Four Things Every CEO Needs to Know About Online Marketing

by Daniel Threlfall  |  Published 4:30 PM, Wed November 13, 2013

ceo-internetmarketingI love CEOs. I really do. In my role as an SEO consultant, I have the privilege of meeting great men and women who are leading impressive, inspiring, and innovative organizations.

Along the way, I’ve observed a features that tend to characterize the upper echelons of executive management. There are a few blind spots in their vision of online marketing. Although many of these CEOs are talented and capable leaders, they will still benefit from boots-on-the-ground perspective of SEOs and content marketers. Online marketing is a shapeshifter, and few people, let alone a busy chief executive, can be expected to keep up with every algo update, social API iteration, or an article in Search Engine Journal.

That’s why I wrote this.

In this article, I’ve identified some of the less-than-progressive features of CEOs as it pertains to online marketing. In addition, I’ve provided knowledge of online marketing that will help overcome these limitations. My intent is not critical, but constructive.

If you want your online marketing to improve, this article will help. It could very well change your business.

1. You must do content. (Your static site is not enough.)

“Content” in this context refers to “information made available by a website or other electronic medium.”

Basically, that’s everything on the Internets.

So, what does this vague and lofty proclamation — “You must do content” — actually mean?

A mere website, awesome though it may be, is not enough to deliver online success. What your website needs to do is reinvent itself into a communication portal and an information resource.

  • A communication portal – Your website should provide visitors with a way to get in touch with you.
  • An information resource – Your website should serve its target community by providing information-rich articles, valuable infographics, engaging videos, and other relevant information that people will want to read and share.

The field of “content marketing” is built on the premise that in order for a business to be successful, it must be consistently publishing great content. In today’s online world, having a website is only the start. There’s a lot more that needs to be done.

2. SEO will work. (You just have to be patient.)

SEO is the only way to online success. Sadly, the arena of SEO is full of disgruntled and disappointed CEOs who’ve been conned out of their precious marketing dollars by some slick-talking SEO wearing a black hat. Search engine optimization suffers from the unfortunate distinction of being downplayed due to its erstwhile unethical linkbuilding schemes and shady business practices.

Today, however, the search engine algorithms have become smarter than the unscrupulous efforts of last generation’s SEOs. But just because the search engines are smarter doesn’t mean that SEO is dead. Far from it, it takes a talented SEO to improve a site’s onsite content and gain linkbacks from authoritative sites.

I recommend that every CEO consult with an SEO, and gain insight on how to power up your website to its maximum potential. There is traffic and revenue waiting to happen to your business. But unless you are able to make SEO improvements, you will never realize this potential. Obviously, you’ll want to select an SEO agency carefully. Get recommendations, do some research, and find out who’s at the top of their game.

Here’s the caveat. SEO takes time. One does not simply start an SEO campaign, and then watch the money gush in. SEO doesn’t work like that. Your website has to build trust and grow linkbacks before you’re able to gain ranking and see improved revenue.

But it does work. Be patient.

3. Social is your friend. (Get more social.)

According to’s 2013 Social CEO report, the CEOs of today’s social media-driven world aren’t very social. Only one third of all CEOs are on any social media platform. As a group, CEOs are Luddites in terms of their social media uptake.

If you are a tweeting CEO, you can gain a quick following. CEOs are among the most-followed Tweeters. (Sorry, but celebs will always outrank you). A CEO who is not on Twitter is giving up a really good online marketing opportunity.

Some CEOs still retain an outdated view of social media. According to such a view, social media is a massive time-wasting drain on employee productivity, a mere hangout for gossipy and narcissistic tweens, a source of endless mixed messages, or even a PR liability

Bad things do happen on social sites. Nobody can deny it. However, there’s a lot of good that happens via social, too. For one thing, social signals will grow your online traffic. For another, social will improve your thought leadership within your industry. Also, social will spread your personal brand and your business reputation. Social is a staple of today’s business world. You neglect it at your peril.

The corrective to the outmoded view of social media is to encourage your employees to be social. (Yes, they should be allowed to tweet on the clock, and even if they shouldn’t, they shall.) Also, establish your business’s social presence, monitor it, engage it, and enhance it. Most importantly, learn to become social yourself. It doesn’t matter if you’re a B2B, a brick-and-mortar, or a nonprofit, you need social.

It has become vogue among some to discuss the elusiveness of social media’s ROI. But just because you can’t look at social media metrics doesn’t mean that it’s a waste of time. A company or individual who is not on social media does not exist.

4. Go ahead and hire online marketing people. (You’ll see an ROI soon enough.)

Do you remember the book Good to Great by Jim Collins? One memorable section is the the bus seats illustration. Basically, in order to get where you need to go, you need the right people. Collins puts it like this: “[Great business leaders] start by getting the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats.”

In the phantasmagorical world of online marketing, some CEOs experience paralysis. How do you succeed in this brave new online world? Who needs to be on the team? What do they need to do? How in the world are you going to figure it out?

I advise all business leaders to acquire online marketing professionals or agencies to help with the job. There’s a steep learning curve to online marketing success. Thankfully, there are powerful and pioneering companies whose raison d’être is to make your online marketing successful. Independent social media managers and content marketing professionals are also available to bring your company up to speed.

This is what CEOs far and wide need to know.

  • Consistent content is crucial.
  • SEO can bring success.
  • Social media is a must-have.
  • The right online marketing people will make a difference.

Online marketing is the name of the game, and it behooves every CEO to know the moves and how to win.


Daniel Threlfall is an SEO consultant, writer, and family man. He prefers to drink his coffee without cream or sugar. When not on a globetrotting adventure, he resides in South Carolina, USA.