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Welcome to E-Coffee with Experts, an interview series where we discuss online marketing with the best minds in the business.
In this episode, Dawood is in conversation with Dave Martin, CEO at Nettra Media.
Dave shares his thoughts on changing Google algorithms and how it affects the business. He also shares his experiences where a few keywords rank well in a short span of time and then drops down due to change in algorithms.
Dave expresses his thoughts on guerrilla marketing, remarketing and the importance of schemas & backlinks for better SEO ranking. He also speaks about PPC, designing effective landing pages and the growing importance of local search ads.
Lastly, he shares his insights on Google AdWords and expresses his thoughts on its recent changes and trends.
Tune into this insightful conversation and stay tuned for the next cup of E -coffee with Experts!
Google and Facebook have an AI aspect that you cannot ignore anymore. You cannot say that the human is going to win every time.
My name is Dave Martin, and I’m the CEO of Nettra Media. We are a full-fledged marketing agency, both digital and traditional but really focused more on the digital side. We were founded back in 2012, mainly as a website building company. People love websites, but their business didn’t increase after six months. We started to realize the need to do digital advertising, SEO, and things like that. We are now Google Facebook partners and have spent over $19 million on both platforms. We are SEO experts and lead generation business development kind of strategy experts. Companies usually hire us when they want more potential customers, brand awareness, and a mix of the two.
Guerilla marketing is kind of an old-fashioned term, but it encompasses everything else. Most agencies focus on selling media and SEO because they work. But at the same time, we’ve never had a client where they get more than 30% of their customers with advertising. Advertising is usually a fairly expensive way to create clients. Especially with the iOS 14.5 update, we see some of our clients, even with Facebook, that it’s really hard to target them now. So we try to come up with other ideas that are a bit outside the typical box. Ideas that work because nobody else is doing them. Those kinds of ideas will find their way into setting up unique referral generating strategies, business development, or business partnership strategies. Guerrilla can also get into outdoor kinds of advertising, but we’d like to focus more on the Bizdev and referral side of things. We approach it in ways that are unique.
My favorite client story? We actually have a few different client stories that I could share. On the local side, we have a moving company, and on the regional side, we have a finance credit union. So on the local side, this moving company wanted to grow and compete with the national moving companies that have a stronghold on most local markets. Between SEO, Google ads, Facebook ads, and some business development called lead generation outreach, they are between number one and number three ranking companies within Central California. It was a huge task, but that’s interesting. On the SEO side, they shot up in the ranks quicker than we thought they would. Then they went back down again. I don’t know if you guys have seen that before, where you’re almost like this is almost too good of a result. You start fearing the inverse that it’s not going to stick. There’s going to be another algorithm update, and that’s what happened. They shut up within three months. For 80% of the keywords, they were not ranking on page one for almost anything.
That was within three months of the campaign. After the campaign we have been going for about three-four months, they started to go down again. We were scrambling. Why would they shoot up so quickly? Why are they going down again? We went back and saw a big lift with schema markup, which is funny. You’ve heard different things about schemas. Do you really have to do it anymore? Or like, “No schema is better for larger companies with 1000+ pages on the website.”
With this client, it made a big difference. We started focusing on locally sourced backlinks, not just buying them but trying to get real backlinks. We’ve seen a huge turnaround since. They are now back to ranking very high. We supplement that with Google ads because they’re not going to rank for everything. Then, we have a lead generation site that involves more cold email outreach with which we’re seeing big results right now.
On the other side with the Credit Union, they’re the largest credit union in Central California. They were not doing much in the way of digital marketing. They’re actually one of the fastest-growing credit unions now, in California. It’s amazing to run all of their digital marketing and see the kind of growth they have. We have a lot more middle-sized clients and some smaller ones as well. So, I thought I’d give you two success stories.
There are a couple of trends, the cost per click is going up. CPMs and things like that, we don’t track as much as cost per click, but we are seeing CPC go up. I think it’s because Google has realized that their environment has never been as user-friendly as the Facebook advertising platform. They have spent a ton of time making it a lot easier. That’s what we have seen probably in the last two years. We all know AdWords Express. You sold it to an agency, it’s like, “Oh, yeah, there are seven positions for ads.” If you want your ads on the bottom, use AdWords Express. If you want to use an agency like ours, that’s when we’re talking about the top three positions.
One of the biggest trends that we see is Google’s automated ad platform. They say, “Hey, we see that you’re trying to optimize these ads; let us optimize these for you.” We’re using campaign data. Let’s say we have some credit union clients, so we’re able to take some of that data and then Google that. On the other hand, they say, “We’ve got 10,000 of these campaigns running at once, and we’re going to optimize that based on what we see.” That’s what I see when it comes to PPC ads, and I include Facebook, digital ads, Instagram in that as well. Both Google and Facebook have an AI aspect that you cannot ignore anymore. You cannot say that the human is going to win every time. It’s not like, “Oh, agencies are going away.” If anything, it allows us to manage more campaigns, optimize more quickly, and make quicker decisions based on what wins and what doesn’t.
The days of ignoring Google and their AI solution are long gone. What we see from our perspective, it’s that using that AI ad set on both Facebook and Google to optimize your campaigns further. We’re seeing the CPC is getting driven down, especially on Facebook and Instagram. We have a couple of campaigns where the CPM was driven down by almost 300%, which is crazy. In other words, it means that we get a lot more clicks for the dollar.
We have clients that are scattered between 13 or 14 different industries. So the results are not conclusive enough to say, “Oh, this is a great cause of events, or no, we’re not using them.” I do say initially; we are seeing some positive results using that. A part of me wonders if there’s some sinister thing with Google: if you play ball with them, your ads do better. It’s not AI. There’s somebody pressing a button that puts your ads in some other category, allowing it to do better. The AI is not as sophisticated as Google makes it. We try and play ball with Google the best we can. I guess that’s probably the best way to say it.
You also see it with SEO. For instance, it’s bad SEO now to put a location in the H1 like, “Best chiropractor in Los Angeles, or California.” It looks crappy. It sucks for user experience, but those still, to this day, perform better. I shouldn’t say 100%, but we have clients. We’ve tested this. Google says one thing. This is kind of where we’re shooting to get onboard versus they put it out, like, this is how it is. We have to take that kind of wait-and-see approach from the SEO perspective. From the ad perspective with Google, we try to play ball the best we can. We often see more success by doing that.
It depends on the size of the client and their goals. If it’s a small to medium size company, that’s a lot of traffic we’re pushing to their website, assuming that we’re doing a lot of different PPC and digital ad campaigns. Traditionally, you hear that ad traffic does not factor into SEO, but it’s the opposite. I look at it like, that’s traffic going to your site. I’d rather have it go to your domain, then some subdomain, and on the landing page that we have created.
On larger clients that we have, usually, their content is so siloed and segmented that there’s not one page that we can try and convert somebody to calling or emailing. Often, we have to take elements of three or four pages and put them into one. That’s where the landing page would come into play. We tend to err on the side of using your website. If there’s not a lot of great assets, like social proof assets, videos and testimonials, and things like that, then we would create that ourselves.
Since the iOS 14.5 update, many people are saying where remarketing was versus where it is. I think number one, we have to make a delineation that iOS does not apply to desktop devices. You’re alive and well when it comes to remarketing the same thing on those devices. We think that in the future, like in the next year, it will be adopted on the desktop side. There’s also speculation that Android is going to be doing the same thing. So yes, targeting parameters are tough. If you paint the classic sales funnel of being at the very top of the funnel-like a billboard or a TV ad to the bottom like a Google ad, Facebook has traditionally been in the middle. If you’ve got a really solid retargeting campaign that’s been cleaned every month with data for a few years, you might be in the middle to bottom. It’s just pushed higher up the funnel. So, you’re in the middle higher in the funnel.
Ways to enrich that is trying to get people’s email addresses. If I’ve got 5000 email addresses, I can load them into Facebook as a targeting parameter. I can always do that because I’m introducing data to Facebook. That’s really the game is how do you enrich this data. We focus on emails, but they are always limited. People always want more than they have. Usually, out of 5000 emails, 25% aligned. That’s hardly enough to make any campaign.
The other side of this would be drilling down to tracking KPIs. Many agencies are no longer reporting on impressions and clicks. We use Databox, which is an API aggregation software. What we’re trying to do is define micro-conversions, which of course, make Google Ads perform better. From a client perspective, we’re trying to define these micro conversions and see not just how many sales you have gotten but track all of these things. So instead of having Facebook enrich data behind the curtain and relying on that, we’re trying to take some of that data enrichment with the client side. So, Databox is great for that.
Working with the client to come up with these conversion metrics is essential. All that being said, that can’t replace what just a handful of months used to be. At least, it’s a level playing field for everybody. The race now is how do we enrich the data on our site, and these are some of the things that we do out here.
It’s interesting. There’s not a ton of data as to how well those work. I can tell you anecdotally from our clients that it’s a bit hit and miss. Personal Injury Attorneys, which traditionally spend a lot of money on Google ads. We saw those works about a year ago. Now, they are flooded. They don’t work quite as well.
When you factor in cost per click, we’ve seen that go up quite a bit. In some industries like HVAC, the “I need it now” kind of service, e.g., if the pipe in your sink broke, you don’t care about Google reviews, you’re wondering how quickly can I get there. If you’re that kind of service, HVAC is another one. They’re very effective.
If there were some kind of delineation, if a service requires more research from the customer, I think the effectiveness of those ads goes down. It’s a little anecdotal. I don’t have a ton of data to support one way or the other.
I guess from the client-side, though, it’s legit. In some ways, it’s more legit than a Google ad. Anybody can do a Google ad, but to do these location ads, you’ve got to fill out a ton of paperwork and the whole Pinkerton process. If you’ve got 50 employees, that’s a big thing. To go through that, to have the green checkmark from Google, there is something to be said for that. From a marketing perspective, I wouldn’t hang my hat on that one tactic. It’s worth pursuing if you’re a company and you haven’t done that yet.
I would say from a lead generation standpoint; we’re seeing a bigger lift utilizing cold email outreach. It’s a new thing that not a ton of people are doing with great success. We’re seeing it outpace Google ads in some cases. We’re talking sequenced emails that are cold people could have done business with 40% to 50% open rates, which is just ridiculous.
I’d say for companies looking to create new customer acquisition channels to look into a cold email outreach. Number one, when it comes to Google, we’re seeing a lot of success going after medium to longer tail keywords and not bidding on the basic keywords, and not taking Google’s advice. Google always tries to get you to expand your budget by suggesting new keywords. Go after medium and long tails, especially if there’s a good amount of inventory for them.
We see the cost per client with transactions or campaigns like that continually outpace going after the big-time keywords where you’re spending a ton of money. You get more clicks and sales, but when you factor in the cost per click, the cost to acquire those clients is three times more. We specialize more in B2B, so I’m talking more about B2B outreach. That would be a tip if you can go across the United States, focus on the medium to long-tail keywords, and stick with the ones you choose for at least two to three months. Resist Google’s temptation to add more to it. First, establish the cost of acquiring a client with that and then add more abundant keywords that are searched.
Sounds good. Thanks for having me.
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