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This episode of Ecoffee with Experts features Angela Ludwig, Director of Digital Strategy at Egg to Apples, a full-service digital marketing agency based in Pennsylvania. During the interview, Angela discussed various topics ranging from Analytics to Automation and everything in between. The most interesting part was when she spoke about the biggest digital marketing challenges and how to face them head-on. Take a look.
Google Ads are interesting as you have to find the right combination and put them together like puzzle pieces in order to achieve the best result
Thank you so much for inviting me. I’m excited about this.
As a child in school, I was fortunate enough to go to a bilingual elementary school. I grew up in. I’m originally from Wisconsin, I live in LA right now. But we lived in the city of Milwaukee where my parents lived. The public school was bilingual. I grew up learning Spanish and English. And then we moved to the suburbs and I kind of lost that, fortunately. But it was very unique for a public school to offer that, especially in a smaller city like Milwaukee. But on top of that, I was very into sports. My dad would add me up for every single sport you could think of. So I was pretty active as a child and competitive at the same time because of my father.
Oh, science, probably. Throughout high school, I thought I was gonna do pre-med, going to college. And that obviously all changed. Like a lot of things do change when you go to college.
I think the workload, I had two jobs working in college. So it just got to a point where I couldn’t handle working and the amount of stress that doing any sort of like pre-med classes, or dedicating that amount of time on top of working. It was way too stressful for me. So I just broke and transitioned my major.
I was spread thin. I was like, unnecessarily stressing myself out.
It’s interesting. So throughout my 20s, I was trying to sort of figuring out what I wanted to do with my life because I studied in college was international affairs. And I graduated, maybe six months before the job market crashed and the housing market crashed. So it was not the best time out.
Yeah, I graduated in the winter of 2007. So I was just trying to figure out what my next steps were and by then it was just too late. So at that time you just found whatever you could. I was a bartender for a long time, too.
It was fun. It’s a great way to network and meet people for sure. But anyway, probably throughout my 20s I was just trying to figure out what I wanted to do. Nothing stood out. The last job I had in Milwaukee before I moved to LA eight years ago. I was a communications coordinator and I was learning how to manage websites. I took over social media accounts. I was learning, social media management, and sending out marketing emails. So that interests me because I like tech to sort of like a side hobby and interest. And then when I moved to LA, I got my first job with this company, they did events every month, all over the country. And it was pretty unique. The events were just a day and they brought together agencies and brands. And they would just do panels together. So all it was was just talking about marketing, advertising, ad tech, and the trends. These very high profile companies like household names, all the VPS or Presidents of the companies with common agencies, and then just have a general conversation of whatever the subject matter was. And great networking opportunities. So that was sort of my crash course into digital marketing. I think even back then people were just calling it mobile marketing. So my job there was to manage the website. I wrote blogs about the subject matter. And I had to teach myself because I didn’t know what I was writing, I’m trying to figure out what to write about. I was there for about a year and I just wanted to and I was so interested in it, that I wanted to learn how to do what I was writing about. So I went off on my own and freelance, taught myself whatever I could, and then Egg to Apples came along. The co-founder, Julian found me on LinkedIn and hired me as a contractor to do a couple of projects. And we’ve worked very well together. So he just kept having me do more and more projects. And then eventually, we were able to get enough clients where I was able to come on full time. So we’re a very small agency. There are about four of us on the team. So that’s how I got into digital marketing, and it was more self-taught. And then, Julian, he’s been a really great mentor as well.
I think on my profile I had it because I think you can put looking for work. And at the time, I was doing some minor SEO work for ZIP recruiter as a contractor, and I think I had that. That was like my most recent position, and then maybe my title, he probably just searched for like, an SEO person. So the SEO worked in LinkedIn.
Yeah. I can talk a little bit about it. I obviously had nothing to do with the name of the company. So one of the founders, Julian, who I mentioned earlier, he and his business partner started it, almost 12 years now they have been around. And back then they were more than what it is, right now we just do just digital marketing. And back then they also did marketing and website design, sort of like income and competency and everything. So Agda apples is a Latin term. It’s kind of similar to soup to nuts. So it comes from the Latin term. Back in the day, the Romans used to have these fancy dinners. And it started with an egg as the first course and all the courses and then dessert was the apple.
It’s a good conversation starter. I think people like what; Egg to apple?
I like digital marketing because it’s not sort of a one size fits all for strategies. Every strategy could be different for a client. So especially in Google ads, you have to find the right combination and like the right puzzle pieces trying to fit them together to get the best outcome. And that’s a good challenge for me. Just figuring out the best combination of all the different levers you can pull to get the best performance out of multiple ad channels.
Yeah definitely not boring to me anyway.
The different platforms that we use, and especially Google ads is probably our main one. Almost across the board, especially the bigger platforms my least favorite thing is probably the tech support for those platforms. It’s such a pain point for me, anyway. It’s been very challenging, especially the last couple of years, because they outsource all of that. So it’s not done internally within those companies. So that just makes it that much harder to get anything resolved.
I say because we’re so small. We’re very transparent with our clients. We can give them the attention that they deserve. The constant communication we have helps with our relationships with our clients, and we’re able to do that. We’re able to get things done quicker because we’re smaller. I think there’s a range of really super small budgets to 100k a month or larger, so we have that sort of range. But the way we all work together we’re able to try new things, there’s no like red tape or a long process you have to go through a hierarchy to get trout, like a new channel or implement a change in a campaign right away. There are no multiple departments we have to deal with. So we’re able to get move things along quicker and test things out faster than dragging things out.
All my grandparents are deceased.
So friends or family, I just tell them when you’re searching for something online, you’ll see just a list of items, whatever your search queries are or whatever you put in, whatever you’re looking for, usually there’ll be that first line that you look at, there’ll be a little ad box next to it. And that’s what we do, we get that little ad next to that first line or that first couple of lines.
The image in the box and videos that pop up, that they have to X out of, that’s what I do.
You think that your device is listening to you?
Right now, targeting has definitely changed. With all the privacy policies that have come into play in the last few years, Apple just laid down the hammer. And I think they’re just going to get more strict as the years go by. Not just with Apple, but everything that kicked off within politics in the election, where Facebook and Google had to sort of change their policies on not just political campaigns, but targeting and a lot not allowing restrictions on or discriminating against particular neighborhoods, age, gender, demographics, things like that. So we work with a lot of financial clients, mostly Credit Unions, Google implemented their policy on especially financial products, and Facebook, there are special categories. So anything to do with housing, or credit category, so like auto loans, mortgages, home equity loans, credit cards. So that’s pretty much all we advertise for our credit unions. So when that policy got implemented, we had to re-strategize because we couldn’t target by age or radius, everything’s just sort of opened up even more. So for example the reason that I keep bringing up age, like a really good example would be a home equity loan. So we mostly target older demographics, people that already own a house, at least people that can get a home equity loan, versus you’re not going to target an 18-year-old, because most likely that 18 year old, don’t have a home or even know what a home equity loan is. But so that, because we can’t restrict that it’s just opening it up more, and we got to figure out how we had to figure out how to utilize the budget better, because…
I just think that. I forgot what I was going to say.
I mean, especially with Facebook, it’s gotten down a hill as far as being effective for the financial products. We’re still getting some. We don’t spend a lot on Facebook just because of the objectives. Still, we’re using some third-party data, audience data, trying to get some CRM data and upload it into Facebook, that sort of a workaround, but it’s a steady channel, but it’s not like, oh, let’s throw in more money in there.
And I think you can create a lookalike audience from that as well. So that’s what I’ve been doing the last few months on Facebook. And Google, they got very restrictive, we used to create audiences of people that already converted, so people that already filled out the application submissions. And we would maybe use that as an exclusion audience. So we wouldn’t hit them up with ads again.
They shut it down. They won’t let us use those types of audiences anymore.
I don’t know. I think maybe because it’s too specific.
That makes total sense to me. I completely agree. Some of these credit unions have the budget to spend, and some don’t because they’re so small and we like to be efficient. And because of all the restrictive targeting, we have to be very careful, so we’re not just blowing through the budget and not getting those conversions.
It really depends on their objective. Some of our credit unions, it’s their pain points. A lot of them are brand awareness. A lot of people aren’t familiar with credit unions or how they operate or how they work and they’re good for the community. Because they are nonprofit. They’re there to help people and give them the best possible rates that they can. So there’s that and they especially target a younger audience, because they want their credit unions to be sustainable they need to get those younger people to join. And there’s a little bit of disconnect as far as educating the younger demographics on what a credit union is. Anyone can join if you’re in an area. So there’s the brand awareness aspect and then obviously getting people to join or get a loan through them. So like I’m in Los Angeles and there’s a credit union in my neighborhood and if I’m not a member I can still apply for say an auto loan through them. So typically, credit unions will have better rates for mortgages and auto loans, and credit cards, it depends on the credit union. But a lot of things are changing. So the brand awareness part and then getting people to sign up for an auto loan or loan application, so any a multitude of products. So how we split up the budget depends on the objective of using the credit union as an example, of what they want to accomplish. Maybe they don’t have as big of a budget. And I think what we’ll typically do is just start more focusing on getting loan applications instead of blowing through brand awareness. In my mind, getting more people to apply for a loan brings more value to them than spending those ad dollars on a failing display campaign or video and just getting the word out about them, because you’re getting more conversions. And that brings in more dollars into the credit union. If that can build up and we’ve seen this happen, so those loan applications and conversions build-up, then maybe the next year we’ll be able to get more budget and then build on top of that and build more of a rounded out strategy like we get targeting people higher in the funnel instead of a mid and lower funnel. So that depends. I think most of our dollars are going into search. The search channels. Heavy on Google, we use Bing a little bit, but not as much as Google. And then the display would probably be the second and Facebook, probably the least.
Yeah, it’s never been an effective channel to get conversions. It will still get conversions, but not as much as a Google search.
I’ll use our largest client. We’re in multiple channels. And just making sure obviously, the message aligns across all the channels. So with our biggest client, a credit union client, we’re in Facebook, Google thing. We do YouTube videos, we got into OTT and CTV, which I’m enjoying. And we do some geofencing as well. We use this platform called Ground Truth. So that’s sort of a workaround, with the radius targeting that Google has restricted this platform, you can do a radius around the branches of the credit unions, and it ties in foot traffic as well. So that’s a workaround with the radius restrictions and Google and Facebook. What else are we in here? I think those are, and then oh, we do email marketing too once a month. That ties it all together. All those channels work very well. There are also some channels that we tested but weren’t successful. A good example is Nextdoor. They launched their advertising platform about a year and a half ago. We beta tested with them. Nextdoor made sense because it was a local app, hyperlocal. And just getting the word out was… My dog George.
The next door app was very hyperlocal, but because it was so new we had a problem with tracking and I think that is very important for us with any ad platform. Their code was a little wonky. We tried it with two of our clients, and with one client, the tracking code messed up something on their website, so we had to get rid of that. Nextdoor would be a very good platform for something hyperlocal, but they still need to clean up some things. They need to get some of the kinks out.
The analytics is a really good tool because the client can think their client is one person, and the analytic will tell a different story. So I think paying attention to who is going to your site and that way, we can leverage that data and apply it to the different channels. We’ll look in Google Analytics. We will look at the audiences to see how long they are on the web looking at the pages. Are there higher bounce rates? We will also look at the affinity and market audiences categories. it is easy to say someone is looking for a mortgage or in the market for a house that’s for sale. That would be like a gave-in audience that you can apply in a Google ad. We did this recently with one of our strategists; she and I went through and audited all the campaigns in the audiences. We were looking in Google ad at all the applications permissions per product. We are looking at the audiences, and we noticed that mortgages weren’t in the search campaign but there was a higher conversion rate showing in Google analytics. Just an example, I think one was a cat lover in 30 minutes shot. The affinity audience that they wouldn’t think of, but they are converting. So we coupled them into our search campaign and we have been keeping an eye on them to see if that is working. Some of them have proven to be successful. There is so much valuable data in Analytics because you can track everything that is going on on the client’s website. Utilizing that data will make your campaign more successful.’
Yes. We can track the complete journey. With Credit Union it is unique where you go to the credit union site, you click on apply now. Each credit union will have a different platform for application submissions. So we can track each application to completion. So we know when the application is completed. When Analytics released the custom in tracking, that was a useful tool for us in those particular scenarios.
It’s interesting. I know they are going to Universal Analytics 2years from now.
I think it will be an interesting transition. We were looking at it at the end of last to try and get it implemented. We still have some clients that we need to get implemented for. I hope it works. I am not liking the process right now.
Yes. Maybe there will be enough pushback where they will stand the whole enhanced conversion. Implementation is confusing and has been confusing. We have a client in the beauty industry, and we tried to set up the enhanced conversion tracking for them. I was doing a screen share with one of their tech support, and he was saying the client didn’t have enough information on their thank you page, and the client would have to change the layout to get it set up, which made no sense. I don’t know if that is even possible for the client who is a small business. Changing the layout will cost them a lot of money because they will have to hire a developer.
Yes, but I guess enhanced conversion on the thank you page will need certain data points to connect. It was development-level stuff that I didn’t understand. I thought that was ridiculous.
That is interesting. I think if Google doesn’t find a way to make it easier, people will find other outlets to work smarter, not harder. I am shocked that Google is making all these changes, especially with analytics, because it’s a free platform, and anyone can use it and it’s relatively easy to use. But now they are making things complicated and to get help has been confusing and I think if it continues down that path, people will look elsewhere.
Yeah, especially with the pandemic occurring so much has changed with businesses, and I think not being able to access that shift, if they are restricting the date, doesn’t make any sense.
So the remote aspect. At Apple, we have always been remote. I first met Julian a year after we started working together. We met in person. We are used to the remote aspect but see many clients trying to make that shift, especially the Credit unions, which are used to going into the office. I think a lot of our clients struggled, especially the small businesses. Making that transition to working remotely is not for everyone, and many people struggle to adapt to that. I was used to it so it was easy. I tell people they have to stick to a schedule. Some companies now still have the option to work remotely, the hybrid model more and more than ever before. This could be beneficial for businesses because they can cut costs, especially when renting office space. The pandemic pushed OTT and CTT tv ads for digital marketing because everyone was at home streaming more than usual. They were watching everything, and streaming subscription went up. I think more ad dollars will be spent on those channels and away from linear tv.
Sure, so OTT is over the top television, and CTV is connected television. So I think they are the same; they are interchangeable. You’re thinking of any streaming platforms. HULU is a good example if you have a subscription that I think is $4.99 or get a bundle with Disney. So when you are watching Hulu, and you see an ad pop up, that is the digital marketing world of the connected TV or over the top ad.
Yes. So many. It just popped in the last few years.
There is Netflix; they floated the idea around a few years ago. But I don’t think they will ever have an ad platform service. Their subscription keeps going up, so maybe down the road, they might offer a lower subscription price with ads. Hulu has been growing especially since Disney took them over, and I think they have more subscribers with ads versus the ads-free because it is cheaper and still allows you to add on network TV shows. Another example is Disney plus. They are going to have an ad platform, so that should be cheaper. They have not announced a launch date yet, but it is in their pipeline.
With OTT ads, you have to think more about brand awareness than conversion, so high enough funnel. More top of the funnel. For them, it is more effective than running campaigns the traditional way. With these platforms, we can layer in specific data. Some of these platforms are self-serving, so we can add in extra data layers and manage it ourselves versus traditional TV where you don’t have that capability. So apply some of those digital tactics you would use for a display campaign or a youtube campaign.
Yes. Targeting people in the market or buying a home, we can add those in or even a car.
I think that paying attention to details because there are a lot of nuances on all these platforms, especially in Google ads. It is very robust, you need little tweaks here and there and if you miss something, it can throw off the entire campaign. So definitely be detail-oriented and then love analyzing data, being analytical help. If you don’t like analyzing data it might not be for you.
It’s interesting that you brought up spreadsheets because I always try to find a way to not use spreadsheets to be efficient. We have this reporting tool called Ninja Cat. It is like Data-studio where you can connect different data sources. With Ninja Cats, it’s not just Google, you can connect to Facebook, and we can pull into all the channels that I have mentioned. It is very easy to create a pivot table or graph and it makes reporting very seamless by connecting all these channels, that way, you can analyze the data quicker. Versus, say I have four different channels worth of data putting that all in a spreadsheet to create a table from that, it takes a lot of time to do that whereas with Ninja Cat we can click a few buttons and there is your table. There is another tool that I really like call optimizer. That can only pull in Google, Bing, and Facebook, but it will give some recommendations. There is also a very good feature to just implement scripts in Google ads. Scripts is a more efficient way to manage our budget. It will automatically change the daily budget or check the monthly budget. You can have scripts run to check keywords and the progress of the ad copy. Scripts make things easier because you do not have to hire someone to write the scripts, you just click a few buttons and it gets implemented.
Yes. I am all for finding tools to make things easier and more efficient. If I can find a tool to do it for me, I am going to use it.
Yes. Especially working at a smaller agency. There are only four of us. It saves time and time is the most valuable thing. In the last few years, that has helped us a lot, getting things more automated.
I sign up for a lot of newsletters. I don’t have time to read them all. The hustle is a good one. It is more business tech and for entrepreneurs too. Google thinks their blog is good, too, but they push out to Chrtr. In it, they send out trends and other things, mostly business and the economy.
Yes. I think they are based in the UK. That’s good because they will post charts and tell a story with them. I have a Google phone lined up with podcasts that I will listen to in the background for the entire day. It has news, business, tech, and just a plethora of podcasts that I listen to. Because of the industry I work in I need to be aware of those economic factors that could affect our clients, especially the Credit Union. A good example now is all the Feb rates increasing and that’s affecting mortgage rates and auto loan application rates is to go up. And that is going to affect the number of application submissions.
I keep it in my earshot so if something just perks my interest, I can make a note and look at it later or look at the full article online later.
Yes. It’s just playing and I am focused on my work but having the information flying at me in the background. It has been very helpful and I have been doing it for years.
Emarket. I listen to E-Market now and then, but most of my favorites have nothing to do with Digital marketing but more about things in the world. One of my favorites is fast money on CNBC. They are a good bunch to listen to. Another one I like is from the economist; it’s called Checks and Balances. It comes on once a week, every Friday.
Watch the movie
Bestia in La.
I love all food.
A night owl, but slowly becoming an early bird.
The best place would be our website, eggtoapples.com or on my LinkedIn page; we can connect there.
Thanks for the chance. I appreciate it.
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