Internet Marketing and the Second 50

Ian Lurie

I used to do these ultra-marathon cycling events. ‘Used to’ means ’16 years ago’, by the way. You’d get up in the morning, ride 200-500 miles in a single day, and then go pass out.
But I learned something really important: No matter how long the ride, the second 50 miles is the worst.
In the first 50 miles, you’re charged up. You’ve been carbo-loading for a month, have your bike totally in tune, and it’s 5 AM, so there’s no wind.
Then you hit the second 50 miles. The sun comes up, and with it, a nasty headwind (always – why is that?). You’re getting hungry again, but you’re still massaging out jaw cramps from the last energy bar you chewed. And the guy in front of you smells like he rolled in something dead. Ugh.
For me at least, it’s always that second 50.

A distant connection

Now, look at internet marketing. You have a web site. It’s unproductive.
You make a few little SEO tweaks, add a button that says ‘buy now’ and WHAM, sales rise 75%.
Wow! This rocks! Time for an energy bar!
That’s the first 50. Now comes the second 50.
For your SEO effort, there are no more ‘easy’ fixes or low-hanging links to grab. It’s not about going from invisible to #20 on Google, it’s about getting from #20 to #8. The latter is infinitely harder.
For your conversion rate optimization effort, you have to start working on your checkout funnel, which requires development time and design time. People start digging in their heels.
You get the picture. The second 50 sucks.

Push through it – it’s worth it

If you get past the second 50, though, the rewards are huge.
Few people make it. In a triple century (300 miles in a day), riders drop like flies right around mile 80 or so. In internet marketing, organizations grind to a halt when the gains get harder. That means you:

  • Have less competition;
  • Have more resources (food at feed stops, or customers);
  • Get to compete against folks who inspire you; and
  • Start to see that you can make it, because you pulled away from all the phreds. That’s a cycling term. It’s not flattering.

Get past the second 50 and your internet marketing campaign can take off. Never mind 50-75% growth. How about 100% growth? Or more? It takes a lot longer, and it gets harder as you go, but the returns are well worth it.
End of sermon.

Recent stuff

Ian Lurie
CEO & Founder

Ian Lurie is CEO and founder of Portent and the EVP of Marketing Services at Clearlink. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (25 years, if you're counting). He's recorded training for, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Follow him on Twitter at portentint, and on LinkedIn at

Start call to action

See how Portent can help you own your piece of the web.

End call to action


  1. Ian,
    Great post….
    Though I am not one that would volunteer for a 200-500 mile ultra-marathon cycling event, but I do feel your pain in retrospect to the continuous SEO marathon one must endure to break through the mythical search engine algorithms and come through the other side successfully.
    Search engine optimization is not a set it and forget it initiative especially after you start seeing results. It is about capitalizing on those results and continuously tracking and measuring what is working and what’s not working. From keywords used, user experiences, design to form fallout and social media optimization. I describe this a bit more in a blog post referencing Media Logic’s SEO approach “Social Media….Super Juice for SEO check it out at

Comments are closed.

Close search overlay