Laura Petrolino

The ABCs of Web Marketing for Communications Pros

By: Laura Petrolino | January 8, 2018 | 

The ABCs of Web MarketingWay back in 2014 (that was shortly after the extinction of the dinosaurs) I wrote a post that outlined the ABCs of web marketing.

A lot changes in the digital world in four years.

Think about it, in 2014 we didn’t have Alexa or Apple watches. We were excited about the iPhone 5.

(Have you seen the pictures taken from iPhone 5? Hello, embarrassing!)

We didn’t even have Snapchat or Instagram filters. None of us were walking around like dogs or kittens.

Life was hard.

But somehow we were still able to use the archaic tools we had way back then for web marketing.

But now, four years later, it’s time to update our ABCs!

Web Marketing is Constantly Evolving

Web marketing is an ever-changing field in an ever-adapting world.

While the fundamentals stay the same (and you see that in this list), we must understand how the evolving landscape effects those fundamentals. And how to use new technology to meet our goals.

Below you will find the 2018 ABCs of web marketing.

Each letter not only represents an important characteristic of successful web marketing but also contains hyperlinks to associated articles that might be helpful for your future efforts.

The ABCs of Web Marketing

Ok, are you ready class? Let’s review our ABCs!

Artificial Intelligence

AI is here to stay. Like it or not, it’s part of your world, part of your job, and part of how you communicate with your customers.

It’s crucial in 2018 for communicators to understand AI and open our minds to how it can help us do our jobs better.

This Fireside Chat on artificial intelligence with Chris Penn is a great place to start.


Make sure yours is consistent across all of your digital channels.


Some things don’t change and the need for quality content to lead the way in every web marketing strategy is one of them.

Content is your alpha and omega.

It’s what you distribute to reach your prospect, how you drive them back t to your website, and what you use to convert them through your marketing funnel.

Gini Dietrich’s content creation series will get you started on the right foot with your content creation and The Communicators Playbook will teach you how to create a content strategy that drives leads and sales.


They matter.

In everything you do, whether that be your content, social, SEO, media outreach, or crisis communication plan.

Take the time to pay attention to the little things, they have a huge effect on your brand.


It’s no secret we are big on professional development here (kind of give it away in our tagline…).

It’s why Spin Sucks exists.

And why we created the PR Dream Team, The Modern Blogging Masterclass, and the latest The Communicator’s Playbook.

This field changes and evolves constantly.

Learning is part of your job description.

You must constantly learn in order to offer the best for your clients or organization.


We have a zillion and three distractions coming at us every minute.

This is especially true when dealing with web marketing.

To be successful you must learn to focus, prioritize, and learn when to take a break.


Like it or not, Google affects your business and you understand and use it to help you reach your goals.

Search engine optimization, Google Analytics and data analysis, PPC, and the many other platforms, educational opportunities, and data tools offered by Google must be part of your knowledge base and strategy.


Those who laugh with you, buy from you…according to an increasing number of studies.

Learn to use humor strategically to boost your web marketing strategies further.


Integrity and reputation are the most important assets you and your organization have.

Guard them fiercely and choose to work with others who do the same.


Brand journalism might be taking different forms now vs. in 2014, but the basic concept and importance remain the same.


Does anyone even talk about Klout anymore?

Remember when we all used to know our Klout score like we knew our social security numbers?

While Klout isn’t a marker of influence, I needed a K and it symbolic for the importance of influence.

(Give me a break, writing this post is like being dealt a bad hand in Scrabble).

Influence and thought leadership (not the buzzword versions, but real influence thought leadership) in your industry are important components of a successful digital strategy.


Know yours. You don’t need to be everywhere at once.

Figure out what channels make the most sense for your brand and your customer. 


Consumers continue to use mobile to a greater extent to interact with your brand and make purchasing decisions.

You need to have a mobile strategy. Period.

In 2014 I included mobile but asked if you had a plan yet.

Today I’m telling you: you’re behind.

Way behind.

Mobile should be considered in EVERYTHING you do.


Navigate the web marketing seas intelligently informed, but fearlessly.

Have a plan, but don’t be blinded by it.

Be aware of change and when you need to change course.


Why rent when you could own?

While shared, earned, and paid media are important parts of an integrated PESO model plan, the platforms you own and the content you build there are key.


Paid media, in the form of social media advertising and email marketing, is a crucial part of a communications strategy.

Yet still, one communicators often ignore.

Understanding how to use paid media as part of your overall plan is a crucial part of web marketing.


Engage your community with questions.

Ask them what they think, what they like, how they feel.

They want to tell you.

Listening will strengthen your business and their trust that you are truly interested in their needs.


Sure, you might have 10,000 Twitter followers, but Twitter followers alone aren’t going to grow your business, pay your employees, or put dinner on the table.

Tracking the right PR metrics and building your communications plan around them will allow you to show a REAL ROI of your communications efforts.


You must have a well researched, targeted, and actionable strategy to be successful.

Time Management

Time management skills are key.

Cultivate practices that help you be more productive.

User-Generated Content

UGC only continues to grow.

User-generated content campaigns happen all around you every day.

Your consumers are going to talk about your brand. I

t’s your responsibility to help direct that conversation in a way which supports your goals.


The use of video has only become more important in the last four years.

It’s crucial you have a video strategy and learn how to best use this visual content to best tell your story.

The good news is it’s easier than ever to create professional and effective videos on a small budget.

So don’t put video off because you think you need a production studio and Hollywood-sized budget.


That’s what you are doing as part of this community! Go you!


Imagine the four media types as being represented by each of the tips of the X.

A successful strategy brings them all together. After all, every pirate knows X marks the spot!

Pick yourself a pirate name and embrace the PESO model.


You are an important part of your brand.

Let your personality show, as well as that of the rest of your team.

People want to connect with people not nameless, faceless brands.


Who wonders what a zebra would tweet?

I know I do!

That’s my alphabet, what’s yours?

About Laura Petrolino

Laura Petrolino is the chief client officer at Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She also is a weekly contributor to the award-winning PR blog, Spin Sucks. Join the Spin Sucks   community.

  • Bill Dorman

    But I’m lazy, that sounded like work to me. Oh, that’s why I should be hiring a coach like you, huh?

    The person I work most directly with in my office I tell her she has one job, and one job only and that’s to make me look good. If she can do that (which is no easy task) then we’re cookin’ w/ gas.

    Seriously, if I was the check signer around here your team would have been entrenched with us about 4 years ago. I’ll work on that….:).

    • Work on that already Bill! Geez!

      And that woman has it made! Making you look good is an easy job!

  • Dawn Buford

    It is truly amazing how far we’ve come since 2014. Every day there is something new and exciting out there in the digital world. I am really looking forward to more innovation and especially AI technology (bring on the self-driving cars please!). Great list Laura! Lots to think about.

    • Goodness knows we need self-driving cars, if only to get some of the idiot drivers out there off the roads.

  • Julia Carcamo

    As usual Laura, you’re inspiring me to shape up! BTW, props for the puppy pic.

    • Ahh! You’re the sweetest! I’m so glad! And YAY, I’m glad you clicked on that. At first I had it embedded in the post, but it ended up being huge, and I figured Gini would not appreciate my puppy photo taking over this entire post!

  • heidicohen

    Laura–Love how you’ve made ABC content evergreen! It’s a great way to keep your content fresh. No new ideas needed. Happy marketing, Heidi Cohen – Actionable Marketing Guide

    • Thanks Heidi! And exactly. Plus it was kind of fun to take a look at exactly what HAS changed in the last four years.

  • Howie Goldfarb

    Now in Spanish!

    I am going to add that we have no idea how communication and PR and marketing and advertising is going to evolve even over the next few years. But with net neutrality gone (shouldn’t verizon just demand $6 a user from Facebook/month? How F-ked would they be if that happened? Would people care or just move on?)…AI in the living room removing phone and web from view for many tasks (hello return of radio/audio commercials!)…self driving cars (good bye Billboards hello in car media/ad platforms….but what if people mostly nap in transit?!)…robots coming into the home (hello rosie!) and local point of use power coming (goodbye oil, gas, electric grid hello unlimited free solar power…..just as Gas station tv shows up at my local Shell station)….lots of change a foot…..and lastly there is a high chance of a stock market crash due to civil war/disobedience/national strikes over the Donald Regime trying to take over and massive inequality in the next 1-3 years and the effort to kill the poor and old before……..Robots replace workers and workers then become burdens to the rich. hold on to your hats!

    • Sooooo much change ahead of us it’s crazy to think about. Where and how and why we target consumers will be flipped on it’s head and then flipped again multiple times in the next decade.

      That’s what makes our jobs, and also requires us to constantly evolve and learn and improve (or else we will be replaced by AI)

      Hope you’re staying warm Howie

  • No one talks about Artificial Un-intelligence – think Facebook

    I really think not much has changed in marketing since coins replaced fish and chicken for barter – just the mediums for commnication

    • HAHAHAH! This is absolutely correct. The basics stay the same no matter what. Unfortunately a lot of people forget that and lose sight of the basic requirements of successful communications. Instead they use tool after tool after high tech tool and wonder why it’s not working.

  • Still wondering how hatchimals didn’t make the list.

  • Such a cool post. Loved it, Laura! It’s fun to look back and see how things have changed, evolved, or entirely disappeared. Anyone remembers Meerkat?

  • Zebra? Really? We couldn’t find anything else that started with Z?