Big Flaws in the “Most Influential Online Marketers of 2009” List and 4 Ways You Can Avoid the Same Mistakes

January 13, 2010 - Written by Gyutae Park  

invesp-100-marketers-2009I’m the #61 most influential online marketer of 2009. Seriously. Are you surprised? I know I was when I first saw the list a few days ago. While I’m flattered and honored to be included, a part of me just doesn’t feel right. How am I ranked higher than the very SEO superstars that I look up to? This includes guys like Patrick Altoft, Jordan Kasteler, Eric Ward, and Michael Gray (who didn’t even make the list). Furthermore, to say that I’m more influential than top bloggers like John Chow, Lisa Barone, and Leo Babauta is just insulting – even to me.

Khalid and Ayat over at Invesp do an amazing job with conversion optimization and put together a solid list last year – Top 100 Internet Marketers of 2008. I even did a followup post called How to Be a Top 100 Online Marketer in 2009 – 8 Lessons in Personal Branding which many of those included helped me to promote. In fact, my goal was to use the very principles I talked about in that post to get on the list for 2009. Well a year later, I made it… but it does feel bittersweet.

I’m not alone in voicing my issues with the list either. Rae Hoffman wrote a pretty comprehensive post (in her usual scathing hot style) outlining where the list went wrong – including all of the top marketers who were left off. No Chris Pearson? No Michael Streko? That’s like playing NBA Jam back in the nineties when Michael Jordan and Shaquille O’Neal were left off in the game due to licensing reasons. Not as fun. 😉

Anyway, I realize that a list like this is mainly for linkbait purposes (hey, I’m writing about it afterall). But the process could definitely have been streamlined to come up with something of higher quality.

Are you thinking about creating a Top X of 2010 list? Here are some of the biggest considerations and tips that you should have in mind based on the flaws of this latest list.

1. “Top People” lists work great, but…
Let’s be honest. Top lists of people work because they cater to people’s egos. Everyone likes seeing themselves included on a list – so they’ll share it and make sure others take notice. That’s free marketing that you can take advantage of.

On the flip side, the same lists can be double-edged swords. Sure, those included will help you promote but what about those people who were left off? Or what if bloggers and social media users damage your reputation because they don’t agree with you? As an example, John Chow went as far as to say that Invesp is on his **** list. That in itself probably offsets a lot of the benefit obtained through the strategy.

My point? If you plan on creating any sort of list that plays on people’s egos, be careful. Do it right, or don’t do it at all.

2. You can’t please everyone
Like anything in life, you can’t always please everyone. This is especially true for top lists. There are always going to be different opinions, different vantage points, different relationships and different priorities. Just because you think someone should make the list, doesn’t mean the person next to you will too.

So if you’re creating a list of top people, develop a reliable system to base the rankings on. Ideally it would be something that would be hard to argue with (e.g. a list of top marketers based on income, not user opinions).

3. Use numbers and justify reasons for inclusion
You can’t argue with numbers. If possible, base your rankings on actual numbers rather than intangibles like popularity. For example, if you want to create a list of top bloggers in 2010, use metrics like traffic, revenue, social media, etc. Leaving the rankings to biased user opinion is a recipe for disaster. My list of the best Internet marketing blogs works so well because it uses a large set of data to determine the rankings. If someone has a quality blog, all of the numbers should tell the story.

Furthermore, add some reasons why that particular person is placed at the specified rank and why he or she deserves it. Invesp really dropped the ball here because it seemed like all of the rankings after the top 10 were completely arbitrary. To make matters worse, my bio was taken straight from the about page here.

4. Don’t leave it to public voting
I was actually quite surprised when I saw that Invesp opened up their top marketers list with a public call for nominations. Basically, anyone could add anyone else they wanted for consideration to the list. I get why the Invesp team might have wanted to do that to increase exposure and public interaction, but it certainly did not help the process. Many people nominated and voted for themselves and Shoemoney and John Chow decided to endorse a rather unknown marketer just to game the system. That caused quite a negative backlash that I’m sure did not help Invesp’s cause.

What are some of the ideas that you have for top lists? You’ll definitely want to consider all of the points I mentioned. Otherwise, you could end up doing more harm than good. Thoughts?

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9 Responses to “Big Flaws in the “Most Influential Online Marketers of 2009” List and 4 Ways You Can Avoid the Same Mistakes”

Tom | Build That List on January 13th, 2010

I love looking at your list because it let’s me see who my peers are and helps me network with other bloggers.

pravakar on January 14th, 2010

The way you have explained is absolutely imagine. It’s true that we can make please every body. Suppose we going to do something and others are not like. It’s depended people like and dislike.

Satria Nugraha on January 14th, 2010

Hi MR. Park, thanks anyway for your sharing info. After I read your posting, I agree with you and I should consider the point that you mentioned at your post. I will try it.

Chris Peterson on January 15th, 2010

Really True, some time it happens such type mistake. I liked step 1 and 2. Maintain these two steps are very difficult. It will be very difficult to make please every body. I think this type of mistakes happen in every high profile marketer.

wisdom teeth removal on January 15th, 2010

Good to see you made the ‘list’ but yeah I can see how others should have been ranked as well like you mentioned.

SEM Antics on January 29th, 2010

Pretty surprising to see Matt Cutts down in 37th…

max on February 17th, 2010

True, they need a better top whatever list, that ain’t cuttin’ it.

Vace Sova on March 31st, 2010

Hi Gyutae,

I do agree with you that reliable numbers should be used when making the list.

On the other hand if subjective opinions are used in making the list, it should be clearly stated as to on what they are based.

For example: out of the people that I looked at and according to my experience with them and their products, articles, posts etc. I consider these ones as most influential.

If the list is made based on how much money the individuals made then it should be clearly stated too.

But to my mind while money is important, it doesn’t necessarily follow that the amount of influence will always be in proportion to the amount of money made.


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