What is Digital Marketing?

Digital marketing is the promotion of products or brands via one or more forms of electronic media. A digital marketer is someone who focuses on customer acquisition and who has a passion for increasing conversions. Digital marketers drive new customer growth through the creation and hands-on execution of strategies across multiple channels like the website, social media, and paid advertising.

Digital Marketing Manager

The best digital marketers are the ones who focus on the customer. Why not focus on the company? Because the more the digital marketer knows about the customer, the more successful the conversions will be. The best digital marketers become an expert on their customers.

Digital marketers work with a variety of marketing channels, which means they not only have to manage multiple platforms, but also relationships with internal staff and external agencies.

The best digital marketer is a results-oriented person who has the analytical skills to break down complex problems, creativity to identify and develop new, scalable programs, and the skills to lead rigorous testing, measurement and iteration to improve results continuously. So what skills are needed?

Digital Marketing Skills

  • Self-management – be able to manage your day-to-day tasks in order to achieve long-term and short-term goals.
  • Communication – sounds cliche, but here it’s important. Things need documented and communicated constantly.
  • Business analysis – the ability to distill information and present it in a way that other people understand it.
  • Domain knowledge – analytics, email marketing, paid advertising, retargeting, SEO, direct mail, video, and podcasting.
  • Curiosity – seek out and test innovative opportunities to expand visibility and customer acquisition through new channels.
  • Leadership – be able to lead a small team to help meet acquisition objectives by hiring, training, inspiring, and coaching.
  • Vendor management – be able to manage relationships with external agencies who specialize in various marketing domains.
  • Agile/Lean – a person of continuous optimization who develops and implements a strong framework for iterative testing.
  • Planning – be able to develop and manage long-term plans to meet long and short-term business objectives.
  • Technology – digital marketing and technology are inescapably intertwined. Be able to support the marketing technology.
  • Excel – you must have the ability to turn empirical data into insightful, strategic decisions for decision makers.
  • Strategy – the ability to think strategically and plan the overall direction of the company’s marketing strategy.
  • Google Analytics – you must understand how to read and interpret web analytics and testing/optimization techniques.

Using the skills above you will be able to develop and execute the marketing strategy to meet the goals established for your company regardless of the budgeting constraints. You will perform weekly, monthly, and quarterly analysis reports across all marketing channels, which will report on your progress towards the stated goals. Are you up for the challenge? I am.

My name is Erich Stauffer and I’m a digital marketer who is passionate about customers, conversions, and collaboration. One of my favorite things to do is to “check my stats”, which means logging into the e-commerce dashboard and Google Analytics to review conversions. I’ve managed Google Adwords, Twitter and Facebook ads, and helped run and train teams of other marketing specialists.

I love to document what I do, which means I’m either updating a spreadsheet, an Evernote note, or a Dropbox folder. When new staff are brought on board, I’m the guy who trains them how to use the marketing systems and when there is new marketing technology, I’m the one trying it out. I love marketingtechnology, and how it all works together. That is what I’m passionate about and that’s how I can help.

How can I help you with your digital marketing needs?

The Content Carousel

What’s the hook gonna be?

When I was in college I used to wish I could be the guy who made up the headlines for the local newspaper. I had no idea how much it paid, but I was sure that everyone at the newspaper wanted that job and it was incredibly hard to get. Little did I know that within a few years everyone would be running their own “newspapers” via their blogs, social networks, and podcasts – all of which require writing great headlines.

While Copyblogger says to always write the headline first, I find that when I’m writing the post, I don’t always know what it’s going to be about until I’m done. However, when I’m asking other people to write posts for me, I write the title first so they write about what I want them to. For this post I just copied and pasted a title I had used for the subject of an email (which is another area where the right “headline” matters a lot).

The Content Carousel

Email as a marketing tool

Email is one of the newest forms of networking, which has always been an important aspect of business development. Modern tools like social media have made connecting easier than ever before, but that hasn’t reduced the value of email, nor has it meant that writing emails is easy. The art of creating powerful emails and subject lines is still a fine skill.

It may seem like you’re just going around and around The Content Carousel. Some days you’re up and some days you’re down. When you get done, you’re right back where you’ve started. The more you get content out, the more you have to make. And then it’s Publisher’s Clearinghouse Day and the barcode scanner breaks. Okay, maybe it’s not that bad, but is there an end?

Market Sophistication Levels

Market Sophistication Levels are about selling differently based on competition level and the degree of public sophistication about your product and market. They are based on a book called Breakthrough Advertising by a copywriter named Eugene Schwartz. Vishen Lakhiani popularized it in his video (below).

Market Sophistication Level

Market Sophistication has 5 levels. To get people to buy or use your product, you need to get a gauge of what level of sophistication your market is at. You do this by looking at the messaging your competitors are using, like PPC ads, home pages, TV commercials, radio commercials, and landing pages.

Market Sophistication Level 1

You are just introducing a new thing to the world. There is no need to differentiate your solution. The public is unaware of anything close to your product because it is a radically new invention. You simply lead with the declaration that your product exists (ie. “The World’s First Car vs. A Mechanical Horse”)

Market Sophistication Level 2

Once you have competitors, your job is to outbid them by making outstanding claims about how your product or service is different and better. They are aware of several of your competitor’s products, then emphasize the most powerful benefits of your product (ie. “The Fastest, Safest Car Ever Created”)

Market Sophistication Level 3

They’ve seen many competitor products, then emphasize the mechanism that makes your product unique from the others (ie. “The New Engine That Makes X The Best Car In The World” Emphasize different sections of your marketing copy to best capture their interest and desire in your product or service.

Market Sophistication Level 4

Keep elaborating the features, not the product. Focus on the mechanism behind the product or service. They’ve already seen several competitor products that use your same mechanism, then emphasize the most powerful benefits of your mechanism (ie. “The Quietest Engine Luxury Can Buy”).

Market Sophistication Level 5

Finally everyone has a new feature and the audience becomes jaded of all of the advertising and are familiar with all of your competitors’ claims. Instead, emphasize identification with your prospect. (ie. “The Only Luxury Car Exclusively Driven By The World’s Best Business Leaders”).

Marketing Strategy for Great Marketing Plans

When you’re doing initial market research into how to market your product or business, it can pay to start off figuring out your market sophistication level before making your marketing strategy or marketing plans. But it’s not only about products or services – any page from a job posting to an About page to a Contact page can be optimized using market sophistication levels. “To sell is human“, and you should always be closing.

The Average Cost of a Like on Facebook

What’s the average price for a Facebook like using Facebook advertising?

Below are some real examples from ads I’ve ran on Facebook for three different Facebook pages. The first is an example of a poor (expensive) rate. It averaged $1.12 per page like.

2014-04-08 08_26_26-Ad Set Summary

There are several reasons why this rate was high:

  1. The pictures I used did not match the value proposition of the page I was asking them to like. They were randomly selected images.
  2. The ad copy I used was vague. It simply asked the user if they liked to learn online and if so, to like the page if they liked “learning online”.
  3. The page itself had little content. There were 4 posts over 3 years and one had to do with learning “how to make Mexican food”.
  4. The target audience and the content were out of sync. I was targeting business owners. They might not like to learn online.
  5. The budget was too small ($10/day). I have seen a lower rate for likes when the budget is higher because it is shown to more people.

Next is an example of a low (good) rate. The goal is to get down to around $0.10 (10 cent) likes. This one got down to $0.16 per page like with a budget of $7.00 per day.

2014-04-08 08_37_21-Campaign Summary

There are several reasons why this rate was low:

  1. The target audience was clearly defined. I used marketing data from magazines to create a target demographic.
  2. The image used matched the audience. I used a picture of a woman that looked like the target demographic holding the product.
  3. The message matched the page. I asked people if they liked coconut oil and the page was about coconut oil.
  4. The page had a lot of content. Once visitors landed on the page they could see that it was about coconut oil.
  5. The page already had a lot of likes. People like to back winners (like attracts like).

What’s the average cost of a Facebook like?

$2000 was spent on multiple campaigns for multiple Facebook pages to get new likes, boost posts, and experiment with website ads (links from Facebook to outside Facebook) and so I now have an idea about what things should or should not cost. The average Facebook like costs $0.44. That’s the average cost of a like. The value of a like is another story.

Twitter Ads: My Experiment and the Results

How Much Does a New Follower Cost on Twitter?

That’s what I wanted to find out. I’d never ran a Twitter ad before. You can run ads for more than just new followers, you can also do it to drive more engagement (retweets, favorites, and clicks). I wanted to experiment with gaining new followers.

I’d had experience running Facebook ads before for new Likes and Google Adwords for page clicks. I was familiar with setting a budget, identifying a target audience, and crafting the ad text. This was no different. The first step is choosing @usernames.

Twitter Ad Targeting

This was an ad for @skinnycoco so I targeted two of it’s competitors as well as “users like our followers”. The latter means similar interests and demographics. You can add multiple usernames and even exclude usernames you don’t want to target.

Like Facebook ads, doing the above step gives you an estimate of reach. In my case it was 7K. The next two steps allow you to choose interests by browsing categories and to choose locations. I chose not to choose a category and chose United States.

Twitter Ad

The most important aspect of creating the ad is the text of the ad itself. You can either choose from an existing tweet or create a new tweet. Anything you could post under a normal tweet can be posted here (ie. text, picture, or link) in addition to “cards”.

Twitter Cards allow you to attach rich media experiences to tweets about your content. If you’ve ever seen a longer post with text, image, and a call to action underneath, that’s a Twitter Card. These cards can be used at your promoted tweet in your ad.

How Much Does a New Follower Cost on Twitter?

Twitter Ads

I budgeted $20 to see how much each new follower would cost, on average. For $20 I got 3,977 impressions (views), 66 clicks through to the Twitter profile, and 26 new followers. That translates to $0.77 per like and an engagement rate of 0.65%.

What Could Improve Those Numbers?

The first thing I would change would be to try different tweets and run them at the same time to test engagement. I didn’t realize that you could, like with Facebook and Google ads, run multiple ads on a single campaign. If I do it again, that’s what I’ll do.


How an eCommerce Business Grew to Become one of the Fastest Growing Companies in Indiana

This is a story about how One Click Ventures became one of the fastest growing companies in Indiana.

One Click Ventures

One Click Ventures (OCV) started out as a man and wife team (Randy and Angie Stocklin) in their Greenwood, Indiana home with $20,000 in 2005. They now own a portfolio of niche retail websites, including SunglassWarehouse.com, HandbagHeaven.com and Scarves.net, which brought $5.3 million in revenue 2011 alone.

In 2006, the couple acquired SunglassWarehouse.com. In 2007, One Click moved to a 1,000-square-foot facility in Greenwood, Indiana. That same year, Randy and Angie hired their first full-time worker. By 2008, the Hoosier company expanded into a 4,000-square-foot facility (still in Greenwood), and two more affordable fashion brands were acquired: HandbagHeaven.com and Readers.com.

OCV grew quickly, eventually touting nine online brands in the affordable fashion and travel product industries. By 2012, the One Click team moved into a 68,000-square-foot facility in Greenwood. All of One Click’s team operates in-house, with people in marketing, technology, merchandising, customer happiness, business intelligence, order fulfillment and human relations. (Wikipedia)

According to the OCV About page, Randy and Angie Stocklin are, “Looking ahead, One Click has the team and infrastructure in place to significantly scale-up its audience, customers, and revenues. One Click will continue to aggressively grow the company by acquiring, developing and managing Internet properties.” They do this by leveraging their team and their group of brands.

You can get a sense for what systems and technology they are using by reviewing their job ads. For example, they use X-cart for their shopping cart. They have a “Content Team, Tech Team, Customer Experience, and other OCV departments.” They use Google Analytics and focus on customer retention and lifetime value. They use “ESP automation and database tools” (ESP stands for “email service provider”). They compute GMROII (Gross Margin Return on Inventory Investment).

You can also get a sense for their marketing strategy by looking at what each brand is doing online. For example, they use email marketing (and have a full-time Email Marketing Specialist), design custom landing pages. They put links to their social media, shipping times, email specials, and help/chat/contact in the very top of every page. They have a “Free Shipping [when/if]” on every page along with their phone number. They use credit card logos, BBB logo, a Bizrate log, and a Paypal logo at the bottom of every page.

You can get some real insight from previewing OCV’s Team page and Brand page to get a feel for what type of team you’d like your e-commerce company to have and how to manage multiple brands through one organization. I’ve attempted to build multiple brands under one organization so I know this is not an easy feat to undertake and manage, but OCV seems to do it with ease. Randy and Angie Stocklin are two of my e-Commerce Heroes that I look up to a lot. Thank you for being such great examples for our community.

How Can I Better Market My Business?

One of the questions I often get asked is, “How can I better market my business?

How Can I Better Market My Business

10 Things You Can do to Market Your Business

  1. Remove obstacles stopping customers from giving you money – How can someone buy your product or service? How many clicks does it take? How many forms do they have to fill out? How many emails do they have to respond to? How many phone calls or in-person meetings does it take? Ask yourself why you’re making it so hard for someone to give you money and then think about the ways you can make it easier on them.
  2. Lower the risk involved in choosing your company – How can you make is so the client literally feels foolish for not choosing you? Are you showing ROI? Are you providing testimonials? Do you have examples of your work? Are you using a SSL certificate? Do you have trust icons in place? Remove all hesitations to the sale.
  3. Start with value and prove value or savings – How does your product or service move the customer closer to pleasure or farther from pain? How does it provide value (ie. give back more than what it costs)? What case studies do you have to show this value? What videos do you have to show the value? Do you even have a brochure? Pictures?
  4. Start with the familiar (Think “Cover songs”) – If this is the first time someone has seen your product or website, they are going to latch onto anything that looks familiar. That’s why symbols like “As seen on NBC and Huffington Post” as well as trust symbols like “Trusted by McAfee” are so important. It’s the difference between starting your set with an original instead of cover song.
  5. Be consistent – waffles are delicious, but nobody likes a waffler. McDonalds is a force to be reckoned with because they are always the same. Seth Godin’s blog is so powerful because you know he’s going to post everyday. While pivoting can be good, it’s not something you should do every day. People crave consistency and it helps to sell. Marketing supports the selling process.
  6. Be transparent – show your processes as much as you can. People now expect it and when you don’t it makes it look like you’ve got something to hide. Your picture should be on your website and marketing materials. No stock photography! “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”
  7. Email marketing – nothing converts higher than email marketing, but you’ve got to actually do it. Reading top 10 lists like this is easy. Collecting email addresses and consistently sending out weekly or monthly emails is not. Thankfully there are systems that can automate some of this for you, but it doesn’t do all of it. You’ve got to want to grow your business. This is one of the best ways.
  8. Social proof – famous marketer, Gary V says “social media is the Internet” and while that’s not entirely true, his point is still valid. Go where the people are. They may not be on your website, but they are on social media. And the more Likes, Followers, or Loves you get is social proof to customers that buying from you is probably a smart thing to do.
  9. Video marketing – Youtube’s been out for a while now, but there’s even better options now for marketers such as Wistia which can work in conjunction with your email marketing to get more opt-ins or conversions. Like email marketing, the key here is to just do it. It’s not as hard as it once was, but there is still a big fear of video that a lot of people have trouble overcoming. Start small. Get going. You can delete your old, bad stuff once you get better.
  10. Measure what matters – candy metrics like unique visitors do not likely matter to your business. What matters are conversions, email signups, and sales. What are you tracking? It matters. What you ask about leads both your mind and your employees down a path so it better be the path you want to be on. If you’re not on the right path, turn the ship around, Captain.

SEO Metric: Time to First Conversion

This is a SEO case study on “Time to First Conversion”, which involves tracking how long it takes to reach the first conversion after the SEO campaign begins. In this case study, the conversion was tracked as a email web form submission to a website. In Google Analytics, this might be setup as a goal, but in this case, it was tracked by the actual email message.

Handyman Escondido

Handyman Escondido was launched on May 9, 2013 and by July 22 had its first web conversion. 3 days later on July 25 it had it’s second conversion. It took 2 months and 13 days to get the first conversion.

SEO firms can’t promise or guarantee Google rankings, but they typically state that results will come in approximately 3 months. In this case, it was true, but here’s the thing: only on-page SEO was done to this site. There was no inbound marketing, no backlinks, no blog posts, no social media marketing, no Google Adwords.

And how many pages do you think this site has? 1. This site has one page, it’s home page. It reads like a Dan Kennedy sales letter without the testimonials, but hey, the information is all there. This site got 2 conversions in 3 months from it’s domain name and on-page SEO alone.

It currently ranks #6 for the keyword term “handyman escondido” and #16 for “escondido handyman”. However, the handyman is not located in Escondido, California. He’s located in North County San Diego, California. So how does he rank for “North County San Diego, California Handyman”? #21. How’s that for no off-page SEO?

Anyone Can Take a Reservation

One thing I keep hearing from programmers and product owners is that the most important thing (or the hardest thing) is marketing and sales of their product. And to that I say, you have to have a product to market and that’s the hardest part is figuring out what people want, making it, and getting feedback on it. I guess you need both.

When I worked at banks, one of the things I heard over and over was that “Retail can’t work without Operations and Operations can’t work without Retail.” They both needed each other. Can your lungs say to your heart, “I’m better than you.” It could, but it still needs the heart. While the brain thinks it knows everything, it can’t get around without the rest of it’s body.

Clearing the Cruft

I’m continually amazed by how little you have to do “right” to be successful in business. You do have to do some things right, but you can still do so much wrong and still succeed. This creates a filter for me, one that highlights what actually matters, not just what I think matters. Here’s what matters: giving people what they want, making sure those people can find it, and charging them for it.

I sent this as a text message to a couple of people and got a couple of different responses:

Spoken like a man who has seen the last domino in his master plan be set up – ready to fall.

The key word is do. You have to do it. Yes you may stumble several times, but if you keep on the road it works out.

The latter one echoes thoughts I’ve had in the past about work. Anyone can take a reservation, it’s the holding that’s most important.

Business Cards vs Email Marketing

I recently sent a “soapbox” email to a couple of friends about how I’ve felt recently about business cards in relation to networking and building up your business through local interactions. I’m currently in the process of building up my business consulting business again and I’ve been thinking a lot about networking I did in 2012 and how I want to market myself in 2014.

Is it just me or is the act of asking for someone’s business card the equivalent of “I just want to end this conversation and never talk to you again”?

I get asked for my business card [a lot?] and it’s almost always from someone who does not want to do business with me, but wants to either spy on me remotely later or end the conversation.

What are some positive interactions from potential customers?

They seek me out. They call me. They email me. If I don’t write back, they email me again or they call me. No business cards are involved. They’ve heard about me from someone else. It’s a referral thing.

So how do you get referrals?

Mostly by doing great work that’s shareworthy. Add a ton of value, show ROI, or other thrilling things that makes someone want to share your work with other people. Other than that, it’s a matter of showing up.

Email Marketing vs. Network Marketing

I brought this up while reading about networking meetings in the book, Double Your Freelancing Rate, which I did a lot of last year and had very, very limited success. The greatest success was from simply staying in contact (via email) with existing clients, meeting their needs, and being referred to others by those existing clients. I’m looking to do more of that, but not sure exactly how. That’s why I’m reading the book and looking to other experts in my field for help/feedback.

In reply to this email, my friend wrote this about his graphic design business:

I can see that I’m getting local referrals on the basis of the work that I’ve done…For a designer, it is important to have a business card because that is likely the first chance (and maybe the last chance if you don’t have one) that they will have to see your work. They may not get a chance to sit in front of a screen before they make a decision about whether or not to work with you. I’ve always had positive interactions around my cards because they are premium paper and thickness, they are slightly larger than your standard US business card, and they prominently feature my branding (pixel perfect at 300ppi) on the front and a playful, full-bleed image on the back. I think if I had a vanilla business card, it wouldn’t be much of a boon and it would probably hurt me (especially if it were a Vistaprint template card). I also get asked for my card from friends/acquaintances that aren’t looking for design services, but want to share with someone they know or a business owner (to help me or them out).

Good points. And I like how he was pitching his design services right into his reply. Nicely done.

Email marketing is one goal I’ve had to start doing more of in 2013 and it will continue into 2014. KissMetrics recently posted 7 Overlooked but Critically Important Details of Profitable Email Marketing in which they mention how Nathan Barry, a web designer, launched an eBook that made $12,000 in sales in 24hrs and went on to make over $85,000 in its first year (what they don’t mention is the 10,000 hours of work he had in his life leading up to that point). But seriously, I’m not even talking about product launches or information products here, I’m talking about communicating with your customers – decent human-like things you could be doing to let them know you’re not dead. Your competitors are talking to them so you should be too. Hopefully this blog post helped someone take some action. Stop reading and start writing!