Our Founder and CEO of Digital Marketing, Walt, is no stranger to the world of online advertising. With over thirteen years at the helm of Click Control Marketing, he has demonstrated world-class skills in campaign creation, account management, and optimization for both major search engines like Google and Bing (often referred to as Tier 1) as well as smaller or less dominant search engines (Tier 2). His certifications in both Google Ads and Analytics attest to his expertise.
Before Click Control Marketing, Walt worked in the paid search department at Tickets Now. Google Ads were newer then, and Walt was responsible for assisting in the growth at TicketsNow through the Google Ads platform. Google Ads produced several million per month in revenue for TicketsNow.com. Not only was he responsible for steering multiple Google AdWords programs, but he also played a pivotal role in introducing online advertising to TicketsNow, pioneering platforms like Goto.com, Google Premium, and Looksmart. His dedication and achievements were recognized when he received the coveted TicketsNow.com President’s Award in 2007.
But there’s more to this visionary leader than meets the eye. In this candid conversation, our very own Social Media Manager, Monique, delves into the world of Walt. Join us on a journey into the heart of digital marketing, spiced up with a dash of Halloween flair.
Monique (Social Media Manager): Hey Walt! In the spirit of Halloween, can you share a trick and a treat in digital marketing, something that businesses should avoid and something that they should definitely do?
Walt (CEO): Yes. For the trick, I would say businesses should not avoid competition. Don’t ignore it. Rather than looking the other way, you should really watch and analyze your competition, as there may be plenty to learn from what they are or are not doing. For the treat, I think it’s very important for digital marketers to set clear goals, identify their key performance indicators, and based on that information, choose the appropriate platforms that match these goals. This process is not only relevant for the digital marketing side but also when running a small business.
Monique: Just as people change costumes each year for Halloween, brands or companies often need to adapt their marketing strategies. Can you share an example of a successful marketing campaign that pivoted and adapted to unexpected change?
Walt: Yes. There was a time when we managed several marketing accounts for addiction clinics, which were very lucrative. The budgets were high, and the revenue was outstanding. However, Google then introduced the LegitScript requirements. Due to the significant advertising fraud associated with these types of advertisements, Google required everyone to undergo a certification process, effectively shutting down all related advertising until certification was achieved. It was quite traumatic because everything ground to a halt. This change impacted not only our revenue but also the revenue of the companies that heavily depended on these accounts. But rather than panicking, we developed a strategy and process to navigate through this challenge, which resulted in a much smoother transition than anticipated.
Monique: Can you give a little bit of detail on what that strategy was?
Walt: Yep. So it was really working closely with the clients, who had to be very involved in this. We had to stay on top of them to make sure they got it done, because they really needed to go through the process themselves due to a lot of business-related information that needed to be inputted. So we sat down and decided on a plan for getting through each and every client that had one of these accounts, and we committed to consistently staying on top of it. Whether it was one or two days a week, we would check in with them until it got done. So it was just a matter of sitting down with them consistently. We know a lot of companies panicked. We saw a lot of information out there on the Internet about it, but we decided to simply write down how we wanted to handle it and then follow that plan consistently. And it ended up working pretty well. We got through everything very quickly. So I mean, the change came, and we’ve learned from past experiences how to adapt to that change and just get through it.
Monique: Okay, this is quite insightful. The underlying theme seems to be: stay adaptable, consistent, and client-focused. My next question is: In the world of digital marketing, we often encounter challenges, likened to monsters, such as algorithm changes and ad blockers. How do you recommend businesses tackle these digital marketing monsters?
Walt: The first step is to accept that these challenges, or ‘monsters’, are inevitable. It’s crucial for marketers to stay updated with the daily developments in the world of digital marketing. I actively encourage our entire team to research and stay abreast of digital marketing news every day. This ensures that we aren’t caught off guard when one of these challenges arises. By staying proactive and informed, we can better navigate any sudden changes, especially since there’s usually some indication or buzz in the industry before major shifts occur.
Monique: Ghosts are often considered elusive, much like the challenge of retaining customers in this digital age. What strategies do you recommend for businesses to engage their customers effectively and maintain their interest?
Walt: It’s all about communication. While I understand that “communication” is a buzzword in the digital marketing industry, it surprises me, from my conversations with other business owners, how many companies don’t prioritize consistent communication with their clients. We advocate for monthly calls as a standard practice, but based on the account’s size, the frequency of communication might be even more regular. So if I had to sum it down in one sentence, it would be that consistent communication is critical.
Monique: Zombies, much like some marketing trends, never seem to fade. Which ‘zombie’ marketing trends do you believe are still lingering around businesses, and should they be laid to rest or revitalized?
Walt: Back in the late 90s, one of our buzzwords was relationship marketing. I really don’t hear that term anymore. But at the time, the whole goal and priority was towards quality and customer service. I think over the years, the marketing world has gradually moved away from that commitment, and not just in the marketing world, but in many industries. And so I think it’s a good idea to continue to refocus our energy towards a better and stronger customer relationship with our clients.
Monique: Metrics and data analysis can be daunting. Can you share some scary metrics that businesses should keep an eye on and how to make sense of them?
Walt: When I think of a scary metric, the first thing that comes to my mind is offline conversions. Our lives are lived largely online these days, right? But one example of a metric that jumps out at me is what they call in-store conversions. So if you’re running an e-commerce account and somebody sees your ad, they may jump in the car at some point and drive to the store, making it difficult to track that conversion. Technology has come quite a long way over the past 15 years or so, so fortunately tracking some of these offline conversions is possible; it’s just a lot more involved. But it’s definitely worth the extra work and the extra time to make sure you’re appropriately tracking all forms of conversions to monitor how users move through your sales funnel.
Monique: Witches and sorcery are popular themes at Halloween. How can businesses work their magic in digital advertising to cast a spell on their target audience and boost conversions?
Walt: This seems to be one of our main points today: clear and consistent client communication works wonders. Plus, getting a detailed and accurate description of the target audience and putting that information to work is imperative. Many people miss that they need to consistently revisit their target audience. You need to continually ensure that your marketing strategy has all the updated information about who you are targeting. Don’t just get that information in an initial discovery call or form, setting it, and forgetting it, assuming that it doesn’t change. If you work with a client over the course of several years, that target audience may change. It’s important to stay on top of that. And again, that’s just one example of why consistent client communication is a necessity.
Monique: SEO can sometimes feel like a haunted house of challenge. What are some common ghostly SEO challenges that businesses face and how can they navigate through them?
Walt: Oh man, SEO. The biggest SEO challenge that businesses face is how often Google changes their algorithm and updates that algorithm. I don’t know of any scarier news than seeing Google announce another algorithm change. I actually saw a report last year that a business started seeing organic customer traffic drop over 20% in a pretty short period of time. So we need to accept that these changes are going to happen, do the necessary research to take as much sting as we can out of it, and know that the information you need is out there. You just have to make sure you find it and use it.
Monique: Halloween is a time for spooky stories. Can you share a horror story of a marketing mistake you’ve seen and provide insights on how to avoid it?
Walt: I imagine standing in front of a huge room of digital marketers and then saying the word “overspend”. I think everybody would scream. That’s probably one of the most horrifying mistakes we can make in this industry: overspending the budget. There have been times when we have overspent by several thousand dollars, and our response has been to learn from our mistakes and make sure that we implement the right processes to prevent it from happening again. In our case, we have software working in the background that will alert us before the mistakes can even happen. Proactivity goes a long way.
Monique: Final question: for someone who wants to get into digital marketing, whether that be ads or brand strategy, what are two things you would say to them? What do you need to know before you even become a marketer?
Walt: I would suggest two things: First, take a course. Find a reputable one with good reviews, as there are some robust digital marketing certifications out there that are legit. Google, of course, has their certification, but you can find those answers online to be honest. So I would find a good digital marketing certification program and go through with it. It’s almost like a mini school. Second, in my experience, going to a conference like Traffic and Conversion Summit is huge. I would spend the money for such training, as it will be money well spent. You’ll be able to learn, take notes, and do a lot of networking. You’ll learn a ton. You don’t have to be a veteran. So between getting a reputable online certification, and getting yourself involved in a conference where you’re learning from people who have been doing this for years, those are two great steps.
Monique: Thank you so much for your time!
Navigating the digital marketing realm is akin to wandering through a Halloween maze—full of surprises, challenges, and ever-changing scenarios. Our tête-à-tête with Walt, the CEO of Agency and a digital marketing maestro, unveiled a plethora of insights, from handling spooky algorithm changes to warding off marketing horror stories like budget overspends. At the core of it all, Walt underscores the pivotal role of communication and adaptability in this digital age. Whether you’re a newbie, eager to break into the digital marketing sphere, or a seasoned professional, there’s always something to learn. The take-home message is clear: Stay updated, be adaptable, and ensure robust client communication. In this fast-paced digital realm, only those who evolve with the times truly succeed. So, gear up, arm yourself with knowledge, and remember—sometimes, the spookiest challenges reap the sweetest rewards!