Bas van den Beld is an online marketing strategist, trainer and speaker. He is the founder and owner of State of Digital. He is generally regarded as a specialist and important in the field of Online Marketing, Social Marketing and Search Marketing worldwide and especially Europe.
Q: How did you get into Online Marketing?
A: As with many of my generation I got into it by accident. Mostly because “online” didn’t exist when I grew up. I’ve been doing this for over 10 years now. Through working at a webdevelopment company in my twenties I got into the marketing of websites by meeting the right people and connecting my different capabilities.
Q: What’s your opinion of Online Marketing in 2014? Where are things heading? What should people focus on currently?
A: Finally marketers are starting to understand we are dealing with people. Before they were looking at channels first and people second, slowly that is turning around, even though I still see many doing it ‘wrong’. But it’s the direction we are heading, also because of the big data we have now: personal marketing. Really making an effort to understand the audience and building on that.
Q: After Google updates, so many things have changed in terms of link building. What kind of link building tactics do you suggest to internet marketers to survive in SEO world?
A: It’s what Google says: it starts with quality content. Now that is an easy answer off course, but it’s the idea behind it which I believe is most important. You mention ‘tactics’. It should be about strategy first. That strategy makes that you will for example have a certain standard, it also means you know what tactics fit within your strategy. For example, there is a big difference between short term and long term strategy when it comes to link building.
Basically link building is growing up and when it comes to tactics it’s more about being genuine and building on that.
Q: Which are your most favorite social media marketing tools, and why?
A: There are so many. I use them for different reasons as well. Let me mention just a few. For example Tweetdeck I use mostly for keeping an eye on what is being said around certain topics. Buffer I use for scheduling updates, IFTTT I use for many things, amongst which getting social data in a database to analyse.
Q: Which are the most common mistakes committed by Online Marketers?
A: Thinking you know your audience without doing the research and then spamming your audience to bits. Online marketers are still too much using the different channels as broadcasting channels. They should start by listening to the audience. It doesn’t mean you can’t do new things and test, I do that all the time, but don’t assume you are right.
Q. What are your suggestions for those who are just starting an online community?
A: Start small and find the early adopters that will help you grow and listen to them.
Q. Major Ecommerce brands emphasize their marketing team to go aggressively for Traditional/Outbound Marketing Tactics to get high revenue. Comparatively there are some brands which majorly follow Inbound Marketing techniques only. Hence, it seems that outbound marketing plays an important role. What’s your opinion on this?
A: Off course outbound marketing still plays a big role. But it has to fit into the cycle, it’s not about OR but about AND. Outbound marketing makes people familiar with a brand, inbound marketing makes them connect to the brand. Both are important, but have to be used in the right order within the cycle.
Q. Suppose your client has received a warning for unnatural links and you have performed all the tasks including the reconsideration request. However, your client’s website is still losing traffic & rankings. What kind of strategies would you suggest them?
A: If your reconsideration request fails it probably means you did something wrong so you need to analyse again. I would suggest anyone with this issue to look at the ‘real’ experts on this, for example the people at LinkRisk. Basically it’s analyzing until you find the problem.
Q: If you had to identify the TOP most ranking factors, what would they be?
A: That’s a dangerous question because it’s a guessing game. There are many ranking factors, for some it’s difficult to determine how important they are. I would say content, backlinks and CTR are still the most important ones. But focus on all, not just on a few.
Q: What’s the biggest challenge you have to overcome when working with clients?
A: Making the management understand the issues and acting on it. Most of the time the experts within the company know what is important, but the management has its own ideas. Getting everybody on the same level is the biggest challenge.
Q. How you get the idea to make the State of Digital?
A: I believe there is a lot of content out there, which is just written for the sake of content. With State of Digital we try to take the opposite approach: write about what people need in their day-to-day jobs, written by those within the industry. We try to put quality and reader first. One of the reasons we hardly do any advertising .
Q: Which are those 3 things the world doesn’t know about Bas van den Beld?
A: If there are things people don’t know about me I should probably not tell them here ;). I would say the most important things people should know which is ‘less visible’ is that I have a busy personal life as well and that my family is very important on that.
Q. As you are one of the great speaker, which are your favorite online marketing conference & why?
A: That all depends on the reasons of the conference. A Thinkvis for example is great, but has a completely different vibe to it than an SES, for different reasons, yet they are both fun to be at. I currently enjoy very much speaking in ‘different’ type countries like Turkey, Iran, Ukraine etcetera, because there is a different type audience there.
I can’t say which one are the best, because it really depends on what you are looking for in a conference.
Q: What do you do on your spare time?
A: In my spare time I spent a lot of time with my family, next to that I watch football, I play tennis, am part of the youth committee there and simply try to enjoy life
Q. If you had the power to change something in Google for one day, what would that be?
A: I would install myself as CEO so I would have the power to do that every day
On a more serious note I think I would focus on the outside communication, even though they have a few good ‘front men’, I think there is so much more to be done when it comes to informing the larger audiences about what Google is doing.
Q. How does your workspace look like? Can we have a picture?
A: I work from my living room, so I don’t ‘really’ have a workspace or office. I move around sometimes, for example to a café, the library or off course a hotel room when I’m traveling. And when the weather is good, I like to move outside, into my garden for example, which is my ‘workspace’ you see on the picture.
Thanks Bas van den Beld for giving your valuable time and answering our questions. Surely The internet marketing world will look forward to this interview as a valuable source.