Jonathan's Blog

During my four years at UC San Diego, I tried to convince myself that studying anthropology made me a better marketer. In fact, you’ll even find a couple of posts on this blog tying some of my marketing campaigns back to specific anthropology skills.

However, now that I am somewhat competent in marketing, I have to say all the anthropology-marketing stuff was BS.

Knowledge and skills that I use today all came from previous work experience or more often than not, a Google search. If only I had spent less time studying anthropology and more time learning the basic set of internet marketing skills laid out below, I would be years ahead of where I am today.

Here are 5 things I wish I learned in college (that would have made me a better marketer today):

1. Basic Copy Writing (Call to Actions)

Academic writing is very different from copy writing. In fact, it wasn’t into a couple years into college that I even knew what copy was. The biggest improvement I saw to my conversions occurred when I started understanding how to write good call to actions.  A good call to action should leave the reader with a clear idea of what to do next. Some good examples include “click on here,” “share,” and “reply back to this email.”

Good copy is the foundation of every successful marketing campaign and is as much of a science as it is an art. Learn the process and structure of good copy before venturing off and trying your own thing.

Where to start learning:

2. How to Build Landing Pages

Someone from the niche you are targeting just read your marketing email/tweet/Facebook post. The copy resonated them enough to click on the link to the main site, however, once they arrive, the irrelevant general copy causes them to bounce. This is where niche specific landing pages come in. For example, if you are reaching out to professional photographers for a general website building service (like, the landing page copy might extol the virtues of useful features for photographers like photo galleries and quote request forms. This would be information that would not be as prominently shown or not shown at all on the main site.

Landing pages are an easy way to tailor your marketing message in order  to better appeal to the segment you are targeting. It is so easy to build a basic landing page especially with drag and drop tools like Unbounce, that it should be a sin to run any marketing campaign without them.

Where to start learning:

3. Basic Email Marketing

Email has experienced a resurgence as an outreach tool and for good reason. I would argue that for most businesses, it is the best converting channel.  Social media might catch someone’s attention, but more often than not email is what closes them. Also, not everybody may be on Facebook, but EVERYBODY has an email address.

Understanding the flow of email to conversion will allow you to optimize your email campaigns.  Simply remember, subject lines influences open rates, email opens lead to click through rates and clicks lead to conversions. Concentrate on one thing after the other and you’ll be converting via email in no time.   Also, definitely learn to use an email marketing service like Mailchimp or at the very least, know how to run a mail merge.  Copying and pasting consecutive messages into GMail is for suckers.

Where to start learning:

4. Simple Analytics and Tracking

You know those weird looking long links like: ? Those are used to track your activity on the site and they are really easy to use.

Not being able to tie back results to specific marketing campaigns is getting less and less acceptable. Learn to use Google Analytics and UTM codes to track the marketing campaigns that are working. With those two free tools, you’ll be able to track people coming in from your marketing campaigns and more importantly see if they are a new visitor, how long they stay on the site, where they go on the site and most importantly, if they buy/sign up/convert.

Not every marketing channel is created equal, some will bring in a high amount of low quality traffic that just leaves as soon as they hit your site. Other channels might bring in a trickle of traffic, but it’s the type of traffic that actually leads to sales. Learn how to track so you can double down on the campaigns that work and kill off the ones that don’t. It’s that simple.

Where to start learning:

5. Basic Metrics

It’s not enough to track, you have to know what activity/metrics are worth tracking.  Information overload is the quickest way to giving up on tracking all together, so it is important to just concentrate on a few metrics. Two general metrics that every marketer should look at when they run a marketing campaign are conversion rate and cost per acquisition. There should also be one key metric that marks the overall health of the company, definitely keep an on that.

Where to start learning:

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Worked growth marketing in startups my whole career and now sharing my stories on this blog. Always down to grab some coffee and talk shop.

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