As part of the occasional series of how to survive this evil, ugly economy with digital marketing, let me acknowledge the need of a lot of experienced marketers, to get smart — and fast — on all this Digital Stuff. Because a colleague just asked me for a bibliography to help teach himself digital, I figured a blog post and an invitation to you dear reader to suggest some additions would kill several birds with the same post.
Let’s start by saying I am not a fan of “business” books. Sure, I’ve read Tipping Point and Execution and Blue Ocean/Red Ocean … I was even involved in the writing of a business book when I was associated with Gartner’s editorial board in 2004. (Multisourcing) I tend to order and read a so-called “business book” only when I need to, and then only if I need to get smart fast on a specific function.
There is no omnibus guide to digital marketing. Maybe I should write one, but it would be out of date before it was even outlined: for the future is here, it’s just unevenly distributed.*
Later on I will try to compile a blog roll of essential digital marketing blogs, but the genre of digital marketing blogs is a mess, and I’d say I personally only can read three or four on an ongoing basis.
This is a only a bibliography. Here is an “aStore” in Amazon if you want to buy them.
Where to begin? Let’s begin at the center of digital, the very hub of where it all begins, and that is search. If you don’t understand search and how it works, then digital marketing in all of its forms and variants is going to be lost on you.
The best explanation of the history, the process, and the impact of search was written several years ago, but still is valid, and that’s John Battelle’s The Search. Trust me, but if you want to understand digital marketing you must understand search. Everything digital starts with a search.
Battelle gives you the history and theory, Moran and Hunt give you the nuts and bolts of how to run a search campaign from both the paid (SEM) and the organic (SEO) side. Search Engine Marketing, Inc. is out in a revised edition and gives a strong step-by-step cookbook for running a paid search campaign and developing a website that will rank high in any search engine’s organic rankings.
The heart of digital marketing, the reason we care about it, is its accountability through metrics. One strong recommendation here is Avinash Kaushik’s Web Analytics: An Hour a Day. There are also some specific titles around Google Analytics, which isn’t a bad idea for some trying to master that environment specificially. Avinash is where you start.
Tim Ash has a decent book on landing pages and the art/science of optimization. Landing pages make the world go round in terms of improving “cse” or customer success events, so take some time and read Tim’s Landing Page Optimization
Display and banner media
I don’t know of a single book in this genre, but I would say that there is lot of good stuff at the Internet Advertising Bureau’s site. Especially on standards and practices.
If you are trying to make a case to stop doing dumb-ass traditional advertising and move it online, then read Joseph Jaffe’s Life After the 30-Second Spot.
There a few good books out there on this topic. Allen Adamson quotes me in BrandDigital. Andy Beal quotes me in Radically Transparent, a good book on reputation monitoring and management. Rohit Bhargava’s Personality Not Included is a good read. Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff’s Groundswell. Scoble and Israel’s Naked Conversations is worth mentioning in the context of corporate blogging … so many books, so little time. Seth Godin is an industry unto himself. Meatball Sundae is a good change-agent manifesto, but the granddaddy of all manifestos is Cluetrain.
I’ll tackle blogs later. This is just a quick lunchtime post for a colleague. I’ll revise this as time goes by — please give me some recommendations in the comments and be sure to only suggest books that you’ve actually read and would force me to read.
This is a weird suggestion, but it did have an impact on me back in 1995 when I was developing and designing my first two sites: Reel-Time and Forbes.com. That is A Pattern Language, by Christopher Alexander. Richard Duffy, a friend from PC Week and the early early days of Forbes Digital Media recommended that book and it had more of an effect on how I think about functionality and usability than anything that followed.
*: William Gibson