What inspires the leaders and experts in the search engine marketing industry and community? In our “Interviews with Experts” blog series, Anvil features fellow experts in an interview-style post discussing what inspires them, how they got into the search engine marketing industry and more.
We’re excited to have the chance to interview Kate Morris and look forward to sharing her insights and passion. Kate is a principal consultant at Distilled, where she heads up the consultant team and project planning at the Seattle office. Kate spoke at the 2014 SEMpdx SearchFest in February in Portland and was kind enough to share her insights with us.
And now for the interview, enjoy!
When did you know that the SEM industry was your chosen career path?
It wasn’t immediately. I started in PPC as a marketing intern, and then worked in search just after getting my marketing degree. After about 6 months, I took a job as a marketing manager doing everything from print ads to tradeshows. I knew it was my calling when at the end of 2 years there, my primary job was the website and online marketing overall.
Why and what keeps you passionate about the industry today?
The web is so important to commerce and I’ve seen such horrible content/websites that it has almost become my mission to help fix the web to be the best it can be. Most of the “bad” on the web is just due to ignorance of web technologies and bad coding, but then there is also the set of people just out there to make the quick dollar. I am passionate about educating the former and working toward hindering those that would take advantage of people, consumers on the web.
My passion is in teaching. Teaching that online marketing, SEO, PPC, Social, Display, Email, etc. is all about knowing the consumer. It’s not magic and it’s not a ploy to destroy small business. It’s great when a business person finally sees that the power to change the web landscape is in the hands of their customers. Treat them right, and your whole life can change.
What is your greatest success and/or failure (what accomplishment are you most proud of)?
My greatest failure; might as well start with that. It’s a toss-up: letting a former boss taint my love for writing with one comment and also not voicing my opinions sooner.
A former boss brought me into his office one day early on in my career and tore apart some content I had written. Then ended the meeting with “I thought you were supposed to be a good writer.” I can see how that that one comment set me pretty far back. Mind you, I went out and bought books on marketing copywriting and tried to get better, but I was convinced I was a horrible writer.
The second is seeing industry trends early on and not voicing my opinions on them. Back in 2005, I was working in-house, in charge of 30+ domains, and saw Google start personalized search. I knew this was the start of not having as much accurate data over time. I told this to my C-level at the time, but it wasn’t for another 5 or so years before it really came to fruition.
My greatest accomplishment or what I am most proud of. I am going to say it’s going to be my MBA. It was a goal I had during my undergrad. I completed it while on my own (independent online marketer) and paid for it without taking on loans. I still look back to that period of time and wonder how I did so much in a small period of time.
What are the top three tools you can’t live without?
Screaming Frog, Open Site Explorer, and SEO Tools for Excel.
What is the best piece of advice you have for folks looking to get into the search industry (or best piece of advice that you ever got)?
If you’re not pissing someone off with your marketing at some point, you’re not taking enough risks. I translate that in the online marketing world to voicing your opinion, thinking outside of the box, and doing things that piss off competitors. Break something, test things, and work for a company that supports that.
What new digital trends can we expect to see in the next few years?
This is hard because the biggest is the merging of “mobile” and “desktop” into just digital marketing overall. A screen being a screen, regardless of size, but everyone says that. More than that, I foresee better tools that integrate offline and online marketing efforts. There are starting attempts now, but with the digitization of television and the aforementioned mobile merge, the ability to track all forms of media will become easier than ever.
What industry blog or book has influenced or inspired you the most?
Not sure it’s industry, but I really enjoy reading the Harvard Business Review. Once I get a chance to sit down with it, the research and insight from different angles really inspires my work.
What is one of the biggest mistakes that many digital marketers are currently making?
Thinking SEO is something to be scaled. We get so many requests at Distilled from companies and in house marketers that think they need “SEO” and mean they need scalable link building when they actually need things like customer research, content strategy, content development and promotion assistance.
Where can we find you online?
Easiest place is on Twitter @katemorris, but in terms of writing, I can be found most often on State of Digital, Moz, and Distilled’s blog of course.
What do you love most about your city?
Summer time. If you have never seen Seattle in the spring/summer, you must. The colors of the flowers, the sun and relatively low temperatures (that’s 80 in August), and the water/mountains makes the best combination.