Internet Marketing Lessons from Hogwarts

When it comes to Internet marketing, you might feel like an 11-year-old witch or wizard the day they received their first Hogwarts letter via owl post — and that’s okay.
A lot of businesses, especially small to medium sized ones, still struggle with choosing a marketing strategy and sticking to it. Indeed, 50% of companies are using digital marketing, but they don’t have a plan.

But in many ways, those new to Internet marketing are in a better place than the young witches and wizards. After all, how were they supposed to figure out that they had to run into a brick wall at King’s Cross station, anyway? At least those looking to enhance brand awareness and search page rankings have more resources than just a letter giving them a choice of a cat, an owl, or a toad.

Anyways, not to be too corny, but just because we never got letters inviting us to join the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, it doesn’t mean you can’t do magic in other forms.


Take a Cue from “The Daily Prophet” / Blog

Providing non-salesy content for prospective clients and customers is important, and it needs a place to live. House it on your on-site blog. One way to go about doing this is to generate a large backlog of content and articles (punctuated by timely or seasonal postings) and set them to post automatically, which will make it seem like your business is hip, happening, and can easily churn out interesting and relatable content. Blogging increases web traffic by 55% for brands, and it’s easy to maintain and relate back to your product. We all hated Rita Skeeter and her poisonous pen but don’t let that “bug” you. Instead, let’s take away the real lesson. Whether it falls from the ceiling onto your breakfast or comes from an onsite blog, sharing information really works.

The Marauder’s Map / Tracking and Analytics

Harry would never leave the Gryffindor tower after dark without first consulting the trusty Marauder’s Map, now would he? In the same way, you would never launch an SEO or web development campaign for your website or business without first looking at its current standing and monitoring your efforts along the way. Three major engines make up 95%+ of all search traffic in the US: Google and the Yahoo!-Bing alliance. Using a tracking tool like Google Analytics will help you figure out where potential drops might come from, uncover strategic value, and compare performance vs. market share. Without tracking and analyzing clicks, hits, and rankings, how will you know if your efforts were for naught or not?

Get the Spell Right / Target Those Keywords

When Hermione famously reprimanded Ron for uttering the wrong incantation (“You’re saying it wrong,” Harry heard Hermione snap. “It’s Wing-gar-dium Levi-o-sa, make the ‘gar’ nice and long.”), she reminds us all that sometimes, words really do matter. Search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the most proven methods for boosting search engine rankings organically, and it all depends on the right balance and density of keywords located on a site. Research shows that 71% marketers use broad keywords to capture leads at the top of the purchase funnel, which is a great way to “collect” potential customers from different fields. Magic? No, that’s SEO.

“The Boy Who Lived” / Personal Branding

Whether Harry liked it or not, his brand worked for him — even though the Voldemort-denying wizarding media and government turned it against him for a brief, albeit dark, period of time. Because he represented the hope for the downfall of a seemingly undefeatable, tyrannical lunatic, he became the symbol for a movement to defeat the Dark Lord. Even non-readers of the series are likely to recognize words and tropes from the series, simply because Potter’s brand leapt right out of the page and into our culture’s lexicon. Indeed, even in our world of savvy, self-aware consumers, 64% of people cite shared values as the main reason they have a relationship with a brand. It’s hard to proceed with a solid, multi-faceted, Internet marketing campaign unless you know how you want your brand to be received.

Horcrux It Up / Diversify Your Efforts

Everyone knows not to put all of your eggs in one basket, but for good ol’ Voldemort, it was all about not putting all the pieces of your soul into one body, am I right? And, while I do not recommend performing the Horcrux spell on yourself (Rowling herself has stated that the process is “too horrible, actually, to go into detail about”), there is a valuable lesson to be taken from this approach. Asked to name their number-one challenge, 15% of digital marketers said “meeting the expectations of the always-connected customer,” 14% chose “executing consistent campaigns that drive desired business outcomes” (i.e., leads or revenue) and 13% cited the proliferation of channels across paid, owned and earned media — the point is, it can be hard to divide and conquer when it comes to creating a multi-faceted multi-media approach to your new Internet marketing campaign. It is tempting to put all of your time and energy into one thing, but developing a diverse approach to reach your internet marketing goals is essential. You should keyword optimize your content, redesign your site for mobile compatibility, self-promote on social media, and refine your personal brand. Constantly.

Defense Against the Dark Arts / Defend Your Strategy

Something evil is on the horizon… and it’s coming for you. In the same way that Harry and his friends dreaded Lord Voldemort’s return, the SEO world waits with bated breath for the latest version of Penguin, which is set to be released… well, soon. Every time Google revamps its search algorithm, it renders the content ineffectual — that carefully, lovingly, excruciatingly crafted content. By staying prepared, and literally rolling with the punches, you can come out on top every time.

Dumbledore’s Army / Social Media

Perhaps there is no good analogy for social media in the wizarding world, but the formation of Dumbledore’s Army gets pretty close. Remember those heated Galleons that notified DA members when to meet for their next lesson? Perhaps Hermione spent some of her vacation time exploring the World Wide Web on her parents’ computers the few times she went home for holidays,* because those Galleons remind me an awful lot of Facebook event pings… but it is important to note that 78% of companies now say they have dedicated social media teams in 2015, up from 67% in 2012. Nobody can deny that it is important to reach out to targeted groups, and just generally put one’s brand out there as much as possible.

Harry and his friends have imparted many jewels of wisdom on us over the years — who knew that their stories and lessons were so applicable? What are some of your favorite magical marketing methods?

*Yes, the events of the series’ plot took place in the 90s, but what if!?

This article was originally published on our Medium Publication.

What other marketing lessons can you think of from the Harry Potter series?