Vinny La Barbera, Founder/CEO of imFORZA, has been working in online marketing since 2000 and has helped thousands of companies grow their business with better websites and more effective Internet marketing strategies. We spoke with Vinny about improvements in WordPress, what Internet marketing effective, and how content marketing will change in the future.
Tell us a little about yourself. Why are you so passionate about Internet marketing?
I’d be lying if I said I was passionate about Internet marketing. A more accurate statement would be that I’m genuinely passionate about helping businesses grow. Internet marketing, to me, just happens to be the best and most cost-effective way to market a business.
I come from a family of entrepreneurs that came to this country and built successful businesses from nothing. This alone has fueled me to not only follow in those footsteps but to help other entrepreneurs do the same. Whether it’s online marketing now or some other medium in the future, I am most interested in using the best strategies and tools possible to drive long-term growth.
How has online marketing changed during the 15 years you have been in this industry?
The biggest change that I can pinpoint has been the shift from “who can reach the most people for the least amount of money?” to “who can provide the best and most memorable experiences to the right people at the right time?”
An effective online marketing strategy today is less about impressions (for most businesses) and more about engagement. It’s been refreshing to see this shift continue happening, since engagement/conversion impacts a company’s bottom line more than anything else.
How has WordPress improved in recent years in terms of its online marketing capabilities?
WordPress continues to become such an incredible platform for just about every use case. I can still vividly remember when it was exclusively used for blogging and companies wouldn’t even blink at the thought of using it for their business website. As this evolution has happened, so has the development community’s focus on making it a very powerful SEO tool as well.
At this point, you can’t really talk about WordPress SEO without mentioning developers like Yoast who have made it dead simple for just about anyone to properly optimize their WordPress website. Tasks that would have taken hours of custom coding can now be done in seconds through these extremely well-built plugins.
What do you think is the most underutilized aspect of WordPress?
The first thing that usually comes to mind for me on this question is proper use and optimization of Categories and Tags.
For most companies, these things are afterthoughts or they’re inherited messes from legacy installs. It’s a shame that more website owners don’t thoroughly plan out their Category and Tag structure and put some time and effort into optimizing how these are used on a WordPress site.
For example, a clean Category structure with good content on each Category Archive page can be a quick win for securing organic positioning without much time/cost investment.
How can the design of a website increase or decrease the success of a blog or small business?
If a website’s design doesn’t impress or build trust from its visitors, then a good majority of visitors will leave and never come back. A common misconception with design, though, is that the flashier you make it, the more people will like it. You might impress some visitors with a flashy web design, but I constantly see simple, clean web designs with great content far outperform flashy, “cutting edge” designs.
Tell us about the most common content marketing mistakes that you still see today. How does someone avoid making these mistakes?
To me, there’s really just one primary content marketing mistake that people continue to make: a mindset of “Just publish content and traffic will come.”
Any effective content marketer knows that this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, it’s often necessary to spend more time promoting and distributing content that you create than you do creating it in the first place.
There will always be those anomalies that will explode in popularity and reach on their own, but you can’t count on that or quantifiably build a marketing strategy around the possibility of something going viral.
Video is becoming more and more popular online. What are some effective video content marketing strategies or tactics that are being used today?
I still find the best video marketing strategies come from the companies and video marketers that are able to create quality video content and then be able to chop it up into smaller bits for use across different platforms.
Right now, it’s mainly bigger brands that are doing this because they have the resources to do so, but I’m starting to see smaller brands and even local businesses jump on this trend – and I always find these strategies so appealing.
It’s important to remember that different networks may have similar users/audiences, but those people interact differently across different platforms. Someone that likes watching 6-second Vine videos may not be as interested in watching 3-minute ad spots on YouTube. Being able to generate and repurpose content to target the right users in the right place at the right time will continue to be important for any video content campaign.
What are some of the key metrics that help determine whether or not a content marketing strategy is working?
Every business is going to be different, but for most businesses I work with it’s all about driving leads or sales. No other metric is as important as conversion.
So in the case of content marketing, every content effort should be tracked and tied to whether or not that piece either made the phone ring, built an email list, or generated new/repeat sales.
Are there any changes that you foresee in the future of Internet marketing?
I think the biggest change we’re going to see – we’re already starting to see it, really – is the term “Internet Marketing” opening up to more than just the Internet as we used to know it (i.e. Google searches). Internet marketing is going to be cross-device, cross-platform, and cross-channel.
The best examples I can think of are reaching consumers through home devices like Amazon Echo and integrating TV spots into online marketing campaigns as TVs become smarter and social platforms we use get baked into those devices. This is already happening, as we see companies like Twitter inking partnerships with sports leagues to show live games alongside live Twitter streams.
How we consume content is changing, and how marketers reach those consumers will change with it.
To see how various companies are marketing content today, download our free ebook: 10 Content Marketing Companies Compared 2016.