August 12, 2016 / #SEMPOchat, Featured

Recapped by:

Andrew Foster, Owner / Head of Accounts at Foster Ideas

Hangout Intro:

Hangout Topic: Scaling a Search Marketing Business

Hangout Date:  7/26/16


Moderator: Steve Plunkett, Sr. Search Scientist, Rockfish

Scott Ensign, Vice President, Digital Media, DAC Group

Corey Morris, Director of Digital Strategy, ER Marketing

Sergio Alvarez, COO at Ai Media Group


Top Takeaways:

  • Search marketing agreements should be as client-friendly as possible. Scalability occurs with performance-based pricing.
  • If you find good potential employees, make room for them! They might not be available if you wait until employees are at a 70% – 80% utilization rate.
  • Stop operating in silos. Better client service and internal efficiencies can be found by cross-functional digital marketing specialists collaborating on SEO, social, PPC, etc.

Discussion Points:

What is your biggest area of growth?

  • Attribution – going beyond “last click” to determine what customer actions contributed to the end goal of the advertising campaign.
  • Integrated digital marketing channels. It’s less common for practitioners to operate in siloes (e.g. SEO, PPC, etc.) and increasingly common for people to be digital marketing generalists.
  • Enabling larger, enterprise-level clients to advertise effectively at the local level.

What are common mistakes search engine marketing practitioners are currently making?

  • Operating search, display, social, etc. in silos while the team wants to achieve one goal. It should be a holistic approach from first touchpoint to sale.  Teams should be cross-trained on all aspects of digital marketing and should collaborate monthly on the agency’s approach to client goals and internal processes to achieve those goals.

What are specific ways you find efficiencies to scale search marketing work?

  • Specific action-items can be approached by the team and shouldn’t be done in silos, which can cause duplicate work. Examples include:  Keyword research, link building, and reporting.
  • Making the right tool and platform choices in the beginning can help to create efficiencies down the road.

How do you know when it’s the right time to hire new people?

  • If you find good people, make room for them!
  • Seek feedback from the team.
  • Track hours and pursue target utilization rates.

How do you structure search marketing agreements with clients?

  • Look at the KPIs and work backwards. Search engine marketing is a model that’s based on performance.  Try to look at historical data and margins from other projects using similar tools in similar industries to help to predict margins.  If the client is insistent upon certain channels or approaches, perhaps reevaluate the pricing for those particular projects.  You need to level-set with the client to determine what value is being provided before talking about fees.  It doesn’t make sense to charge in a way that takes away from a campaigns’ performance.
  • Consider month-to-month contracts to be as client-friendly as possible.

What are the top technologies helpful in scaling a search practice?

  • If you’re an agency that handles a large number of small accounts, or a few large accounts with thousands of campaigns, it helps to use bid management tools.

What trends are important to consider when scaling out of the search business?

  • The shift from keywords to context (in terms of queries and location).
  • The increasing availability of audience data in search.

What are the three most important considerations to scale your search marketing business?

  • Scott: Finding the right people; getting into an efficient rhythm and replicating it to create consistency. Finding the right clients.  Finding the right structure for your team.
  • Sergio: Retain your employees.  Pick the right customer – we’re interviewing the client as much as they’re interviewing us.  Have a repeatable system.
  • Corey: Finding the right client.  Repeatable process and methodology.
  • Steve: Training employees effectively and consistently.  Retain employees and clients.  Find the right clients.

SEMPO Google Hangouts:

SEMPO Chats with Industry Experts are developed by SEMPO’s Education Committee to help industry professionals learn about topics and ask questions in an informal setting. Chats are interactive discussions in Q&A format, conducted as a Google Hangout on Air. All hangouts are streamed LIVE on Google+ or on YouTube (pick your preferred site). Please make sure to add SEMPO to your Google+ Circles so that you can be one of our on-camera participants and receive notifications as Chats are planned. We also encourage you to take the conversation on Twitter at #SEMPOchat.


Presented by the SEMPO Education Committee and Industry Experts, SEMPO Chats cover topics in an open question-and-answer format live on YouTube. This month the theme is Scaling a Search Marketing Business. Our committee members and guest speakers will tell us about themselves, dive into the details of the monthly topic, and encourage questions from the audience throughout. If you’re not camera shy, you can join on-air through Google+ during the live event. Otherwise, you can watch below, watch on YouTube, or watch on Google+.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016 at 11 AM Pacific, 1 PM Central, 2 PM Eastern

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