on the web are insane, will get super-insane.

    I agree… Not sure that businesses and agencies are aware of or have the same expectations.

  43. 58


    I've been a fan of your blog since I started a position as a Junior Web Analyst about 6 months ago – and this post has got to be my favorite (though I assure you that I have several posts I'm very fond of).

    As I said – I started my position 6 months ago – with little knowledge of web analytics ahead of time – but an interest in learning and discovering if I liked it or not. Last week, a superior at the company held a meeting calling for action to perform better this year (no surprise as it's the beginning of the year). And I have heard (and even said it myself) that we need to invest more in the Web Analytics department, hire more people, and bring Web Analytics to the heart of our ever-evolving company.

    The problem with just saying those things is that they are not action-driving. It comes across as whining (and it usually is by the time it gets said) and then gets dismissed. But this blog post hit home – it sparked in me exactly how to say "we need more people to do the mundane work I'm sick of doing so I can get to the fun part" in a political way – instead, "We need more Jr Web Analysts to implement (and troubleshoot) tags, look for data problems, run some reports so that the Web Analysts we have can start actually looking at the data and making decisions based on it – decisions that could change the way we report, market, and ultimately continuing running the business instead of maintaining the status-quo that we already know isn't working" will be received much better.

    I only needed to read a few paragraphs to realize that this is exactly what the problem is – you put what I've been trying to grasp at into clear words and ideas! Thank you!

    Because of this post, I am able to clearly bring an idea to the table – and make a case for the changes I'd like to see made – and I'd like to see them made because, whether I complain about my job or not at times, I want us to succeed – and your post helped me realize exactly what it is we need to do as a department and company, to succeed in the end.

    Thank you so much for continuing to write informed posts with great insights that are clearly communicated!

  44. 59

    If you can't embarrass yourself, in controlled quantities, you can't become magnificent. and you can't future-proof your company.

    This should be the quote of the day, the very core of this article.

  45. 60
    Ned Kumar says

    Hi Avinash,

    This was an incredibly inspiring post. You are absolutely right that all the 'big data' and 'big' tools in the world cannot deliver brilliant insights or carry an organization to new levels (both from a competitive & customer experience perspective) unless there are imaginative minds guiding it.

    Imaginative thinking applies to both Senior Management (better questions asked that lead to better analytics and strategy) and also at the lower level (ability to show, sell, and depending on the personality even guide Senior Management into a certain path of thinking). Your point #7 does highlight this in terms of experimentation and willingness to expand your horizons

    And I absolutely love and concur with the idea about being good at and having the knowledge about multiple areas (both for individuals and firms). More and more value creation is drawing from the interconnection of diverse sources and disciplines and the folks/firms that are best set up to leverage this (using imaginative thinking of course along with their diverse skills) will get the most bang for their investment.

    Thanks for a great read.


  46. 61

    I've just come upon this blog for the first time, but I think the predictions are right on.

    Especially #4, which speaks to the increasing difficulty of getting and keeping attention. I feel that the number of media messages screaming for our attention every minute of the day are just going to keep on increasing exponentially.

  47. 62

    I couldn't agree with you more, especially about customer expectations. I think the internet has completely changed our expectations not only online but in the real world too.

  48. 63

    I love that there are a ton of comments on this post. It shows how valuable it is.

    I started to copy and paste a line or two in to an email to my boss… by the time I got to being willing to embarrass one's self I realized that a link to the whole article was in order.

    Spot on.

  49. 64

    …. And you get an Oscar for stating the bloody obvious! Seriously, I agree with the whole post but the reality in small business is that we don't have a "digital marketer ", or a marketing department or senior management. It's just me, myself and I.

    Everything you say is so true but I'm afraid that the Internet – once a platform that levelled the playing field for small business is now completely skewed to the large businesses with the most resource.

    Please help me, as a small retailer with a shop and 2 staff compete. That really would make an article worth reading.

    • 65

      Alan: Here you go:

      ~ Best Web Metrics / KPIs for a Small, Medium or Large Sized Business

      You might also find the comments in the above post to be of value to you as a Small Business.

      Good luck!

      PS: If you are a small business you hold a massive advantage when it comes to monetizing these new trends. It takes forever to turn a warship, you on the other hand can pick the most relevant option and turn on a time. Every large business is jealous of your ability to do that.

    • 66

      Again, I agree with Avinash. :) I work with a couple of dozen clients, all small businesses and some very small. These businesses have an advantage over large corporations–there's no "management by committee" slowing down decision-making, no board of directors afraid of change, no entrenched staff of long-term employees reluctant to take on new tasks. There's just the business owner and maybe one or two other people–and a lot of excitement and enthusiasm to succeed.

      For the business owners who are truly committed to success, there are a variety of options they can use to build their brands online and to find customers, producing long-term success. Some of these cost money (less than you might think) and others take a little time–but any aspect of running your own business requires both of these.

      Mostly all it takes is a little courage–the willingness to take a risk.

      My advice (again, agreeing with Avinash) would be to not try to do it all simultaneously. Consider your own business, your industry, and your resources. Start with what makes the most sense for you and add on new initiatives as you start to see success in your initial efforts. A business is something you build, not something you create out of thin air–the key is to get started building.

      Sorry–I just couldn't resist answering your comment. Your perception that the leveled playing field has disappeared could not be more untrue. If you're unsure of your own knowledge, find a consultant for a one-off discussion or long-term relationship and bring your courage to the table :) when you talk.


  50. 67

    Avinash, fun post to read. I devoured it in one gulp. Some pithy insights along the way too! :)

    Minor niggle. Your view of data in this post and others, by the very nature of your work and this blog (mainly Web Analytics), is a bit limited when stacked against all that any significant brand has to manage. Website is only element, one destination. There is a deluge of metrics across paid/bought/earned media and some of the marketers are already tying all these insights into business decision support buckets by either standardizing the measurement itself (unfortunately named iGRP, for example) or in the reading of the data (such as grouping data from different online/offline channels under "Awareness").

    Loved your organizational points, especially about 70/30. The commenter (specialist?) who lamented generalists missed the point.

    • 68

      ST: I'm not sure I completely understand your comment, but let me try to answer. Would you please share a bit more context in case I got it wrong below?

      To your point on website limitation…. I encourage you to read the post as "incredible digital marketing (what it takes to) drive incredible digital outcomes." In the past the manifestation of "digital" was websites. It already is mobile applications (owned digital outposts) and social (rented digital outposts). If you throw in mobile as a "non-line" platform the "digital" is immensely impacting offline non-digital outcomes as well as online digital outcomes (site or not).

      My hope is that the 2015 Marketing Rule Book will get Senior Leaders to know how to drive digital outcomes magnificently, but to do so without a similar destruction and creative reconstruction of the offline marketing would still lead to failure. I'm personally optimistic that digital will force that destruction/creative reconstruction. :)


  51. 69

    Great post. I agree with all of your points 100%. More data is not the center of the issue. We are. Focusing on getting more granular data should never be the focus of our efforts. Finding appropriate data is like selecting a note to play when composing a song. A single note by itself is meaningless and has no context. Only by establishing a vision and understanding your objectives can you pick notes that provide context and lead you to the destination you want.

    70/30 rule is a great idea finding and managing employees. I am sure every company doesn't conform to this standardtoday, but it should be something to strive for if you want a growing and dynamic company.

    Thanks again for your hard work. This is one my favorite blogs ( and I am not a analyst)

  52. 70

    Great post!

    Love the approach, constant change, evolving beyond current web analytics constructs. I have a plan of attack this year to go after data mining, predictive modelling, and other data ninja skill sets. Change and evolution seem to be the theme for 2012!

    Thanks again,


  53. 71

    Every so often – no matter how much you know the wonderful truths in this blog to be right – you get jaded. You forget why you started working in this industry in the first place. You forget how excited you were when you converted that detractor to a brand evangelist, when your NPS scores started climbing that first time; you forget how awesome it was when your customers started retweeting your posts; you forget what your goals were and where you know your company must go not only to "win" but just to survive. You get complacent. You can only sigh so many times before you let Just One More vendor logo or banner on your site, watch sadly as the main entry point to your site is once again turned into a giant roadside billboard after you've just spent a year of your life showing in test after test that customers want navigational information – not "deals deals deals!"

    Then you read a post like this – and you wake up and smile. And remember just how cool it is to do what you do in the industry you do it in and you're ready to take 'em all on all over again.

    Thanks Avinash. I needed that.

  54. 72
    Satish Chandra Sharma says

    it's nice post by avinash kaushik… that is usefull for data analysts….. i would like to give thanks for that…!!

    thank u.

    Satish Chandra Sharma

  55. 73

    The problem is Marketing and lack of imagination in using the web/digital channels.

    Thank you so much for saying this.

    I completely agree and appreciate this article (although I have to agree with a previous commenter that it is an overwhelming list).

  56. 74

    "#7 Glory will come to the precious few who are willing to embarrass themselves."

    YES! I am going to be AWESOME!

    Really insightful piece, Avinash. Glad I found you.

  57. 75

    This is a monstrous post!

    Web Analytics is indeed suffering from unimaginative strategies and before I talk about others, I too used to be one. Each and every company/website has multiple parallel strategies focused on improving their marketing ROI and their bottom lines.

    I couldn't agree more on the rise of customer expectations. And of course data is my friend.

    I'm a jack of all trades and still trying to master them all. However, having had my thumbs and fingers in many a pie, I find people enjoy working with me due to my competencies in more than just one perspective.

    Can't wait until your next post.

  58. 76

    Number 4. Most common with most people — we're not paying attention to what really matters and what the reality is.

  59. 77

    Hi Avinash,

    I have been reading your blog for awhile, and your book is one of the reasons I got into analytics.

    With that said, I have never used the tool Compete, although you mention it quite often? What role does this tool play in your day to day duties, and how effective is it at providing actionable data? Or at least providing a platform at which a star analyst could use it for actionable data?

    I want to do more research, but before want your opinion on its effectiveness and potential use, which can be a brief, I am not asking for an essay and I hope you can provide me with just SOME insight or even a 1-10 scale of its awesomeness.



  60. 79

    The rules of marketing are definitely changing!

    It used to be that you can be good at that once thing, but like you said, now you have to be good at multiple things.

    Great article!

  61. 80

    I'm a big believer in #7.

    I sometimes feel that my boss says, "In our greatest effort to never failure, we've decided to never try." But if we never try, then we'll never differentiate ourselves from the pack. We'll never put ourselves out there for the world to judge. And although that is scary and some people will dislike or hate what you do, it's the people that love it, who are delighted by it that you are seeking. And as Avinash points out, the beauty of online is that you will know pretty quick whether or not it is working.

  62. 81

    Working as a web analyst for a couple of years i have realized that just being a web analyst is not enough. You need to know much much more. You need to evolve if you want to survive. I actually wrote a post called "All web analysts will soon be fired" arguing that the tools will eventually make the web analyst work redundant in the long run. You can read the article here:

    Of course driving a web business is very complex. You have multiple channels that demand expertise on each channel, but as tools become more connected with each other and when we eventually move into artificial intelligence we will be all toasted. Not just web analyst but people in general.

    I have in the past years moved towards being a conversion specialist which is somewhere in the shadows between the web analyst, the marketing and the business developer role. So far so good.

    Anyway thanks for an interesting article.


    • 82

      Theodor:Thanks for sharing your article.

      I agree with you on the broad strokes of your article. The analytics job as we know it will go away over time. We will take the tactical and figure out how to automate it, without the need of an Analyst. But we will still need Analysts for the ambiguous areas, for strategic thinking, for stepping into situations when data is incomplete or we just need a gut feel.

      So you are absolutely right that the job is changing. It is going to become much more value added than it is today.


  63. 83

    Huh, am I right in summarising: "Tail – Meet Dog"?

  64. 84

    "We live in a hyper fragmented world with, quite literally, hundreds of TV channels, thousands of social connections and millions of websites."

    We sure do! It can be a real challenge remaining focussed when there are just so many distractions. Attention is definitely a key issue.

  65. 85

    Thanks, Avinash for this wonderful holistic digital marketing article.

    I would also like to add that with the advent of Augmented Reality, convergence marketing is gonna be the key.

  66. 86

    Its a wonderful post.

    I appreciate you for putting the effort for this post.

  67. 87
    Parag Nandy Roy says

    Though this article is a bit old, there are a lot of information that is relevant and useful even today.

    Learned a lot, thanks!


  1. […]
    In Avinash Kaushik’s post today, “The 2015 Digital Marketing Rule Book. Change or Perish” one of his 7 Rules for Digital Marketing Revolutionaries concerns the need for marketing practitioners (applies to professionals of all types) to extend their expertise beyond core skills. “You can no longer be good at just one thing, or two. It is a 10-thing world now (and maybe a 20-thing world soon).”

  2. […]
    looking at what new and innovative stuff they can start doing. Whether you are Avinash Kaushik and you are talking about the eight things you need to do to make it to 2015

  3. […] The 2015 Digital Marketing Rule Book. Change, or Perish., […]

  4. […]
    El Marketing Digital 2015 Libro de Reglas. Cambiar o morir.

  5. […]
    Expand imagination. Expand creativity. Expand your strategy. PR is guilty of living in the past; of being chained to traditional rules.
    In “The 2015 Digital Marketing Rule Book – Change or Perish” Avinash Kaushik (@avinash) says,

  6. […]
    Beklentileri ucu ucuna karşılayabilmek artık kabul edilebilir değil. Alternatiflerin sadece bir tık ötede, bir arama ötede, bir tweet tavsiyesi ötede. Hedeflerini delicesine şişmiş müşteri beklentilerini karşılayabilmek adına belirle ve geleceğini sağlama al.
    Ve evet, zor olduğunu biliyorum.Her şeyi en baştan düşünmek zorundasın.Büyüklük ne yazıkki büyük bir bedelle gelir.
    Avinash Kaushik’in yazısından tercümedir.Her gün yeni bir kural.

  7. […]
    3. The 2015 Digital Marketing Rule Book. Change, or Perish Gran post de @avinash

  8. […]
    Analytics guru Avinash Kaushik has some good thinking on why companies are not getting real value from analytics.

  9. […]
    As Google web analytics expert Avanash Kaushik says in his latest post, “one trick ponies are going to be a liability”. In other words, 100pc specialisation is no longer a route to success. He talks about a 70/30 ratio: “At one time, it was okay to be 100% good at one thing, and only one thing. But today companies with people who are 70% magnificent at one thing and have filled the remaining 30% with being good at everything in the periphery of their jobs will rule this world.”

  10. […]
    The 2015 Digital Marketing Rule Book. Change or Perish.
    Eight rules for revolutionaries who want to learn how to future proof their digital marketing efforts to ensure their companies win big.

  11. […]
    The 2015 Digital Marketing Rule Book. Change or Perish: Market Motive's cofounder looks to the present rather than the future in issuing seven rules for digital marketing revolutionaries. Via Avinash Kaushik

  12. […]
    Avinash Kaushik often has some brilliant challenges to our thinking about data on his Occam's Razor site. Here's some more valuable insight from him: The 2015 Digital Marketing Rule Book. Change or Perish.

  13. […]
    The 2015 Digital Marketing Rule Book. Change or Perish.
    The impact of social, mobile and cosnumerization on marketing have been massive over the last 3 years. Expect bigger changes.

  14. […]
    The 2015 Digital Marketing Rule Book. Change or Perish.

    Google Analytics Mastermind Avinash Kaushik schaut weit in die Zukunft:

  15. […] The 2015 Digital Marketing Rule Book. Change, or Perish. […]

  16. […]
    Avinash Kaushik: the 2015 Digital Marketing Rule Book Unless your marketing mindset changes you will not succeed; your business, your site, your people cannot be good at just one thing, and the same applies to your marketing campaigns and your interactions with your customers.

  17. […]
    In Avinash Kaushik’s recent post, “The 2015 Digital Marketing Rule Book. Change or Perish” one of his 7 Rules for Digital Marketing Revolutionaries concerns the need for marketing practitioners (which is applicable to professionals in any industry) to extend their expertise beyond core skills. “You can no longer be good at just one thing, or two. It is a 10-thing world now (and maybe a 20-thing world soon).”

  18. […]
    Avinash Kaushik, one of my favorite bloggers, recently published an unmissable post titled: The 2015 Digital Marketing Rule Book. Change or Perish.
    If you’re an Avinash fan you’ve likely already read it, but if not it’s worth a read (and a bookmark). I wanted to higlight one point he made that should resonate with Future Buzz readers:

  19. […]
    İyi bir pazarlamacı olmak başarıyı getirmiyor, çünkü iyi bir pazarlamacı olup finansa hakim olan, aynı zamanda tedarik zincirini çok iyi bilip operasyonları yönetebilen, sattığı ürünün/hizmetin teknik detaylarını uzman seviyesinde bilen ve çok daha fazlasına hakim olacak derece bilgi sahibi olanlar yarışı açık ara önde götürüyor. İşte bu insanlara 70/30 insanları diyor Avinash.

  20. […]
    You are an self-proclaimed SEO "guru" running a cheap (oops, sorry, "affordable") SEO agency. You promise clients first page rankings in the next 24 hours. You build links to dubious sites, using dubious schemes. Your days are numbered. For a very simple reason – you are all about short run.

  21. […]
    Avinash Kaushik: The 2015 Digital Marketing Rule Book. Change or Perish.

  22. […]
    In Avinash Kaushik’s recent post, “The 2015 Digital Marketing Rule Book. Change or Perish” one of his 7 Rules for Digital Marketing Revolutionaries concerns the need for marketing practitioners (which is applicable to professionals in any industry) to extend their expertise beyond core skills. “You can no longer be good at just one thing, or two. It is a 10-thing world now (and maybe a 20-thing world soon).”

  23. […]
    The 2015 Digital Marketing Rule Book. Change or Perish
    Though this came out a couple weeks ago, it may take you that long to absorb this epic post. Avinash Kaushik looks 3 years ahead to predict what our future may look like. Take a deep breath before you dive in. As one person commented: "This has made my eyes bulge with awe at the magnanimous task ahead." The UK team mentioned it as well but it was too good to not tell you again.

  24. […]
    Expand imagination. Expand creativity. Expand your strategy. PR is guilty of living in the past; of being chained to traditional rules.
    In “The 2015 Digital Marketing Rule Book – Change or Perish” Avinash Kaushik (@avinash) says,

  25. […]
    The 2015 Digital Marketing Rule Book. Change or Perish.
    Eight rules for revolutionaries who want to learn how to future proof their digital marketing efforts to ensure their companies win big.

  26. […]
    While the technology wasn’t always as slick, and the channels weren’t always as numerous, it has never been enough to simply be, in Kaushik’s always colorful prose, a “data puker.” (See “The 2015 Digital Marketing Rule Book: Change or Perish”.) Having web analytics without applying them to larger business objectives has always been useless – even in what Forrester calls “The golden age of web analytics.”

  27. […]
    The 2015 Digital Marketing Rule Book. Change, or Perish.
    Jan 9, 2012 Eight rules for revolutionaries who want to learn how to future proof their digital marketing efforts to

  28. […]
    Avinash Kaushik: The 2015 Digital Marketing Rule Book. Change or Perish.

  29. […]
    If you’re going to read one post this week, dear marketers, this one absolutely needs to be it. Occam’s Razor author, Avinash Kaushik, provides one of the most comprehensive and thoughtful analyses regarding the future of marketing and the success of your business I’ve seen in quite some time. From the evolution of the customer’s expectations to why we need to embrace potential embarrassment, here are (8) rules to help you improve your marketing efforts in the coming years. The 2015 Digital Marketing Rule Book. Change or Perish.

  30. […]
    Optimizing a 360-degree experience for customers is going to require more from us as marketers. As the upcoming keynote speaker for SES San Francisco, Avinash Kaushik has said, "You can no longer be good at just one thing, or two. It is a 10-thing world now (and maybe a 20-thing world soon)." Multi-channel, multi-media, and multi-skilled are the baseline expectations for competitive marketing with digital media.

  31. […]
    The 2015 Digital Marketing Rule Book. Change or Perish by Avinash Kaushik on his personal site.

  32. […]
    If you are going to read only one blog post on digital marketing this year, then pick The 2015 Digital Marketing Rule Book. Change or Perish. It’s good stuff. Very good stuff. He lists seven rules that are dramatically affecting what marketing is and should be. If you ever need to convince someone who is hesitating to go digital, then force that person to read this. It’s a bit long, but really worth reading to the end.

  33. […]
    The bar for marketing is definitely higher, not just in terms of the mechanical vs. meaningful brand effort at publishing useful content and engaging on the social web, but for sustaining high levels of content and user experience short and long term. Avinash Kaushik describes that expectation well: “You can no longer be good at just one thing, or two. It is a 10-thing world now (and maybe a 20-thing world soon).”

  34. […]
    Always innovate and be willing to embarrass yourself. Avinash expantiated more on this in the original post that inspired this.

  35. […] Lire la suite sur le blog d’Avinash Kaushik… […]

  36. […]
    This article was ahead of its time and still very relevant. Check out The 2015 Digital Marketing Rule Book.

  37. […] Change or perish: the 2014 digital marketing rule book […]

  38. […]
    Planning your marketing strategy is essential to help you understand what you need and don’t need. With so many plugins and added features available to enhance your blog’s availability, you still have to watch your spending to ensure you aren’t buying items that aren’t necessary. Before you know it, you can end up paying for multiple products that might not be necessary and wasted over time if you fail to actually use them.

  39. […]
    The 2015 Digital Marketing Rule Book. Change or Perish. Eight rules for revolutionaries who want to learn how to future proof their digital marketing efforts to ensure their companies win big.

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