The Organic Reach Apocalypse

Epistemology – How we know what we think we know, and why it matters
August 7, 2019
“Can I get a hit?”: The Genius Marketing Behind the Outbreak of a “Mystery Lung Illness”
September 16, 2019

The Organic Reach Apocalypse

If you’re at all behind the curve in tech adoption, you might not have noticed that the internet as we know it is fundamentally changing. These days, more and more web queries are being made by voice through devices like Amazon’s Alexa or services like Apple’s Siri. This is the future, where our gadgets are quietly listening to us all the time, ready to deliver succinct answers like an overachieving elementary school student. Don’t worry though, you can totally trust our already mildly dystopian big tech companies to not abuse or lose control of the widespread surveillance apparatus they’re building. All paranoia aside, the way that search is changing is a big deal for the digital presences of brand and businesses who rely on it as a traffic source.


Of course, search engines aren’t the only ones making big changes to opaque algorithms that have sweeping consequences for marketers. Social media sites are notorious for making “improvements” that wreak havoc on familiar strategies, including the decline of organic reach and movement towards being pay to play platforms for businesses. Gone are the days of stuffing a website full of keywords, making a few tweets, and … profit! It’s a brave new world, where Google will mine your hard built content and deliver sound bite answers to seekers who won’t click through to your website, and Facebook will show your posts to a fraction of followers while sending emails about how you could be reaching so many more with just a little “boost.” In short, we may be facing the death of organic reach online.


There’s one digital channel that’s relatively immune to the whims of search engines and social media algorithms: email. Despite being a relative dinosaur in the realm of technologies, studies show that folks spend tons of time in their inboxes, and many marketers report that email generates more consistent results than any other media. Apocalyptic predictions about the way that organic reach is changing might be taken as a great reason to double down on converting visitors to email subscribers. At the same time, it’s a great reminder that nothing is really certain in the realm of digital marketing—the sands are always shifting and agile adaptation is the name of the game. Content marketing certainly isn’t going anywhere, but getting eyes on that content is probably going to get more challenging.


Another marketing technology for achieving organic reach actually predates email and also enjoys relative immunity from search and social filters. It’s built on the sheer excitement that comes from having a great experience with a brand and it’s offerings. We’re talking a “holy crap I just have to tell someone right now about how this widget changed my life” kind of excitement, and it’s associated expression as word of mouth publicity. If you can create that kind of experience for clients and customers, your business will survive whatever the tech executive overlords have planned for the organic reach apocalypse, and with a little luck, maybe even the real apocalypse too.