SOLID REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD BE ADVERTISING ONLINE
Today we have Ajay Prasad speaking on Digital Marketing Strategies. He has been in charge of leading marketing departments for large corporations ranked in the top 10 of Fortune 500 companies. His expertise lies in marketing management, research analysis, and strategic planning for business development.
He will discuss his 30 year journey with the traditional advertising world and his transition into digital marketing. He created an online startup just to learn digital marketing techniques. The strategies he learned were so effective they helped his startup grow to a 7 figure business. Since then he has created several online companies. Listen in as he discusses digital marketing.
In this Interview Learn:
- Differences in Traditional VS Digital Marketing
- How long it takes to see if Digital marketing is working
- Marketing Strategy and Marketing Channels
- Written Content & SEO
- Why your Reputation affects Google’s Search Ranking
What’s your Background Story?
I’ve been in the field of marketing practically all my life, ever since my very first job. My journey took me to become the head of marketing for some major corporations. The biggest one was a fortune 5 company at the time, a large oil company which later merged with BP.
Then I moved onto leading marketing for a few startup companies. One company created digital maps for electronic navigation systems. I also moved to silicon valley during the dot com boom, to head another startup which had over $500 million in initial funds.
Later I became head of products for a large consumer electronic company.
I have been in marketing all my life, with my strengths being in strategy and research. I always had a team of people working under me, to handle copy writing and other areas.
After doing that for 20 years, I started my own business back in 2003. I started with a digital marketing agency. My goal was to help businesses get online and build a web presence. I helped them generate revenue and get leads from the internet.
Because digital marketing was still new back then, I created a separate online business to become a guinea pig, a test subject for me to learn more about digital marketing. To find out what processes worked online and how to translate traditional marketing strategies online. I had no intention for it to really grow. I just wanted my team and I to learn as much as possible to be able to help businesses with our Digital Marketing agency.
To say the least, the digital marketing strategies we learned were very effective. It worked so well that the “guinea pig” business quickly became a 7 figure business. I have a team that runs it and I’m not involved in it now. But it has been generating 7 figures for the last 7 years.
Can you discuss the Guinea Pig experiment?
You have to understand at the time, most of the businesses did not even think that they needed a business website, let alone do any advertising. They thought that Yellow Pages was all they needed.
So we had a few small businesses asking about marketing. But I was reluctant to charge my clients for digital marketing services without really understanding what worked and didn’t work.
At the time people only did postcards and mail flyers.
My emphasis was to help businesses get online. To build a website for them and get on search engines.
But I wanted to walk the walk and not be all talk. So I created a web based business to test all the different digital marketing strategies that I could later offer to my own clients. I wanted to make sure what I offered and charged them money for would actually work.
I didn’t want them to pay money and just hope that it worked, like with traditional marketing.
But those tests worked so well, that it’s no longer a guinea pig, but an online business generating 7 figures.
Did you mainly use SEO and Adwords?
Right, 12 years ago, it started with SEO and Pay Per Click ads. From there it evolved into Social Media marketing. Then it went to Google Video marketing, now it’s evolved into mobile marketing.
As these areas have evolved, we started to offer additional services. But before offering it to my clients, I like to test it and make sure that it works.
But as a result, I was a little behind in offering new services. My competitors, back in 2004 were offering social media marketing. My clients asked why I wasn’t. My response was because I wasn’t sure how it worked. I could not figure out how social media could generate revenue for them. I refused to offer it until later.
It’s the same thing with Mobile Marketing. We were among the first to offer mobile web development for our clients. I saw the trend of more and more people using smartphones for web browsing. In 2012 we offered to build mobile responsive websites.
Again, we didn’t focus on mobile marketing until we tested that it worked.
So now we have a unique strategy around the mobile market.
You want to test it on real businesses, so that’s what I did. I have 3 different online businesses now, that all became successful using our Digital Marketing programs.
Any Startup advice?
A lot of people come to me for startup advice or for digital marketing.
The advice I always tell them is that if you are starting a business just to make money, than you’re on the wrong track. At best, you will only create a job for yourself.
“If you don’t love what you do, you’ll constantly be longing for the other side of the fence.”
First you need to know that there is a need for what you’re trying to do, and that it’s not being fulfilled by others.
You need have the mindset of almost doing business to achieve a special cause that you believe in.
Once you have that down, then you can start implementing marketing techniques to grow your business.
What are your thoughts on Traditional vs Digital Marketing?
I started my career in Traditional Advertising, before the internet era.
Marketing at the time was done through Print, TV, Radio, and direct mail. All the concepts of branding were very important and used for a long time with those mediums.
The problem with traditional marketing, especially with small businesses is funding. When I worked for big corporations, they had millions to spend just on advertising. Campaigns would be tested in small market groups before we launched it.
But small businesses do not have that flexibility. It’s like doing a hail mary pass for them. You spend lots of money on a marketing campaign and cross your fingers hope it works. If it works, you use it again.
But the traditional test method is way too expensive for small businesses.
Also with Traditional Marketing, there is this famous saying,
“At least 50% of the marketing budget is wasted, but you don’t know which 50%.”
Now with DIgital Marketing, whether you’re talking about AdWords, SEO, video marketing, or mobile marketing. You can monitor and track results so accurately and immediately, you know what’s working and not working.
It only takes two days to find out if digital marketing is working, versus the two months it takes with traditional marketing.
So with traditional methods it would take a few months to figure out if a marketing campaign works or not.
With Digital, you can find out in two days. If it isn’t working you can analyze and tweak it. See what’s working or not, fix things and test it again. If it’s working, you can scale it.
Every piece of digital marketing has it’s own place.
Can you speak about ROI with digital marketing?
I’m very big on ROI. You want to spend $1 dollar and try to get $20 in profit.
Paid advertising, PPC, and Adwords has a place. It can be a very quick way to test your ad campaign. You can refine your offering and see the demand for it. Then you can scale it, if you’ve done it correctly. Say you’re spending $10 to get $20 in return. Then you can spend $1,000 and get $2,000, maybe $100,000 to get $200,000 back.
SEO can give you a lot of credibility. Most people trust organic searches. They think that you are a real trustworthy company if you’re on the first page of Google.
In terms of long term return on investment, nothing beats SEO. Because with SEO your initial costs are the same, but rates of return can dramatically increase. For example, say you spend $1,000 a month on SEO for the first 3 months and you don’t see any return. Then in 6 months you get $1,000 a month, 12 months you get $3,000 a month, after 2 years you may see over $10,000 a month. But your costs stays the same.
That’s what happened with the transcription company we started. We were just testing SEO. After 3 years the returns were amazing. It was a crazy number like 60 times ROI.
Every marketing process and component has it’s place.
What about Social Media and mobile marketing?
The best part about social media marketing is that you can really reach your niche market by targeting demographics.
PPC like Google Adwords really lets you target geography, very accurately.
Social media lets you target geography, but on top of that, you can target your niche as closely as you want.
Video marketing is a whole new area. There are so many people watching videos. When people watch videos, they are very engaged, so the conversion rates are higher on video.
Mobile is another critical area. Everybody can find you on mobile, but how do you convert them? That’s a whole different strategy. The psychology of people browsing the internet on mobile vs desktop is key. Mobile behavior is very different from desktop.
Digital marketing just used to be about SEO a long time back. Then they added PPC. Now there are several different channels and components to it.
Back when I was leading marketing for corporate companies, we didn’t say we are in “TV marketing.” Nobody ever said, “We’re in television marketing.”
We looked at our marketing strategy with the bigger picture in mind. Where is the role of TV in our marketing? The role of radio, print, and direct mail in our marketing campaign?
You must understand that there is a difference between Marketing Strategy and Marketing Channels.
Television is a marketing channel, not a marketing strategy. Strategy is the whole picture, the message you’re trying to get across, the response you want to generate, the specific targets you want to send your message to. The strategy, message, and the way you advertise is much more important than the channel you use.
It is the same way with Digital Marketing. When people say they do Facebook ads or Social Media Marketing, it is like saying they do Television Marketing. Facebook is just a marketing channel to promote your message.
Here are some examples:
Say someone creates a blog article to get on the first page of Google:
Strategy = SEO
Content = The blog post
Channel = The business website and Google
Or you create a video to spread on Facebook:
Strategy = Advertising (sending your message)
Content = The video itself
Channel = Facebook
So depending on the business, you want to figure out which channels to focus on. SEO, PPC, Adwords, Social Media, or Content Marketing. Of course you must have the strategy first and know what you’re trying to accomplish.
What is your message?
Who is your target audience?
What is the response you want to generate?
Is it for branding and getting your name out? Or to get a direct sale?
There are many things to consider.
Reputation management has also become a very big piece nowadays.
You can do everything to get in front of the customer when they’re searching for you, but if you don’t have a great reputation, you’ll loose them anyways. You won’t get any conversions.
Two years ago, Google made it very clear they look at reputation. They look at reviews as one of the signals in rankings.
So if your reputation is not very high, you wouldn’t show up on Google searches. Even from an SEO perspective, your reputation is very important.
How does written Content or blogs on your website affect SEO?
There are many component of SEO. We don’t know the exact formula. Nobody fully knows what signals Google uses for page rankings.
But we know that content on your website is one of the signals Google uses.
It used to be that just writing content or blogging on your website would help a lot for SEO. Now it’s more complicated.
The idea now is not just to blog, but to have a wide following. You need an audience, people that actually see and comment on your content.
For example, if you’re blogging about Dental Implants, just writing content on Implants will not boost your ranking on Google for Dental Implants. However, if your blog is getting shared or people are posting your Article on their Social Media, it will boost it.
Or if your written blog or Article is featured and published on other websites, Google will use that as a signal and help with your ranking.
Google’s algorithms are always changing, it’s a moving target.
Every year we attend SMX, an advanced SEO conference. Every time you go, the google people will tell us what’s been changed for the year and what affects rankings.
It used to be if you had tons of content on your website, then Google would rank you highly.
But it’s not just content. It’s about the type and quality of the content. If Google thinks you’re spamming and just focusing on keywords, Google will downgrade you. You can even get penalized for having too much improper content.
Having other people talk about you is becoming more and more important, rather than you just talking about yourself. It’s important that your content gets shared by others.
How does your Reputation affect SEO?
Google has many signals they use for page rankings and they use online reviews as one of them. So if you don’t have online reviews, it can hurt with your ranking on Google. Aside from SEO, your reputation is very important in helping to grow your business.
Every business should manage their reputation. The only business that can do without it are large corporations or established brands like Nike. But even then, they are active on social media, trying to get “Likes” on Facebook. Because when you click “Like“, you automatically join their group and they can directly promote their products to you.
It doesn’t take a lot to build your reputation online. If you get ten or more reviews, your trustworthiness is already over 90 percent. Meaning, that 90% of the people don’t care if you have 10 or 100 reviews.
Reputation management is becoming more important now because Google and Yelp have announced that they are going to start removing older reviews. Right now, you can see reviews written a few years back on Yelp. But as a business owner, you need to stay fresh with current reviews. A review written 5 years ago won’t have as much credibility as one written a day ago.
Reputation management is already a big deal online and it will only become bigger and bigger in the future.
End Part 1 – Continue Part 2 on Reputation Management
Ajay Prasad is a marketing expert, successful business strategist and serial entrepreneur. He has lead marketing teams in organizations ranked among the top 10 of Fortune 500 companies.
His areas of expertise include online business entrepreneurship, internet strategy, digital marketing, business development, research and market analysis, and strategic planning for enterprise software and consumer marketing.
Ajay is the president and founder of GMR Web Team, a top digital marketing agency that helps businesses increase revenue through the internet. He also owns and operates GMR Transcription, a seven-figure web based business and award winning transcription company. His latest online business is RepuGen, an online Reputation Management company that helps professional service provider manage and gain positive reviews.