Digital Marketing Agencies Are The Worst

Every agency sounds the same:

We analyze each client to determine the strategy that will work best for you—no cookie cutters here. We then deliver creative, engaging campaigns and content, and continually measure results so we can improve and optimize the approach.

Whether it’s search engine marketing, social media management, SEO, content creation, or even offline events, we do whatever makes the most sense for each client.

Every website page, email campaign, blog post and call-to-action in your campaign will be managed specifically to grow your company. And every initiative is monitored and measured, so you can see real, concrete return on your investment.

Through full business and industry immersion, we work closely with clients to drive strategy and create authentically rich brand experiences.

Since 2004, we’ve been providing creative solutions and proven online marketing results that help our clients drive leads, increase sales, increase brand awareness, and retain customers.

We are a full-service digital marketing agency and consultancy, empowering your organization to create and manage Meaningful Connections for the Digital Age.

______ is a digital marketing agency that uses social media and digital content to influence every aspect of the customer life cycle, from awareness to win back.

Pound for pound, we are the best agency of our kind.

We connect brands with their digital selves.

We focus on generating revenue for our clients; that's the goal. Providing value to the user will always trump rankings.

WE TAKE A BUSINESS APPROACH TO MARKETING

We help growth-oriented businesses move further faster™

We drive customer acquisition through multi-channel, content-centric campaigns, and transform our clients into ready challengers that can topple industry titans.

A new era of digital marketing where you don't just get award-winning strategies, but also groundbreaking technology.

 

 

 

Gurl, I Wanna Know You (A Story of Personas)

partyyy SEO folks have an incredible ability to pivot. It's one of the reasons I am so fascinated and passionate about SEO. It's a giant game of Simon Says. Google says build links. We build links. Google says don't build bad links. We stop building bad links. Google says create content. We create content. Every time Google says something we do it. Of course, there are people playing the game that get knocked out, but, it's the SEO person's ability to pivot that makes the job so fascinating.

It's also fascinating how SEOs are able to take disciplines from other industries and make them their own. One minute replacing link building and moving into media and blogger outreach. Then next minute taking an age old practice of creating suggestive messaging and turning into a buzzword called content marketing.

Now it's time for personas to take center stage.

Are personas new? Hardly. The batter still rages on who exactly came up with personas between Angus Jenkinson of OgilvyOne and Alan Cooper, the super software developer who wrote the book The Inmates are Running the Asylum on personas. But, despite being around for some time, you're now hearing about personas quite a bit around SEO folks. Hell, marketers have been using personas to target TV, print and display ads as I can remember. We just didn't call them personas. Nonetheless, SEOs have arrived and personas are alive and well.

Now that Google Analytics has given us more information into who our user's are, we can create and target to personas much easier than ever before. Now you don't have to sit outside your store and take notes on every person that walks in and out of it. Well, maybe you still do, if your store has a much different online personality and shopper than it does in store. (Sidebar: I had a client dispute their Google Analytics demographics recently. Citing that it's not a true representative of who their customer is and the data must be lying. My argument was that perhaps the client either didn't understand who their customer is, or their online customer is ashamed to walk into their brick and mortar.)

Here's a quick rundown of what we get with the Google Analytics demographics reports for the uninitiated: Age, Gender, Affinities, Categories and In-Market Segments

I'm amazed how many Google Analytics accounts I gain access to that haven't implemented the demographic and affinity capabilities. Here's a quick how to on implementing it located in my Dallas Digital Presentation.

Chances are you're logged into your Google+ account (chances are unknowingly) while you're surfing around the Internet. Meanwhile Google is collecting data on you based on your search queries, the websites you visit and the things you're thinking about buying. This data is now delivered to us in Google Analytics.

We can start creating data-driven personas, which is better than anything we've been able to do before. Don't believe this data is real? Check out your own, here: https://www.google.com/settings/ads

Crazy, huh?

Now that we have it, what should we do with it?

This is the most exciting part for SEOs (or integrated marketers, or holistic marketers, or content marketers, or inbound marketers, or what ever we're calling ourselves today). Based on the information available, we can start crafting our tones to appeal directly to our audiences.

Now, how do you begin?

As always with Analytics, Advanced Segments are your friends. First off, map out your genders plus age combinations as much as you can. This helps make the information more digestible.

google analytics advanced segment

Now that you have your segment created, you can layer in their interests into the gender - age map you've created to start learning about them, their behaviors, how they navigate your website, what devices they use, where they live, etc.

For this client, I'm looking at the Female 55-64 segment's Affinity Categories. I can add a secondary dimension here to understand not only what types of websites my customer's are visiting, but also what sort of items they're interested in buying.

In this example, I'm looking at a pretty high ticket item, so the affinities and segments are lining up with the type of product the client is selling. Here I've figured out the people who are visiting the website most and are achieving the highest conversion rate are Females 55-64, who are Avid Investors willing to buy Real Estate, Home Decor Enthusiasts willing to buy Home & Garden Decor and Movie Lovers who are just about willing to buy just about anything.

google analytics advanced segment 2

This allows me to create a more robust persona map, and I can start filling more advanced Google Analytics segments. I'll save you example, but just go back to your advanced segments and start creating more detailed segments (hint: label things exactly!).

With this information, I can start diving into how each segment digests my content. I can look at my site content to distinguish what appeals to the most on my website. What blogs do they tend to read most, what products are most appealing and what pages on my site do they respond to the best. I can drill down and add in a secondary dimension to now see what sources and what medium they're in that drives them to my content.

And now that I know this, I can start crafting my content and targeting to appeal directly to my audience. I can find the differences in how my visitors respond to my content from each social network, paid and organic, email and referrals. (Don't forget, this is also a way to better understand your referral's audiences, too. You can provide your referrals with better content that appeals to their audience better!)

As an SEO (or any of those other buzzword titles we're calling ourselves) to get a deep understanding of who I'm creating content for is priceless. Not to mention having the ability to measure how my audience interacts with it in real-time so I can make tweaks and improves with each piece of content I create. Now start using the data till your fingers fall off!

The Best Hire

doublestick lollipop

Today was the last day of the best hire I've ever made. When you see someone you hired as an intern, watched become full-time and then watch as they've excelled, you can't help but become a bit nostalgic when they leave. It's always a difficult position to be in. Obviously you're happy they're moving to the next phase of their career, but you're also a bit let down because you won't be a part of their next round of career growth.

My best hire, well, we had no reason to hire her. She did have some other internship experience and was still in school, but there were other, more qualified applicants. There was just something about this person that made you want to be around her. Her resume had a little picture of a double stick lollipop with the tagline, "good ideas are meant to be shared." Under skills it read, "Big idea thinkin'."

She reminded me of my first real job interview. Here I was a theatre major with no real work experience, unless you count spamming on Myspace. When asked why they should consider me for the job my response was, "because I'm kick ass." The rest is history.

That's what I saw during our interview. She was confident, natural and engaging. If you can manage to combine those 3 in an interview, you might stand a chance to be hired. The interview is as much about who you are as it is about what you've done .

So, after a year and a half of working together, which included 2 promotions, endless laughter and amazing work, I bid thee farewell. Your replacement will have some big shoes to fill. And, the new company is lucky you'll continue to share your big ideas.

The Art of Discovery

pantree On every pitch I make one of the initial points I bring up is, "Before we can start building your strategy, we'll first begin our discovery." Not once has a potential client asked me, "What's involved with your discovery?"

I don't think it's that they just don't care. No, I think it's that it just sounds like they understand it. Let me do discovery insinuates a bit of a "we got this, don't worry about it" tone. The truth is something that often gets ignored is vital to helping me understand just what our client needs. It's the cornerstone piece of every relationship I'm engaged it. The discovery portion, if not done right, can be the difference between a $2,000 a month client and a $10,000 a month client. Too often I've seen companies lose their asses on clients when the proper discovery session wasn't conducted.

I don't believe my methods for discovery are absolutely correct, but it at least gives me an idea of just how much work needs to be done and what our chances of success are.

Step 1. Your Client's Website.

The first place you want to begin discovery is on your client's website. This is where you want to check for content, how much is there, how well is it written, is there a content strategy, is there an interlinking strategy?

Once you have this established, it's time to look at the technical health of the website. Check for canonical URLs, run a site crawl and look at the structure of the code.

Step 2. Back Links.

This could be a continuation of Step 1, but let's go ahead and separate it out. Depending on what you find while looking at the back links, this could be the difference between a normal client and a needle in the haystack client. If your client has shady back links you could find yourself spending an inordinate amount of time trying to get these cleaned up. Before you engage with a client, you need to know that this could be on your horizon.

Step 3. SEMRush Data.

SEMRush is my favorite tool to use for keyword discovery. Unless you're able to get access to your potential client's Webmaster Tools, Analytics, and AdWords it's the best place to go to get an idea of the keywords your client is ranked on.

Step 4. Social Media Knowledge.

Is your potential client participating in social media? How many followers? How often are they posting? Is it getting any engagement? Do the  posts make sense for what your client is doing? How often are the posting? What could be done improve? Ask yourself these questions as you look through their Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, etc.

Step 5. Analytics Code.

Is their analytics code set up correctly? Check to make sure, because if it's not you need to fix it and prepare to spend the next year reminding them why your numbers look so much worse than their last agency (because they were lying!!).

Step 6. Rinse and Repeat for Their Competitors.

Now that you have an idea about where your potential client is, do the same thing for their top 3 competitors. Once you have this information, you'll be able to know how quickly you can dominate.

Do What You Love

mojo People bitch about work. I bitch about work. My coworkers bitch about work. My friends bitch about work. Work bitches about work. Everyone at some point bitches about work.

The fact is there are aspects of every job that bother you. Whether it's small and insignificant or large and overbearing, there's something that bothers you about your job. This is completely normal. What isn't normal is being stuck in a job that makes you miserable. I know a shocking amount of people who hate their job and as a result are just miserable.

It's amazing the excuses people make for sticking with a job they hate. "I don't have enough experience." "I don't have time to find anything new." "There aren't any cool jobs out there." Really the reason much more simple. "I'm lazy." The fact is it's 2013 and there are a shitton of jobs out there that will make you happy.

Nicole Lapin of Recessionista has been tweeting about surprising jobs that make decent money. Let's hit the highlights:

  • Body-part model. Average $55,000/yr, no degree required!
  • Ice Cream Taster! Average $56,000/year, start w/listings at local universities or hospitals.
  • Embalmer. $45,060 a year, hair/makeup skills needed (and a strong stomach.)
  • Land Surveyor. Quickly work your way up to a decent six-figure income
  • eBay Seller. "I am a college dropout who makes $70,000 a year selling clothing and shoes from thrift stores and factory outlets on eBay, working from home," says golfkent.

You can make money doing what you love. If you love ice cream, then taste away. There is no reason to live your life in misery. Go out and be awesome.

What Derek Jeter Can Teach Us All

Derek Jeter is my favorite baseball. I'm 32 years old and I have a favorite baseball player. Classify me as you wish.

Let's run down the stats, shall we?

18 years in the Majors

Rookie of the Year

5 Time World Champion

World Series MVP

Yankees All-Time Career Hits leader, Games Played and Stolen Bases (THE FRIGGIN' YANKEES)

13 Time All-Star

5 Time Golden Glove Winner

5 Time Silver Slugger

All-Time Short Stop Hits Leader

Countless Hopes and Dreams Sex Baskets Distributed (2 links there, both well worth a read)

Currently 11th on the All-Time Hits List

Think about that for a moment. Jeets needs 16 hits this year to be #8 on the All-Time Hits list, sitting just 100 hits away from Carl Yastrzemski. Unbelievable.

What impresses me most about Jeter, outside of giving out gift baskets to girls he's "Captain Clutched," is his leadership. Consider what an absolute mess the Yankees have been since bringing A-Rod on ('09 excluded). Yet there's Jeets,being low-key, consistent and awesome around the clock. Upholding the values of his organization even through a heap of horrible decisions. He ends last season, at what 38 years old, by fracturing his left ankle in Game 1 of the ALCS. A year later, today actually, he's back in the lineup as a DH. What 39 year old is able to rehab that quickly? Jeets, that's who.

What's the point of this, outside of going on about how much I love Jeets? I think we could all stand to be a little more like Jeter. Under the spotlight Jeter keeps his cool. On the biggest stage is when he's at his best. And when criticized, he embraces it and sees it as a challenge. We could stand to be more clutch on the biggest stage.

Eh, who am I kidding. The point of this was to talk about how awesome Derek Jeter is.

Greatest fade ever.

Music Appreciation - July

On my old blog, one of my favorite and most well received post was the new music post. In it I would talk about new albums and artists I've discovered one way or another. People enjoyed it and I loved writing it. I'm resurrecting it, because I think talking about amazing things others are doing is important. And, because you might be new to me, it's best I go ahead and give you some of my favorite bands as a frame of reference. If we don't like the same kind of music, you probably won't care much about this series.

Frightened Rabbit

frightened rabbit

I've had the incredibly lucky pleasure of discovering this band from Glasgow early in their careers, discovered on the Indie Feed podcast. Pedestrian Verse is their 4th studio album and I was concerned considering their move from FatCat records to Atlantic. It did not disappoint. Check out the whole damn catalog. You won't regret it.

Ben Folds

ben folds five

I genuinely feel bad for people who didn't fall in love with Ben Folds Five in the 90s. You've missed some incredible music and some really incredible concerts. Well, guess what, it's not too late. Get on it. Might as well start with the newest album, The Sound of the Life of the Mind.

Gangsta Rap

Yep, when people as me what kind of music I like, my answer is sad, white bastard music and 90s gangsta rap. Fine and the occasional pop song. I love Dre, Snoop, 2Pac, Eazy, Jigga, Biggy, Bone Thugs and Cube. There are actually quite a few post 90s rappers I'm into like Childish Gambino, N.E.R.D., Kendrick Lamar and Kid Cudi. See, I'm evolving.

Alright, now that we're on the same page, let's get to 3 albums you must listen to now.

Alpha Rev

Alpha Rev

Alpha Rev is a Texas band from Austin. I can't say enough about how amazing they are. Sing Loud would be where I started. Once you're hooked, then go ahead and download the whole album. Dallas folks, they're playing at the Granada on 7/12. And, if you're in LA, check them out at Hotel Cafe on July 17th.

The Oh Hellos

the oh hellos

Let's stick to Texas bands for now. The Oh Hellos are friggin excellent. Let' s let them give us their bio, "The Oh Hellos are Maggie and Tyler Heath, intentionally-independent self-produced music-making siblings hailing from the great state of Texas. Their influences range from Los Campesinos! and The Lumineers to Sufjan Stevens and The Middle East, bending and blending styles and genres into a unique mixture of eclectic folk rock." Have a listen to Hello My Old Heart and thank me in the comments.

Youngblood Hawke

youngblood hawke

Youngblood Hawke is out of LA. By now, you've probably heard of these guys and if you haven't, well, it's time you did. This band is a windows rolled down on a long drive kind of band. So, if you like good, fun music, you'll like Youngblood Hawke. Check out We Come Running and Stars (Hold On), then buy the album Wake Up.

The Speed of News

David Eu @eunner I found myself fascinated with how news travels today in light of the unfortunate Asiana jetliner from South Korea plane crash at San Francisco International Airport. It appeared as though Twitter was sent into lightening speed with accurate information regarding the accident, while the rest of the possible news outlets struggled to catch up.

At 12:29 CT, there was a tweet from Krista Seiden, @kristaseiden, with an eyewitness account of seeing a plane crash as she boarded her flight at SFO. Then at 12:30 CT, a retweet from Adam Singer, @AdamSinger, is what brought the crash to my attention.

At 12:38 CT, the first traditional news outlet, San Francisco's KTVU Fox2 announced via Twitter that they were gathering news with a story to come.

At 12:48 CT, MSNBC was kicking a soccerball around to each other.

At 1:06 CT, the first major news story was out on the New York Times.

At 1:13 CT, a tweet was sent out by David Eun, @Eunner, who was a passenger aboard the flight.

At 1:22 CT, SFGate's Twitter reported the crash, as reported by the AP. That's right, San Francisco's own newspaper had to quote the AP in order to report on a story that happened in their backyard.

2 minutes later, at 1:24 CT, The Chronicle had its story out on SFGate.

At 1:26 CT, Obama's Twitter was discussing Immigration reform. Coincidentally, as a flight crashes in the US from South Korea.

At 2:00 CT, the first Facebook update using the hashtag #asiana is recorded by Steve Curry, who has 28 followers.

At 2:12 CT, my mom texted me to ask if I knew anyone on the flight. I guess she assumes I know everyone in San Francisco.

At 2:24 CT, the first post happens in my Facebook timeline. This was a link to David Eun's twitter post. A full 2 hours after everyone else had been discussing it.

Yes, this is entirely based off my friends, who I follow and where I get my news. However, a majority of the people I'm friends with are based in San Francisco. Some of these same friends posted something on Twitter and not at all on Facebook. The social networks have always been known to serve different audiences, but it's fascinating that Facebook is becoming so far removed from providing anything relevant outside of baby photos, humblebrags, checkins and sponsored posts.

The 5 Second Rule

golf balls

I know within the first 5 seconds of an interview whether or not I'm going to hire someone. I'm not 100% sure if this is a good or a bad thing, but it's a thing I'm seemingly stuck with.

I've tried to change this habit by asking those questions that every interviewer asks. Let's do a quick run down:

1. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 2. How do you keep yourself organized? 3. Do you work better alone or in teams? 4. What was your day to day like at such and such job? 5. What do you want to achieve in your time here?

The truth is there isn't an answer in the world to these questions that will make me change my mind. Those questions are shit. Granted, I give everyone the same respect they deserve, but in my head I'm feeling bad that there's no chance I want to work with them. I often bring someone else in the interview with me who can offer those important encouraging looks. Then after the interview is over, they immediately say the inevitable, "Yeah, I didn't like them." "Yep, me either." (Side note: I have some world class encouraging look givers at my side. It's incredible how their looks of affirmation can single-handedly carry a bad interview.)

I'll even do a second interview in some cases, even though my decision was already made. Want to come in to present to us, so we can see how well you do in front of people? Doesn't that sound fun? The interview is your presentation. If you can't present yourself in a way makes me want to hire you at the interview, then you probably can't present on a topic you likely don't know much about anyway.

What is my weird criteria that occurs within the first 5 seconds of an interview? Glad you asked. Here's another list:

1. Stand up: There are few things I dislike more than when someone remains sitting when the people there to interview them walks in. Reaching across the table while seated to shake our hands? You're better than that.

2. The Hand Shake: You're trying to interview for a job and you can't properly shake hands and look someone in the eyes? Why did you even come into the office today? I can't comprehend how parents raise children who can't shake someone's hand. It just creases me so much.

3. Likeability. From the first sentence you speak, I know whether or not we'll work well together and whether or not you'll work well with my clients.

4. Dress for the Part. I'm not a suit guy. Well, that is to say I prefer not to wear suits, but will when the situation calls for it. I had not interviewed for a job in like 6 years when I moved back to Dallas. The agency that I had been working at had a strict no suit policy. Therefore, I didn't own a suit. It's true. I was a Sales Director that didn't own a suit. I received a call on Monday to come interview for an agency in Dallas on Tuesday. I quickly got myself to the mall, bought a suit and expedited the tailoring. The interview went well and I got a call on Wednesday wanting me back again on Thursday. Well, shit. Back to the mall, bought another suit, expedited the tailoring and killed the interview. The point is, and you've heard it a thousand times before, dress for the interview.

So, that's it. 5 seconds into the interview and I'll know whether or not I'm going to hire you. Of course, if someone was ever smart enough to find this article before an interview, 5 seconds in asks if they go they got the job and they didn't meet those 4 criteria? I may have to hire for a newly created 5th reason. They've got balls.

The Blocking and Tackling

i'm so lucky

As we're pulling up to the offices of one of the biggest pitches I have ever been involved in, I had absolutely no doubt that there was no chance we'd get the business. We could have gone in there, given the greatest presentation we'd ever given (which we did) and I knew we'd not only walk out of there without the business, but they wouldn't even do drinks with us after.

Let's flashback a bit. I get a call from a friend saying that this massive company she knows well is looking for a new marketing agency and that she recommended us. Leads like this don't come around that often and when they do you'd better be ready.

We weren't ready.

At the time of the call, my company had just purchased and merged with another company. Everyone was excited about the merge, but with the merge came a new CMO. A CMO stands for Chief Marketing Officer, not Chief Making-Sales-Happen Officer. As sales director, I had my reservations, but you play the hand you're dealt.

The CMO takes the lead on the account and immediately shoots for the moon. There's no discovery call. The tickets are purchased to fly across country in one week. The major concerns are not about what strategy is best for the client, or how we can help leap the hurdles they had been facing with the last agency. No, the concern was how much money we could charge the client, how many services we could force them into and showing off a brand new state-of-the-art (partnered) reporting system.

The pitch goes according to plan, just how we wanted it. The guys take it all in, just like we wanted it. The VP of Marketing leans back in his chair, then leans forward and in the thickest Georgia accent says, "Guys, this is great. It truly is. You all come highly recommended. Your presentation was excellent. Seems like y'all have a good company. But, guys that presentation was way up here (hands in the sky). I'm looking for something down here (hands at mid chest). You guys are trying to throw touchdowns. That's great, it really is. But, fellas, I'm looking for the blocking and the tackling. Show that to me."

We couldn't show that to him. We had barely worked together for 2 weeks and we damn sure didn't know how our companies were going to work together. We tried to scramble, but it was too late. We didn't listen, or we didn't care to listen in the first place. Instead we threw up our own agenda and tried to fool the client into thinking it was what they wanted. They knew what they wanted, we just didn't ask.

It's that simple. Ask what someone wants and they will tell you.

We ended up eating steak and drinking martinis alone on a Tuesday night in North Carolina talking about how it was remotely possible we had failed.