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This New Book Will Become Your #1 Digital Marketing Reference – Guaranteed!

A bit over a year ago a bloke named Kevin Quinn reached out to me.

Kevin had been selling information products online for a few years and felt that his learning curve had been so steep. After all, he’d had to learn how to run ads, create products, SEO, social media, create sales pages, write emails, network online etc etc. None of us are born knowing how to do all these things, and Kevin was no exception.

Kevin had this idea that instead of trying to learn each of these disciplines on his own, he would find an expert in each area and ask them to tell him their best strategies. But given how many things you need to know how to do for online marketing to work, that was going to cost tens of thousands of dollars in consulting fees.

It would have been a huge expense, and the problem with consulting is you can forget everything you’ve been told if you don’t get a chance to apply it immediately. Consulting with experts can be a HUGE expense, but it’s still much better than the alternative (figuring it all out on your own).

Kevin didn’t have tens of thousands to spend, so he had to get creative.

Instead of giving up on his idea, he figured “well what if each expert wrote down what to do, and then I could refer back to it when I needed it?”. And then it occurred to him, other people needed this too. He could share the information rather than keeping it all to himself!
The Entrepreneur's Playbook

The Book Was Born

Kevin reached out to 30 experts in their fields and ask them if they would contribute a chapter for a book. I was picked for the chapter on Google Analytics and we all got started.

Well this project certainly snowballed as Kevin discovered more and more fields of expertise that are required knowledge for online entrepreneurs. What started out 30-chapter book, turned into a whopping digital marketing bible with 70 different experts providing their best secrets!

The 70 authors in the book are all experts…(and I know them all!)… they have already gone through the work of launching, scaling and achieving success in their respective fields.

Professionally edited and compiled, this really is the bible you’ve been waiting for.

Just look at all these topics!

Entrepreneurs Playbook Digital Marketing Bible Chapters

The  Entrepreneur’s Playbook has just been released on Amazon in Kindle and Paperback formats May 2021 and I’d love you to benefit from it too.

Personally, what I find exciting about this book is that it is 100% actionable. Each one of the authors is an expert in their field so you can explore each topic without all the fluff you see online these days.

Other online marketing books are written by people who have experience in just one piece of the puzzle and so you end up needing to buy 70 different books to understand all these topics. The people who claim to cover everything are either lying, or just don’t give good advice. Afterall, who can be the expert on everything?

Buy a copy of the Entrepreneur’s Playbook today!

PS. Profits From This Book Benefit Operation Underground Railroad. You can Learn More At www.ourrescue.org.

PPS. Many of the authors have supplied bonuses which you will get for free when you buy the book. In combination, these bonuses are worth thousands of dollars. You can get them all in one place rather than having to sign up for them all separately, literally saving you hours!

This Week on The Freelancers Show

TFS 388: Creating Proposals That Actually Work

December 22nd

Petra describes some of the failings she used to have with her proposals and how she turned it all around. Petra now uses several savvy sales techniques in her proposals, but you wouldn’t know because the proposal process is very customer-centric. In this podcast episode she walks you through a successful proposal template that has won her hundreds of thousands of dollars in freelancer business.

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TFS 387: Smart Traffic Generation for Freelancers with Michael Fleischner

December 2nd

Michael Fleischner, SEO expert, Charles Max Wood, podcasting expert, and Petra Manos, Google Ads expert, discuss the latest tips and tricks for generating high quality traffic to your website. We bust a few myths along the way, so don’t miss this episode if you want to generate traffic.

Visit The Episode Page

TFS 386: How To Get Corporate Gigs and Scale as a Freelancer with Matthew Mottola

November 18th

Matthew Mottola, CEO of Venture L and author of The Human Cloud, shares his insights into working as a freelancer as part of a larger corporation. He dispels myths about freelancing vs employment, explains why corporations want you, and provides suggestions into how best to present yourself to a hiring manager.

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TFS 384: 7 Mistakes Every Freelancer Needs to Avoid on Their Landing Pages

October 21st

In this episode of The Freelancers Show, Petra walks through several mistakes she sees freelancers and small service providers make on their websites which prevents you from getting good prospects from your website efforts. If you’ve ever spent a lot of time building your website but not seen a return on your website, you might be making one or more of these mistakes as well!

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TFS 383: Focus On What Matters In Your Sales Conversations with Rob Cornilles

October 6th

In this episode of The Freelancers Show, Rob Cornilles and Petra Manos discuss the process of selling authentically so that you can generate more business for yourself without feeling sleazy or salesy. The two focus on an effective method for building and maintaining rapport during a sales conversation, a simple and memorable technique that will get results for both you and your clients.

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TFS 382: Google Analytics for Freelancers

September 29th

What is google analytics and how should I get started with it. Learn about key graphs like traffic reports, pages and how to get started with goals, events and heatmaps.

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TFS 381: Gratitude and Giving to Further Your Freelance Business with Paul Edwards

September 22nd

In this episode of the The Freelancers Show, guest Paul Edwards explains how important it is to connect with executives, influencers and entrepreneurs on a personal level by asking them valuable questions and connecting them with resources. The laws of reciprocity create success for those who use them. He describes how his business went from 0 to $60,000 in just a few months by following a “give first” mindset.

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TFS 380: The Power of Focus From Ideation to Creation with Alex Sanfilippo

September 15th

In this episode of The Freelancers Show, Alex Sanfilippo, Joel and Petra discuss how to focus ideas and actions in order to come up with products and services that your customers actually want. The same focus, when applied to the creation of the products and services, will propel you forward, even if you don’t have a lot of spare time..

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TFS 378: From Startups to Freelancing with Jay Clouse

September 1st

In this episode of The Freelancers’ Show, we talk with Jay Clouse about some of the adventures he’s had on his path to freelancing. In college Jay had the idea that you’d have one career and possibly one job until retirement so you’d better pick wisely. There’s a whole other world out there of startups, freelancing, and so many ways to make your path.

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TFS 377: Using Email Newsletters To Stay In Touch With Prospects with Michael Katz

August 18th

Michael Katz walks the panelists through his strategies for staying in touch with prospects through the use of email newsletters. Storytelling is key here, and so Michael suggests ways to weave stories through your correspondence in order to make your content more personable and entertaining.

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TFS 376: The Danger of One with Jason Montoya

August 5th

In this episode of The Freelancers’ Show, the panelists and guest, Jason Montoya discuss the problems with having just one of anything, and other factors that lead to fragility for your business. We discuss how the current COVID-19 pandemic has exposed those weaknesses for some, and how we’ve dealt with them.
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TFS 374: Overcoming the Corona Slump with Jim Huffman

July 7th

Jim Huffman, Petra Manos, and Joel Schaubert discuss how they’ve handled downturns in business due to Coronavirus and how they’ve been able to turn them around. Jim’s company focuses on conversion rate optimization. Jim’s company was growing and hiring until Coronavirus hit in March. Petra discusses her similar experience with clients cutting costs. They discuss how they did the work to turn things around.
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TFS 373: Remote Work with William Gant

June 30th

Will Gant, author of Remote Work joins the panel to talk about working from home and working outside of the client’s office. He and the panel share their experience with working through the challenges, benefits, and methods of working remotely.
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TFS 372: Getting started with YouTube with John Sonmez

July 28th to 31th

How to get started in YouTube for an absolute beginner.
John lays out a path from picking a topic, to editing, to promoting your YouTube content..
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TFS 371: Content Marketing with Google Display Ads

Jun 16th 2020

Petra has been working to get blog traffic growth through the traditional social media and email marketing. She tried out promoting her blog posts with Google display ads and retargeting them to get them to come back. She outlines the details in a blog post and then walked the panel through her process.
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TFS 370: Staying Relevant on Social Media with Italina Kirknis

Jun 9th 2020

Italina Kirknis has been running a social media management company for the last 8 years. She talks to the panel about how to frame the conversation, how to be vulnerable, and how to increase your reach and stay relevant on social media.
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TFS 368: How to do Personalized & Relevant Ecommerce Marketing with Rytis Lauris

May 26th 2020

Rytis Lauris joins the panelists of The Freelancers Show to discuss the use of automation tools that can personalize your contact with visitors on your website.
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TFS 367: Bookkeeping and Finances with Paul Kogan

May 19th 2020

Paul Kogan from LessAccounting joins the Freelancers’ Show panel this week to discuss bookkeeping and finances. They discuss bookkeeping, hiring a bookkeeper, what to look for in your finances, taxes, and much more…
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TFS 366: How to Go Freelance when You’ve Been Laid Off with Scott Jones

May 12th 2020

Scott Jones is the author of The Free Agent Mindset. He talks us through building a list of your skills and building a brand to find clients if you’ve been laid off and decide to go freelance. We also go into other strategies behind building up your new freelance practice.
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TFS 365: Making vs Marketing – Where is Your Freelance Time Spent?

May 5th 2020

The panelists discuss different business approaches for freelancing, and how moving from a model where most of your time is spent implementing for clients into a model where most of your time is spent marketing your business has pros and cons and unexpected challenges.
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TFS 364: Working From Home

Apr 28th 2020

Petra, Joel, and Charles talk about how to get started with and succeed at working from home. All three are veterans of working from home and explain the things that will help you make it work and the things that will make it hard.
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TFS 363: What Do You Do in an Unexpected Downturn

Apr 21st 2020

Petra starts us out talking about some of the clients she has that have needed to pause their work with her. The panel brainstorms on ideas that for dealing with unexpected slowdowns as Petra discusses her approaches to things showing down.
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TFS 362: Healthcare Hacks with Scott Heiser

Apr 14th 2020

Scott Heiser joins the panel to talk about healthcare hacks for freelancers. We start out joking about the COVID-19 quarantine situation. Healthcare and health insurance turns out to be a major headache for freelancers because it’s usually tied to employment. ObamaCare got mentioned and discussed. Petra chimes in with the situation in Australia. Listen in to learn how you can make freelancing less painful on this particular front.
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TFS 361: Moving in and out of Freelancing with Will Bunker

Apr 7th 2020

This week’s guest of The Freelancers’ Show, Will Bunker has had a long career in programming and has moved several times between freelancing and full time work. We discuss how he finds clients, his strategy for getting referrals, and how he spots what the next 5-7 year wave of popular technology will be and how he prepares for it. We also discussed a non-niche approach to being a freelancer and what kind of person might enjoy that and how to be successful at it.
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TFS 360: Time Tracking and Billing with Marc Summe

Mar 31st 2020

Marc Summe and the freelancing panel discuss the ins and outs of tracking time and billing for your time. Time tracking seems deceptively simple, but it gets complicated when you actually try to do it. You also have to decide what you are tracking time for and billing for and how to get your timesheet transferred to an invoice. This episode will answers all your questions about how to track your time and get paid for it.
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TFS 359: Don’t Do Hourly Billing with Mike Volkin

Mar 24th 2020

Mike Volkin joins the panel to discuss the pros and cons to hourly billing. The panel discusses their challenges with value based and fixed-price pricing and get recommendations from Mike and the rest of the panel.
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TFS 357: Pros and Cons of Hiring Remote Help for Freelancers with Petra Manos

Mar 10th 2020

Petra Manos joins the Freelancers’ Show to talk about hiring and managing remote workers and subcontractors. Petra runs a consultancy that manages Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager, and Google Ads. She hires and manages people to help manage the workload for her clients. Chuck has also hired VA’s. The panel dives into the ins-and-outs of growing teams, hiring consultants, and working with people who don’t necessarily start out with the skills you need.
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Google Display Is My Nr. 1 Content Distribution Strategy

5 Reasons Why Google Display Is My #1 Content Distribution Strategy [Updated July 2020]

The problem with “traditional” ways of getting traffic to a blog…

I’ve been blogging for more than three years now, and if you have ever run a blog you would know the frustrations of creating content and then having to spend even more time on distributing it. There’s nothing more disheartening than spending all your time creating content and then sharing it on social and getting maybe two or three views, one of which is your mother and the other is your mother-in-law.

I tried using VAs from the Philippines to distribute my content via social automation software (I use Smarterqueue) but despite investing in a very thorough process and about $100-200 a week AUD on humans who would add it to the software, emails, direct to social where needed etc, blogging and sharing via social media returned meager results. I doubt I even broke even in terms of new business generated compared to the costs of maintaining and promoting my blog. And don’t even ask me about my attempts to optimize my posts for SEO – for a business of my size it didn’t move the needle even a fraction.

I almost gave up on blogging as a marketing channel (good thing I didn’t, or I wouldn’t be sharing this now!), but I must admit that I really enjoy creating value for others. I am very introverted so I take naturally to writing. I realised that there is a very real cost in hiring VAs to distribute my content, so if I moved the cost for doing that into a paid medium instead then it would cost the same. I was interested to know if I would get more traffic, more readers, more subscribers and more clients if I distributed via a paid channel rather than trying to persist with organic channels. Since I manage Google Ads for my clients, that seemed the most natural place to start as I can test and develop new strategies on my own account.

And here’s what the content marketing display ads look like.

A client of mine spotted these two ads while he was singing Frozen II songs with his daughter:

Content Marketing Display Ads Google Ads

Another client discovered this one while he was reading The Wall Street Journal:

I’m so glad I started distributing my blog posts this way. Google Display is now my #1 content distribution platform, and I have discovered some really interesting results. Let me share them with you.

PS. I run a small boutique agency and most of my clients come via referral. I only spend $100-300 AUD per month on Display advertising (up to $200 USD), so numbers are based on this small monetary investment. Like anything, you get what you put in, so if you put in a higher or lower investment then you’ll get a different result.

Here are five big results I have got since using this as my content marketing distribution method.

1) I now have a lot more returning traffic

I’ve created and studied enough analytics reports for my clients to know that purchases are usually made by returning visitors, not first time visitors (unless you’re selling inexpensive consumer products). So one of my criteria for success from content marketing via Display marketing was not just how much traffic came, but did those people read the content and did they come back to read more? My answer to that was a resounding YES. Currently, 20% of my display visitors are returning to read my blog again, and I expect that to increase as remarketing becomes my largest audience.

The Quantified Web Display Traffic vs Other Traffic › What of Display Traffic Returns

I wondered if perhaps users were coming back via other channels rather than coming back via Display, but no, the Display remarketing works the best to bring people back to my website compared to any other channel where they can find me. Here is a graph of all my returning users over the past two years and which channels they came from. (I’m only targeting people in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and USA so I’ve narrowed the traffic to these locations).

I only started doing Google Display advertising late last year, but this is by far now the best channel that I have for getting clients to return to my website. I believe they are returning because I am distributing my content through the channel, not just trying to send people to the same sales page over and over like many businesses do. Organic Search and Email, the channels that are normally highly prized by marketers, are bringing in much less return traffic for me.

The Quantified Web Display Traffic vs Other Traffic › Which Channel Repeat Users Returning

And how many times are these users returning via Display? Well again, the stats show that Display is building a loyal readership base faster than any other channel. In the small time since I started using Display for content marketing I’ve brought in the same number of single sessions compared to all other marketing channels combined, but the story changes when you look at returning visitors. People are returning 2 or 3 times via Display marketing much more often then they are returning 2 or 3 times from all other channels. Once I’ve been doing this another year I’m expecting to see many more people returning 4, 5, 6 or more times as long as I keep mixing up the content being shared.

The Quantified Web Display Traffic vs Other Traffic › Number of Sessions(2)

All up I think that content marketing via Display has proven to be an excellent way to bring return traffic back to my website so that I can develop a relationship over time.

2) The people coming from Display are actually consuming my content

Now I might need to update this graph after a few more months, but from April I’ve started asking Google to find me readers, not just traffic. As long as you have more than 100 Google Ads conversions a month you can pay per conversion instead of per click. I set a conversion for my content marketing as users who stay for more than a minute in April 2020, and so now I only pay if they stay. This is a great strategy because Display gets a bad rap for having a high bounce rate. Well its not an issue if you only pay for the people who don’t bounce!

I’m only targeting people in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and USA so I’ve narrowed the traffic to these locations for this graph.

The Quantified Web Display Traffic vs Other Traffic › Readers(1)

PS. In case you’re wondering if people are just leaving their tab open and it’s counting as a minute, I’ve only included people who are still actively moving their mouse or scrolling the page after a minute. I installed custom tracking for this.

It’s even more dramatic when you consider only the users who spent more than a minute interacting AND who visited a sales funnel page:

The Quantified Web Display Traffic vs Other Traffic › Readers Who Visited Sales Funnel

3) The people coming from Display are sharing my content and offers

I’ve only just set up my own analytics tracking for measuring shares in April (yes very slack I know, since I do this for my clients) so I don’t have a long time period to show you on this yet, but I realised I needed to measure it when I saw how well Google Ads display marketing works for getting shares when used with content marketing. Here are some examples of pages that I am currently only marketing through Display advertising. Please note, while these numbers look small I only started with Display recently, and I have not established an audience yet so these are from cold traffic.

To boost shares, and therefore add SEO juice and social proof, you can get faster results by putting a small portion of your budget onto low cost traffic like users from India or Africa. This traffic is very inexpensive and so there are more opportunities for finding users who will share.

Here is an example of sharers from all locations so that you can see which locations are more likely to share and whether they are sharing from Display or from other marketing channels. You’ll see that Display traffic on the left are overwhelmingly sharing compared to non-Display on the right. I’m spending only $30 AUD a month on the sharing campaign, but the social proof and SEO value is likely much more valuable.

The Quantified Web Display Traffic vs Other Traffic › Sharers(3)

Meanwhile, here are some screenshots of real pages with share counts so you can see the kinds of landing pages that are being shared:

Ecommerce Google Analytics(2)

Guaranteed Step By Step Process For Resolving Google Analytics Problems

Before moving onto the next topic, its worthwhile mentioning that in four weeks since initially publishing this article, the number of shares on each of these pages doubled.

I checked whether all the shares really do add to SEO. Its early days yet, but I would argue yes, definitely. Here is the Search Console report for my Google Analytics Cheat Sheet which has been shared the most. The purple line shows the number of impressions per day for these keywords and the orange line shows my average organic ranking. So you can see that at the time of writing my cheat sheet has moved improved in average position. As a page’s position becomes lower and lower towards position 1-10, the number of organic impressions and clicks should increase dramatically because so few people check further than the first page of Google. I don’t get clicks for it yet because people are not searching on page 6, that’s for sure.

SEO Google Analytics Cheat Sheet

4) The people coming from Display are subscribing for emails

One of the reasons why I started Display advertising for my content marketing in the first place was I was frustrated that I didn’t have enough email subscribers. Organic marketing seems so slow. I like the idea of being able to share content with a reader base, and so when my email list was growing at a glacial pace I wanted to do something about it.

The jury isn’t really out yet in terms of subscribers as I discovered a bug in my tracking for subscribers and I had to start that metric over in June 2020. So far, Display isn’t the best for subscribers, but it surprises me to see that, as I used to get 1-5 subscribers a month and since introducing Display I now get 1-2 subscribers a day. I think that more people are referring me, and referrals are becoming subscribers whereas the Display traffic is returning via Display.

The Quantified Web Display Traffic vs Other Traffic › Likely Subscribers

5) I have started getting more sales and referrals

Now a caveat on this one, I haven’t been able to confirm whether sales or referrals are attributed directly to my Display marketing activity, but this is what I observed nonetheless.

Display advertising is a little bit like an iceberg – you see the clicks to your website, but the impressions are free and are making a difference to your business as well. If you re-market to people who already know you, they’ll be reminded of you, even if they don’t click the ad.

Once I started content marketing via Google Ads Display I started to get a lot more referrals all of a sudden. Now these referrers were all people I had met before, so not brand new people, but they remembered me and mentioned they had clients and friends who needed my help.

Then I also had brand new prospects who reached out to me out of the blue via email or phone. I didn’t know where they had come from, and when I asked how they first found out about me they said they weren’t sure, but they had been to my website several times and they liked the fact that I seemed to know what I was doing.

It might be a coincidence, but at the same time as getting more referrals and leads than usual I also saw my sales conversion rates increase significantly. I’m not sure that this has anything to do with Display marketing since there are too many variables at play here (the quality of the referral, improvements in how I describe my services etc).

Concluding Thoughts

Previously, I was using Display for advertisers who sold retail goods, and other products and services direct to individual consumers, I would have never used it for B2B businesses unless they were having trouble scaling through other methods. But since I have started using it for my own business I realised that it is incredibly powerful for B2B as well. These days I would not hesitate to use Display advertising for B2B, especially in industries with high Google Ads Search CPCs, or where there are high trust requirements before people sign themselves up as a lead. The key though is you need to have a sales funnel in place, not just create display ads for “awareness”.

I’m now spending less money than I ever did when I hired VAs to distribute my content (probably about half) but my results have significantly improved. I would not hesitate to recommend Google Display for content marketers. There are still plenty of thought experiments that I am running as I attempt to whittle this into a really efficient process. Namely:

[random_thrive_leads]

1) What is the best type of Google Ads Display banner for content marketing? (At this stage all my experiments are pointing to Responsive Display, although mixing it up with some higher quality banners is a nice idea)

2) What is the most efficient process for setting up Display for content marketing? (I’ve created a process – would anyone be interested in a small course on this?)

3) What is the best bidding mechanism and conversion set to use for content marketing? (I’m currently favouring pay per conversion where a conversion is a 1 minute reader, sharer or subscriber)

4) How can I ensure that content is distributed evenly, rather than showing the same person the same ad multiple times? (This has been a pain as Google shows some ads more than others. I’ve been setting per ad per user impression limits and rotate content evenly to try to stop Google favouring some content over others, but still Google prefers some content)

5) Is there a benefit to keeping the marketing local to increase local referrals, or is there a benefit to spending money on international audiences outside my customer set who might share my content? (I am feeling that these are both beneficial, but need more data!)

6) What is the ideal frequency to show content to my audience? (This is a little hard to test, but is on my list of things to look into)

7) Are blog posts worthwhile distributing via a paid medium, or is is better to create lots of landing page offers with downloadables? (Still investigating, but my feeling is that referrers read some of the blog content, so it is worthwhile promoting articles)

8) What is the Lifetime Value of a member of my remarketing audience, and therefore how much can I afford to spend each year to add one new person to my remarketing list? (Still investigating over time, but this will be different for each marketer)

9) Does cold traffic or remarketing provide a better ROI from Paid? (This isn’t as obvious as it seems, remarketing traffic can become a list of readers who don’t take action if you’re not careful).

10) What kind of advertising copy works best on Display ads for Content Marketing? (To sell or not to sell, that is the question)

11) Is it better to target small niches and small custom intent audiences, or is it better to go broad? (I have a tendency towards niche targeting, but I am also testing broad audience where I only pay for results and I am interested to see how the data turns out as Google’s AI would then do the targeting for me and might even do a better job)

12) If I promote via Display and people share my content, will my organic traffic and subscribers go up as well? (I’m interested to see the answer to this)

There are many other questions going through my head all the time as I’m always creating and testing my thought experiments.

Since I specialise in Google Marketing I can set up this kind of campaign for you if you want the same kinds of results as me. I’ve typically specialised in B2C (transactional) websites rather than service based / lead generation sites, but I might turn this into an extra service or a course. Please write a comment below with your thoughts if you’d like to learn more.

Interactive Google Marketing Checklist

New Product! Interactive Google Marketing Checklists

Hi guys, Petra Manos here with a quick story for you.

I wanted to share with you this story so you can understand the reason I created these checklists [see offer below] and why I am sharing them with you.

When I first started The Quantified Web, I offered analytics services (now we specialise in Google Ads + Analytics).

As it turned out, these services were quite repetitive to deliver, but at the same time very complicated to execute. If I did it slightly differently one day to the next I would easily discover errors that I had to go back and fix. Or even worse, I would make mistakes without even realising.

I was always scared I would make a mistake as I am a bit of a perfectionist.

I hated to admit it, but I wasn’t making any money as a freelancer either. I felt like I was constantly broke. There were times that I literally had nothing in my business bank account and I was praying for receivables.

My work was taking too long to execute as it was so complicated, and I wasn’t being paid for all those hours of learning how to do things the hard way (trial and error).

At the same time, my client-base was steadily growing and I needed to invest in a team to prevent burn-out. I refused to let go of the quality of my workmanship but I definitely couldn’t afford an experienced team member!

It felt like a chicken and egg situation, I could barely pay myself, so how could I hire someone experienced.

I had to somehow teach the nitty gritty of exactly what I do and how I do it to people who were not experts in the subject already. I brought on team members from Latvia, Ukraine and Sweden. They were not in the same time zone as me and we only had a few hours per day for training.

For the first year of having a team, I turned literally everything I did into checklists. My bookkeeper kept pointing out that I wasn’t making any money having a team and that I needed to pay myself more. Every dollar I earned I re-invested into writing checklists, and I paid myself a pittance. I think my husband worried we were going to lose our house. Thank goodness he had faith in me.

The thing is, I was never going to give up. I have experienced several personal tragedies in my life, and the one thing they taught me is that you need to keep moving towards what you want to achieve that is good in the world.

I would perform each task and capture my screen on video. My team member would then watch the video and write it into a checklist. I would review the checklist and edit it, and then my team member would try to do the task from the checklist without my help. If any mistakes were made we’d fix them, try to work out what didn’t make sense, fix the checklist and move on. Each checklist took many hours and many iterations to finalize.

And then something magical happened!

It happened slowly at first, but magically I was able to delegate tasks that could be done with a checklist to my team members. They were able to complete work at the highest standard, work that I would have typically done myself, but without me needing to get involved other than to review it or correct the occasional error in the procedure.

My library of checklists had converted ideas that were rattling around loose in my brain, into actionable, concrete steps that could be implemented by anyone! It was so exciting.

As a result of these checklists my revenue increased by 5X in the third year of my business and my personal take-home income increased by 3X. I’m no longer worried about money, in fact I have saved enough to pay my assistant for six months if we went through lean times.

My data-focused methods are proven to increase revenue for my clients, and I am able to serve more people. Our clients are making more and more revenue in their businesses and referring me to their friends.

I could have just stopped there and kept these secrets all to myself, but truly I am a generous person and I like to be able to serve others. I started paying out of my own pocket to advertise my blog and give back to my wider community.

These published checklists are an extension of that. I have put a nominal fee on them because I need to pay to have the screenshots scrubbed of any client data. There is a real cost in writing and maintaining them.

Other than that, I am essentially giving them away for you to use. I would like to do my bit to make the world a better place, by giving others the ability to action and understand their Google marketing.

Goodness knows we could do with some better documentation out there when it comes to Google. You know what I mean right? 🙂

If you’re anything like me you would find the idea of a whole library full of proven systems and checklists to be terribly exciting, and the good news is I plan to bare all to you, if you stick along for the ride!


Profitable Way How To Remarket Sized Products

A Highly Profitable Way to Remarket if you Sell Sized Products [eg. Shoes, Clothing] From Your Website

Here’s a profitable idea for anyone that sells sized items like shoes or clothing. I mentioned this remarketing strategy in my book, Ecommerce Google Analytics and it doesn’t fail to disappoint! I used it with success on a client account recently, so I would like to describe the strategy in more detail.

One of my clients sells shoes. In this case, her shoes have a standardized fit so her customers know that any future purchases will fit the same. This is quite handy, because if you’re like me and you have long narrow feet, or you rarely fit in a standard-sized shoe, you know you would never order multiple pairs of shoes online unless you were certain that they would fit. When I saw her product range I immediately came to the conclusion that people would buy one or two pairs initially and then keep coming back for more every time they needed a new pair of shoes.

The thing with shoes and clothes is that you never really know when someone needs or wants more. They might buy another pair in a year, or a month, or a week! Everyone has different tolerances for how long they are willing to wear an item before they need or want another one. When it comes to kids shoes and clothes, someone might repurchase the moment they know an item fits, and then buy one in every colour or even buy up stock in future sizes.

For these reasons, remarketing is an incredibly powerful strategy when selling clothing and shoes. It reminds people of all the great items they don’t have yet that they might like to wear right now, and if they loved your brand the first time it is natural that they will want to buy from you again and again.

But here is where the strategy differs from just standard remarketing – when it comes to items with a size, people almost never want a different size to the size they know fits them, right? (OK, yes we’ve all been there and bought the size up after an indulgent all-you-see-you-can-eat vacation, but I’m talking about the majority of the time here).

Have you ever clicked on an ad for something you immediately loved and wanted to buy, only to feel really disappointed when that item was out of stock in your size? I know I have and I know it happens to other people. When that happens, even though you know its not the retailers fault, a little bit of you inside feels resentful that someone else gets those amazing shoes or pretty dress in their size, but you can’t have it. If you feel that resentment often enough with the same retailer, you learn not to go back to that retailer because you don’t want to face that disappointment next time.

So what we want to do, is remarket items that are in-stock in your customer’s size! Simple as that. It makes people feel great when they see that the item they love can be theirs right now, and it puts them in the buying kind of mood that you want if you’re a retailer.

What I did was pull the sizes of each shoe into a custom label using feed rules. In other words all shoes in size 39 were grouped together, all shoes in size 40, etc. You can see the shoes in stock in size 43 in the image below.

Adding size as a label into merchant center

Then, with the help of Google Tag Manager, I created a remarketing list for people who added added to the cart in a particular size. I.e. everyone who ever added a size 39 to their cart were in one remarketing list, everyone who ever added a size 40 in a separate remarketing list, etc. I made these long-term lists, i.e. Google’s maximum term of 540 days, because you just never know when someone wants to buy shoes.

Once 100 people were in any particular remarketing list we could use it for display remarketing!

By filtering down the product list to the products with the right size in the label and adding some text to the ads like “Now in size 40”, or “Last sizes in size 40” etc we were able to remarket only the shoes that were in stock in the right size for that customer, and they knew that if they clicked on the image it would take them straight to a shoe that was available in their size. Win, win!

This started getting results straight away.

Important note: When using display campaigns like this, it’s important to use website conversion tags and turn on view-through conversions. This lets you attribute value to Display if someone saw the ad and then purchased after seeing it but never clicked on the ad. (This happens a lot). It’s great when this happens because if the person doesn’t click on the ad, then it doesn’t cost you anything. More about this, in my blog post here.

Since we started using these campaigns, display has been getting a return on ad spend of between 20 to 40 times when taking into account view-through conversions.

Responsive Display AdsWe implemented these ads in two different ways to see which would get the better results. The first way is to use a Responsive Display Ad with a dynamic product feed (left). We did not set parameters to only show shoes that have been viewed by the person, instead we set it up to show any shoes in that size. Each size is in its own campaign, and the copy is added to the Responsive Display ad copy native to this style of advertising.

The other way we implemented the ads was to generate fixed-size dynamic ad banners using Google Web Designer (right). This software software can be a bit tricky to use (actually, its horrible) but unlike Responsive Display Ads, you can completely customize the look of the ad, and make it much more attractive.

Fixed Display AdsWe created a background that pops using Canva by placing a gradient in the client’s brand colors, a nice big logo and big bold text relating to the shoe size. We then arranged dynamic product images onto the ad.

With these kinds of ads I prefer to have white space around the pictures rather than cramming too many pictures together which is sometimes the case with the automatic responsive display ads. You’ll see in the RDA example, Google Ads crammed six pictures into a single ad, whereas in the fixed-size ad we kept it less busy by only using three images.

Something to keep in mind is that Responsive Display ads are cheaper per click then fixed-size ads, and Google gives a lot more impressions to responsive ads then fixed sizes. Even though the responsive ads might not look as nice they will usually perform the best when it comes to Return On Ad Spend, so you’ll need to weigh up which is more important, attractiveness of the ad or financial ROI.

One more tip to keep in mind is you won’t want to hammer people over the head with these ads. They’ll buy from you when they’re looking to buy, showing them your products more often won’t hurry them up, but it might make them annoyed. When I use a long-term remarketing list like this I always limit impressions so that people don’t get sick of them. I’ve set these ads to limit to no more than 15 impressions per user each month.

Do you sell sized-items like this? If so, have you found any interesting techniques for remarketing them that I haven’t covered here? If so, please comment below!

How to 5X Google Shopping Results

How to 5X Your Google Shopping Results When Selling in a Broad Market

A client of mine sells handbags. When I first started working on the account their Return On Ad Spend (ROAS) was so low that they were making a loss from their advertising.

Literally they were making $.50 from every dollar they spent on ads, and then they still had to ship the product!

One of the first things I did was look to see what search terms were being used when someone transacted. For this client, I could see the people who were buying were either searching for the client’s brand name, or they were searching for soft leather handbags or boho/bohemian handbags.

The problem with Shopping Campaigns is that Google chooses which search terms to show up for. Naturally Google can’t be right all of the time, and so you tend to show up in the Shopping feed for a lot of irrelevant searches. This is fine if you are in a tiny niche that hardly anyone searches for, but a huge problem if you’re in a big broad category like bags, apparel, shoes etc!

My client was showing up for all sorts of other brands and other styles of bags. Since bags are a very common search word this meant lots of irrelevant traffic.

Don’t assume people will only click on your ad if they want to buy your product. They’ll click on it because it looks nice, or they want to compare it to something else, or they’ll just click on it by accident. The less relevant the Shopping search term, the lower the conversion rate, simple as that.

Listen up closely. If you have a limited budget, you can’t afford to attract all of those clicks to your website. It’s like trying to surf a tsunami.

If you have a small budget (or any size budget really, if you’re in a broad category) you might as well only allow the people searching with relevant terms to see your ad, so that you’re not overwhelmed with poor quality traffic. You don’t want to pay for clicks from people who are not likely to purchase from you, right?

If you allow your ad to be shown to every man and his dog, then you will run out of daily budget by breakfast time and you won’t show up for the searches that really count.

It’s much better to limit the number of search terms that can trigger your Shopping ads down to only the best terms and max out your budget on those terms before broadening out your keywords.

Unfortunately Google goes broad by default, and wastes your money. 🙁

Not only that, but Google Shopping campaigns do not let you specify keywords that you want to target! Unsuspecting Google Ads users get swept into the clickfest tsunami and if they get a bad result they assume that Google Ads just doesn’t work for them.

(It’s not true.) There are a few tricks that you can use to work around this and get much, much better results.

How would you feel if you got say 5X better return on your investment? Think it’s not possible? Read on.

Your Negative Search Term List

While you can’t select particular keywords that you do want to target, if you use manual Shopping campaigns you can select keywords that you want to exclude. The trick here, is that you need to be really specific with what you want to exclude so that you don’t accidentally exclude good searches.

The way to do that is to specify your negative search term as an ‘exact match’ keyword. An exact match means that it will only be excluded if the phrase is typed in exactly how are you have specified it. So for example if someone searches for Oroton handbag and you want to exclude that specific term, you would exclude the whole term as an exact match keyword.

Exact match is designated in Google ads by square brackets around the phrase, for example [fake leather handbag], or [oroton handbag].

If you sell products in a broad category you will quickly find that Google Shopping comes up with literally thousands of search terms, of which only a small number may be truly relevant.

Applying all those search terms as negative keywords is extremely cumbersome if done one at a time! Since most people only know how to exclude them one at a time, the majority of people don’t do it properly. This is why they don’t get the best results from Google Shopping.

So don’t do it one at a time. Export all the keywords from the past year into a spreadsheet, convert them all into exact match keywords using a data manipulation in the spreadsheet or text editor, take out the terms you want to keep, and voilà you have a long list of negative exact match keywords to add to your shopping campaigns.

Add all of your negative keywords to a big long list in Google Ads and then then you can apply them to any campaign you like.

If you have a small budget, you should have a lot of negative keywords so that only the best ones use up your ad budget. I.e. 80-95% of all your historical search terms should be added to the negative list!

Keep the ones that are for your brand name, your specific product names, your niche or anything else that is unique and likely to lead to a sale. Exclude the rest.

What if you have a larger budget, or you want to scale up your campaigns past these best keywords?

With a larger budget, you might not want to exclude all of those extra search terms permanently because some of the generic terms will still definitely lead to sales. So in this case, you can run more than one campaign based on the quality of the search term being used and adjust your budgets and bids accordingly.

Even with a larger budget, you’ll still want to max out your daily spend on the most relevant keywords first before spending money on the less relevant keywords.

If you keep your best keywords really tight, you’ll reach a point where you increase your daily budget, but your account doesn’t spend any more money. This is when you know you’re ready to add broad keywords back in.

To do this without undoing all your good work, you can have two campaigns running at the same time. One campaign will be for your best keywords, and one campaign will be for all the other keywords Google comes up with. Even in this broader campaign you’ll still want to exclude really bad keywords. So for example if you sell genuine leather handbags, you’ll want to exclude fake leather, plastic, vinyl etc as keywords permanently.

You’ll want to bid higher and put more budget on the specific keywords campaign as this campaign will get the better ROAS.

(You should see a stark difference between the ROAS of these two campaigns. Feel free to send me a message thanking me when you realise how much money you were leaving on the table that you’re now collecting in your specific keywords campaign!)

In your specific keywords campaign exclude your long list of negatives, and then in your broad keywords campaign let Google choose the search terms as per normal, but exclude your “good” keywords (Also exclude the really bad ones).

Bid lower on each click on this campaign so that you get more traffic since you’ll get a lower conversion rate. Adjust your budgets so that you max out your daily budget on your specific keywords and then set the daily budget on your broad keywords to spend whatever you have left after the best search terms have been prioritized.

This works really great!

I’m using this strategy with great success on my handbags client account, plus many others. Straight away this client’s account started performing five times better then it was before. It started finally making a profit for the client.

There’s still more that can be done on these campaigns to boost the ROAS higher, but 5X higher return overnight isn’t a bad start right?

Before we go I want to briefly mentioned maintenance. This strategy does require some maintenance.

It might be that some of the keywords you selected as highly relevant do not perform well, or some of the keywords you have excluded are actually really fantastic. In these cases you’ll want to switch the keywords between the best keywords and the broad keywords lists as you see fit. You’ll also find that’s some irrelevant keywords still pop into your specific keywords campaign simply because no one had searched for that term before and so you don’t have it excluded. As this happens you can move these keywords onto your broad list and exclude them from your specific keywords campaign.

I do this programmatically which saves me a lot of time and then I can get much more done than if you were doing it yourself. This saves you time and money. If you want some help doing that, just reach out and I can help!

How I got into Google Ads management

How I Got Into Google Ads Management

I was working as a software developer when I decided to quit my job to start a business. I had been creating heat maps to identify threats in cybersecurity data and so I hung up my shingle as an analytics expert, and picked Google Analytics as a platform.

I quickly got my first jobs. They were almost always fixing revenue tracking problems for e-commerce and other transactional websites. These typically included all manner of ecommerce, health clinics, information sales and accommodation.

As well as fixing tracking errors, I specialized in creating analytics reports that would help the owners and managers of these transactional websites to make more profit from their websites.

Interestingly, when it came to the analytics, I discovered that the e-commerce businesses didn’t place a lot of value in the reports, but their marketing agencies did. Most of the businesses large enough to use an analytics specialist were already using an agency for their marketing, and so the owners and managers of these businesses didn’t use the analytics reports or revenue tracking themselves. The agencies would ask me for them, and then use the analytics reports and tracking to improve the Google Ads or SEO results for the client.

This was all well and good, but I quickly discovered that the agencies had a different opinion to mine on how to use the data from the analytics reports! Often the reports would be shelved if it didn’t tell them what they wanted to see, and the insights within never saw the light of day again. It frustrated me to no end. I wanted my clients to get the results I promised when they hired me for analytics, but it felt like I had no control over what my clients and their agencies did with the results.

One day, one of my biggest analytics clients contacted me out of the blue and asked if I would do their Google Ads for them. I had been thinking about learning Google Ads for a while because I noticed it was primarily SEM agencies who requested analytics. I could see how having Analytics and Google Ads in the one service would be really useful. At the time though I had never run Google Ad campaigns for any clients. Also I had been referred this client by a Google Ads agency and didn’t want to step on their toes.

Since I didn’t want to damage my relationship with the agency, and since I was so scared I would botch it, I said a big N-O to my client. The last thing I wanted was a reputation for was being a terrible ads manager, who messed up the accounts after stealing them from the agency!

Despite this, friends started asking me to manage Google Ads for them. I tried out my ideas on a handful of small business clients and I immediately got good feedback from them. My clients told me that no one had ever given them personalized attention or answers to their questions, and they had tried Google Ads agencies before and had made no profit. For the first time, they were starting to make money from their Google Ads!

I didn’t know much about running Google Ads campaigns so I was making it up as I went along and I felt really embarrassed about it. My clients saw me as the expert, but I felt like a fraud. What I was actually doing was generating analytics reports and using those reports to guide their Google Ads strategy. I had no idea if I was doing it “right”. Certainly I didn’t feel like I was doing it “the normal way”.

(It turned out I didn’t need to be so worried because the bar was pretty low. I’ve since seen the bad results some unscrupulous agencies get for their Google Ads clients).

It wasn’t long before my big analytics client who had originally asked me to run their Google ads for them discovered that I was doing Google Ads management after all. Again they asked me to run the ads for them. This time they said they had already decided to leave the agency anyway, so they would either go with me or someone else, but they had made up their mind.

This time I said Yes.

This was no ordinary client. My client managed a large number of hotels and so I literally adopted 20 Google Ads accounts overnight. I went from minimal Google Ads experience to becoming a full-time ads manager. Saying I was nervous was an understatement!

I didn’t want to let my client down so I threw myself into learning everything Google Ads.

My strong suit has always been the analytics and this never fails to benefit my Google ads clients. In this case the agency had not been correctly tracking revenue from the transactions in Google Ads and had not added any audience targeting. These areas were my specializations so we got some quick wins on the board. Within six months my hotels clients were reporting their highest results from Google ads ever.

The client said to me, “We literally had no idea what was working and what wasn’t. Now we can see it clearly!” Since my analytics-based strategies work best with high traffic websites, I quickly specialized in Google Ads for e-commerce and transactional websites so that more businesses could get the benefit in my data-backed approach.

There were a few twists and turns in the road however…. my initial lack of experience with Google Ads came back to haunt me a few times when I made mistakes and had to learn something new. I’ll tell you about those mistakes next time, and how I resolved them and came back stronger.

How to get Google Ads to Manually Review an Ad

How to Get a Disapproved Ad Manually Reviewed by Google

No matter how hard you try, you are occasionally going to have some of your ads disapproved by Google. If its never happened, you must not be creating enough ads!

Here’s a disapproval I got for one of my own ads this week:

disapproved by Google Ads

And here is the ad that was disapproved:

Ecommerce Google Analytics

Now here’s the rub, this other ad was approved! Same landing page, same message.

Ecommerce Google Analytics

In this scenario, they should either be both approved, or both disapproved, but not one in each camp.

There’s a few different things you can do here. One option is to call Google or use their chat support. Personally I don’t recommend this as the first option because sometimes it can take a while to reach a person who can actually help, rather than a person who can take up your time and make it appear that something is happening. I find Google’s phone and chat support to be quite frustrating most of the time.

The better option is to email Google directly, quoting the Google Ads account ID (the 10-digit account code) and the Ad ID. Each ad has an ID that uniquely identifies it. If you can’t find the Ad ID, take a screenshot of the Ad that has been disapproved, or of the disapproval email from Google. Email these details to ads-support@google.com.

You should receive an email within the next day or so letting you know what Google’s position is, and whether they have been able to resolve the disapproval. Google hires a lot of people and they have differing quality of written English, so if the email you receive doesn’t make sense send it back for another review. You should eventually get an email like this one:

google email

Sometimes an ad doesn’t get disapproved, but just doesn’t get impressions. In this scenario, treat it like a pseudo-disapproval and seek support using the same channels as described above. This isn’t always an issue with the ad; it may be an issue with the bidding strategy, so it may be worthwhile in this case speaking to a person over the phone who may shed more light on the situation. If the advice you receive seems unusual, call back and speak to a different person – the advice you receive will differ based on the person answering the phone, and can vary widely in quality.

Now if you’re not sure if you have disapproved ads or not, it is possible to see them all in one place in your Google Ads account, You can click on the Policy Manager and it will show you the list of any problematic ads. Here’s how to get there and what it looks like:

The ones that are listed as Disapproved will not display, and the ones that are listed as Approved (limited) will show limited impressions, and so these should be reviewed or updated as well.

If you do know why your ad has been disapproved and all you need to do is make the change, you might not need to get it manually approved. You can just fix the ad and save it and it will be resubmitted for approval. If you want to hurry things along you can use Google’s approval request form for this purpose: https://support.google.com/google-ads/contact/approval_request

Why I’ve Changed My Mind About Google’s Responsive Display Ads

Why I’ve Changed My Mind About Google’s Responsive Display Ads

It’s not that I didn’t like Responsive Display Ads (in fact, I use them a lot). It’s just that I thought that given the choice, it would be better to have professionally designed banner ads created in popular sizes, rather than use Responsive Display Ads.

Responsive Display Ads are just that, responsive, and as such sometimes the actual ad doesn’t look as compelling, or as on-brand, as an ad that had been put together by a graphic designer. Partly because it is more text based, and partly because Google combines elements algorithmically rather than according to a specified branding requirement. For some of my high-end clients that is a big deal because their brand is so important to them.

So if the client said professionally designed “banner ads only!”, I didn’t argue. I was a bit meh on the Responsive Display Ads anyway, and figured if the client had the banners those would be fine.

But my thoughts on this were re-evaluated when a member of my team pointed out that we really should be running both banner ads and RDA ads at the same time.

“Why?” I asked. It hadn’t really occurred to me to do that. (By the way, this is a good reason why its important to have top-notch people on your team who aren’t afraid to share their opinions!)

She explained to me that because there are so many different banner sizes on the Google Display Network and because the size of the banner being used is the design choice of the hosting website, its not really possible to get all the impressions you might like if you only stick to popular banner sizes.

Furthermore, not many clients have budgets for all the banner sizes. Afterall, creating 10-15 different banner ads is expensive in both graphic design labour and advertising labour, so many clients will only elect for the most popular, or only the sizes they think look the nicest.

Search for “best banner sizes” and you’ll see many blogs espousing a limited set to use. The trouble is, these sizes are the same sizes that the majority of other advertisers go for, so there is a supply / demand disparity for these sizes. An unusual size may cost much less for an impression.
[random_thrive_leads]

So we added both Responsive Display and fixed-size ads to our own display ad groups, to compare them side-by-side. we have our ads set to “rotate indefinitely” rather than to show more impressions of the better performing ad. Despite that, you can see the responsive ad got way more clicks and impressions than the fixed size ads in the supposedly “best performing” sizes.

Here’s an example of one where we included both – note 4X more impressions to the responsive ad than the fixed size ads.

Responsive Display Ads

Here’s another example. In this case the difference between the responsive ad and the fixed size ads were very significant in impressions, clicks, CPC and conversion rates.

Responsive Display Ads

Now to be fair, most of our clients are already using Responsive Display Ads rather than fixed sizes, just due to the ease of setting up the responsive ones if their graphic designer hadn’t supplied fixed sizes. But moving forward, we’ll be suggesting to our clients who insist on giving fixed sizes that we give the responsive ads a go, alongside the fixed sizes, so that we can see how they compare.

Then the client just has to choose what is more important to them – perfect branding, or performance?

The Way I Manage My Agency is Unusual

I Found Out Today That the Way I Manage My Agency is Unusual

Today I was enjoying my usual habit / hobby of listening to a business audio book, today’s pick being Hacking Marketing by Scott Brinker. As soon as I heard the introductory chapter I knew it would be a book that I liked. But as the book went on I became really surprised.

This book describes the similarities between the process of developing software and the process of developing marketing. It then makes the claim that marketers should adopt software development processes, particularly with respect to the management of projects. The book goes into these methodologies in detail, explaining from a perspective of teaching someone who has never been exposed to software development.

Almost the entirety of my professional career has been in software development; in the well funded, male-dominated defense sector. I first learned to manage developers in my university’s Software Development Project subject (that final year killer subject that’s supposed to turn you into a walking zombie) where I self selected to become the CEO of our project team. As it turns out, we won the project and I personally received the highest marks in the class because they had a scaling system based on feedback from your team. My team had all given me the highest rating possible! The joke in software development teams is that managing developers is like “herding cats”, so it translates well to managing remote teams. (Managing remote teams is also like herding cats, but from very far away).

I didn’t let it get to my head and quickly entered the workforce as a software developer. Over the next ten years I was whittled away into a talented yet angry worker bee. I had a knack for solving impossible problems and then for documenting my processes, enabling others to duplicate what I had done. I loved mentoring and supporting the colleagues I worked with, especially my juniors. Unfortunately though I often fought with my bosses about how to do things the right way and I often felt like a victim of gender discrimination in the blokey workplaces. By the end of my career in software I was desperate to get out of there. I considered starting a side business for mentoring women in tech, but in the end I poured all my focus into starting this agency.

Anyway, I still haven’t explained yet why this book surprised me, but at least now you understand a bit of the back story.

The thing was, when I started this agency I had actually never worked a marketing job before in my life. Everything I have learned about marketing I have learned from books, or I learned on the job once I started selling marketing services. Not one to let myself get caught out, I studied and applied like a mad person. I’m analytical, outspoken and I think deeply about everything, so my thought leadership was well respected from the outset. Now, two and a half years on, I have enough business to support myself, and a small team of around six part-time assistants. My assistants help me with Google Tag Manager development, Google Analytics, Google Ads, reporting, procedure writing and admin. For the most part they strictly follow procedures that I designed; with the exception of my senior implementation team who take higher level direction.

I could do it all myself, but I prefer to focus on developing systems and managing and training a team. Afterall, if I just did everything myself, what would happen if I was busy, or sick, or wanted to take on more work?
[random_thrive_leads]
The way my team and I do everything is based on software development management practices. It’s the only way I know! So you can imagine my surprise when the types of things we do as a matter of course are described as a “new way” and as something to aspire to.

One of the software development management concepts I have always been a passionate supporter of is agile / iterative development and continuous improvement. There are several different methodologies, probably one of the most famous ones in recent years being Scrum. Scrum isn’t the only one of its type, but it is one with a catchy name that people can easily remember.

Part of the idea behind these agile processes is that you start throwing features out there, then respond to feedback from your “audience”. (In software development this is either the people who use the software or the person who paid for it. They don’t always have the same wants, but it can get political). You improve the thing and fix bugs as you go. The reason why this is a good approach is you get feedback before you invest in any one feature too heavily, and also it prevents analysis paralysis by logical developer types who will often be happy to debate for hours.

(In a software team, the Alpha developer can often be particularly surly and disagreeable, but is often responsible for 80% of the code written once he or she is in the right mood. It’s good to get out of this person’s way and just let him or her get on with the work rather than engage them in debate.)

I follow a similar process to Scrum, and a similar process to another popular one called Kanban, but I developed my own “style” based on the software tools that were available at my disposal. Basically I do Sprint planning on Mondays in which we do a retrospective of the previous week and plan tasks from a backlog of prioritised tasks. Since we’re implementing for our clients and not just ourselves, we have a backlog for each client, or we pull tasks from all the myriad of email requests that come in throughout the week. I try to take into account the amount of capacity that each member of my team has and assign a week’s worth of work so that it is achievable within the timeframe. (I do still have a bad habit of giving myself too much though). I then spend much of my week supporting my team by teaching how to do the tasks that we needed to accomplish that week. We ensure the processes for how to do that task are up-to-date and then I act as a supportive role. I still do the tasks in which I am exceptionally skilled personally, and liaise with my clients. If it turns out that we lack processes in an area then we focus on building that out, but we do it incrementally, always building on what we’ve already got.

As my team work through the tasks each task moves from untouched, to “working on it” to ‘”Done” or “Stuck”, Of course I jump on these and become a mentor, training my team member on how to resolve the issue.

I can’t really imagine managing any other way, but I’ve been getting feedback from my team that this was a very unusual scenario. My team have been telling me they’ve worked for several other remote agencies and none of them had the same kind of infrastructure that I have put into place. I just thought maybe I was quite organised, but it seems that I might be operating in a software development paradigm instead of a marketing agency paradigm?

You see, when you work in the defense sector where a defect in the latest Air Flight Control software could lead to loss of life or the release of military secrets, you quickly learn how to follow a software development methodology that prevents dramas; both defects and internal arguments. I’d say probably my defense sector experience is even different again from someone who has worked in software development writing plugins for WordPress or something like that.

It seems there is no end of dramas on that side of the fence!! 😆

(Sorry to those who write plugins for a living. Some plugins are better than others.)

I’m dedicated to content marketing, not so much as “marketing” all the time but as being genuinely helpful, as I like to document how to do things and I like to and help others. I do find it embarrassing when something I put out gets zero response, but that’s all part of being iterative too. You need to continually work on bettering your best stuff (best according to your audience) and also disregard the fact that 80% of your marketing might have been crap. You just can’t let it get to you. So I treat my own marketing like a software development project too, often putting out work that’s not 100% yet, but that is good enough to get feedback.

I’ve been sharing some of my planning processes in my videos and blog posts lately, and I’m not sure about the response since I really don’t have a lot of organic reach yet, but if I’m doing something really unusual then I’d love to continue sharing it with you so that you can find out for yourself if my way has any merits. Maybe I could teach you a thing or two about marketing management. OR, you might think that my ways are a waste of time and that you have something much better. I’d love to learn about it!

This is a topic I’m just as passionate about as the analytics and marketing itself, so please comment and share your thoughts. Do you follow a planning and implementation process in your agency? If so, does it have a name, or is it one you came up with yourself?