One of my kids approached me, book in hand, asking, "What's the difference between a possum and an opossum?" I was busy doing something else, so I languidly replied, "They are the same, but opossums are Irish." Yes, I could have Googled it to find out. I could have told him I didn't know and told him to look it up. I could have at least engaged. But I was too distracted or too lazy to do it. It was autopilot parenting. Luckily, my son shook his head and went off to figure it out on his own (because he knows his father too well). But it made me wonder about all the things we do on autopilot, including Internet marketing (because everything makes me think of Internet marketing).

I think a lot of us approach our Internet marketing this way. We undertake a flurry of activity to create (or redesign) our Web sites, but then leave it languish. We don't watch the measurements. We don't make changes. We don't experiment. We don't really pay attention because it isn't causing a problem. No crisis, no attention.

And for some of us, this even seems to work sometimes. If we've created a halfway decent Web site, we might still see some leads or some sales coming in. We might even see those results improve over time, even though we aren't really doing anything to cause it. And we come to the conclusion that we don't need to do anything-that autopilot works and that Internet marketing just doesn't need our attention.

But it's wrong. Just as me continuing to ignore my kid will someday have some severe relationship problems, so will ignoring your Internet marketing. First off, you will probably have to deal with the day when the results stop going up, because time has passed you by. You haven't kept up with the way the Internet has changed and your competitive edge has suffered.

Or you might just be seriously under-performing but never know it. Perhaps your results could have been far better if you were actively managing and experimenting with your Internet marketing, but you never put in the effort to find out.

Worst of all is when you find a serious shift in the market occurs and your competitors are all over it and you have been sound asleep. If you leave your Internet marketing on autopilot for too long, you might go from playing possum to actually being dead.

Originally posted on Biznology Blog.

October 3, 2012

Mike is an expert in search marketing, search technology, social media, publishing, text analytics, and web metrics, who regularly makes speaking appearances.

Mike's previous appearances include Text Analytics World, Rutgers Business School, SEMRush webinar, ClickZ Live.

Mike also founded and writes for Biznology, is the co-author of Outside-In Marketing (with James Mathewson) and the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (now in its 3rd edition, and sole author of Do It Wrong Quickly, named by the Miami Herald as one of the 11 best business books of 2007.


Great point. Far too often creativity is allowed to stagnate in favour of 'what works' -- when we could be finding out 'what works better'!

With SEO, there's also the risk of doing busywork that looks like it has an effect, but the correlation is actually due to an external factor. Always be properly auditing your own work,is my rule!

Mark Davies | Strategy Internet Marketing

Great point, but your son is too good.

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