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Kirsty Hulse: e-commerce in 2030: ‘I think people will still shop “online” through the mechanism will likely change.’

01 February 2019

Kirsty Hulse, one of my personal marketing superhero’s, one of the greatest minds on link management, PR and Outreach. She lets us see that links still matter bigtime and that we can get them easily in tons of ways just by being creative. A woman on a mission to push remote working. But next to that a brilliant marketer! Nice, bold, creative, pretty and she mastered the art of communication!

Tell me, what’s your secret? And what is the most important thing we ought to know about Kirsty?
My secret? Well, if anything, I think it’s not caring what other people think about you. Focusing on doing work you enjoy and never taking anything too seriously!

So, looking back 10 years in time (I believe you were around 16 years old), what was little Kirsty doing? Was she already making predictions on the evolution of our field of work? And if she was, where they spot on looking at our industry now?
Well 10 years ago I was 20 and already working in the industry, so I was making some predictions. I used to always say then that apps would take over websites in a hushed, conspiratorial tone. Now whilst it’s not entirely true there was certainly an element of truth in it, with the increase in usage, loyalty to apps and the growth of web apps!

Some of the world’s best marketers are all very skeptic about the near future of Digital Marketing. Fili Wiese thinks we are all being hijacked by the filter bubble; Yono Alderson says we are all screwed and too late to anticipate AI, our jobs will become useless and we should all become Affiliate marketers, And Rand says we are all slaves to Google and get a bad deal out of filling their index.

What are your thoughts about the future of search and the role of marketers within the process?

I think our role as marketers is very simple through our roles as SEO is more complex. As marketers, we stay just that, we focus on brand, run clever, creative advertising and ensure our customers can find us through multiple touch points and devices. SEO in the format of “making websites rank on search engines” will change, eventually and inevitably. Though there will always be a need for a group of people who are technically savvy, and crucially, understand humans, our behavior and what we like to see and share. Our roles will increasingly be about having good products and a good brand presence and customer experience.

In the line of the previous question but looking further into the future. 2016+: Chatbots/apps, home assistants, smart machines and companies like Uber, Airbnb, USwitch etc. are taking over certain marketing processes. Because of this, the customer will not be in his own marketing process anymore.

What is your idea about how e-commerce will be in 2030? How will our kids shop? Or will “online shopping” be a superfluous verb?

I honestly have no idea. I think people will still shop in bricks and mortar stores, especially for high-value luxury items. I think people will still shop “online” through the mechanism will likely change. You may not wade through thousands of products yourself, rather be sent items you are likely to like based on preferences (this is already happening increasingly), you may ask a device to simply “send me a dress of a wedding next weekend”. Whilst technology will change, the fundamental human enjoyment of getting new things and the process and ritual of this will remain the same.

Back to the here and now, because the game is very real and heavy these days. If you could get back one “SEO technique” from the past, what would it be?
I don’t think I would. I spent my early years in SEO (about 8 years ago) chasing the algorithm. Spinning content, injecting links into comments, keyword stuffing. Whilst it worked, it was shitty. It often didn’t provide the best results for a user and I got a little tired of it, we all want to actually help people, right?

What is your biggest link achievement and what are your thought on building links in general?
We ran a campaign for a small insurance company once, that got them hundreds of links in the trade press, business publications, and national press. I loved it because it was just a small article, based on being quick and reactive at the time, we managed to comment and ride a wave of something that was happening. I think this should be where we increasingly focus our efforts when linkbuilding, getting big wins without investing huge amounts of time or effort.

Why should everyone see your Presentation at Friends of Search?
I have done some huge data analysis to help us all understand what actually works from a link perspective, so it should help define strategy, and get some really useful tactics and tips.

Kirsty will speak at Friends of Search on February 6. Get your tickets here.