You can’t grow as a marketer without curiosity – here’s why
Learn why curiosity is essential in our line of work and how to instill the skill in your professional life.
People search a lot about “marketing skills.”
Google Trends shows the upward graph of the above term from January 2016, but its search has dramatically increased in 2022.
This increase leads to the conclusion that more people are looking to enhance their marketing skills. But, one skill remains underrated, despite being included in most online articles and books related to digital marketing skills.
It’s underrated because some marketers emphasize working on other skills they feel will make them progress in their careers and land them their dream jobs and higher paychecks.
Thus, they’ll work on technical, analytical and communication skills, but not on being more curious.
Why is curiosity important in marketing?
Curiosity improves understanding
Kids are the most curious. They ask questions about anything and everything, and that’s how they know things better and remember for a more extended period.
Consider the Information Theory curve below. What I interpret is the more curiosity you have, the more knowledge you can get (the original interpretation is not in this context).
With more knowledge, the understanding improves and takes you to the next growth stage.
That’s how it becomes crucial for everyone, even marketers, to be extremely curious to compel us to:
- Ask questions.
- Seek out new information.
- Expand our understanding of the world around us.
Curiosity brings creativity
Curiosity is one of the most important drivers of creativity. After all, that drives us to explore new things, ask questions and look for answers.
Marketers need to be curious if they want to be creative.
We often get caught up in the day-to-day tasks that we forget to step back and question everything we’re doing.
We become complacent and go through the motions without thinking about our actions or why.
But when we take the time to be curious, we can open up a new world of possibilities.
We can look at our campaigns from different angles and develop innovative ways to improve them. We can also challenge the status quo and find better ways to do things.
When marketers become curious, they would ask more questions.
The more questions, the more understanding.
The more understanding, the better ideas, and solutions.
Curiosity enables enthusiasm
Because they ask many questions, bringing creativity in them, marketers become enthusiastic about everything they’re working on.
Let’s take a look at the Zone of Curiosity.
I have highlighted the Zone of Curiosity section within the above diagram, which says that when someone is in the curiosity state, the efficiency is at the optimum level. Hence, the interest and excitement are pretty high.
This interest and excitement can be contagious, sparking the same curiosity and enthusiasm in others.
Such a feeling can bring them together for more experiments, learning, and growth. This can lead to more sales, customers, and success for the business overall.
Curiosity strengthens precision
I would like to refer to the same Zone of Curiosity diagram above says that alertness is also high when someone is in a curious state of mind.
When we’re curious about something, we’re more likely to pay attention to it and note details we might have missed. This heightened focus can benefit marketers by allowing us to target our audience more precisely.
After all, your efforts will likely be in vain if you’re not reaching the right people with the right message. Fortunately, curiosity can help to strengthen precision among marketers.
Now that we know what curiosity delivers to marketers, we need to look at where and how curiosity helps marketers in their day-to-day marketing lives.
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Where (and how) does curiosity help marketers?
Let’s start with the basics and then with the advanced ones.
1. Curiosity to learn new things
The number one area where marketers need curiosity is to learn new things. We are so busy in marketing jobs that we just keep doing what we learned in the past.
Though we have Google products that keep us on our toes to learn new things, how successful are we in learning them?
I interviewed a lot of SEOs (seniors and managers) in the past three months, and no one has tried anything there. Most of them know this news, while only a few have set it up.
This shows a lack of curiosity among SEOs to learn new things like GA4.
Seniors and managers who are hiring embrace the talent that learns new things as, most of the time, they are looking to fill the skill gaps, and if you know it, you’ll be preferred.
So, knowing is not enough for a marketer. Learning is more essential.
Be curious to learn more new things.
2. Curiosity to experiment with new things
Whenever someone asks me about experiments I did, the first one I recollect is when I earned my first featured snippet.
It was 2015 when for the first time, I optimized the content before I published it. And within a week, it was on the featured snippets.
Because it’s on the featured snippets, obviously, it satisfied the users’ search and reading intent.
That content got promoted by our competitors, and not just my reporting manager but the owner of the 300-people company appreciated me over an email.
Today, the SEO industry knows me as someone who strategizes, curates, and optimizes content for featured snippets.
My curiosity to experiment with something new helped me reach where I am today.
It could be something else for you. But, it’s vital for you as a marketer to always be curious to experiment.
3. Curiosity to know what worked and what not
Experimenting is not enough. You also need to know what worked. What’s more important is to learn why an experiment was successful.
For one of our niche clients in social media marketing, we tried everything from choosing different audiences to coming out with short, lengthy videos. But none of our posts went to more than 30 likes and 500 reach.
But, the moment we launched our first reel, it went viral.
After digging into why most of our posts didn’t go that viral and most of our reels are getting good reach, it meant our target audience embraced reels, and Instagram prioritized them.
A smart marketer must always be curious to know what works for each client and what not to multiply the effort in the right direction.
4. Curiosity to find out the reason behind the failures
With failures, I mean larger failures, such as:
- A damaged relationship with a client.
- Missing the targets.
- Achieving negative ROI consistently.
- And more.
While we had a lot of success stories around featured snippets, we have one client for whom we could not achieve them. We knew the biggest challenge was their user experience. Nothing was dynamic that we could change the page structure, title, H1, and more.
Another failure was losing one of the biggest clients last year.
We recommended many tech improvements, which they never prioritized, but because Missive Digital was new, we provided them with content writing services to prove our SEO worth.
The content we wrote is still ranking on Page 1, and the content strategy we prepared was utilized even after our association with them.
They knew our worth, but we still lost them due to their lack of implementation.
Failures will be there, and they’ll never be in your control. Be curious to identify what brought you the failure and take the necessary steps.
5. Curiosity to learn from mistakes (whether it's your own or others')
Though failure and mistake are the results of trying, they are different.
You may not make mistakes because of failures, but you may fail because of mistakes.
I remember an incident that happened a few months ago within my team. I assigned a new team member to optimize the content, and while reviewing her work, I identified that for the target query, another page of the client was ranking on Page 1.
She had spent the whole day optimizing the content, which had keyword cannibalization. That was a mistake, which I mentioned in our Slack group.
Instantly, another team member called me up and asked me what she had to do if such a thing happened to her. I quickly guided her on how it becomes necessary to inform the client first and conclude on which page to optimize for the targeted query based on the users’ search and reading intent.
I appreciated that team member for being curious to learn from her teammate’s mistake.
It’s a great sign of being a good marketer because it lets you avoid future blunders or failures.
6. Curiosity to find the implications of failures
Curiosity should not end at learning from failures. Sometimes, knowing what would happen if we fail at certain things is also essential.
- What if we optimize content and it doesn’t reach featured snippets?
- What if we fail to achieve that 10K organic traffic in 9 months?
- What if the reels don’t drive engagement as expected?
- What if the email campaign for Christmas won’t surpass the last year’s sales?
- What if the tech implementation doesn’t boost sales?
- What if the landing pages we suggest don’t satisfy the user's expectations?
As a marketer, we strategize and execute various campaigns. We set key performance indicators (KPIs) for every campaign. But we hardly think about what we should do if the KPIs go negative.
What if our campaign doesn’t work as expected? What would be the implications of that?
Some projects are do-or-die situations where business owners or marketing heads have significantly less patience and time when working with agencies, consultants, or freelancers. You can lose the trust of your clients and projects in the long run.
In such cases, be curious enough to ask peers or managers about the implications of the failures during the planning stage.
With such curiosity, you know when to change the plan if a campaign doesn’t perform in two weeks or two months.
Even if such curiosity doesn’t save you from losing the project, but will help you plan better for the next one.
7. Curiosity to know what competitors are doing
Don’t get me wrong here. I know all of our marketing strategies involve thorough competitive analysis. But, most of the time, we stick to analyzing competitors based on the services you’re providing.
For example, if we provide content writing services, we stick to just that and don’t recommend anything that might help your content perform.
Sometimes, you also need to keep an eye on whether your competitors are:
- Evolving their product.
- Collaborating with different partners.
- Investing in other marketing channels.
- Revamping their brand positioning.
- Automating certain processes.
- Hiring specific roles.
- Getting PR or social mentions.
- Getting audience attention on any platform
- And more.
Everything that your competitors do, you should know it. We have made Google Alerts for our competitors’ brand mentions and configured them in our SEO tools.
That helps you be curious about your competitors and proactive in making decisions on time.
8. Curiosity about what other marketers are talking about
No, I’m not talking about the latest news in your industry. Today, everyone has subscribed to more than two or three newsletters where they get the latest updates on the industry.
I’m talking about what other marketers are talking about, learning new things, experimenting, and more in the industry.
For example, in SEO, many people I know are learning automation through Python, using Streamlit. I learned about Python SEO through the knowledge base of the late Hamlet Batista.
I remember Orit Mutznik (one of my inspirations) started a Python course and even came up with her first script.
Then I see a lot of posts from semantic SEO from Koray Tuğberk GÜBÜR (it’s on my list).
No one can stop your progress when you know what strategies, processes, methods, and tools people use to improve our client’s marketing ROI.
9. Curiosity to see what brands are doing
Most marketers love what more prominent brands do in their marketing. They would post some tweets or carousels dedicated to the great branding done by the brands.
But only a few marketers analyze what is and isn't working for some brands.
For example, Luke Carthy (one of my favorite ecommerce SEOs) is curious to understand what is happening with the brands, what's working, and what's not. He recently devised a case study for Toys ‘R’ Us. These case studies are just the reviews he does for those websites. He does not work for them.
His curiosity makes him do such reviews and analyses of ecommerce websites.
Such curiosity is rare but is required for every marketer to enhance their approach and mindset toward how to learn from and showcase brands if they're making mistakes.
How can marketers become more curious?
Ask the *right* questions the *right* way
Whenever you read any article on curiosity online, they give one tip – ask questions.
In marketing, just asking questions won't make you curious. You need to know what to ask, when, and how.
In my opinion, asking questions like the ones below is not considered curiosity:
- Is SEO dead?
- SEO vs. PPC: What is better?
- Is content marketing relevant today?
- How much DA does Google recommend for backlinks?
Just as asking the right questions is mandatory, asking the right person in the right way also matters.
For example, this person tagged John Mueller, Barry Schwartz, Brian Dean, Dr. Pete Meyers, and Fandango for something related to Google Business. That was a completely irrelevant and incorrect way of showcasing curiosity to know from these people.
So curiosity is a skill if you take it seriously, so don't ask random, irrelevant questions to irrelevant people at irrelevant platforms and timings.
As I explained above, curiosity is generated through experiments and not just by asking questions. The way it happened to me - when I achieved my first featured snippet in 2015.
If not from your experiments, learn from others' experiments.
When he ran the experiment, I participated out of curiosity, and it helped me build this approach of remarketing SEO considering Twitter SEO.
After he shared the results on how Twitter carousel boosts organic impressions and clicks, we started using Twitter as the tool to drive more returning visitors to our website and for faster URL indexing.
So run your experiments or learn from others to enhance your curiosity as a marketing skill.
Be open to feedback
I would be too direct here. If you are not open to feedback, you cannot grow as a professional or human being.
And feedback can come from anyone – your seniors, managers, boss, juniors, mentors, and more.
Also, feedback can come in any form. For example, I usually ask my team members questions to discover what I want to tell them. In such a way, they feel it isn't feedback but learning.
It doesn't matter who gave you the feedback. See what you're learning from the feedback because that's how curiosity gets strengthened within you.
Leave your comfort zone
Before becoming a consultant, I used to work in-house. Back then, hardly all IT or marketing agencies would have weekends off in India.
But, when I worked in Cygnet Infotech (one of the largest IT headquarters in Ahmedabad), weekends were off, and I was enjoying my work-life balance.
Every month, we used to outperform our targets for TestingWhiz, and it was monotonous to keep enjoying the appreciation from the manager and company directors.
So, I knew that if I had to learn more, I had to come out of my comfort zone of this 5-day work.
I decided to leave my five-day working job and went to another IT company for a six-day working culture.
And after that, I moved to entrepreneurship which is almost a seven-day work (even if you’re not at your desk physically doing office work).
You need to identify your comfort zone and leave it at the right time. Otherwise, you won’t be curious about what the other side of your life and job looks like.
Be ready to help and collaborate (be it with peers or anyone in your network)
Not necessarily someone comes to you for help, considering you know everything. They might think they need someone reliable to work on something they struggle at.
When you agree to help (irrespective of monetary gain), you become more curious about the things you handle.
A few months ago, I was not reading all the blogs Aleyda Solis used to add to her #SEOFOMO newsletter. I used to select the interesting ones, such as content, on-page, algorithm updates, studies, etc.
But since we collaborated to write those descriptions, I now read every blog.
This has increased my level of curiosity for even the tech side of SEO. I read for myself and even for my team.
So when you're passionately involved in helping someone, your mind develops the curiosity to learn everything to help them.
Master curiosity and win as a marketer
A marketer's job is not only to build curiosity within their target audience but even within themselves to become better every day.
Take the help of peers, thought leaders, mentors, nature, tools, and more because learning is everywhere, and the more curious you become, the more successful you’ll be.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.
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