A couple months ago, we featured a Q&A-style post with Andy where we learned his tips for merging SEO and CRO with personalization for the best possible website experience.

Today, we’re upping your dosage of Crestodina — and checking in with the co-founder and strategic director of Chicago-based Orbit Media Studios once again… this time, to get his take on the state of marketing today, and what you need to know about using Google and Facebook.

Andy Crestodina

Location: Chicago, IL.
Current Role: Chief Marketing Officer, Orbit Media Studios.
One word that best describes how you view the state of marketing today:


There is just a lot of marketing out there right now. Lots of ads, but most of it isn’t clicked. Lots of content, but most of it isn’t personalized. Things are not getting easier.

Within this current state of marketing, we have two options:

  • Do things bigger
  • Niche down into a smaller competitive set

Bait a bigger fish or live in a smaller pond!

Tell us a little about your background and how you got to where you are today.

In the beginning, there were just two of us. We really just had one motivation — combine creativity and technology, art and science. So, in 2001, we started a little web design company. The roles were very simple back then.

  • My partner was the hacker. He did the programming.
  • I was the hustler. I did the design, the sales and the marketing.

That was 18 years ago. As time went on, we hired, delegated, and grew. I began to take on more hats and become more specialized in my role. Here’s a chart that shows how my role has evolved (I’m the blue):

Role Evolution

What do you wish marketers knew (but you’re pretty sure they don’t)?

Google and Facebook aren’t your friends.

Even if you’re very successful within one or both of these channels, you’re standing on soft ground. You don’t control your destiny. You aren’t secure in your position. These companies exist to make money, not to send their visitors to your website.

So the problem with modern marketing is the monopolistic digital giants. We need them to gain visibility and awareness, but they can (and will) change to drive more profits for themselves, which means less free traffic to you.

“The problem w/ modern #marketing is the monopolistic digital giants. We need them to gain visibility & awareness, but they can (& will) change to drive more profits for themselves, which means less free traffic for marketers,” says @Crestodina CLICK TO TWEET

Editor’s note: This concept speaks to a larger idea popularized by one of my favorite content gurus, Joe Pulizzi: don’t build your home on rented land. Use social platforms to drive traffic to your site; but ensure you’re giving the brunt of your investment and resources to personalizing and optimizing your owned website.

It’s simple and it should be obvious, but it’s not something that marketers often talk about. When marketers talk about Facebook and Google, they do so with pride (they are doing well at the moment) or hope (they are trying to do better).

Rarely is the tone one of anxiety or concern. But when the success of your marketing relies on these platforms, it should be.

What do you see as the biggest challenge faced by marketers today?

Grow a source of traffic that isn’t Google or Facebook.

How can they overcome this challenge?

Well, being known as a brand is helpful. But “be famous” isn’t practical advice.

On the other hand, “grow your email list” is great advice!

Email marketing is disintermediation.

You no longer have a gatekeeper with a profit motive standing between you and your audience. By opting into your communications, consumers are asking for useful information, and you’ll provide it. Use social media this way:

Someone clicks on Google or Facebook → Likes what she sees → Subscribes → Open and clicks newsletter → Engages with the brand

Most marketers understand this, and are pretty good at list growth. But a lot of marketers miss the next step: getting subscribers to open emails. I see bad email in my inbox all the time.

Within the email itself, there are really just three main factors that determine the open rates:

  • The sender name…is it personal or is it a company name?
  • The subject line ...does it promise a benefit?
  • The preheader …is it meaningful or is it generic?

A lot of marketers could immediately get better results in their email marketing without spending any money or time. Just work on how the emails look in the inbox, then make a few simple changes to make them more personal, meaningful and benefit-driven.

If you could tell marketers to stop doing one thing, what would it be?

A lot of my marketer friends write a lot of articles. They’ve been doing it for years. Here’s what I hope they’ll consider: Stop writing new blog posts.

That sounds crazy to a lot of content marketers who have chained themselves to a publishing calendar. But hear me out.

You’ve already created a lot of stuff. Some of it is really good. It ranks high (or almost ranks high) and it inspires visitors to subscribe.

These articles are still out there and would work even harder for you if you gave them a boost. So the smartest marketers don’t just keep writing blog posts. They analyze and optimize older content.

Here’s the kinds of posts they typically find:

  • Traffic Champs → are already pulling in a ton of visitors. Get more results from these
    by linking from them to your high converting articles.
  • Potential Champs → almost rank high already. Rewrite these to get them
    to rank a bit higher and turn into traffic champs.
  • Falling Stars → used to rank higher, but they’re slipping. Sprucing up these pages can reverse that slide.
  • Better mousetraps → are the articles with the highest conversion rates. Link to them from traffic champs and keep them in heavy social rotation.

The mousetraps are usually the hardest to find. Using Orbit’s content audit process will help. It’s a step-by-step process that ends with this little menu of action items:

Updating old posts will give you better results in less time. And anything you rewrite can be launched as if it’s a new article, with a fresh email subject line and new social media posts.

Technology has already transformed marketing in so many ways. How do you see tech continuing to revolutionize the marketer’s role?

AI is creeping in from several directions. One example is my virtual assistant for scheduling, Amy.

If someone wants to meet with me, I respond and copy Amy. She emails back and forth with them, suggesting times that are open on my calendar. Once they agree on a time, she sends everyone an invite.

But Amy isn’t a person. It’s a service called x.ai. She’s a bot that understands a bit of natural language and has access to my calendar. She saves me several hours per month.

What are you currently reading, or what would you recommend for marketers?

Lately I’ve been listening to an SEO podcast called “Experts on the Wire” with Dan Shure. It’s really good. Highly recommended for marketers interested in search!

Fill in the blank: I’d love to see _________ answer these same questions.

Brian Massey, Founder, Conversion Sciences.

Andy Crestodina is a cofounder and the strategic director of Orbit Media Studios, an award-winning web design company, which has completed more than 1,000 successful website projects. He is a top-rated speaker at national conferences who is dedicated to the teaching of marketing. His favorite topics include search engine optimization, social media, analytics, and content strategy. He has written more than 100 articles on content marketing topics. He lives in Chicago.

Connect with Andy: Orbit Media StudiosLinkedIn@crestodina

Special thanks to Andy for his time and insight!

Know someone who would be a great fit for this series? Email Michael at: Michael.Becker@Emarsys.com.

Additional Resources: