October 28, 2007

Best Practices

I rarely link to other blog articles anymore. Today, I'll link to this one, for a couple of reasons.
  • Comment: "Blogs have lost their humanity".
  • Comment: "We're bored".
Last week, I sat in on a session about online marketing and e-mail marketing. The presenter, in no uncertain terms, bullied the audience into a version of "how" things must be done. The e-mail marketer MUST have fewer than "x" links. The website MUST feature at least "y" key elements.

The audience diligently wrote notes. And I have no idea why they kept writing notes, because the presenter kept telling them how awful they were. At some point, I'd have told the presenter to leave the room!

We frequently call the concepts shared at conferences "best practices".

In my opinion, "best practices" are sucking the life out of everything we do.

Our websites and e-mail campaigns look similar --- we wonder why only one in five hundred customers buy something from an e-mail campaign --- we wonder why three in a hundred customers buy from a website --- we wonder why retailing in America is contained in a handful of "big boxes", all looking the same?

The article causes one to think about how the craft of blogging is being ruined. It, like so many other things, is being smothered by best practices.

I've quit trying to blog via best practices. I stopped doing so this summer. No more link building. No more leaving comments on other blogs. No more participating in other "communities". No more reciprocal linking. Almost no more linking to other articles. Here are the results:
  • My Technorati authority decreased by 30%.
  • My Technorati rank decreased from the 30,000th best blog to 55,000th best blog.
  • My Alexa traffic rank fell from 250,000th most visited site in the world to the 400,000th most visited site in the world.
So, am I a big failure because I stopped blogging via best practices? You tell me:
  • RSS and E-Mail subscribers, since I stopped doing "best practices", increased by 120%.
  • 0% of my consulting business came from blogging while doing best practices.
  • 60% of my consulting business comes from blogging, after shelving "best practices".
In other words, all the metrics associated with best practices declined after I stopped doing all the work associated with best practices.

Except for the most important metrics.

Enough with best practices!!


  1. I think the single "best practice" that everyone forgets is the one you give evidence of at the end of your post. Measurement of what actually matters to you. At the end of the day, Alexa rankings and Neilsen rankings and Technorati rankings really have no impact on the bottom line. Customers and their eyeballs do. Empirical testing using your real business success metrics to see whether something makes a difference is the key.

    I've seen some otherwise good businesses be hurt by chasing these sorts of external measures rather than paying attention to the impact they were having on their own bottom line.

  2. Thank you, well said!


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