If you work in digital marketing, then you’re life basically revolves around numbers and statistics. Well, here’s a number for you: 43.8. What’s the significance of that number you might be asking? That’s the average margin of victory in the eight Olympic games won by the 1992 USA Dream Team. In the opening game of the tournament, the United States trounced poor Angola 116-48. That’s 68 points – 68! If you don’t follow basketball, trust me, that is a LOT of points to win by. I can only imagine what the other teams in the tournament were thinking after they saw that score.
1992 was a special year because it marked the first time the American Olympic team featured active players from the NBA. Man, it must have been great to be in Head Coach Chuck Daly’s shoes when that announcement was made. Basically, he got his pick of the most gifted basketball players on the planet at the time, and the results were as expected – blowout win after blowout win.
Imagine you were given the reigns of a high-profile digital marketing campaign, and you were tasked with putting together the best team possible. Who would be on your online marketing dream team? After a lot of number-crunching, data-diving, and blog reading, I finally have my starting five (plus a 6th man). If you didn’t make the cut, don’t feel bad – neither did Isiah Thomas.
The Starting 5
Why He Makes the Team: Rand honed his search engine marketing skills on the mean streets of Seattle, WA at a time when the city was the epicenter of all things “tech” and “internet.” He spent countless hours slogging through the trenches of early-stage SEO forums and chat groups before eventually founding SEOmoz. There, Rand and his team created reports, data, and tools geared toward search engine marketers, eventually building a multi-million dollar company. After growing SEOmoz (now just ‘Moz’) into one of the top providers of search engine and social optimization software, he stepped down as CEO of Moz, took a role as an individual contributor, and dropped the mic like a boss.
Rand and his team at Moz continue to provide the online marketing community with powerful tools, useful marketing guides, and insightful takeaways at industry conferences around the world. Still, Rand finds ways to work a little flash into his game, such as his trademark yellow tennis shoes and stylish mustache.
Why He Makes the Team: Also hailing from Seattle by way of London, Neil Patel is probably the most entrepreneurial member of my Online Marketing Dream Team. I mean, he started his first company in high school for gosh sakes! Since then, Neil’s been launching and running successful search engine marketing blogs, consulting companies, and analytics products. Unlike a lot of other self-proclaimed “online marketing gurus” who make big promises and focus on the wrong metrics, Neil gets right to the heart of what matters to businesses: revenue. “I make people more money. I don’t care about rankings, traffic, or anything. All I care about is how much I can make you.”
For all of his entrepreneurial prowess, I added Neil to my dream team because of how open and honest he is. His personal blog, QuickSprout, is a treasure trove of useful information for up-and-coming entrepreneurs who are trying to succeed in blogging, SEO, social media, or just business in general. Neil’s willingness to share specific details about his failures and successes is what separates him from other online marketers. Processes, methodologies, dollar figures, revenue numbers – Neil is candid with it all, and that openness is unbelievably helpful. His post detailing how he built a 7 figure SEO agency is still something I reference from time to time, and is just one example of how Neil’s openness translates to actionable information for others to take advantage of.
Why She Makes the Team: If content is king, then Ann is the undisputed “Queen of Content.” Not only does she contribute regularly to Entrepreneur magazine, she’s also written the best-selling book Everybody Writes: Your Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content, co-authored Content Rules, and is the co-founder of ClickZ.com, one of the top marketing news sites on the web.
When it comes to crafting high-quality content, developing successful content marketing strategies, and “waging war on mediocrity in content,” Ann is as good as they come.
Larry Kim aka “The Resume”
Position: CTO and Founder of Wordstream, entrepreneur, writer, speaker, software engineer, etc.
Why He Makes the Team: Larry Kim has accomplished more in the internet marketing realm than most search marketers ever even dream of. Just looking at the list of accolades on his resume makes me tired. Here’s just a sampling of what Larry “The Resume” Kim has done:
- Bootstrapped Wordstream in 2007, which is now widely considered to be one of the top PPC management platforms available.
- Is a regular contributor to Forbes, Inc. Magazine, Search Engine Land/Watch/Journal, Small Biz Trends, Moz, Hubspot, Online Marketing Institute, and several others.
- He’s written four books.
- Speaks at dozens of industry events and conferences each year.
- Has been featured on or interviewed by the likes of Fox News, Wired Magazine, and Business Insider.
- Oh yeah, and he somehow finds time to travel the world and take bad-ass photos!
I got my start on the paid search side of digital marketing, so I’ve been a huge fan of Larry’s for awhile now. Combine that with his ridiculous resume, and there’s no way I was going to leave him off my dream team!
Why He Makes the Team: I nicknamed Matthew “The Youngster” because he looks like he’s about 17. I have no idea how old he really is, but the guy is definitely no rookie when it comes to digital marketing. Matthew operates from the other side of the pond, but his blogging, SEO, link building, and social media knowledge extend far beyond the borders of the UK. Matthew is a regular contributor to the major industry blogs, speaks at tech and digital marketing conferences, and is also a lecturer at the Digital Marketing Institute.
The thing I like most about Matthew is that he provides useful tips and actionable insights in ways that are easy and enjoyable to learn. His blog is one I visit frequently, as he always manages to breakdown complex digital marketing concepts and ideas in funny, easy-to-understand ways. This is part of the reason why Matthew’s blog is up for a 2014 UK Blog Award.
The 6th Man
Why He Makes the Team: As his online byline suggests, Oli Gardner has seen more landing pages than anyone on the planet. What does looking at all of those landing pages equate to? An incredible knack for stripping away the BS that clutters landing pages, and focusing only on what drives conversions. Oli has an intensity and passion for conversion optimization that shows itself in his quick-witted tweets and insightful writings on the topic. A favorite of mine is Page Fights, a collaboration between Unbounce and ConversionXL where Oli, Peep Laja, and other online marketing experts ruthlessly critique user-submitted landing pages until there is only one left standing.
Without professionals like Oli dedicating their time and effort into turning visitors into converters, many a website owner would be stuck with ample traffic and very little to show for it. And every online marketer knows that it’s not about getting the traffic, it’s about what that traffic does when they get there that matters. Oli’s diverse professional background – he’s worked as a software programmer, web developer, beehive factory worker, travel photographer, pizza delivery man, and creative director, to name a few – has no doubt contributed to his unique and tireless approach to landing page design and conversion rate optimization.
Well, there you have it – my Online Marketing Dream Team. As I mentioned earlier, this a collection of my personal favorites. These are folks who I follow on a regular basis and look up to professionally. If you think I completely missed the mark with anyone on this list, or you have your own dream team you’d like to share, I’d love to read your comments!