Experts Tell Us What They Learnt in 2017

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]We wanted this expert round-up to focus on new beginnings. With us having just transitioned to yet another New Year, there seems no better time to ask industry leaders how they want to apply their energy in the coming months, after last year’s learning-curve.

2017 has been quite the year for SEO – perhaps the year SEO went even more mainstream than ever – and we wanted to find out from big-players in the industry just what they’ve taken from it, and how they plan to make progress in the year ahead.

This article is an opportunity to learn from some of the most motivated guys in the field, how they plan to improve their business in the coming year.

Sit back and take notes – these tips might just be the key to business growth never seen before, in 2018.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column][vc_separator color=”white”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][ultimate_heading main_heading=”Ashley Faulkes” alignment=”left”]SEO, Content and WordPress Specialist. Ashley is obsessed with SEO and WordPress. He is also the founder of Mad Lemmings. When he is not busy helping clients get higher on Google he can be found doing crazy sports in the Swiss Alps (or eating too much Lindt chocolate – a habit he is trying to break).[/ultimate_heading][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”47228″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

“This year was all about focus for me.  In 10 words or less: do more of the things that are working (and stop the ones that don’t). We all have limited time and a huge list of things to do – social media, blog posts, videos, client work, collaboration etc. Some of it really helps your business, some of it is just wasting your time. It is important to measure or track what is working for you and your business (it’s always different for everyone) and then to focus on those things. Sure, you should be blogging more, hanging out on Facebook, sharing on Twitter, etc etc. But in the end, some things are just not worth your time. As a business owner/entrepreneur it is your job to figure that out and FOCUS.

So, with 2018 just around the corner – what are those things worth focusing on for you?”

[/vc_column_text][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner][vc_column_text]Website: http://madlemmings.com/
Twitter: @madlemmingz[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][vc_separator][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][ultimate_heading main_heading=”Zac Johnson” alignment=”left”]Entrepreneur, Internet Marketer, Blogger- CEO and president at MoneyReign, Inc.[/ultimate_heading][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”47229″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

“While it’s been on my mind for quite a while now, one area that I could definitely use improvement on is the connection between my websites, blogs, mailing lists, and also the power of remarketing. For anyone that is still sitting on the sidelines and not using remarketing to target their audience after they leave your website, you’re missing out big time. This is especially true for anyone that wants to focus on the power of Facebook advertising. Remarketing is also quite powerful when you look at the options available in Google AdWords. No matter how you are currently marketing your business or targeting your audience, be sure to integrate remarketing into your 2018 marketing efforts.”

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Website: http://zacjohnson.com/
Twitter: @zacjohnson[/vc_column_text][vc_separator][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][ultimate_heading main_heading=”Chris Dreyer” alignment=”left”]I have 12+ years of SEO experience and I’m the founder and CEO of Rankings.io. I have worked with 100s of law firms as well as other businesses to help them increase leads and get more clients with search engine optimization.[/ultimate_heading][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”47217″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

“This year was a transformative year for our company as we took a hard look at our core services and decided to focus only on SEO. It might sound counter-productive for a business to offer fewer services (especially when there are people asking you to help with marketing tasks outside of SEO) but the change has accelerated our growth in two notable ways.

Focusing only on SEO allows us to streamline our messaging, our marketing, and our systems and processes to deliver a better customer experience. In essence we’ve been able to master the practice of performing SEO for our clients without the distraction of other service offerings that we may not have been as good at.

The second benefit to ‘niching down’ is that it allowed us to start building stronger relationships with other agencies near to our industry. That has opened up some fantastic opportunities for growth for us and our partners because we aren’t directly competing for the same customers.”

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Website: https://www.attorneyrankings.org
Twitter: @Rankingsio[/vc_column_text][vc_separator][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][ultimate_heading main_heading=”David LeonHardt” alignment=”left”]Freelance writer and social media marketing specialist.[/ultimate_heading][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”47230″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

“My lesson this year, which I am already implementing is circumstantial. My daughters are getting older, but not yet driving. Their schedules, both extracurricular and social, have become very taxing on our schedules. This has made it increasingly stressful to keep up with all the requests that come my way.

The lesson is: streamline. I am now saying ‘No’ to a lot of smaller jobs that are taxing to keep track of. I am also not personally doing any large job, such as writing a book, but leaving those all to my team. I had been trying to write one or two per year myself for a while.

The long-term benefits of this streamlining are two-fold. When the girls leave home and/or start driving themselves in a few years, I will not longer be chasing the low-value, high-maintenance jobs. And I will be able to resume some of the high-value jobs that I enjoy.”

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Website: http://www.seo-writer.com/
Twitter: @amabaie[/vc_column_text][vc_separator][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][ultimate_heading main_heading=”Dominic Wells” alignment=”left”]Dom Wells is the owner and founder of Human Proof Designs, where he teaches affiliate marketing, and provides industry leading services to help other affiliate marketers get their websites off the ground and help them scale.[/ultimate_heading][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”47227″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

“In 2017 I learned a lot about the benefits of hiring and training talented people. In 10 months, I’ve learned more from my A-players than they’ve learned from me, or at least it feels that way sometimes. In 2018 I’ll be giving them a lot more responsibility, something Jonathan knows well about too. For example, I’ll be branching out a lot of my projects and instead of doing them myself, I’ll be putting key team members in charge instead and letting them run with it.”

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Website: http://humanproofdesigns.com
Twitter: @Human_Proof[/vc_column_text][vc_separator][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][ultimate_heading main_heading=”Tim Bourquin” alignment=”left”]Co-founder of afteroffers.com[/ultimate_heading][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”47226″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

“As important as email marketing is, it’s still a game of trying to figure out how to best improve open rates and deliverability at all times. Gmail is now one of the largest email service providers on the internet today. With so much focus on Gmail, it’s important to make sure your brand and email provider can get through the spam filter and not get thrown into the social media or promotions bulk folders. The difference between landing in one of these subfolders can mean the difference between having a successful email campaign or a complete failure. This is one area that all online marketing experts and brands should be focusing their efforts on in 2018.”

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Website: https://www.afteroffers.com
Twitter: @TimBourquin[/vc_column_text][vc_separator][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][ultimate_heading main_heading=”Douglas Karr” alignment=”left”]Douglas Karr is a Marketing and Technology expert and public speaker, host of MarTech Interviews Podcast, founder of the MarTech Zone, author of Corporate Blogging for Dummies, and CEO of DK New Media. He’s a proud Navy Vet and single father of two incredible children. He works in downtown Indianapolis where he’s built a state-of-the-art podcast studio and has committed much of his time and resources to the Veteran and technology communities.[/ultimate_heading][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”47225″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

“2017 was a banner year for my agency, rebuilt from the ground up. What I learned wasn’t discovered overnight but was finally put to the test and skyrocketed my agency’s success. With years of working with incredible employees and clients, I’ve learned that closing quick will never produce the results you want – whether it’s hiring an employee or signing a contract with a client. Spending time to ensure your businesses and processes are compatible, expectations are reasonably set, and value is recognized for a well-negotiated engagement is essential to the success of your company. Being patient when you’re building relationships before the handshake will ensure your continued success after the handshake.”

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Website: https://martech.zone/
Twitter: @douglaskarr[/vc_column_text][vc_separator][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][ultimate_heading main_heading=”Jacob Varghese” alignment=”left”]Director of Marketing @Solufy | Blogsmith @ jacobv.com | Content chef; words, images, analytics, some code | Leadership | Business | Martech | AdTech | Part-Time Moonshot Hunter[/ultimate_heading][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”47224″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

“Sales and Marketing alignment is a cherished goal for any goal due to the fact that it enables growth and scale. However, it can be a challenge when the business units of sales or marketing have inherited legacy pipelines and entrenched mindsets. As digital transformation becomes a business imperative, both business units have to undergo big changes while remaining aligned. This can be even more complicated than it sounds. Sales and marketing have to not only be agile to deal with rapidly changing market but also have to do this while reworking internal processes and leveraging new technologies.

Successful change management is dependent on both people and processes. Though I’ve always known this, 2017 has been another year I was reminded of the fact that good processes that include workflows, integration, technology implementations, and metrics are only one part of the equation. Leading and motivating people on both the sales and marketing side to work together on common goals is an often underestimated and challenging part of digital marketing leadership. Effective change management is a predication of business success. Probably even more so in the current digital age.”

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Website: http://jacobv.com
Twitter: @jacobvar[/vc_column_text][vc_separator][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][ultimate_heading main_heading=”John Rampton” alignment=”left”]Founder and CEO of Calendar, a time management and productivity platform that enables businesses of all sizes to improve various aspects of their work and personal day, including meetings, appointments, and projects.[/ultimate_heading][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”47223″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

“2017 was an incredible growth year for my company and included integrating other businesses. This took considerable time to ensure it was done correctly. The rapid growth meant that I did not get to spend as much time on other formal processes for the team that I’ve been building out. While the growth was extremely positive and has helped take what I want to achieve to a new level, it’s also important to start focusing on more formal structures that will guide my team, which is primarily remote, while I continue to working on these strategic endeavors. That means taking more time in 2018 to implement structures related to communication, delegation, and specific timelines. It will help me get more information to my team so they can continue to amazing things behind the scenes to make the newly expanded company align with the vision I have for it.”

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Website: https://www.johnrampton.com/
Twitter: @johnrampton[/vc_column_text][vc_separator][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][ultimate_heading main_heading=”Sean Si” alignment=”left”]Sean Si is the CEO and Founder of SEO HackerQeryzSigil, and Workplays. A start-up, data analysis and urgency junkie who spends his time inspiring young entrepreneurs through talks and seminars. Check out his personal blog where he writes about starting up two companies and life in general.[/ultimate_heading][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”47222″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

“The best business lesson that I’ve learned in 2017 is that you should optimize everything. From lead generation to operations, each and every aspect of a business should be optimized accordingly. My team and I have slowly learned how to optimize our time, efforts, and workload. And slowly but surely, output generation has been improving. So, in 2018, My team and I will continue to optimize everything for a much better work dynamic, and more satisfied clients.”

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Website: http://www.seo-hacker.com
Twitter: @SEO_Hacker[/vc_column_text][vc_separator][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][ultimate_heading main_heading=”Steve Wiideman” alignment=”left”]SEO Expert & Senior Strategist, Wiideman Consulting Group[/ultimate_heading][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”47221″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

“2017 was our third year as a corporation, and a train wreck of experiences. The most important lessons I learned included having a better pre-qualification process and building formalized training for new team members. Finding and hiring good digital PR talent was our most difficult challenge, followed by the challenge of scalability as a consultancy (there are only so many hours in the day to be on consultation calls). We also spent a lot of money on software, most of which was rarely, if ever, used.

From these lessons, we’ve built solutions we can sell in 2018 that require less or none of our time. We’ve started to improve our recruiting and training process, including a full wiki and intranet for employees and contractors. Our new rule with software procurement is that the software must replace something we are already actively using and cost less. We expect our costs to go down next year by 60% or more from 2017 and our efficiency to improve by 30% as it relates to recruitment and training. It’s going to be a great year!”

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Website: https://www.wiideman.com
Twitter: @seosteve[/vc_column_text][vc_separator][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][ultimate_heading main_heading=”Ted Rubin” alignment=”left”]Ted Rubin is a leading Social Marketing Strategist, Keynote Speaker, MC/Host of [url=brand-innovators.com]Brand Innovators Summits, and Co-Founder of Prevailing Path. Ted is the most followed CMO on Twitter according to SocialMedia Marketing Magazine; one of the most interesting CMOs on Twitter according to SayMedia, #13 on Forbes Top 50 Social Media Power Influencers, and number #2 on the Leadtail list of Top 25 People Most Mentioned by digital marketers. Return on Relationship, ROR, #RonR, is the basis of his philosophy… It’s All About Relationships! His book, Return on Relationship was released January 2013, How To Look People in the Eye Digitally was released January 2015, and and The Age of Influence… Selling to the Digitally Connected Customer was just released. Connect with Ted at TedRubin.com or @TedRubin.[/ultimate_heading][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”47220″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

“2017, just as in years past, made it even more clear to me the value of relationships. Many this past year have come to the realization of how the personal influence of consumers can be the cornerstone of their brand marketing. Welcome to the ‘Age of Influence,’ where anyone can build an audience and effect change, advocate brands, build relationships and make a difference. Relationships are like muscle tissue… the more they are engaged, the stronger and more valuable they become. #NoLetUp!”

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Website: http://tedrubin.com/
Twitter: @TedRubin[/vc_column_text][vc_separator][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][ultimate_heading main_heading=”Tor Refsland” alignment=”left”]I help healthy businesses to get on first page of Google within 60 days. Multi award-winning blogger & SEO strategist.[/ultimate_heading][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”47219″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

“The one sentence that I have truly learnt in 2017 that has impacted my life in more ways than I could ever imagined is to focus on one thing. I apply this in every aspect of my business.

What services do I provide?
Only one – I help companies get on first page of Google within 60 days.

What strategies do I use to get leads and clients?
Only one – by building genuine relationships with other people.

How many positioning messages do I have for my company?

Only one – I never compete on price. Healthy companies choose my services when they want the absolutely best SEO service.

You might be thinking, ‘Tor, that is cool and all that, but does focusing on one thing ACTUALLY work?’

Great question!

Judge for yourself.

I have in a 16 weeks been able to build the best SEO Agency in Norway.”

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Website: www.torrefsland.com
Twitter: @TorRefsland[/vc_column_text][vc_separator][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][ultimate_heading main_heading=”Srish Agrawal” alignment=”left”]Entrepreneur. `Branding Consultant. Internet Marketing Expert. Angel Investor. Speaker. Founder – @A1Future, @LogoDesignTeam, @InfoGraphicTeam, @AnitmatedV[/ultimate_heading][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”47218″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

“One of the biggest lessons that we learned in 2017, is that you need to continually be promoting your content after it goes live on your website or blog. At the same time, it’s also important to create much longer content than what you are normally used to. The top pages that are ranked in Google now have roughly 2000 to 4000 words of content per page. This is why it’s important to create better content on your site, and also focus more time on promoting that content as well. This has been a valuable lesson not just for ourselves, but for many other bloggers and content creators as well. There is no longer a need to create a lot of short articles, as it’s now important to simply focus on higher quality content with more text content in those articles.”

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Website: https://www.infographicdesignteam.com
Twitter: @srishagrawal[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Having read all of these wonderful responses from our lovely contributors, its clear to see that everyone is quite excited for another year of exponential growth and hard work.
I think that its quite clear that one of the main focuses for these experts, is focus itself. Getting rid of distractions and doubling down on ones strengths is often the deciding factor between failure and success.

Another clear point is that business success is all about adapting to your specific circumstances. It’s clear the most successful Entrepreneurs know how to apply their focus, even if that means narrowing the scale of their operations. In every bit of feedback we received, almost all industry leaders were focused on learning and adaptive growth.

A blue print for success can be found in these answers – a capacity to adapt, grow, and trust your instincts while trusting your team, are our industry experts top-tips for business success in 2018.

 

What are your plans for 2018? Comment below!

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7 Experts Reveal How They Scaled Their Digital Marketing Agencies

Are you the owner of a digital marketing agency and have been struggling to scale? Have you ever wanted to know how other owners of digital marketing agencies have grown their firms to where they are today? We’ve all been there, so why not talk about it?


We work day and night to scale our brand and compete with other agencies. With any luck, our business grows, as does the amount of responsibilities we have to manage.
Of course, adding more clients to the work flow is ideal, but when you consider the micromanaging that naturally comes with scaling, it is understandable why so many of us fall short of our targets. In fact, some of us don’t even get out of the gate.

So, to give us all better insight for 2017 and to better understand the struggle we all inevitably face, we decided to pose the following question to some big names:

“What was the hardest part of scaling your digital marketing agency?”

See what they had to say below!

#1. Doug Kessler

Doug Kessler is co-founder and creative director of Velocity Partners, the London-based B2B content marketing agency. Doug has written a lot about content marketing including the B2B Content Strategy Checklist, Insane Honesty in Content Marketing and Crap: Why the Biggest Threat to Content Marketing is Content Marketing.    

Website: www.velocitypartners.com | Twitter: @dougkessler

“Growth is change and change is f**king hard.

For us, we’re always having to learn which parts of our business – which systems, processes, methodologies – are important to fight for and which are better to let go of.

I hope that our culture hasn’t changed too much but culture is a fragile thing. It does have to adapt.

The important thing is that the values that drive that culture don’t change: integrity; mutual respect; no a**holes; no blame; respect for the audience; serving the client by challenging them; and never stopping the learning… if we betray these values, we become hacks.”

#2. Sean Si

Sean Si is the CEO and Founder of SEO Hacker and Qeryz. A start-up, data analysis and urgency junkie who spends his time inspiring young entrepreneurs through talks and seminars. Check out his personal blog where he writes about starting up two companies and life in general.
Twitter: @SEO_Hacker

“Oh my, where to begin?

Scaling up any kind of company is difficult and digital marketing agencies are none the easier. Digital marketing agencies deal with people and processes and clients and art. Those things have numerous factors in between. Fluctuating factors that are extremely hard to control and temper.

I wrote an answer exactly for this question in my book “CEO at 22” but that’s going to be too long for a round up post like this. So I’ll summarise it into one: People.

Scaling up a digital marketing agency is difficult because you just cannot be 100% sure about the kinds of people you get, what they would do in certain situations, how they would respond in certain incidents, etc. Being able to predict those things deal with the supernatural. It’s just impossible.

How I was able to scale up SEO Hacker was in making sure that I become better with handling and leading people. Engaging them at work. Putting systems in place that don’t choke them. These things have helped my team flourish and bloom. And somewhere in between, that made us the company that we are today.”

#3. Lamar Hull

Lamar Hull  is the Founder of Organic Clicks, a Digital Marketing Agency and a Charlotte SEO Expert & Consultant. He spends time blogging on Inspirational Basketball and driving growth for small to medium sized businesses.

Twitter: @lamarhull20

“I’m a small business owner trying to create a brand that adds significant value in the local online marketing industry. The hardest part of scaling my digital marketing agency is creating processes that makes systems function without me heavily involved in the day-to-day technical work of the digital marketing strategy. Michael Gerber, the author of E-Myth Revisited: Why Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It, talks about who you become when scaling a small business. The small business owner is a technician, manager and entrepreneur all-in-one. The technician does all the day-to-day technical work (the job), the manager spends time managing the business (staff), and the entrepreneur dreams and focuses on the future (growth, new clients, etc.). Most small business owners start out 70% technician, 20% manager, and 10% entrepreneur. This is so true for a lot of small digital marketing agencies, so scaling in terms of maximizing capacity and growth in a cost effective way is important. At the same time, the business owner has to determine how he or she can be removed from the day-to-day technical work so that he or she can grow the business. This is very challenging at first to figure out. Not all cases are like this, but definitely a high percentage of small businesses experience this at first. So having processes for link building, on-page optimisation, social media marketing (i.e. FB Ads), reporting, and etc. is so important, so when you hire someone to cut cost at the beginning who potentially doesn’t have any experience, your systems and guides can still help them make an immediate impact for your clients because you have a winning formula. This is important so that training can be developed, the right people can be put in place, and the business can continue to grow and not plateau! 

 

#4. Douglas Karr

Douglas is the CEO of DK New Media and Founder of the Marketing Technology Blog. He is also a recognized expert on digital marketing, speaking and consulting enterprise clients all over the globe on their omnichannel marketing efforts. 
Website: www.marketingtechblog.com| Twitter: @douglaskarr

“By far, the hardest part has been finding the right clients. Notice I didn’t say great clients… I said right clients. The right clients respect our experience, accept our culture, recognise our value, and don’t hesitate to pay well for the value we provide. Passing over prospects that aren’t a match is difficult when you’re trying to grow – but necessary to provide you the resources and time to find the “right” clients.

#5. Jerry Low

Jerry Low is the CEO of Web Hosting Secret Revealed.
Website: www.webhostingsecretrevealed.net| Twitter: @WebHostingJerry

“Because the entry barrier is so low, finding good talents you can trust is the hardest part of scaling up. Turnover rate is extremely high compare to traditional offline business – people often come and go (to start their own online businesses) within the first six months. 

#6. Chris Raulf

Chris is the founder of Boulder SEO Marketing, a boutique digital marketing agency located in beautiful Denver and Boulder, Colorado. Recently recognized as a “Top 30 SEO Agency”, Chris and his team assist local, national and international customers with all of their search engine optimization, social media and content marketing needs. Chris is an international keynote speaker and his self-paced, non-technical online SEO training allows anyone to implement a powerful online marketing strategy. His international background makes him one of the few professionals in the industry who truly live and breath multilingual search engine optimization on a daily basis. Learn more about Chris and Boulder SEO Marketing by connecting with him on LinkedIn and Twitter.
Website: www.boulderseomarketing.com/| Twitter: @swisschris

“When I first started my SEO agency, I had to take on every client that I could get. In some occasions, my stomach told me to stay away from certain clients, yet I still ended up taking them on and ended up regretting it later. Here’s my tip to other new agency owners: If your financial situations permits, try to be selective on who you take on as clients. You need to have a good feeling about it and it should sort of feel like a partnership instead of an agency-customer relationship. Most of our current customers have now been with us for 5+ years and the results that we’re seeing are quite amazing. 

#7. Sam Hurley

Sam Hurley is a lateral-thinking, #1 ranked digital marketer. Catch his digital marketing venture and helpful material over on Twitter and LinkedIn

Website: www.optim-eyez.co.uk|

“My story is a little different! I built my audience and business on social media, without a website.

For that reason, it’s been difficult to scale because the clients and opportunities all came at once…which has given me relatively little time to focus on operations and one of the most important components of online presence…a website.

Right now, it’s a juggling act between social activity, business growth / direction and client work.

All the above said, the most difficult part of scaling has been finding the time. At one point, it was taking me 8+ hours every day (including weekends) just to get back to everybody on Social Media. I’ve had to drastically re-shape my daily schedule each quarter to adapt accordingly with the ever-increasing demands and ever-decreasing amount of hours available.

If there’s one takeaway here, it’s: Be flexible and adaptable in order to grow. Sometimes, growth can be hiding under a stone you never before thought to unturn…and you may just need to shut the door on other activites to discover it. “

What was your hardest part of scaling the digital agency? Share it in the comments below. As always, stay tuned for our follow-up post and contribution coming soon!

17 Experts Share Their Holiday Marketing Strategies

It’s November and the holiday season is drawing near for US and UK businesses. Most businesses make the most out of these holidays and hope to get huge sales. But many of the them get lost on “What strategy will work the best for the business” or “How to maximize the profit during the sale period”. Don’t worry! We have these questions covered. We asked a few experts on their holiday marketing strategies which would help you strategise or think about your strategy once again. The questions we asked was:

“What is your holiday marketing strategy to increase sales?”

Wouldn’t you want to know the secrets all the experts use during the holidays? We sure did. Keep reading to see what everyone had to say!

#1. John Rampton

john rampton

John Rampton is a serial entrepreneur and an online influencer. He was named #3 in the top 50 online influencers in the world by Entrepreneur Magazine.

Website: www.johnrampton.com | Twitter: @johnrampton

“My holiday marketing strategy to increase sales is to use in-app and SMS messaging to send out more promotions and deals to those that sign-up for holiday specials. The messages are also going to include tips and ideas for holiday shopping to ramp up sales and encourage more impulse buys. The coupons sent via in-app and SMS encourage shoppers to buy while on site or in the moment.”

#2. Ted Rubin

ted-rubin

Ted Rubin… Social Marketing Strategist, Keynote Speaker, Brand Evangelist, and Acting CMO Brand Innovators.
Website: www.tedrubin.com| Twitter: @TedRubin

“For me a key to marketing in general, and in particular to Holiday marketing is… BE Authentic, dont just ACT it. This might seem obvious but authenticity is on the verge of becoming just another buzz word. TRUE authenticity (not just using that word often in your advertising, social media and content marketing posts) will set your brand (product or personal) apart in today’s highly competitive market.

Remember… Followers/Advocates are attracted to REAL, and can sniff out fake in a heartbeat.”

#3. Eric Tung

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Eric T. Tung is a top rated digital marketer, currently seeking new opportunities. Seek him out on Twitter @EricTTung or #HireEric.
Website: www.ericttung.com

“This holiday, we need to get back to customer service. Take it over the top in engaging with customers who have a need that you can fulfill. If you are the retailer who can fix a problem for a customer, or be a hero to a mom needing a last minute gift, you will have a customer for life, and also spread positive word of mouth. Instead of going bigger these holidays, go smaller. Personalize the message, and make each customer feel like they mean something to you, because isn’t that really the meaning of the holidays?”

#4. Sam Hurley

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Sam Hurley is a lateral-thinking, #1 ranked digital marketer. Catch his digital marketing venture and helpful material over on Twitter and LinkedIn

“Jumping on popular industry hashtags on Social Media is a must during any Holiday season – and if you fancy a shot at hijacking a trending hashtag (yes, it can be very effective if done with taste) – be certain of your angle and possible impact.

Combining this technique with visual content is powerful!

Once traffic is funneled from social to desired pages, ensure there is an obvious CTA for people to subscribe to your newsletter. Check out my one-pager which has gained over 1000 signups and tonnes of links in just a few months, without any direct promotion! Follow through with ongoing email marketing to nurture prospects.
If you run an e-commerce store – tap in to storytelling (think: Coca-Cola) and use this as a tool to attract customers. Also, apply urgency. What would encourage you to take action?

Sale now on…
or
Hurry! Sale On NOW: 7 day Christmas bonanza!”

#5.Sean Si

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Sean Si is the CEO and Founder of SEO Hacker and Qeryz. A start-up, data analysis and urgency junkie who spends his time inspiring young entrepreneurs through talks and seminars. Check out his personal blog where he writes about starting up two companies and life in general.
Twitter: @SEO_Hacker

“To be honest I’m more of the long-term kind of guy so I don’t really have a holiday strategy. I stick with one simple marketing strategy: Publish content that can rank for specific keywords. Promote them. Build links to them. When they are bringing in a good number of relevant traffic, capture those leads – then sell to them like there’s no tomorrow.”

#6. Melonie Dodaro

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Melonie Dodaro is the author of the #1 international bestseller The LinkedIn Code and the founder of Top Dog Social Media, a digital marketing agency that helps businesses leverage social media and online marketing to build engaged communities and increase leads, prospects and customers.
Website: www.topdogsocialmedia.com| Twitter: @MelonieDodaro

“Utilize Facebook Live: Get into the true holiday spirit by using two powerful digital tools, social media and live video streaming. Here you can share good deeds, positive stories and messages directly to Facebook Live. It’s also great to tie in any charitable work you are focusing on for the holiday season. Don’t forget to provide a call to action to have them visit your website or come into your store and provide them with an incentive to do that.”

#7.Lilach Bullock

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Highly regarded on the world speaker circuit, Lilach Bullock has graced Forbes and Number 10 Downing Street with her presence!Listed in Forbes as one of the top 20 women social media power influencers. Crowned the Social Influencer of Europe by Oracle. A recipient of a Global Women Champions Award for her outstanding contribution and leadership in business.
Twitter: @lilachbullock

“In my particular niche, particularly since I sell services, Holiday season usually means a slow season. This makes it the perfect time of the year to invest some more in advertising and making some special Holiday discounts to attract clients for the new year.”

#8.Chris Makara

Since 2003, Chris Makara has developed a broad digital marketing background with a focus on SEO, Social Media, and Analytics. He is the founder of Bulkly, a social media automation tool for individuals and small businesses.

Website: www.chrismakara.com| Twitter: @chrismakara

“The holidays are a great time to increase sales. Seems like quite a few people get into the “buying” mood and it’s a great way to capitalize on some impulse buying depending on your product/service.

One thing I look to do around this time of year is to be really aggressive with remarketing for abandoned carts. Typically, most of the campaigns I work in cap the impressions to their remarketing audience. However, during the buying season I like to really push remarketing efforts with more impressions in shorter window since most people are looking to make a purchase quickly (especially for a physical product).By staying in front of users aggressively in a shorter time frame, you can keep pushing them to convert on your site. If after a day or two they have not converted, I like to scale back on the impressions to that audience.

#9. Shama Hyder

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Shama Hyder is founder and CEO of the award-winning Marketing Zen Group, an integrated web marketing and digital PR firm. She is also a highly acclaimed keynote speaker, bestselling author, and a regular media correspondent. Her latest book, Momentum: How to Propel Your Marketing and Transform Your Brand in the Digital Age is now available on Amazon and across bookstores: http://amzn.to/1sqMmZs

Website: www.shamahyder.com | Twitter: @shama

“The biggest way to increase your sales, especially if you have an online store or website, Making sure your site is optimized. Don’t let yourself lose a bunch of sales because your site doesn’t load fast enough for your customers. A whooping 57% of customers will leave a site if it doesn’t load in less than 3 seconds. Without taking time before the season to get your site as optimized as possible, you could be missing out on many, major sales.”

#10. Ahna Hendrix

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Ahna Hendrix is the CEO of ARCH Digital Agency, a revolutionary social media marketing company that digs deep to uncover the best marketing solutions for our clients

Website: www.ahnahendrix.com/ | Twitter: @AhnaHendrix

“There’s endless holiday marketing strategies to increase sales, but my favorite is to give, and then ask. For instance, with one of our clients, we’ll be doing a Customer Appreciation Giveaway for Thanksgiving of a $400 item of the winners choice from the business’s inventory. We prefer to go this route because it offers us a chance to start out the holiday season by letting the audience know they’re appreciated before we head into heavy holidays promotions. Everyone gets sick of constant promotions, but when its started by us doing something for them it’s easier to digest.

At the end of the day, we aren’t anything without our social media communities/customers, so it’s imperative that we show our appreciation every time we can.

#11. Chad Pollitt

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Chad Pollitt, a decorated veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and former Army Commander, is VP of Audience and Co-founder of Relevance, a digital magazine agency and events company dedicated to content research, strategy, promotion and marketing.
Website: www.chadpollitt.com| Twitter: @ChadPollitt

“As a B2B company the holiday season is quite challenging do to vacations. The key is to get inside sales appointments set for post-Thanksgiving to the end of December early. This requires extra work in October. Since most companies are working on their FY17 budgets in the fourth quarter, it’s prudent to get our company in those conversations as early in the quarter as possible.”

#12. Heidi Cohen

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Heidi Cohen is a Chief Content Officer – Actionable Marketing Guide.
Website: www.actionablemarketingguide.com | Twitter: @heidicohen

“Even if you’re deep into your holiday marketing, take a break with your favorite holiday brew to get more mileage out of your content.

Audit your existing holiday content. This will get you more views with limited work. BTW, Vox did this last December and generated an additional 500,000 views.
– Repromote or republish quality content
– Update, reformat or optimize content that’s not living up to its potential.
– Consolidate or extend thin content.
– Delete and redirect weak content to better, more relevant content.

Make sure holiday content links to current merchandise. Don’t loose potential prospects because your content is great but your product links are from last year. Be careful–don’t change links that continue to receive traffic. Instead change the product links or redirect the pages to current product.

Create a fun email series for the holidays. Keep your audience opening your emails. Many customers dislike getting bombarded with holiday promotions. As a result, they unsubscribe from your email list. Instead bring your audience cheer. It can be anything amusing that relates to your audience’s likes and your business.

#13. Sue Zimmerman

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Sue B. is the #instagramexpert, creator of the online Instagram course Ready Set Gram. She’s a popular CreativeLive instructor, powerful speaker on prominent stages like Social Media Marketing World and highly sought after business coach
Twitter: @SueBZimmerman

“My Marketing Strategy to increase sales is to focus on giving GREAT FREE content to grow your list and community. I believe that the more you can nurture and build trust with each relationship the more you will increase sales in your business.”

#14. Pratik Dholakiya

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Pratik Dholakiya is the Co-Founder of E2M & Preceptist
Website: www.pratikdholakiya.com| Twitter: @DholakiyaPratik

“When it comes to effective holiday marketing, advertisers should be telling stories, not pitching customers. Sales, discounts and promotions are important at driving purchase volume, but the tone of advertising during the holiday season needs to be more personal, and less about a veritable cash grab.

Brands that strike a sincere but sentimental note, with storytelling that elicits a recall of memories, family traditions and other emotional aspects do more than boost sales for the holiday season; they build trust and affection with consumers who relate on a personal level. Watch how some of the most virally successful advertising brands like Coca Cola or Budweiser align their advertising with this resonant storytelling, to sell a moment in life, rather than pressing for a purchase decision from the consumer.Sharing the sentimental moment with consumers creates a strong affectation for the culture of the brand, and the product or service. It’s that affectation that influences the buy.”

#15. Jeremy Rivera

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Jeremy Rivera is a freelance SEO consultant and nerd who lives in Nashville and loves digging into technical SEO disasters.
Website: www.jeremyriveraseo.com| Twitter: @JeremyRiveraSEO

“The best thing you can do is to turn off the Rudolf The Rednose Reindeer Spotify Channel, put down the eggnog and take a good long look and really decide if your specific industry is ACTUALLY impacted by the holiday.
Let’s be honest, do we REALLY need a roofer to post “How To Keep Your Roof Safe For Santa” AGAIN this year? Will your plumber posting “8 Ways Your Drains From Over Flow-Ho-Hoing This Xmas” REALLY be a good use of your marketing time and budget?

Do you sell toys, apparel, gadgets or tech that’s actually giftable? Then you should have started thinking about your holiday plan at the beginning of September. It’s hard to think about Santa when it hot outside, but having a big runway of time for your holiday content can prevent the holiday marketing blues when you’re stuck writing a New Years post on New years eve’s eve.

#16. Pawan Deshpande

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Pawan Deshpande is the founder and CEO of Curata, a Boston-based company offering content marketing software used by thousands of marketers around the world. 
Website: www.curata.com| Twitter: @TweetsFromPawan

“For B2B companies like ours, time is of the essence. We avoid jumping on the ‘Santa Claus/turkey/christmas lights” bandwagon, where your chance of standing out is roughly zero. It’s important to have a strategy in place to target key decision makers before the holidays actually start, because come Thanksgiving, many businesses have already spent their budget for the rest of the year. Focus on creating a fear of missing out (FOMO) to entice buyers to spend that last piece of their budget with you.”

#17. Leila De la Fuente

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Leila De la Fuente provides digital marketing strategy that boosts traffic, leads and ROI for companies nationwide.
Website: www.toprankblog.com| Twitter: @Leiladlf

“Make it easy. Whether its B2B or B2C, the secret to holiday marketing success is to remove obstacles to purchase or convert. Offer a gift guide with the products that traditionally sell best during this season, make checkout simple, make gift giving simple.”

Final Thoughts:

We thank all the the experts who have taken time from their busy schedule to respond to our query! Holidays can be tough and we are sure you have discovered some tips to implement for your business.

Do you have a different tactic or have found success during the holidays? Do share it in the comments below.?As always, stay tuned for our follow-up post and contribution coming soon!

21 Experts Share Their #1 Tip for Generating More Traffic to a Blog

You have composed a beautiful and informative blog entry, you hit the ‘Publish’ button, and await the flood of comments and shares of your post; but, to your disappointment, it falls flat. We’ve all been there. Anyone who has ever hosted a blog has experienced the frustration of trying to draw people in, all while attempting to produce worthwhile, engaging subject matter and copy. For many, this is frustrating, and their blogs will see the repercussions of their agitation.

Yet, there are still those out that have figured out the secret and continue to see the daily impacts a well-received blog brings to their business.

So, in this month’s expert round-up, we thought a great idea would be to ask some of the industry’s top influencers their advice about building their blogs. The exact question we asked was:

What is your #1 tip for generating more traffic to a blog?

Sure, this is a simple enough question; but to be honest, we didn’t really know what to expect. The more our team brainstormed about the possible options, the more we began to salivate. Wouldn’t you want to know the secrets all the experts use to grow traffic to their blogs? We sure did.

#1. Ted Rubin

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Ted Rubin… Social Marketing Strategist, Keynote Speaker, Brand Evangelist, and Acting CMO Brand Innovators. 
Website: www.tedrubin.com| Twitter: @TedRubin

“Syndicate, syndicate, syndicate share your content via all social channels always including Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn, which also makes it easy for others to share. And don’t be afraid to do it more than once periodically sharing old posts via your social channels, especially those that were well received. Also, let others freely repost your content with a link back to the original post.”

#2. Eric Tung

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Eric T. Tung is a top rated digital marketer, currently seeking new opportunities. Seek him out on Twitter @EricTTung or #HireEric.
Website: www.ericttung.com

“To drive more traffic to your blog, provide value. Offer a cohesive storyline that ties to other areas: web, email, digital, social, whitepaper, conferences, webinars and so on. Don’t just offer blog posts as a one-off, but offer them as a piece of your content environment where readers are able to get value from your content wherever it comes from and whatever medium it is in. By creating a consistent and cohesive storyline, users are naturally and seamlessly directed between your properties, especially your blog. Where social and video maybe a place where readers can get a quick bit of information, your blog can offer more details, and discuss more complex topics. So, don’t think of your blog as just another channel you have to write for. Think about it as part of a larger content marketing picture.”

#3. Sam Hurley

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Sam Hurley is a lateral-thinking, #1 ranked digital marketer. Catch his digital marketing venture and helpful material over on Twitter and LinkedIn

“My #1 tip for traffic? Relationships.If you spend enough time building a solid base of loyal connections through relationships based on two-way utter trust and respect…your material will always get seen by many. One article share from a friend could lead to 50 views and 5 shares…those views and shares may then result in an additional 150 more views and 10 shares! It goes on…As traffic accumulates for your blog content, word also gets around that you sell particular products or services.I use Social Media as both my professional playground and simultaneously, the holy grail of networking. Anyone can utilise it in the same way!”

#4. Marji Sherman

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Marji J. Sherman is an experienced social media strategist that has worked with brands including KOHLER Co, Cancer Treatment Centers of America and The Upper Room Ministries. 
Website: www.marjijsherman.com|Twitter: @MarjiJSherman

“Be authentic and give real advice. It doesn’t matter what tricks you have up your sleeve to get traffic to your blog if they don’t find incredible content when they arrive. Another mistake I see others make is that they will only share their blog post once on all social networks. If you want more traffic, you have to continuously share your content. You can share the same content multiple times by simply re-purposing quotes or pulling out a different insight from the post each time you share it. When you are real and give out great advice, the traffic will come. “

#5. John Jantsch

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John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker and author of Duct Tape Marketing as well as recently released SEO for Growth – The Ultimate Guide for Marketers, Web Designers, and Entrepreneurs – https://seoforgrowth.com.
Website: www.ducttapemarketing.com|Twitter: @ducttape

“The #1 way to generate more traffic to your own blog is to write and promote well-written posts on other relevant blogs. Guest posting is a fabulous way to build links, followers, and traffic. The best part about it is that as you build links from your posts you’ll start to see your own organic listings rise, bringing even more traffic.”

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#6. David Scott

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David is a Marketing & Sales Strategist, keynote speaker, and bestselling author of 10 books including The New Rules of Marketing & PR and Newsjacking. 
Website: www.webinknow.com | Twitter: @dmscott

“Educate and inform instead of interrupt and sell.”

#7. Michael Brenner

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Michael Brenner is CEO of Marketing Insider Group, and co-author of The Content Formula. 
Twitter: @BrennerMichael

“My #1 tip to generate more traffic to a blog is to simply focus on answering customer questions. Customers go through a relatively predictable set of questions when navigating the buying journey. Great content starts by stating the problem in a simple way. And then defining the problem, and helping the reader understand how to solve it. Content creators need to identify the questions your customers are asking (keyword research) and the content they are sharing (across social media.) Then create the best answer to those questions. I like to use Google Trends, Google Autofill and Buzzsumo to identify these insights.”

#8. Zac Johnson

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Zac is the CEO of MoneyReign and blogs at http://zacjohnson.com 
Twitter: @zacjohnson

“One of my favorite methods for creating high-quality content that continually brings in new traffic and backlinks, is infographics. Not only can infographics be applied to nearly all content and niches, they are also extremely useful when getting backlinks from other sites and also submitting to infographic directories. We all know that Google wants to see more original and high-quality content on websites, and one of the best ways to do this is by adding original infographics within your own content. You can see a live example of this in my make money blogging resource article. Not only does the guide have 1,500+ words of content and lots of images, it also has an infographic to bring the whole process together in a step-by-step fashion.”

#9. Jason Yormark

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Jason Yormark is a 20-year marketing vet who blogs regularly at www.jasonyormark.com and currently serves as Director of Marketing at SportsArt, a global fitness equipment manufacturer. 
Twitter: @jasonyormark

“If you’re serious about your blog and in it for the long haul, the #1 tip I can give is to use the Google Keyword Planner in identifying the right keyword/keyword phrases for your blog posts. The history of your blog will dictate how well it ranks organically, but by incorporating a strong keyword strategy, over time, you’ll create content that is more easily found and drives ongoing traffic well after you’ve published.

My simple go-to process involves:

1. Identify the ideal keyword/keyword phrase that relates to your blog article topic
2. Use the Google Keyword Planner to identify additional keyword/keyword phrases
3. Try to select a keyword/keyword phrase that isn’t overly competitive (lots of search results & search queries). Better to be on page 1 for a less competitive phrase than page 10 for a more competitive one. A good rule of thumb is less than 100,000 search results and less than 2500 queries.
4. Once you identify the right keyword/phrase, incorporate it into your title, first paragraph, and authentically throughout the article”

#10. Barry Feldman

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Barry Feldman is the author of SEO Simplified for Short Attention Spans and founder of Feldman Creative, which offers digital marketing consulting and creative services. 
Website: feldmancreative.com| Twitter:@feldmancreative

“Achieving high rankings on search is the key to generating traffic to your blog in the long-term. You need to learn how to use keyword research, competitive analysis, and on-page SEO and then create an amazing piece of work that is worthy of page one of search and your audience’s time.”

#11. Douglas Karr

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Douglas is the CEO of DK New Media and Founder of the Marketing Technology Blog. He is also a recognized expert on digital marketing, speaking and consulting enterprise clients all over the globe on their omnichannel marketing efforts. 
Website: www.marketingtechblog.com/| Twitter: @douglaskarr

“There are plenty of ways to get traffic, but the question is one of quality and relevance over quantity. We want to build authority and trust with our readers and that takes time. That means we need to keep our readers coming back. While your audience may return as they see you in other search results, why not entice them to subscribe and keep them coming back through an active email program and active browser notification program. Many readers aren’t ready to buy – but they are willing to subscribe and begin building a relationship. Take advantage of that since the more subscribers you have, the greater the value of your audience.”

#12. Chad Pollitt

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Chad Pollitt, a decorated veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and former Army Commander, is VP of Audience and Co-founder of Relevance, a digital magazine agency and events company dedicated to content research, strategy, promotion and marketing.
Website: www.chadpollitt.com| Twitter: @ChadPollitt

“If I want more traffic to my blog I’m going to write a killer long-form article on a more popular blog or media outlet and cite information on blog posts written in the past on my domain. The most efficiently converting traffic Relevance.com receives is from referring sources like this. That means we get lots of new subscribers this way.”

#13. Reginald Chan

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Website: www.reginaldchan.net| Twitter: @Reginald_Chan

“You have to determine the source of traffic you want to gain. For example, most bloggers and freelancers are very busy on a daily basis. Focusing on source is a great way to generate fast traffic. If you want go for search, make sure you have those SEO mark ups and settings done right on your article (don’t forget about on-page SEO). If you want social shares as traffic, then focus on becoming more active on social!”

#14.Pratik Dholakiya

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Pratik Dholakiya is the Co-Founder of E2M & Preceptist.
Website: www.pratikdholakiya.com| Twitter: @DholakiyaPratik

“Often underestimated, sponsored content remains one of the most integral aspects of sourcing traffic to any website or blog. Put your content in front of consumers who are browsing on topic by using Google AdWords or through flexible or fixed CPC budget managers, like Outbrain. Other than the sponsored content, I have seen considerable traffic coming through blog commenting and social media as well.”

#15. Sue Ann Dunlevie

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Sue Dunlevie helps bloggers make money with their blogs so they can work at home, be their own boss and spend more time doing what they love at Successful Blogging. 
Website: www.successfulblogging.com| Twitter: @SueAnneDunlevie

“Do you ever feel like getting traffic is a never-ending battle? Like no matter how hard you try, you just can’t get the right eyeballs on your content? What I recommend to my clients is to do a roundup post. This is a post where you ask the same questions to many bloggers in your niche and publish them all in one post. Make sure you include a link to each blog, tell each blogger when the post goes live and ask them to share it. Some of my clients have 10x their traffic after a good roundup post!”

#16. Ashley Faulkes

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Ashley is obsessed with SEO and WordPress. He is also the founder of Mad Lemmings. When he is not busy helping clients get higher on Google he can be found doing crazy sports in the Swiss Alps (or eating too much Lindt chocolate – a habit he is trying to break).
Website: www.madlemmings.com| Twitter: @madlemmingz

“For me, one of the best ways to get a consistent stream of traffic to your website is to rank an epic blog post on Google. Sure, it takes lots of work, but focusing on one amazing piece, promoting it and building links is far more powerful than writing 20 average posts that only get a few tweets!”

#17. Casandra Campbell

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Casandra Campbell is an Internet marketer and growth expert who specializes in driving website traffic. She helps businesses and entrepreneurs leverage digital marketing to increase profits and grow their businesses. Casandra gladly shares free marketing advice on her blog: Minimalist Marketing.
Website: www.casandracampbell.com| Twitter: @Casandra_Camp

“My number tip is to do keyword research and optimize your content for those keywords. Organic search is easily the best traffic source and every blog should be trying to tap into it. Not only does most website traffic come from organic search, it’s often the best converting source of traffic as well. And while most traffic sources are only good for a one-time spike, organic search traffic is a renewable resource, driving new visitors month after month.”

#18. Nina Radetich

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Nina Radetich is an Emmy-winning former news anchor who made the transition to digital marketing in 2012. In 2016, she became a certified Duct Tape Marketing Consultant and founded Radetich Marketing & Media with the mission of solving the mystery of marketing for small businesses. You can read more web marketing tips on her blog at www.ninaradetich.com
Twitter: @NinaRVegas

“If you want more people to read your blog, you need to make sure you syndicate your blog across a host of social media sites. My two top tools for doing this are the WordPress plugins CoSchedule and SNAP (Social Networks Auto Poster). Once I’ve published my blog, I write up several corresponding social posts for it in CoSchedule. CoSchedule helps share my blog on the big social sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google Plus at regular intervals over the next several weeks. Then, I rely on SNAP to auto-post my blog to social bookmarking sites like Digg, Stumbleupon and Delicious. This is a simple, but winning combination for maximum exposure for your blog without paying for views.”

#19. Jacob Varghese

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Jacob Varghese is an executive marketing strategist and technologist, content-Chef; words, images, analytics, some code. Part-time moonshot hunter and hands-on strategic do-er of all things marketing.
Website: www.jacobv.com| Twitter: @jacobvar

“It’s easy to generate traffic. It’s not as easy to generate traffic that is interested in your product/services. The best way to create an audience that will help your business grow is to firstly know your audience (create customer personas), then create content and a distribution strategy to serve that audience. Be ready to spend more time distributing the content than creating it. Explore all leverage options – paid, social, organic to bring you a well-defined audience. Doing all this consistently will help you attract a growing audience aligned with your growth engine. Visit my blog for actionable tips on how to do this.”

#20.  Ashley Zeckman

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Ashley Zeckman (@azeckman) is the Director of Agency Marketing for TopRank Marketing. In addition to finding innovative ways to showcase the exceptional work of her team, she is also responsible for creating digital marketing programs that drive customer acquisition and growth for the agency.
Website: www.toprankblog.com/

“The answer is simpler that you might think. What it really comes down to is understanding what your target audience wants to consume, share and act on. We have created a custom content report that allows us to see which posts readers are responding most to. After analyzing the data, we are able to determine the topics and post types perform the best and we then adapt our content plan to include more of those posts.
We also incorporate influencer insights into our content in a way that inspires them to share the content with their audience. Thereby increasing the reach of our blog. “

#21. Pawan Deshpande

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Pawan Deshpande is the founder and CEO of Curata, a Boston-based company offering content marketing software used by thousands of marketers around the world. 
Website: www.curata.com| Twitter: @TweetsFromPawan

“Having a documented content strategy. You can create as much content as you like, but without a clear, replicable strategy for deciding what to write about, who to target it to, how to repurpose it, how to promote it, and how to measure it, you’ll just be wasting time and money on not reaching the people you need, and not accurately meeting the needs of the people you do reach.”

Bonus

Yaro Starak

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Yaro Starak is the founder and writer of Entrepreneurs-Journey.com. 
Twitter: @yarostarak

“My number one tip for generating more traffic to your blog is to focus on external platforms that have the target audience you reach.
An external platform is any blog, website, social media site, publication or event, where you can deliver your message to the right people. It might be Facebook, it might be speaking at a conference, it might be Youtube or an App for mobile phones.
The audience is out there, but they don’t know you exist. This is why you have to go and stand in front of them with your powerful ideas. That is how you get traffic. Great ideas and the right platform to reach people.
If you are currently not sharing your ideas outside of your blog, that is why you are struggling to grow your traffic. You can’t reach people if you never leave your own island.”

 

Final thoughts:

We thank all the the experts who have taken time from their busy schedule to respond to our query! We know that in a changing landscape, like the online marketing industry, there is never one solution or hack to generate traffic to a blog. Each individual circumstance is different. What is not different is the power of collaboration, which we hope is what this blog has inspired. Hopefully, the tips shared by these top digital marketing experts will influence your own strategies and conversations about generating more traffic to your blog.

Do you have a different tactic or have found success in generating traffic to your blog? Do share it in the comments below.As always, stay tuned for our follow-up post and contribution coming soon!

18 experts share their strategies on how to find the ideal target audience

No matter what your niche or marketing style is, there is no question about the fact that you need to be able to determine your target audience.?It allows us to find the right prospects, build a loyal customer base, and increase web traffic.

Basically, if you don?t know your target audience, you will have zero ROI.

But, have you ever wondered how the biggest brains in the industry reach their audience? We have, so we decided to reach out. What tactics and strategies do they use to reach their targets? What tools help them to increase their website performance?

Last week, we had the?opportunity to ask a few of the most influential voices for an expert roundup to answer this simple question:

 

What strategy do you use in order to find the most beneficial?target audience for your marketing campaigns?

 

Expectations:?While discussing this question in the office prior to sending out messages to influencers we came to the following expectations:
We expected most marketers to use their experience (as well as trial and error) to determine the ideal audiences. Depending on the style of marketing that they pursue, they may deploy different tools to gather analytics data during this trial and error phase and home?in on their audience.

What we found during this roundup is that the processes people deploy are very unique to the marketer and their style of marketing, and that it is a highly personalised endeavour.

Keep reading to see what everyone had to say!

#1. Nathan Gotch

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Nathan Gotch is the Chief Executive Officer of Gotch SEO. Inspiring SEOs from all around the world, visit Nathan?s popular SEO blog to learn actionable SEO advice without the fluff.

Website: www.gotchseo.com?| Twitter:?@GotchSEO

“I always start with creating an Ideal Customer Avatar (ICA). That means I create a fictitious person. I start with the basics of their name, gender, age, hair color, eye color, and current income. From there, I brainstorm what their interests might be. After that, I write down what their biggest struggle is and what their goals are. Last, I write a brief paragraph explaining what my ICA ‘needs to change’. This process allows you to understand your target audience deeper. Understanding your target audience will help you create more effective content, improve your ability to sell and “connect” with the prospect, and will also help you understand where your prospect ‘lives’ on the Internet.”

#2.?Matt Diggity

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Matt is a researcher in the Marketing / SEO industry. He is known for?sharing all his findings with no reservations?on his blog, and also?owns one of the most successful link rental businesses on the web.?

Website: www.diggitymarketing.com | Twitter: @mattdiggityseo

“As an affiliate SEO, most of the time I’m entering niches that are completely new to me. I’m assuming most SEOs are in the same place.

My words of advice… make good friends with your affiliate manager. They have the data and experience to be able to point you in the right direction. Now you’ll be able to design your site for the proper gender, age group, etc.

If you’re working with Amazon Affiliates, unfortunately you don’t get assigned an affiliate manager. In that case I recommend you look at data and data alone. Install analytics and start learning where your visitors are coming from. Run Facebook ads to find out how old they are and their gender.

Of course, in the best case scenario, use both of these techniques. But either way, listen only to data. Don’t assume anything.”

#3.?Nick Eubanks

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Nick Eubanks is best known in the industry to create seonick.net?a site that was?sold in late?2015. He currently works as a VP of Digital Strategy at Trafficsafetystore.com and also blogs at SEOauv.

Website: www.seoauv.com?| Twitter: @nick_eubanks

“We use a combination of research methods that lean heavily on search engine data. Keyword research can actually provide tremendous insights into audience segments, desires, and needs when used as an audience research process.
Our newest keyword intelligence tool takes heaps of data provided by TermExplorer and slices it all up into opportunity-based sheets. From here we’re able identify the intent, difficulty, and rank potential for terms that are a good match for our campaign.
Once we’ve culled down a representative target list, we use Lumanu to help us identify what kinds of content worked well for that particular topic including language, length, imagery, and even influencers to further research and connect with. One additional secret weapon we have is we do a lot of marketing in a specific set of verticals – and there’s no better way to gain insight into a specific topic audience than to own and manage a website IN the vertical itself. One of my personal recent projects has been managing a growing content network of niche publishers through Rank.Network which has allowed me to gain a lot of insights into what individual audiences are looking for and what resonates with them for links and engagement.”

#4. Sarvesh Srivastava

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Sarvesh Shrivastava is a Passionate blogger, Entrepreneur & Digital Marketer from India . He’s a specialist in Adsense and Affiliate Niche Sites creation and writes about creating your own?5 Figure $$ income online.

Website: www.nichedesire.com | Twitter: @nichedesire

“The very first thing I do is I try to find the online places where my target audience hangs out, such as Facebook groups, Google Plus communities etc. Then I try to take a note of what they are mostly interested in and how my product could target their interest. Once, all this is done, it becomes a lot easier to target them in the long run and chances of conversion increase multiple folds.

For Affiliate sites, specially Amazon affiliate ones, spying on competitors gives you an edge. With tools like SEMRUSH and Ahrefs, it’s possible to pull out a lot of their data to be?analyzed further in order to know more about the buyer.

#5.?Ryan Stewart

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Ryan Stewart is a digital marketing consultant and also the owner of Webris,?a web consulting agency specializing in web analytics and SEO.?

Website: www.ryanwashere.com ?| Twitter:?@ryanwashere

“When we get a new client onboard, we send over a list of questions that dig into various parts about their business. We cross walk this with Facebook audience insights, some social media research, and the data from their analytics account. From there we build out detailed audience personas that we use for link outreach and content creation.”

#6. John Rampton?

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John Rampton is a serial entrepreneur and an online influencer. He was named #3 in the top 50 online influencers in the world by Entrepreneur Magazine.?

Website: www.johnrampton.com | Twitter: @johnrampton?

“I personally use a tool called?Searchmetrics?to help me figure out exactly where I should go after with a campaign. It helps me break down exactly where the visitors are coming from, how many there are and how to take advantage of that traffic.”

#7. Shama Hyder

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Shama Hyder is founder and CEO of the award-winning?Marketing Zen Group,?an integrated web marketing and digital PR firm. She is also a highly acclaimed keynote speaker,?bestselling author, and a regular media correspondent. Her latest book, Momentum: How to Propel Your Marketing and Transform Your Brand in the Digital Age is now available on Amazon and across bookstores:?http://amzn.to/1sqMmZs

Website: www.shamahyder.com | Twitter: @shama?

“To find the right target audience, you must answer a series of questions to properly identify who your target audience is. What problem is your solution the answer to (can be product, service, etc.)? Who is currently suffering from this problem? From here you may find yourself with one large group as your target audience, or divided groups with similar interests (multiple target audiences). In the case of multiple target audiences, you’ll need to tailor your marketing towards what each audience really cares about, so you can resonate with them on a more intimate level – who doesn’t love when a company just ‘gets them’?”

#8.?Chris Makara

Since 2003, Chris Makara has developed a broad digital marketing background with a focus on SEO, Social Media, and Analytics. He is the founder of Bulkly, a social media automation tool for individuals and small businesses.

Website: www.chrismakara.com?| Twitter: @chrismakara?

“Hands-down, the best way to find the correct target audience for marketing campaigns is through Facebook Ads. Facebook has so much data on all of their users, you can get very granular with your requirements and know that your ad dollars are only going to be spent on the ones who fit your ideal criteria.”

#9.?Sean Si

sean si

Sean Si is the VP of Growth and Marketing for Webranger – a Security-as-a-Service company that provides businesses with on-demand IT security resources. He is a motivational speaker in the morning and an SEO and analytics guy at night.

Website: www.seo-hacker.com?| Twitter: @SEO_Hacker

“We already have a reachable audience that regularly reads our blog. We are more concerned about what they would like to read. So for that, we use Qeryz to know what our audience desires to read. We ask them a simple question such as: “What would you like to read on our blog?” And we either ask them to answer through free-form text or through multiple choice.”

#10. Michael Pozdnev

michael

Michael Pozdnev is a dreamer and a pro in SEO with 16 years of experience who wants to become your best friend.

Website: www.iwannabeablogger.com?| Twitter: @MPozdnev

“Researching your target audience can be the initial step for any business or blogger. My strategy is an analyzing the audience of your competitors. Analysis of their content, backlinks, main sources of traffic, social shares, and comments. For this I use this set of tools:

#11. David LeonHardt

David_Leonhardt

David Leonhardt runs The Happy Guy Marketing, a freelance writer and promotions agency.

Website: www.THGMwriters.com?| Twitter:?@amabaie

“I base my marketing on social media; my ?correct target audience? is mostly amplifiers ? people who can extend the reach of my message.? These would be influencers and experts in a niche, people with an audience of their own. I would much rather reach out through bloggers, for example, and harness their relationship with their readers and followers, than aim directly at buyers.”

 

#12. Fervil Von Tripoli

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Fervil Von Tripoli is an SEO consultant and is an active blogger.

Website:?www.fervilvon.com?| Twitter:?@FervilVon

“Usually it all starts with introspection and brainstorming to understand the niche/market. I could start my ideas on my competitor’s target keywords. I use the competitors’ domains and place their URLs in keyword planner to observe the pattern and what keywords they are trying to penetrate and rank in Google. More detailed approach about my processes in audience targeting and hunting for the best SEO keywords.”

 

#13.?Imran Uddin

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Imran Uddin is the founder of All Tech Buzz, All Tech Media Pvt. Ltd, All India Roundup and several other popular websites. He builds online businesses that receive millions of visitors every month.?

Website:?www.alltechbuzz.net | Facebook: @Alltechbuzz

“As of now I am making use of Social Media to drive targeted visitors to our sites. To do this we either do paid campaigns or share on relevant pages on Facebook.

Organic traffic is always the best when coming to targeted traffic. But, ranking on Google and maintaining it for a long period of time is something that’s uncertain. But, however, we also focus on Search Engine Optimization and make sure it gets automated, so that we don’t have to track our keywords or build links every day. We focus on organic rankings and come up with strategies that can help us getting links organically.”

 

#14. Tim Bourquin

tim

Tim Bourquin a successful entrepreneur and co-founder of AfterOffers.

Website:?www.afteroffers.com?| Twitter: @TimBourquin

“If you have an email list, the fastest way I know to target a similar the audience is to upload that email list to Facebook as a custom audience and then create a Lookalike audience to target as well. Facebook Insights also offers a terrific way to find people to target who are similar to your email subscribers – or even better – similar to your email list of buyers.

Facebook insights is also a massive tool for finding audiences you can then target on other platforms, such as Twitter, Google, and Bing.

One tip: just because the audience for your product is, for example Skydivers, doesn’t mean you can target “skydivers” as an interesting topic and be done. Usually, interested topics alone are too broad.? Be sure to add age, occupations, and other data points to your audience to narrow it even more.? The more targeted your audience, the better response you’ll have to your marketing campaigns.”

 

#15. Emil Dayan

Emil Dayan

Emil is a seasoned Facebook marketer who mostly works on in-house projects. He recently launched his own watch brand and consults large agencies and businesses.

“The first thing you should look at when taking on a new project is of course, the potential, and if there’s a (profitable) market.
To do so, there’s a few beasts out there with incredible amount of data – and lucky for you they don’t mind sharing.?One of my personal favourites is Facebook – as it’s very quick and perfect for finding customers that’s not actively looking – and you have the ability to find an untapped market.?The very best way to narrow down your audience is literally by trial and error. Start off with what you already know about your target audience. Any specific age range? Gender? Location?
Set up your first campaign with these settings. Spend some money. If no leads/sales are generated (very common, broad audience – don’t worry), have a look at the CTR and bounce rate. Anything that stands out? CTR on male is twice as high as females? Age 28-34 stays on the landing page 18% longer? Great.
Move on and take the data that you gathered and narrow the campaign further. Start trying interests, behaviour, relationship status – etc etc etc. Before you know it, you have your target audience completely pinpointed. All that’s left for you now is to rake in the money.”

 

#16. Patrick Babakhanian

Patrick Babakhanian

Patrick is the owner at Serpchampion, a well known premium Domain broker and SEO company.?

Website:?www.serpchampion.com/?| Twitter: @serpchampion

“What I mainly do to find the right target audience is, I reverse-engineer what my competition did and attempt to do it way better.?So it starts with analyzing your top 5 competitors in Google and on social media.We can use two tools for this, which is SEMrush (love this tool) and also a tool that gets overlooked a lot, which is SimilarWeb.

So SEMrush gives you a lot of search engine data, and it could be SEO or PPC. It shows you for what keywords your competition is ranking for, where they are getting their traffic from and so on.
Once the data in front of you, export all of the data into a file and dig deeper on how you can target those keywords via PPC or SEO.
SimilarWeb.com brings you a few steps further.?I do recommend purchasing the premium version since you’re unlocking all of the features, plus your data will not be limited.
What similarweb.com does is it gives you data on demographics, audience interests, traffic sources (big one), organic keywords and related sites of your competition.
That’s super valuable information right there, so you don’t have to re-invent the wheel here.?The biggest shortcut in business and life is, model what the top competitors or your mentors are doing, and reverse engineer that and preferably do it better.”

 

#17. Nemanja Mirkovic

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Nemanja is the owner at LeadsFox, a wildly successful turnkey affiliate site business that creates complete websites that rank.

“When starting a new product/service, or a campaign for an existing one, I like to talk to a certain number of “ideal” customers.
I start off with simple questions like “Who are you / What do you do / Where are you from?” ?followed by a series of other questions and most importantly “What needs, challenges, and frustrations do they have with current products?”. This helps me understand how to steer the product or a service toward solving those problems and frustrations instead of just focusing on the benefits.”

#18.?Abass Sahrawi

Abass

Abass is a specialist and industry expert from Mauritania, and he teaches digital marketing tactics to a large amount of people.?

“Before doing anything I sit down with a piece of paper and write down as much as I can about the niche. I also use niche forums, Google and Instagram to do my research. In my niches it usually helps to create a mix of Funny and Targeted Ads to reach the Audience.”

Bonus?

Dino Gomez

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Dino is a lead generation consultant & founder of Dynamik Internet Marketing Inc. -www.Dynamikinternetmarketing.com. He also ?runs a video blog to help aspiring entrepreneurs learn SEO at Dynamik 365.

Website:?www.dynamikinternetmarketing.com?| Twitter: @DinoGomez

Our first step is to identify the top 3 competitors in a target niche. Next, we use FB audience insights to uncover demographics about this market. We look to see if these major players are selling or promoting any Amazon products. If so, we go to Amazon, take note of the product brand, and examine “related” Amazon products to learn more about the desired & lesser known products that serve this target market. Finally we look for “list posts” in this niche. We already know the major competitors but now we are interested in the smaller players on this list. For example, “top 20 professional tennis players” if we are looking into the Tennis niche. The average person might know the top 2 best players but only the super fan will know the players at spot #19 & #20. We take these lesser known players names, head back to FB audience insights, and uncover the demographics of the super fan.

Anil Agarwal

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Anil is a professional blogger from India and regularly blogs?at?BloggersPassion.

Website: www.bloggerspassion.com?|?Twitter: @bloggerspassion

Instead of using tools, it’s a smart way to brainstorm your own passion, skills and needs in the market. Find out what your competitors are doing. Find out what you can do to fill out the gap in your market. Spying on your competitors is another important factor that helps you find the right market for you.

SEMrush is an incredible tool that helps you spy on your competitors really easily. It also helps you increase your search traffic, find profitable keywords, fix your site issues and many more.”

 

BONUS:
Matt LaClear 

“Best Strategies for Reaching Your Target Audience
It matters not what the product or service happens to be. A company can only thrive if it knows its audience and how to effectively communicate. A company must be able to build a base of loyal customers. Once this occurs, a company can work on marketing ways to increase web traffic. Without a target audience, there may be zero return on investment.

Group the target market by profession or industry, and even by location. What type of activities do they engage in? Are they male or female, or young or old? Always find the customers that will benefit the most. If solving a problem, always think about the risk to the company’s reputation for not finding a solution. Target markets are also niche markets. People have the capacity to enjoy unique experiences and the Web provides the perfect setting. The Web allows marketers to cut out the middle man to deliver personalized services and products.

It would be impossible to reach your audience without determining the methods to use. Social media marketing is also an integral element of defining and reaching a target audience. Then, the goal is to find out if the marketing campaign reached the right people. Every campaign provides an opportunity to do a better job in the future, and feedback is essential for tweaking campaigns and pursuing effective results.”

Final thoughts:

As you reach the end of this insightful post, maybe you feel enlightened? Or maybe you are scratching your head, trying to piece together everyone?s varying responses? Originally, we thought were going to include our insights as well when it comes to our strategies for target audiences, but we have been inspired!

Sure, we anticipated that the experts would use trial and error to determine their target audiences, but as you can see each person has their own personal strategy for success, making us realise?so do we!

Stay tuned because we aren?t finished. We will be publishing an exclusive post that intimately explores all our strategies for target audiences!
What is your response to the gems these contributors bestowed upon us? Will you be taking some of their strategies for your own campaigns? Have more to say? Let?s start a conversation! Comment, share, or writes us personally about everything you think should come next!


Read the Butlers conclusion here!

6 Incredible Interviews with 6 Game-Changing Marketers

Beginning a couple of months back, we conducted and launched an interview series with multiple pioneers in the online marketing industry. After fielding so many questions about how we have come to manage our brand, the tools that go into the functionality of PBNButler, and ultimately how we manage the day-to-day operations, we became curious about how some of our colleagues across the globe do this too. We recognise that we aren’t the minority when it comes to micro-managing the crazy world of online marketing, and assumed that our curiosity about others in the business would intrigue our followers just as much as it does us. We wanted to get deeper into the method behind each other?s madness. Ultimately, what stemmed from this conversation were six interviews with myself and fellow ambassadors in digital marketing. Each person provided their own interesting insights about their journey and ideologies. In an effort to reach as many of you as possible, I decided to create a single round-up post summarising some of the highlights of each interview.

 

Our first interview came from Dave Chesson, the mastermind behind Kindlepreneur which is an online tool to write and publish eBooks on Amazon. He discusses many valuable points that I gained a lot of insight from, like time management and the foundation of product building. He also discusses how essential it is to be ?part author, part marketer? if a person wants to do well publishing eBooks. Referencing Taylor Swift in the interview, he also parallels the ideas of fans to traffic to gain sales and many specifics about selling products on Amazon successfully!

Read the full interview HERE

 

The next week we featured an interview from David Schneider, who is a co-founder of Ninja Outreach. Much of our conversation discussed the drive behind his work and the immense value of evaluating the product and brand to maintain accountability. He also informed me about how important he finds delegating responsibilities in his team, the best way to do outreach marketing, and what he learned in the year 2015.

Read the full interview HERE

 

David Darmanin was the third interviewee in our series, who is the genius behind the very popular tool Hotjar. Our interview initially begins with discussing the importance of conversion optimisation and revenue, the ultimate leverage and quick wins a person can gain by using Hotjar analytics, and his insights about the future of online marketing.

Read the full interview HERE

 

The founder of Webris, Ryan Stewart, was the next interview we published in our series. We also discussed time management along with the value of content in the online marketing world. He highlights that he never makes the same mistake twice and how important it is to learn from those mistakes and implement that in work. Toward the end of the interview, we also discuss the significance of hiring the right people for a brand and the always intriguing debate white hat versus black hat.

Read the full interview HERE

 

Charles Floate is one of the most well-known black hat digital marketers in the business and we featured him in the fifth week of our series. We discuss affiliate sites, ranking, and how essential it is becoming to utilise black hat and white hat tactics to get the juiciest sales. Even more, we also discuss cost of SEO in the future and his advice for 2016.

Read the full interview HERE

 

Matt Diggity?s interview was actually in the form of a written response, making it one of the more condensed pieces of the series. But that doesn?t mean it lacks in insight. We discuss the time he spends managing and testing for his company Diggity Marketing, the time he fired all of his clients, and how rewarding it is for him to get his clients to page one. Check this interview out if you want to read his six steps for his ?recipes for success?.

Read the full interview HERE

What the F**K makes you tick? With Matt Diggity

The last interview in our series comes from the ultra-versatile Matt Diggity of Diggitymarketing.com and Diggity Links. Unlike the other interviews in this series, my interview with Matt comes in the form of a written correspondence. Our schedules didn’t coincide, but I still really wanted to include his insights in our series. So, instead of writing him off, I was able to get in his input via a written interview. I am thrilled that he was able to discuss so many important things for this series, most notably his take on living the marketers dream. Extremely concise and enlightening, this interview will surely captivate all of you!

Matt is not only a incredible researcher in the Marketing / SEO niche, that shares all his findings with no holds barred on his blog, he also owns one of the most successful link rental businesses I have come across and all of this in addition to running his Chiang Mai based office that manages his vast portfolio of Affiliate Money Sites.

 

John: Matt, please tell me a little bit about what motivated you to go into online marketing, and then to go from a, sole marketing provider, to end clients, all the way to becoming a services provider with your link rental service.

 

Matt Diggity: My SEO career started around 2009.  I used to be an engineer (Master of Science, Electrical Engineering) and I worked for a Silicon Valley startup. The lifestyle was brutal. I was making six-figures, but it simply wasn’t worth it.  I knew that I needed an exit plan because that life simply wasn’t sustainable with any measure of freedom or happiness. At nights I would study online marketing and run various affiliate projects powered by SEO.

Eventually I started making good money online, but I didn’t leave my day job quite yet. I was heavily vested in the company’s virtual stocks and stayed around waiting for an acquisition or IPO.

In 2011 my company was acquired, my stock options became real, and I received a quarter million-dollar paycheck. I quit shortly after. It was time to live life the way I wanted. I moved to Chiang Mai, a hotspot for SEOs, and started working in SEO full time.

Looking back, I enslaved myself nearly 4 years for that buyout paycheck. Ironically, I found out later that SEO can create that cash flow in months. Hindsight is always 20/20.  Isn’t that what they say?

 

John: I couldn’t agree more with you Matt, I think that most successful Seo’s have at least a few moments of “regret” thinking, I wish I had taken the plunge earlier. Working with clients from all over the world, while being based in Asia, how do you manage the time zones and what does a typical day look like for you.

 

Matt Diggity: Clients require time and personal attention. I found that I wasn’t able to scale as fast as I wanted to with a client model, so one day I decided to fire all my clients except one.

This free’d up a lot of time. Lately, my days revolve around management and testing. I have a team that helps to take care of the actual implementation of my projects: PBN setup, creating money sites, back linking, etc. They rank the sites and I oversee the work. This allows me to focus on testing and thus staying ahead of the SEO knowledge curve. The engineering nerd in me still loves to geek out in the lab. Besides, everything becomes easier when you can rank at will. Other than that, I allocate a few hours per week to SEO consultations. Helping people get to page 1 is definitely the most rewarding part of my work.

 

John: A lot of people would say that you are “living the marketers dream. What has it meant for you to get to where you are now?

 

Matt Diggity: To sum it up in one word: efficiency. There’s no way I could be at the level I’m at now if I weren’t constantly optimizing my productivity.

Here’s my recipe for success:

 

  1. For two weeks every three months, track every minute of your working day and note down how much time you spend doing each task. Then figure out how much money each of those tasks makes for you. Divide earnings by time spent to figure out how much money your time is worth. Finally, outsource all tasks that you can get done for less than your worth per hour.

 

  1. Test. Most of the SEO advice you read about on the internet is going to be pure speculation or marketing hype. When you take testing into your own hands, you avoid the B.S. and instead become the cutting-edge yourself.

 

  1. Periodically, sell off your bottom 20% money-generating websites. If you’re in client SEO, fire the bottom 20% of your clients. I don’t care if they’re making you thousands per month. Simply clearing out the bottom 20% makes room for more headspace to be applied to bigger projects with bigger returns. (Study Pareto’s Law. Learn it. Live it.)

 

  1. Give a high priority to building an incredible team of all-stars.

 

  1. This one is the key: Forge partnerships with top performers that excel in the skills that you lack.

 

  1. Lastly, gamify your success: Set goals and reward yourself for getting to those milestones. For example, as soon as you hit your first 6-figure year, book yourself a first class ticket to wherever you want.

 

John: That’s some pretty inspiring words right there Matt, I think a lot of people will benefit from adapting this kind of methodology.
For someone that would like to enter the online marketing industry on a shoestring budget, what would you suggest they do at the beginning of 2016 to make their dream come true?

 

Matt Diggity: This is a very interesting question. In general, sticking to a shoestring budget during the beginning phase is simply going to lengthen the time to success. You’re going to have less resources to work with and all your time is going to be spent in the nitty-gritty; doing work that virtual assistants could do. If you really want to make 2016 your dream year but don’t have the funds, this is my suggestion; intern/partner with someone with money and experience. Position yourself as an apprentice. Someone that they can train to do high-level tasks. You’ll take over what they’re doing now, so they can move on to the next thing. Do all the work for free. Don’t accept a penny. Work in exchange for knowledge and resources (in SEO this would likely be in the form of backlinks). Use the resources for your own projects. With solid mentorship, you’ll be able to learn faster, avoid newbie pitfalls, and avoid an upfront investment. Lastly, believe in yourself. Take action. And, most importantly, be kind to others. You can’t go wrong with this paradigm.

What the F**K makes you tick? With Charles Floate

Our fifth interview is from someone I think will really excite all of you. Forever scandalous, brazen, and captivating, many of you are already aware of the infamous Charles Floate. A notorious and well respected online guru, our interview proved to be exciting and thought provoking. Sharing new ideas and insights, I am fascinated with his beginning in the online marketing world, resonated with his methodologies, and loved bouncing ideas back and forth during the time we spent talking with one another. One of the more diverse and intense interviews of the series, I was glad to get his input and advice on what the future could and will mean for many of us. You really have to read this one all the way to end folks!

 

John: Charles, you?re an entrepreneur, consultant, and online marketer packaged all into one. How did you start off in the online world?

 

Charles Floate: Well I was kind of already interested in video games and stuff from a pretty young age, and I used to play a lot of World of Warcraft. I basically had about 4 characters in World of Warcraft that were goal-capped. I started learning a lot of the other side of World of Warcraft, which is the player versus environment, and player versus player stuff from a company called Zygor Guides and these are like a massive, massive World of Warcraft company.
They had like 100,000 live members on it, and it?s like $47 a month or something ridiculous. Basically I joined this community and realized that you could sell the product. That you could be an affiliate for them, and you get a commission by selling that product to the people.
That?s how I first got my first set of money. Basically I made a YouTube video on a gaming channel that already had about 2 and a half thousand subscribers on it, of me reviewing Zygor Guides. Then I started using Reddit, which I just kind of stumbled across around that time.
I started sharing it on Twitter and Facebook and stuff, because I was in quite a few World of Warcraft Facebook groups. Not many people have heard of this stuff. I actually ended up, because there was a really good, lengthy video and I had to edit and add a professional intro; and I was like 12 or 13. It got like two hundred something sales and each sale of this Zygor Guides Product product was like $20 commission. Then you could even earn a recurring monthly commission from that, through click bank back in the day.

Yeah. Then I started building out that gaming channel with various other gaming reviews and getting Adsense from the videos and ranking them and stuff. The most successful one ended up getting a half million views.

 

John: I think that?s actually really interesting. I think that a lot of online marketers that started at a very young age probably started when they first realized that in-game currencies, in games like WOW or Runescape had a very real value.
When I first started doing stuff online, I was an admin on a forum that was solely dedicated to training stuff on Runescape, and people were making absolute fortunes with guides, bots, in-game currency, etc. And that was really the eye opener for me as well when I saw that, ?Hey, wait a minute, I can automate this thing generating an in-game currency, and then sell it for real money.? So, that really got me excited back then. I was not smart enough to start of with YouTube advertising back then, but I wish I had.

 

Charles Floate: Yeah, talking about Runescape actually, Todd used to own Runefort, if you remember that forum. And Todd and I used to run project RS06 and project RS Classic, as well, which are like two of the biggest Runescape servers of all times, back when I was like 14 and he was like 19.

 

John: That?s brilliant. I actually went to an interview with Jaggex, as soon as I turned 18 because I really wanted to work with them when I was still very romantic about the industry, and all of that. I completely blew it because I basically told them that I thought that what they were doing was really stupid, which over time I learned is that it really doesn?t work in your favour if you go to the creator of something and tell them what they?re doing isn?t right.

 

Charles Floate: So true. We never had an interview to work with them, but we did definitely have a few legal letters from them.

 

John: Well, moving on from doing that in the beginning, was that really what sparked your interest in affiliate marketing?

 

Charles Floate: That?s what kind of first introduced me to affiliate marketing. I remember reading stuff like Shoe Money and just being like, ?What the hell am I watching here?? It was just (click-bank) was the first that got me into it and I just kind of listening to the (click bank) podcasts and various other podcasts about affiliate marketing. I remember Entrepreneur File when it first came out, I was reading all of these blog posts and listening to all of these podcasts every week. I think clickbank was the main thing that got me into affiliate marketing, even though I?ve completely strayed away from ever using it again, now

 

John: Yeah. That makes sense. I think it?s, click bank especially, a platform that a lot of people use when they first start off because a lot of the processes are very easily laid out and they tend to be very helpful as well when you?re starting off. Like you said, they?ve got great documentation and podcasts to help you get started. Once you sort of go to a much bigger scaling method it?s probably better to work, either as a drop or directly as an affiliate with businesses, right?

 

Charles Floate: Yeah. Also, generally if you join affiliate networks outside of click bank, things like Mr. Green?s, F5 Media and stuff, you get a dedicated affiliate manager, which you don?t get inside of clickbank (which is a main reason for being an affiliate with, it?s a main reason for what I do). Because I can organize a conference call with my affiliate manager with an affiliate network, and 30 minutes later, I?ve got a really targeted ad campaign that I can promote of the basis of my traffic and everything that I can get personally, I can [then] get targeted ads and things for my personal projects; if you know what I mean.

 

John: I?m with you. Having that direct line to somebody that helps you manage your campaigns is also a massive advantage because in my experience affiliate managers have a huge influence on payouts.

 

Charles Floate: Yeah, definitely. You can message them for five minutes and you can get it raised from 25 to 30 and that?s a massive difference if you?re doing a couple thousand dollars a week or something.

 

John: Exactly. So, sort of taking a step back. When you first started off (you were saying you were 12-13 when you started seeing this with the WOW affiliate) do you think it was the money and the excitement, or really the challenge that motivated you to keep pushing on and finding new ways to monetize these online properties?

 

Charles Floate: I think I?ve always been a sucker for a good challenge. I think I just like the feeling of accomplishing things for it, and obviously, you know, when you?re twelve or thirteen, and you can buy a brand new alienware laptop off of making a few YouTube videos, it?s a pretty good feeling, as well.

 

John: Yeah. So, a trend that I?ve noticed is that people get discouraged when their first project doesn?t see substantial returns. Do you think that stamina is a key ingredient in online marketing and what would you suggest that people do to not become unmotivated?

 

Charles Floate: Most people when they start out go solely for one project, and once that project has started earning money, they invest everything they have into that one project. I think if you can get property to do $2000 a month, that you can equally then turn that $2000 into four new projects that can generate even more revenue than your first one. I think it?s a really good idea to keep investing in the property if it?s really great, but most people don?t see past a certain limitation that that property might have or niche they might have. They tend to start off in too big of a niche. Like you see so many people who come straight into the industry and want to go after keywords like ?weight loss pills?. It?s just not going to happen when you?ve read the beginners guide to marketing, if you know what I mean. I think that main challenge in keeping yourself motivated is that even if you don?t see a $10,000 check at the end of every month, you still have the potential to reach that, because someone else already has, and it is possible. There?s no limitation on your income because people have gotten to every target you?ve ever set yourself.

 

John: Adding on to that, I think that one of the biggest issues is that people who start out, the only success that they can see is if they make something like $2000 or $5000 or $10000 because that?s what the people that they?ve learned everything from are making. But I think that one of the essential parts to having a successful mind and not losing your motivation is to break your projects down into very small achievable goals that you can achieve; where every time you achieve one of those, you?re going to become more motivated rather than becoming less-motivated.

 

Charles Floate: Yeah, you know, if you just started out a YouTube channel and you expect to make $10,000 the next month from Adsense, then you need to be a bit more lenient with the challenges that you take.

 

John: Yeah, I think you?re going to have a bad time if you?re trying to make $10,000 from YouTube on your first project.

 

Charles Floate: It?s possible though, but?

 

John: Well, that?s the thing though, isn?t it? I think a lot of people also don?t appreciate the amount of time and dedication that goes into nursing and nurturing these projects. And I don?t think that matters massively if you are pursing it with ?black hat? method or ?white hat? method. I think that, especially while you?re starting out, you?re going to have to be very dedicated to your projects in order to see results.

 

Charles Floate: Yeah. Something I think most people don?t see when they?re just starting projects, if you?re doing an affiliate project and your main source of traffic is Google, building an affiliate site and ranking it, that?s not just the job that you have on hand. You can build the site but maybe you need to continue to blog a bit. Maybe you need to add new reviews to it. Maybe you need to start continually creating backlinks, you need to have an email newsletter, you need to look at paid advertising, you need to look at social media marketing. Once you get your own socials profiles up, there?s all these different things that you need to look at. Even if you?re just starting out in affiliate marketing, and it can be overwhelming for most people. It?s something that I think you need to break down into? Well, this is what I did when I first started making my own affiliate properties. I split up the amount of time that I put into each one, for example, I?d spend 20 minutes on social media, 20 minutes on a blog article, 20 minutes on link building, everyday. That would mean that I?d have that amount of time to both learn the resource and then also implement anything I learned on that day to the property. Over a period of a hundred days or something, you?re implementing a huge amount of helpful material and helpful rankings in social media and everything, to list a few, and your property does get more traffic and you get more sales.

 

John: Right, but I think that?s also the next step. The fact that you need to plan to have essentially review sessions on the work that you?ve done yourself to be able to take a step back and look at it and be able to say, ?Okay, I generated a thousand visits to this new site and I?ve only got a 1% conversions rate, right?? Then rather then being like, ?Hey I need to send 10 times more traffic to this because then ill make 10 times more revenue,? you should also ask yourself, ?What can I do to raise that conversion rate? Where can I optimize my funnel so that out of those 1,000 people, I make more money?? I think that that?s a really big issue that people just concentrate so much on generating traffic that they?re not actually optimizing the conversions that they could be making.

 

Charles Floate: I think that people who go into CPACRO?think that it?s this massive hard thing of changing the colours of a button and stuff. The main kind of CRO that I do is traffic CRO. So I?ll go into analytics, say like you said, if you have 1,000 visits and you have 1% conversions, but you have 50% of your conversions from one of ten different traffic sources, then you can concentrate more on that traffic source, rather than getting the same amount of traffic. Instead of spending, say if you have ten sales on your face accounts but only two sales from organic, maybe it?s better to invest in face accounts than it is to link building methods.

 

John: Right, right. I?m with you. That makes complete sense. Sort of moving on but kind of staying on the same subject. As the Google algorithm has changed, I think that the players in the game have also had to massively adjust their attitudes toward marketing stuff online because you no longer can just use pure spam to rank a bunch of sites. And if you do, it comes at a risk that you can?t really get away with doing this for clients. You can only really do it for affiliates, which I?m not saying is wrong. Do you think that the days of ?pure blackhat? marketing are gone?

 

Charles Floate: NO, because even if you?re not doing spam, but say you?re doing PBN?s or you?re doing expensive SAPE links, that?s still pure blackhat marketing. In fact, I?d argue that buying links is probably more blackhat than creating them on a web 2.0 that 10,000 other people have created them on because you?re directly paying into a blackhat economy. Whereas GSA you?re not doing anything. You?re just paying the $69 fee to the GSA every year and you?re buying the vps which is paying into a different kind of economy than the blackhat underground links economy is, which is more beneficial to buy SAPE links than it is to buy GSA links.

 

John: Touch?

 

Charles Floate: It also helps the actual economy of the blackhat trade as well. That means people who create the networks or create the sites, that are available to buy links off, will create even more of them.

 

John: Right. I?m with you. I think that using PBNs, and using SAPE is something that every marketer should at least experiment with and should test out and see what they can do for them. I know that a majority of very successful marketers probably have and probably do use them, whether they want to admit it or not. The questions I have though is with things like outreach marketing and social media marketing being massively on the rise. I think that now, with finding that even the biggest black hats are using more of a mix in their marketing campaigns for their clients, because it?s a lot easier to justify the white hat stuff that you?re doing than it is to say hey I got you some SAP links.

 

Charles Floate: Well if you want to see some link that kind of proves all this, I recently did a survey for 2015, called the ?2015 SEO survey?. When I started analyzing through all the people?s answers that they’d given me, I found out, well one of the main questions asked was, “How much money did you make from SEO this year, in 2015?” It turned out that the people made the most money were all doing a similar kind of SEO, which was essential, they were using a very white hat website, large amounts of content, large amounts of pages, info graphics, customs videos, that kind of stuff. Then a tier one of white hat links, but then a tier two of completely black hat links. So they’d have tier one blog posts for a massive brand, you know huge betting brands and that kind of stuff, and newspaper and guest posts links that they’ve gotten legitimately or naturally but then they tier two all of that with hidden 301s, and SAPE links, and PBNs, and massive Web 2.0 spam, and that kind of stuff. They were going at it really, really hard on tier two, on the the black hat stuff, but then making a lot of money from the big genuine sites because they were ranking really well and they were ranking very long term because obviously the tier one links were a buffer towards the black hat spam and they’re not going to hurt your site in the end.

 

 

John: Right. That makes a lot of sense. So essentially, what you’re saying is that the study, and I hope that we can link out from the blog post to this, is that the people that have made the most money this year are using a mix of the white hat stuff that you can justify and very easily show and explain to clients. Behind the scenes, they’re juicing those up with, say PBNs and Web 2.0 etc?

 

Charles Floate: Yeah. And most of those people using that technique are making over $200,000 a year.

 

John: Yeah. I think that really concludes that question.

 

So I think that another thing that is a very big issue is the cost of doing SEO. I think that a lot of people think that just because a process is manual, it has to cost them a lot of time or a lot of money. I think that the biggest issue there is people don’t spend the time initially to systemize and simplify the task so they can pass it on to somebody else, like a VA or PBN Butler to do the work, to save on resources, and speed up the ranking processes. Do you think that if people spent more time initially setting up their campaigns and tutorials they’d be more successful?

 

Charles Floate: I think firstly, the cost of SEO, it’s going to keep going up because if you want to either a) naturally try and achieve it, then it’s going to cost a lot more to get up in the organic ranking because you need to be doing things like creating massive content and becoming an authority (and you can’t do that very easy naturally). And I think b) for blackhats to be able to do it, Google algorithms and fooled Adsense teams are getting a lot better at finding various techniques, patterns and footprints and kind of taking out certain players or certain techniques out of the game completely, which means it’s a lot harder to rank. So, it then becomes a lot higher of a price to buy back links. It becomes a lot harder to build a back link that actually becomes useful to ranking your website in Google. I think in terms of time and learning you can never invest enough time in watching tutorials and watching guides. Back in the day, I used to literally go to work at a junior SEO job when I was 15, from 9 in the morning till?5 pm?at night, wouldn’t get home till half 6, and then I?d eat my dinner and be reading till?2-3 o’clock?in the morning. I’d do that every single day and have 4-5 hours of sleep a day. I was learning in the background, so I’d eventually have the capsule for this job to invest in what I wanted to do properly.

 

John: Right. I think that brings me to a really interesting point. I think a lot of people?see the?let’s call them idols? in the industry, who now have the big PC?s, the big cars, and are able to travel around all year. I think that what they’re missing out of that picture is the 18-hour work days where you’re researching, you’re working with clients, and you’re doing all these things everyday. I think that a lot of people miss that. I also think that that’s probably the most essential part, because spending money we’re all really good at; but, making it is the hard part. Very few people have started off by having a forty-hour work weeks. They started off by working 16-17-18 hours a day, 7 days a week.

 

Charles Floate: Well yeah. I think that Mr. Green put it very well when I was speaking to him. He said, “Instagram shouldn’t be a representation of someone’s life.” And I think that’s a very true fact, because if you were to look at Mr. Green on Instagram, you can see him on the beach and all that stuff, quite often. But realistically, I’ve seen him online on Skype for 20 hours a day, and he’s also managing all his affiliate managers and posting content for them and organizing all the events and stuff. Same with me. Last Monday, I did a 21-hour work day and literally passed out and had to go to the hospital. That kind of stuff is exactly why you need to limit yourself, but also, kind of just list and invest yourself as much as possible. Because time at the end of the day is your number one cost, and it’s the number one benefit you’ll have, especially when you’re starting out because, trust me, once you get to have a couple thousand fans or a couple hundred thousand dollars business, it becomes extremely time dependent and you don’t get to do a lot of stuff you want to do, like learn and read all the latest updates and stuff.

 

John: Exactly. And I can only echo that. When we started off with PBN Butler, we saw a need and we wanted to fill that need. We’re affiliate marketers as well. We said, “Hey. Why don’t we just fulfill this need and we’ll do that about three hours a day and the rest of the time we can just work on our projects. That’s great!” And now we’re down the line working with usually about 800 SEOs and SEO agencies a month. Now we’re at this point where we’re like, “Hey. What’s happened to this affiliate marketing stuff?” At the same time, it’s a great feeling of fulfillment when you get to work with people, you get to work with affiliate managers, etc. and they recognize the fact that you have put in the time and you have put in the effort to make it work. So, let’s take a quick look at the sort of agency side of the things. We really work in an industry that I think is massively saturated by great and not-so great marketers. In your opinion, what do you think somebody should do in 2016 to stand out?

 

Charles Floate: I think that it depends on what kind of business model you’re going after. So if you’re deciding to run a local agency, then standing out locally is going to be your best target. Basically you need to go with your best target audiences, and also, as much as you can, try and build the target audiences so you have some level of control over it. So, building Facebook groups or building anything that you can, to be able to harness that as a continual resource of traffic means that you?ll be ahead of the marketing game for everyone else. They are trying to get traffic from places that can go away or places that can change, whereas if you have something where you can get continuous traffic from, and you give value to that community as well, you?ll earn a lot back.

 

John: Right. So, essentially, if I want to go after the local market, for instance, and I want to do that for my particular city, what I would do is start a blog and start a Facebook group that is attached to that blog. Then on the blog I would write about giving out value and giving out tips on how to improve your conversion rate, how to improve your website design, etc. Then say, ?Hey, if you?re really interested, I hang out in this Facebook group, where you can ask me questions.? I funnel people into that Facebook group, and hopefully find a way to get their email addresses, etc. and then by the time that they have a requirement for their services, they?re already sold, because they know that I?m the authority.

 

Charles Floate: Yeah, exactly. Especially if you?re local. There?s a great example of a town near me, and someone created a location Facebook page, which literally is the town name + updates. Literally all they do is, they have a Google alert or something that alerts them there?s a bit of news for that area. Then they just steal the picture off a news article, Twitter, or wherever they can find a picture about it, post a 10 sentence update to the page every day, two or three of them every day, and have built about 30,000 likes on their Facebook page. Then anytime he or she wants to look at business, they can very easily, post that businesses information. So, he not only posts his own business information there so that they can get customers from local communities (especially in a very rich area) but he can also post other peoples? businesses on there at a price because they know that that is going to get the most reach if they can post it there rather than to like Google. Because obviously if you?re a plumber in an area and a page had 30,000 people specifically from that area on it, but you only get 100 monthly searches on Google, where are you going to go to? You?re going to go to the place that has the 30,000 geo targeted people already there.

 

John: So, this is essentially a social media press release system, right? Which I think is really a great idea, because like you said, you?ve got a bunch of people who receive your updates on a daily or weekly basis that they really like, which is by the way, something you could automate or outsource to an intern or a VA and say, ?Hey. Follow these Google alerts, and every time something comes in, I want you to rewrite it and post it with an image.? I think though that in order to get great conversions, the ideal scenario would be then to try and build a story around the business that you?re trying to promote on that, right? Because in my opinion, if I had just posted that business, the people that need it, yes they will be responding to it. But if I was able to build a story around it, and say ?Hey, we had a leak in the office today, and this guy was out here within 45 minutes fixed it? and then get like a picture with him and yourself or something, and posted it there, that sort of social connection is going to make a huge impact isn?t it.

 

Charles Floate: Yeah that?s a brilliant idea. Definitely, yeah.

 

John: Lastly, in 2016, for somebody who is starting out in online marketing on a small budget, what do you think they should pursue other than reading your blog to make an impact?

 

Charles Floate: I think they should look at what they spent, what they are currently spending, and only spend a very limited amount of money. So if you?re say making $500 a month, I suggest reinvesting that entire $500 a month but trying to invest as much time as you can rather than spending the money to do it, because you?ll get so much more out of learning how to do something than you will out of getting someone to do it for you by paying them money. It also means you can keep all of the money you?re earning potentially if you are doing everything yourself. Then, once you?ve done everything yourself and you know everything you can do, then you can train your own little VA army to do all the tasks that you were doing and you?ll be able to grow on a lot bigger scale.

 

John: Right, exactly. As far as, you know, the actual SEO aspect of it goes, do you think that people should be pursuing that sort of model of a first layer a first tier of white hat links that you earn by doing guest posts etc., and then backing those up with properties like SAPE and PBNs?

 

Charles Floate: Yeah, I definitely think that that is the best scenario, as far as ranking in Google, is to do very clean tier ones that you can?t be penalized at all for, but then back them up with like PBNs and tier two stuff. And also you can practice that SEO for your own social profiles and your own properties, which means that you become more of an authority within the industry because brand mentions in Google are becoming a lot more popular, and are becoming a lot more trusting than Google with brand mentions and news about your brand and press releases.

 

John: Yeah, I totally agree. Thank you so much for taking part.

You can also check out Charles latest content here:
Link building in 2016 the comprehensive guide
Charles’ Affiliate Marketing course?

What the F**K makes you tick? With Ryan Stewart

For our fourth week in our ?What the f*ck makes you tick series?? I had the pleasure of interviewing a pioneer of the Outreach Marketing industry, Ryan Stewart from Webris. During our conversation, it became evident to me that we both have very similar and interesting insights about a lot that happens in the online marketing world. Getting into the nitty-gritty of many interesting and under-discussed topics, like the importance of hiring the right people and brand growth, we share many moments of annoyance, agreement, and clarity about our industry that many of you are going to relate to. From content relevance to the awkward debate between black and white hat SEO, Ryan and I bare all in probably one of the rawest interviews in this series. I can?t wait to hear what all of you think about this!

 

John: I?ve been following your content for quite a while now, and as I?m sure, you now have many of our readers. The growth you have gone through in the last 12 months has been phenomenal, especially considering that, in my opinion, you?ve probably done most of that with outreach marketing. Do you think this a sustainable model going forward for the next 12 months?

Ryan Stewart: So, I guess it depends on how you look at it. If you?re looking at it from outreach for your own business or outreach to use as a client technique?

John: Ideally, to deliver results for your clients.

Ryan Stewart: Yeah, so everything that we do is actually Outreach these days. I have used PBN links, it?s like quitting drugs man. I just went cold turkey. I haven?t used a PBN link in a very long time, over probably 8 months now. I have used to use PBN links for clients, and have about 20 clients on a retainer, right now. We?re now doing outreach for all of them, so it?s extremely scalable. It?s very doable for agencies of all sizes and the thing is, you just have to be built for it, and you have to be prepared for it.
It?s more of a strategy, a process, and just really attention to detail and execution more than anything else, and a commitment to doing that.
The biggest knocks, I think, on doing outreach is that;
Number one, it?s not scalable;
Number two, it?s too time consuming;
And number three, you can?t do it for certain small budget clients, but it?s really not the case at all. Actually, when you?re getting into PBN type stuff, you know there are so many costs that you don?t always consider, especially if you?re just getting started. I mean, we?re talking about hosting. We?re talking about cost of content, even just the investment of your time, or somebody else?s time to set up the PBN?s ? all that stuff is extremely costly. I know people think that it?s cheaper, but it?s really not. I mean, I get my outreach done, I built my team to do it.? I?m saving more than 50% on the cost that I was paying for links beforehand. And this way, you know you?re doing it the right way, and you know it works better in the long term and you can build a business on that. You can build a true company/brand on these methods. But I think there?s really two types of SEO?s. There?s people that want to build a business and an agency, and there?s people that want to make money. There?s nothing wrong with either of those, but your actions ultimately reflect that. I think that a lot of people who got into it to make money realized that, ?Shit, I can actually make this into a real agency and a long term thing for the rest of my life?, but you?ve gotta use a sustainable method in terms of doing right by your clients and the only real way to do that is by not cutting corners and really doing things the right way, in my opinion.

John: I?m completely with you here. I think that you already touched there on the pain point with what you do, which is the fact that the majority of people who are in the industry haven?t put in the thinking that you have, to institutionalize what you?re doing. That?s what?s costing them the time and the money, right? So, looking at the content that you put out and the videos that you put out to people who want to be doing what you?re doing, you talk a lot about value. Do you think that people who are trying to imitate what you?re doing are still not quite getting what you mean when you say value?

Ryan Stewart: Yeah, there?s actually a great article written by Eric Enge on Moz the other day. I don?t really read a lot of content, but I was on my Twitter feed, and ended up clicking on it. It was called, ?The Need to Become a 10X Brand.? Basically, what he talked about was about how everyone, like a year a go, when I started doing content marketing heavily, everyone knew about content marketing, but it was just kind of like a side tactic; now it?s not even a debate anymore, everyone is doing content marketing.
Even the blackest of the black at SEO, do content marketing in some form. Look at Charles. Charles is a die-hard blackhat SEO, but he?s been content marketing too. Which is really why he?s had so much success, because of the content he?s created. So, he never spoke about it from a content marketing point-of-view, but he will not deny the fact that content is the biggest money maker for what he?s done. So, it?s really now permeated down to everybody, even small businesses. If you have any local clients, even they?re like, ?Oh, I need to create content.? So, what?s happened is that we are now creating more content that gets published every 24 hours; this is an incredible stat that I saw. More content gets published on the web now in 24 hours; that includes status updates; that includes blog posts; it includes everything? in 24 hours? than in the past 200,000 years. Yeah, it?s crazy right! That?s how much content is being published every 24 hours. It?s an incredible f****ing stat if you really think about that! So, what?s happened now, is when I talk about value, there?s so much noise now with content. Everyone?s creating content now. So the only way to stand out, (and this is just circling back to what they talked about in that Moz article) was not becoming a brand anymore? it?s becoming ten times that brand. You have to be so much better than your competitors, because everyone is starting to do these things. There?s so much noise, I mean, the only way to really break through, is by providing more value to your potential customers and to your audience. So, it?s almost an even playing field.

So, because everyone is now creating content, the good news is the crap content won?t get seen anymore. But if you really want to get seen, you have to be providing some sort of value? that value is going to come in some form of content. It doesn?t have to be a blog post, you could just f****ing crush it on social media, right? That?s another misconception about content is people are like, ?Oh I don?t want a blog. I?m not a good writer.? It doesn?t have to be writing, it could be anything. You could just get in front of a camera and start talking, but if you?re spitting incredible knowledge, you?re doing it consistently, and you?re doing a good job of promoting it to the right people, then that?s content marketing, right? Even if you?re doing it, like you look at these stupid accounts on Instagram that crush it; it?s still a form of content. So, it?s about value. There?s no way around it, even if you?re doing things the blackhat way, you still have to provide some sort of value, otherwise people are just going to go elsewhere.

John: I completely understand and absolutely agree with that. I think that one of the things that holds a lot of people back when starting to do this for clients is understanding how to find the story to tell, whether they?re talking online on social media, creating video content, or blogs. When you?re talking about your own brand, it?s very easy because, I would hope that you?re very passionate about your own brand, and you?re very embedded in it. If you?re having to talk about a plumber that operates in some city and you?re trying to create a story that can get them featured in wherever, then I think the thing that holds a lot of people back, is the creativity of trying to find a story to tell.

Ryan Stewart: Yeah. It?s hard.

John: Yeah, for sure. Now, what I?d like to know is, coming back to the way that you run things. You obviously produce content yourself, as well as your team. You go and give talks. You deal with clients yourself, as well, I presume. And you have to manage your team. How do you manage your time, especially considering that you?ve been doing this so much over the last 12 months?

Ryan Stewart: Yeah, that?s a great question. I?m not going to give you that typical, ?I work my ass off,? response, because I think anyone that?s successful does. But one of the things that I?ve known about myself, is the ability to just work very very fast. I work incredibly fast. I can write (if I?m in the zone) a top notch 2000-word blog post, in about an hour and a half. That post that I wrote for Moz, that went incredibly viral, I wrote it in like 25 minutes. I don?t want to sound arrogant, but some people are really good at certain things. I have the ability to be super productive and also I?m incredibly detail-oriented and organized. If you were to look at our back-end and look at the detailed processes and the videos that I built, the project management tactics that I use, it?s not about the tools that you use. I just use Google Sheets, but I?m very, very detail-oriented to make sure that my team is: number one; trained, they know what to do; number two: everyday, especially dealing with outsourcers or freelancers, you wanna make sure you?re really getting your money?s worth by giving them the right tasks and then doing it in the right order. Most of my time is actually spent either delegating tasks or building out strategies or plans. And I think, just to back up even one more step, I think the place where most people fail, either not hitting their needed productivity or not having the time to create content, is not creating a strategy up front. It?s something that I do not think ever gets talked about in SEO. But having an SEO strategy, even before you have a project plan or even a process, build a strategy. I mean, knowing how to attack everything that you do and actually writing it down. Every month, I?m on month-to-month for link building for a lot of clients. Every single month, after they pay the invoice, I literally sit down and I write down exactly what we?re doing that month: down to the week, down to the day, down to who?s going to be doing it. So, after that, it?s just a matter of putting it in a spreadsheet, and then commenting and tagging people, sending them an email saying, ?Hey, you got to do this here. Make sure you stay on top of it.? And from there, I can kind of eject myself from the situation. But it takes me a good two to three hours up front to build that strategy. So, I mean, number one, I prioritize the things that I need to do and that need to be done; and number two, I strategize. I build a plan; I stay organized. I make sure that I have the people to do it. I don?t have a huge team. I only have one full time person that?s to be local and two full time people that are contractors and then just your typical team of freelancers and contractors.

John: Yeah. And just to touch on that, the new Webris website looks amazing.

Ryan Stewart: I?m redesigning the whole thing. I don?t like it. I threw up some pages in the meantime. My developer is really backed-up with client work right now. I?m adding a lot of custom video to it. I?m trying to give it a different feel.

John: I think that you really touched a nerve there with a lot of people. I?m exactly like you. I would rather spend the first four days of a month planning stuff down to the ?T?, and then know that for the rest of the month, I can be dedicated towards the brand, the team, training people, etc. I think that you can even go a step further and say that it helps if you have the data to support your team whenever they get a task. If you?re working without sources and don?t have tutorials or templates done for them to do their work, then you are going to have a huge work load right when you start your project. You?re going to go straight into having to do that, but if you already done all of your homework on it, it actually becomes a really streamlined process. I think a lot of people get really overwhelmed, and overthink it.

Ryan Stewart: Yeah, I?ve been through this dance a couple times. I was partnered with this agency about two and a half years ago, that we were doing really well and ended up falling through the partnership wise. But going through that process, I?m just somebody that learns incredibly fast. Probably my biggest strength is that I learn incredibly fast, and I never make the same mistakes twice. Never happens. Being able to learn from my past mistakes and understanding that, I started it only a year ago. That?s crazy actually, when I really think about it. And it was just a sh*tty little blog that I just started putting up content, but I didn?t start taking on clients full time until about 6 months ago. In the back of my mind, what I was doing was debating whether I wanted to stay as a consultant doing very well or taking on the whole agency role (hiring people, and stuff like that) because I could do it. The demand was there. I just didn?t want to. When I decided that I wanted to go down the agency route and really build something bigger than me. The first thing I did was building out processes. That was the first f***ing thing that I did. And it sucked. I mean, two months sitting in front of a freaking screencast, showing how to literally, like ?this is a Google plus business page?. Literally step-by-step video series that I could give to anybody a little bit of knowledge like, ?Here go watch these, and go do it?. When you have that, it also mitigates the huge thing a lot of people have, which is the huge turnover of outsources and freelancers. That was the biggest thing that actually drove me to hire someone locally. It?s more expensive, but you have to have somebody there all the time. You can train them a lot better, and you know they?re not going anywhere, whereas if you?re working with somebody in the Philippines, who is $4 an hour does really good work, then all of the sudden they stop answering your messages (which happens) you?ve got that training already built out. From my old school consulting days to my corporate consulting, I knew that that was one of the biggest things that actually kills brands, too. It?s when employees leave with that knowledge in their head, and then you have an 8-month period when nothing is getting done, because that knowledge walked out the door.

John: I hear you. I mean, we have a lot of staff in our offices in Asia, and the first issue was exactly the thing you spoke about, which is the high turnover of staff. Especially, if they are remote staff that work on their own. So, that was the first thing that we needed to erase, so what we did was get an office. We have an office manager that is purely dedicated to looking after the staff and making sure they?re happy and turning up to work. And then the second thing was to really institutionalize the process that every staff member goes through from the day that they join until the day that they leave, and making sure that we don?t have to go in and train them every time that we want them to do something new. So, I do agree with that.

Ryan Stewart: It?s incredibly painful and boring stuff, even to talk about. I think that?s why nobody is blogging about it. Honestly, and it?s just crazy. Whoever listens to me, I talk about this now. But as your business grows, it?s crazy how the things that you almost care about shift. I mean, four months ago, I was always looking for new SEO tactics. What?s happening with algorithms? Stuff like that. And now, like, how the f*ck do I hire better people. That was stuff that I?m reading. But, seriously, it?s crazy the type of stuff that you just don?t care about. But now that, again I have somebody in-house full time and I hire for very specific things, I?m realizing that hiring is an incredibly important thing that I did not pay enough attention to before. And now, in my arrogance, I was thinking, ?Oh, I?m looking for this, and I can just train them on everything else?. Personality types play a huge factor in who you hire. I mean, it?s crazy because I think, as entrepreneurs and business owners, we all think that, in our mind, everyone has the same mentality as us. They wanna work. They wanna learn. At the end of the day, we?re all motivated by different things. If you can?t tap in to what motivates your people and figure out a way to get the most out of them, then you?re going to be spending a lot more of your time, cleaning up after them, and you?re even worse than you were before because you?re also spending money on that person too. It?s just crazy how things change, and if anyone?s listening to this and they?re planning on growing, focus on processes and think about the type of people that you want to help you build your brand, because it?s incredibly important. It?s not talked about enough.

John: I agree. I think that?s something, as we?ve scaled over the last year, we?ve noticed very much, exactly as you said; you and I might have a very driven personality because we?re trying to grow what we?re doing that we?re very passionate about, but there might be somebody who?s an expert at what they?re doing, but that doesn?t have that same drive. So you need to find out what motivates them to make them use their expert knowledge. So, I agree.

Now, I just have two more questions. The first of which, something that I?m sure you?re gonna like. So marketers (in my opinion) spend too much time worrying about whether what they?re doing is considered whitehat or blackhat, and I think that this debate in the marketing world actually takes away sustainable results from customers, because people are spending too much time trying to find the next quick win, rather then trying to do something that is proven and sustainable. And then optimizing that, which is what I would see the blackhat side comes in, and optimizing that process so much that you can repeat it and scale it.

Ryan Stewart: Sure. Was that a question?

John: I think that we?re obviously in a bunch of social groups together that discuss whitehat and blackhat methods, as well as your own group digital marketing questions. I just think it?s really interesting to see what people are actually looking for and how you?ll find some people that will spend their year trying to find a way to make quick money, while the other people are making money by just doing the work.

Ryan Stewart: Well, here?s the thing. First of all, I see both sides of the coin, and while I do everything whitehat now, that doesn?t mean that, I try not to condescend the blackhat way because 95% of black hats are just starting out. They?re just trying to make ends meet. And it?s really hard. It?s really, really hard to make money online, or any business, so it?s really hard. So I don?t fault them for doing it. I think when people start to get whitehat is when they have success with blackhat. I?m talking client SEO now, if you?re doing client SEO, you?re using PBN as the link, and you?re growing, you?re getting good results. I think in the back of everyone?s mind, they?re thinking, ?This isn?t a sustainable model. I need to make the shift, but how do I do that, because things are going really, really well right now. I don?t wanna change my processes. I?m making good money.? So, it?s tough. Again, I don?t have any problem with how ?you?re? doing things, I just think it?s incredibly irresponsible that you take peoples money knowingly cutting corners. That?s just my opinion. That?s my two cents. As a business owner, if I were to be paying somebody, we?re looking at $550 a month, which is nothing in terms of client retainer, but if I?m paying somebody 500 bucks a month for a service, it?s a good amount of money. That?s not even talking about the 5 or 10 thousands retainers that some of these people are one. If you?re knowingly doing things that could penalize my business or hurt my website, like if you got my website deindexed from search, I would f**king kill you. I would show up at your doorstep, and cut your f**king balls off to tell you honestly. Everybody feels that way too, so I don?t understand the mindset of trying to build a legitimate, reputable business by doing something that could get you sued, like literally sued. So, again, that?s just my two cents on it. I?m not saying anything bad about the people that do it, because I get it. I was there too. But I took the time to figure it out. I think that the agencies that make it to the next level, that?s what they do. I think, especially in the next two years, as SEO continues to evolve like a rocket, and once this new Type One algorithm rolls out, we might be talking a different bargain here. Honestly, we might be seeing a true end of black/gray-hat SEO if Google really figures things out. That?s a rolling update too, that?s constantly live. So we might be seeing a completely different game, but we say that with every update. But still we could be seeing a lot of peoples businesses just fall to ashes because of the things they did in the past. Again, I have nothing wrong with it. I have nothing wrong with black hat SEO if you?re not doing it for clients, because it?s almost fun.? I see a tremendous amount of value in doing it. I have no issues with it, like affiliate they?re trying to burn, that?s fucking awesome. You do you. But I think that as a business owner, just putting myself in my own shoes, if I were to pay a vendor to do a service and all of the sudden they got my website penalized, and then I never heard from them again, which is what happens, you would be feeling my f**king wrath big time.

John: I?m with you there. I think feel exactly the same way about that, and at the end of the day, like you said, blackhat SEO and PBN?s are fantastic if you?re doing churn. They?re fantastic if you?re building leadgen sites out, where the client is paying you purely for the results. Once your leads stop coming, they stop paying you. It?s of no concern to them if your site goes down. I think that with PBNs and any ?blackhat? methods, as long as you don?t risk someone elses work that is paying for your services, you are completely right to use them.

Well, just to wrap this up, what I?m trying to get from everybody is, for somebody that is starting out that wants to start something in 2016, working with clients and trying to grow their reputation and authority, what do you think should be their number one step, other than building out processes, which we?ve already spoken about?

Ryan Stewart: I would say you really are, at the end of the day, your best salesman. Certainly, your work speaks volumes. Your work speaks volumes about what you can do. It?s your absolute best asset, so even if you have one client, I mean go out and find one client. If you?re starting from the bottom, if you?re just getting started, you really want to build an agency. Take that one client at whatever they?re willing to pay you and do a really good job. If that means taking a really huge loss because you?re working 24 hours a day just to get them ranking results, do it. Just get it done. Find a way to get it done. Then build on that. Make it into a case study. Ask them to do a testimony. Ask them for referrals. Ask them if they have any other work. Upsell them a website. Stuff like that. I mean, honestly, client acquisition nowadays with how in demand our services are should be the absolute least of your worries. If you?re sitting there with no clients, it?s gotta be your own fault. It really is, because there?s so much ridiculous demand.

I mean, the one thing that I have really focused on doing, which again, I do not think any SEO?s talk about, is building a brand, period. I think, again, I?m not talking about BestBuy. I?m talking about finding something and doing it. Finding you and doing it to the best of your ability, and telling the entire word about it. That?s not saying, ?Hey, hey, hey. Look at me. I?m the best. I can rank whatever. It?s by, again, providing value over and over and over again. I?d take a tremendous amount of pride in the work that you provide and the service you provide to clients, because it?s your best comment card, man. Start where you can. If someone can only pay you $100 a month, or do it for free, especially if your doing that sort of a whitehat way, there are absolutely no costs. That?s the greatest part about that, being you could do the outreach, or you could find opportunities. Find 10 guest post opportunities, send 10 emails, and write 10 articles. You can do it. It?s not that hard. You just have to put in the work. You can rank whatever local website you want by just doing that. Once you do that, you can build on it. Again, take that and put it on your f**king homepage. That?s all that you have. Put that on your homepage, front and center. Let your work speak for you, because, at the end of the day, results sell themselves and just use that client in as many ways possible.

John: Yeah, I?m right there with you. I think that building a brand and no matter if the brand is a company brand or if the brand is yourself, it is exactly the way to go.

 

 

What the F**K makes you tick? With Dr David Darmanin

Our third instalment in our ?What the f*ck makes you tick? series comes from HotJar founder and CEO Dr. David Darmanin. In this interview, I am seeking to discover what steered David toward creating a powerhouse tool like HotJar, along with more specifics like his opinions about how a person should best use HotJar and where the future of optimization is heading, I wanted to use my time wisely to pick David?s brain of every morsel I could get my fingers on. And boy, did he deliver! David?s insights and observations are more than worth your time, as I feel so many people can benefit from his ideas. I know I have! Read below and let me know if you agree!

 

John: David is the founder of HotJar, a great user behaviour analytics tool that is currently used by over 60 thousand businesses around the globe. Thank you very much, David, for joining us.

 

David Darmanin: It?s great to join. Thanks for having me.

 

John: So, David, you?ve built a career on conversion optimization, and then decided to build HotJar?building an analytics tool in such a busy landscape with so many tools out there? what drove you to do that?

 

David Darmanin: As you said my background is in conversion optimization, so I have first-hand experience of working with clients. It became a pattern from early in my career, seeing that clients felt the same way? that the tools were a little bit too disconnected (at least the ones we expected to work together) and the interface and the experience?they were just a little bit frustrating. And at that time, I was working on setting up my own business. I had a few ideas, which didn?t do that well. And I realized, I should be using my background, because actually I?ve worked in software for a long time, in user interface and what not. So, I should use my background and solve my biggest problem. Right? I?m the typical customer and the typical user, so this is like an ideal opportunity. In a way, we didn?t expect this much to come out of it, but it was quite clear, very early on, that we were scratching an itch that many other people hadn?t.

 

John: Yeah, absolutely. Especially, because in my personal experience with UX, a lot of the higher end tools were also very expensive and very hard to get a hold of for smaller organizations or individuals.

 

David Darmanin: Sure. And that?s one of the key things we wanted to change. In a way, looking back to my early years in my career, I would?ve had much bigger success then, and improved business?s far better with better results, if I had access to certain technologies, which just not until a few months ago were not available to everyone, right? So, with Hot Jar we said ?Let?s just take this industry and turn it upside down, and just make it available to everyone. If you?re a student or an agency, its very easy to use, very easy to set up, even if your client is a tiny client.? So, we think we all deserve access to this technology.

 

John: Yeah, I completely agree with you. So, I?m sure that in your career you?ve seen a phenomenal amount of websites undergo conversion optimization. I hear that a lot of people put off optimizing and just tried to increase their traffic generation, even though, all their clients are already generating quite a lot of traffic. Now, how much of a difference do you think that conversion optimization, or optimizing for conversion, can really make in that site?s revenue?

 

David Darmanin: That?s a good question. Conversion optimization is key because at the end of the day it means you?re making more out of what?s already available, right? That?s critical to any business. The more revenue you can extract out of the assets that are already there, gives you a huge competitive advantage. That?s taking a chance. Take an example: if I am working with an ecommerce client, and I can improve the number of people that actually engage on the site and actually buy from the site, that means I can go out and buy the advertising, or be more aggressive with my pricing. It would have a huge impact on the role I?d have to play with an industry versus our competitors. But, if done right, conversion optimization can have a much bigger impact. So I?m a huge advocate of pushing the boundaries of CRO optimization to go beyond looking at landing pages or button colors or headlines, and to really dig deep into the organization, right? What?s missing in the product? What?s wrong in the experience? How are we letting down our users and our customers? Because once you really address these big problems, it actually means that in the long run, you?ll also help attract more users and customers to the business beyond just, let?s say, making more of what?s already available. So, if CRO is done right, if you put the user really at the center of everything, you can have a huge impact on all fronts.

 

John: Yeah, I?m with you there. At the end of the day, I do still feel that a lot of these people that are not optimizing for conversion feel overwhelmed with what?s available? both the educational materials and tools, on how to really do it. So, they think that rather than trying to learn and work all of this out, it will be way easier for me to just generate more traffic. But what they?re actually doing is losing out on a huge segment of people who are already aware of their brand, or already aware of their website (who are ready to buy) right?

 

David Darmanin: Absolutely, and in reality, if you look at, it?s quite interesting. I?ve been at so many events now related to CRO or growth of businesses or online marketing, and its constantly, time and time again, stories that are always the same. The emerging winner was always the one that (as we said) optimizes what already exists, because that will just make it so much easier to achieve all of your goals once that is in place. So, if we look at it as a curve, if you don?t optimize, your curve will definitely not be the hockey stick, right? It?s going to be a straight line. And if you had to overlap those two lines, and you see the lost opportunity of not addressing these issues, it?s just unbelievable. So, it?s so critical to be very number oriented, and to always be testing these hypotheses.

 

John: So, if I?m an agency and you?re my potential customer, how can I use a tool like HotJar to convert more people like you to sign up with a deal with somebody like me?

 

David Darmanin:? Right. So, that?s a really good question. In fact, we recently published an article on our blog post, where an agency that uses HotJar shared with us an interesting story of how they did that. But, in general, because a lot of the success stories don?t get published, there?s different stages at which HotJar can help. So, it can help at winning. You mentioned this right? so the saying?s compounded? so winning business, in general. So, I?d say Hot Jar?s key strength is that it visualizes issues, or it visualizes opportunities. So by making it clear that this is part of the way you?re actually going to deliver value to the client, it helps a lot to show examples how it actually will work. We found that to be quite successful, in general. But I think, beyond that and looking at the core, right? Because the visual stuff is the easy things, the quick wins. But I think the key is, every client wants to hear, ?Here was an agency or a consultant who had some kind of methodology,? so like your organizer or structure. It?s not just going to be, ?Whatever comes our way and hopefully, we?ll wing it.? As a client, I?m now on the other end. I?ve spent years working as a consultant, as an agency, and now I?m on the other end, so now we?re starting to engage consultants instead. You?re always looking for that. You?re looking for, okay, these have the right methodology, which means that they have a process in place. They have the tools in place. And these are past examples of how they?ve used this process and these tools to get wins. I think that is probably the biggest leverage you can get with a tool like HotJar.

 

John: Right, and I think that that is something that a lot of consultants and agencies are still not fully using or exploiting for its full potential. Because I?ve read that blog post, and I?m going to link to it because I think its great. Interview with Steve James. These guys were able to utilize Hot Jar before even submitting a proposal. So, they literally said, ?Hey, we would like to first learn about your users before we even make any suggestions of how we can help you,? and I think that that is the right approach.

 

David Darmanin: I think that was extremely clever of them. They said, ?Here, just deploy this script and we?ll come back to you with some quick wins and a strategy based on the data we collect.? So that was super genius.

 

John: For somebody who doesn?t run a large agency, where they have usability experts and people who have studied this for a long time, (maybe for somebody who runs as an individual or as a web designer) what would you say are some of the quick wins that somebody could draw from Hot Jar?s analytics?

 

David Darmanin: That?s an excellent question, because actually a lot of our users and customers are (especially on the agency side) are small teams?very small teams. We really embrace that. We love the fact that we?re (especially since HotJar is free to start off with) we?re making that possible. But I?d say if you?re a small team, I?d say HotJar is (in a way) built more for that rather than for huge teams, and an example is the ability to actually ask questions and combine that with heat maps. So here?s a quick example on our end. Obviously one of our key pages that we want to improve at Hot Jar is our pricing page, where we explain the different heat maps. Now, traditionally with all the tools we deploy? tracking, heat maps, and all the stuff? but the reality is that it?s very difficult to understand why people are behaving the way they are. So, what we did in our case, we asked the question using a poll. What?s missing on this page? Or what?s confusing? Or what can we do a better job of explaining? And then combine that with the heat map and some recordings, so replaying what people are doing. We call this process ?connecting the dots.? So, very quickly, you can see that people are seeing something, but are behaving in a particular way. This gives you empathy, so certainly, you can think, ?Okay. So if this is the problem they?re having, and this is how they?re behaving, what if we changed the way the page worked? Or if we presented an angle in a different way to solve this obstacle.? So, all of the sudden, your hypotheses are more centered around what the user is actually telling you. That?s important for one simple reason. The chances of success when you?re building your hypotheses and your test ideas around what the user is telling you, obviously increases your chances of success drastically, as opposed to reading someone?s blog post of what you should do to improve a pricing page. And we see this mistake happen more and more. So, small teams can quickly deploy questions, and then look at behavior. You can run surveys with past customers; there?s actually so many quick ways. In fact, I?d say if anything, one interesting thing that any team (especially if you?re new to this kind of game or new to kind of how to deliver results to clients) we?ve built a nine-step action plan, which is built into the tool. And we give tips on how to execute it, which basically takes you through these nine-steps of what you should be doing with Hot Jar to uncover these opportunities for growth.

 

John: Wow. So essentially, the way that I understand that, is with a tool like HotJar you?re moving very quickly away from pure quantitative data to really highly qualitative data, because all of the sudden you have this quality of understanding every user individually, while having an overview of all your users. That?s got to be really powerful for when trying to optimize for conversion.

 

David Darmanin: Agreed. In fact, what we typically recommend is start with a funnel, right? We offer a funnel visualization. Identify where your biggest opportunity of issue is. Where are you losing most of your visitors? And then, zero-in on that point. That?s where you want to start asking questions, looking at their behavior, seeing how you can leverage that biggest artery, where you have the biggest blockage.

 

John: So, the last question I have for you is that, I think that 2015 we?ve seen a massive change in the online field with the way that people are developing their websites and the way that people are trying to optimize for conversion. I think that we?ve gone very much into the space of less-is-more. We?ve gone from very flashy sites to very, very simple, flat designed sites. And I think that consumers are now still getting bombarded massively with calls-to-actions, offers, and content everywhere they go. What do you think is going to be the most important optimization category for the coming year? Where are we moving?

 

David Darmanin: That?s a good question. If (even though it might not be next year) I think we?re going to be moving more and more into the predictive?s here. So, starting to look at what are the things that are most likely causing something else to happen. If people are converting, what are the attributes or events that are leading to that happening? Or conversely, if people or customers are returning, what are the things that are leading to that to happen. I think, as we start more into this sphere kind of machine learning and automating of stuff, I think that that?s going to be quite interesting. In a way, though, I think it?s a pity because it?s all this attractive analytical stuff that tends to take away the focus from the qualitative stuff. From my experience (I?ve done hundreds, if not thousands of tests for loads of companies) at the end of the day, the biggest wins are always on the qualitative side. So, I?d say, I think what?s going to be interesting maybe (even if it?s not going to be next year or over the next two to three years) is bridging the gap between this ever-increasing intelligence with what people really think and their feedback. I say that?s going to be really, really interesting.

 

John: I do agree with that. I think that we?re already slowly but steadily moving into that from a marketing point of view, because we used to just be able to put products out there and market them really aggressively and people would buy them, right?? And now we?ve moved into a space where we need to tell a story, and then the product comes second. We need to find people on social media and know what they?re after first, and then offer them that product secondary. And I think that that is really massive trend that is going on. I think that as our tools become smarter (and our algorithms) that we have to rank for stuff, become smarter, I completely agree with you that we?re going to be going into a different space of how we have to optimize for people to still find what we want them to find.

 

David Darmanin: Couldn?t agree more.