The Evolution of Online Marketing

Brad Farris

Remember when you put up your first website? It was all shiny and new, talking about all the great ways your business can help your clients! It was so exciting. I remember waiting with anticipation as my first website propagated across the DNS servers. I half expected the phone to just start ringing immediately…

That didn’t happen. In fact, no one came to my website.

The Evolution of SEO

On the evolutionary scale that website was just a single celled organism climbing out of the primordial soup.

That’s when I realized that people needed to be able to find my website. The Internet is a big and confusing place and so people don’t just go browsing around looking for solutions to their problem – it’s not like a mall, right? So we started to do some search engine optimization – building links and optimizing keywords so that Google would like us and send traffic to our site.

That worked! People started coming to our website. All kinds of people!

We had evolved, we developed at least some primitive organs, a mouth to consume (all kinds of) food. Our website had evolved into a sponge, or perhaps an anemone.

Luckily we had easy to find contact forms and so we started getting leads, all kinds of leads! Leads who came and spent $90,000 with us in 3 months and leads who wanted to waste our time talking about their terrible business idea that would never work.

Now the problem wasn’t too much traffic, it was too many leads. Too many low quality leads! So our marketing problem (no one is coming to our website) became a sales problem (how are we going to follow up on all these junky leads). Web leads, that we had been working so hard to get, now became a pariah, a burden. We needed higher quality leads.

The Evolution of Content Marketing

So we started to build more content on our website; articles, videos, infographics, and eBooks that help to educate those web visitors about who we help and what we do. We worked harder to qualify our web visitors before they filled out the form. As a bonus, all that content also helped to develop our online authority around certain keywords helping to focus our traffic too.

Our evolution continued; now that we had grown eyes, we were identifying the best kind of food for us and going after that. We had started to hunt.

This was a huge improvement. Leads were coming to us more qualified – fewer of them were “tire-kickers” trying to see what they could get for $300. These were substantive leads, and more of them were closing. Now this online business development thing was really showing promise. But we still were passive. We relied on what came in – we weren’t able to identify the clients we really wanted to work with and go for them.

The Evolution of Social Media

So we added social media – now we could create target lists, identify where our ideal clients were spending time, what they were talking about and join in those conversations with them. In those venues we have a “target rich environment” (many of the folks in the conversation could be prospects for us) and we can more easily demonstrate expertise and invite those chosen prospects to consume our content.

At this point, we have evolved into bona fide predators–seeking out the most profitable clients, (those that we can make a BIG difference for) and luring them into our website where we can “nurture” them until they buy from us.

What started as a simple marketing idea (Let’s put up a billboard on the information superhighway!) has become a very sophisticated process combining a marketers analytical skills with a sales person’s hunting instincts. And that is what makes it so hard to execute. So few organizations can find one person who combines the marketer’s insight and analysis of the target audience with the sales person’s hunting instincts. Worse yet, they have two people, or two groups; the marketers who generate the leads, and the sales people who turn the leads into deals. Both groups are, in theory, aligned toward getting new business, but both see that animal in very different ways, and too often, their efforts create more clash than collaboration. The secret to succeeding in this online business development process is to get sales and marketing working together.

These changes in roles and status of sale and marketing are confusing to business owners and CEO’s caught in the middle. If their success is interdependent how do I manage them? How can I get the most from both? Listening to clients ask these questions has lead me to write an eBook to help business leaders get the most from the skills of their sales team and their marketing team in an online world. Check out “Sales & Marketing: A Love Story”.

Brad is the founder of EnMast, a community of business owners committed to being better leaders and growing better businesses. He is also principal advisor of Anchor Advisors. Through his work with over 100 Chicago area small businesses he has experience in guiding business owners through the pitfalls and joys of growing their business. When not working Brad enjoys cycling, cooking and the NFL. Connect with him on Google+, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Brad Farris

Brad Farris

Brad Farris is a Business Growth Advisor/Coach/Consultant at Anchor Advisors, a community of business owners committed to being better leaders and growing better businesses. Through his work with over 100 Chicago area small businesses he has experience in guiding business owners through the pitfalls and joys of growing their business. You can find him on LinkedinGoogle+ and Twitter.

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Comments (6)
  • Great info. Just got into internet marketing and trying to learn as much as possible. Thanks for great info.


  • Social media is for sure much more powerful then it has ever been 🙂

  • Interesting post- really made me think of how internet marketing is progressing cheers! 🙂

  • Nice thoughts Brad, Thanks for sharing

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  • Thanks for the post, Brad! Great stuff. I remember that old site, so at least one person visited it: me! I like the way this post shows the panned-out perspective. After 10 years online, it’s fun to look back and think of it in stages.
    Things have changed a lot. The evolution theme is appropriate, from single-cell brochureware organism up to full-on predator, using the site as a tool for publishing and networking. But what this will look like 10 years from now? Maybe a swipe gesture will start a live chat with a virtual Brad, personalized for me and my price range based on my other activity online…

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